Cedar Roofs

Cedar shakes are a beautiful, natural and organic roofing material.  Most people aren’t aware that the cedar shakes on their roof are designed to do one job…protect the roofing felt.  Roofing felt is a magnificent water barrier for a roof.  However, when exposed to the sun’s harmful rays, it breaks down rather quickly and loses its protective qualities.  This leads to leaks, which could lead to damage inside your home.

So how do we protect the cedar that is protecting our roofing felt?  MAINTENANCE!!  Properly maintained cedar roofs can and should last a lifetime.  Have you ever seen a cedar closet covered in black and green streaks?  I know that’s a silly question but I doubt you have.  The closet is protected from the UV light, moisture and bio forms that are constantly attacking your beautiful roof.

Speaking of nasty bio forms, the number one infestation that causes the most deterioration in any cedar roof is white & brown rot fungi.  Second would be moss, followed by lichen, algae, mold and mildew.  Over time, all cedar roofs will get these infestations if not professionally cleaned.  Cedar roofs should be cleaned every five to ten years which is obviously subjective to the environment surrounding the roof.

These bio forms don’t produce chlorophyll and cannot manufacture their own food.  They feed off of the cells in the wood.  They secrete enzymes that break down the wood or lignin; this is the substance that holds the wood cells together.  This is what causes the black or dark brown coloration.  All of these infestations cause the cedar to retain moisture.  The moisture creates a perfect home for all of these things to incubate and grow.  After a period of time, the roof is infested with bio forms that cause the roof to rot and severely shortens its lifespan.

Once professionally cleaned, you should have it cleaned again in five to eight years.

Some things to look out for when considering a cleaning process for your roof:

  • I highly recommend that nobody walk on your roof, other than needed for any repairs. Walking on a cedar rood can cause far more harm than good by doing so.
  • Do not allow any type of pressure to be used to clean the roof; high pressure tends to shred and damage the wood fibers. It’s not conducive to prolonging the life of the roof, it adds to the early death of it.
  • The natural oil content in cedar is around 3%. Over time, the natural oils leach out and cause the shakes to dry up, become brittle and be susceptible to unwanted breakage.  Make sure some form of oil treatment is applied to help rehydrate the shakes.  This is why we have our oil treatment built into our proprietary cleaning solution.  It hydrates as it cleans, giving our customers the very best of both worlds.

On the subject of staining: Staining will give some curb appeal but it has a short shelf life and doesn’t help preserve the shakes.  One should never “seal” a cedar roof because it doesn’t allow the roof to breathe.  It locks in moisture which is one of the main components of shortening the life span of your roof.

The goal of every cleaning should be to maintain the integrity of the shakes and extend the life of the roof.  Everything else would be secondary…i.e. curb appeal.  As my grandmother would say, “That’d be like putting lipstick on a pig!”  So make my grandmother and me proud and make sure you get the roof cleaned before you stain it.


Thank you for considering our service.  We look forward to taking care of your roof soon.