Cedar Shakes Won’t Last as Long As Trees

When our ancestor settlers arrived in North America, they may have had little more than the clothes on their backs. So they cast around and built their shacks from materials nature provided. The tall evergreen conifers growing up the slopes were their first choice for durable timber, because some were centuries old.

They split their roof shingles out of bolts of logs sawed to the length they needed, and these could last for decades before they began to rot. However, they did begin to twist and curl after a while, in response to expanding and shrinking during seasons.

Modern ‘cedar shakes’ are not really shakes at all, because they are sawed out of cedar logs directly. But they do still complement old-style traditional architecture, where their gorgeous natural textures add lovely vernacular. However, there’s a secret hidden behind that ‘timeless’ effect.

Cedar ‘Shakes’ Don’t Last as Long As Trees

You could be lucky to get thirty years out of your cedar roof, despite it being as much as 40% more expensive than an asphalt shingle one. Thirty years is a scant 3.5% of the 800-year life span of cedar trees, if we leave them where they belong.

Cedar shingles deteriorate much sooner than trees, because sawmills largely destroy their natural defenses and then these things begin to happen:

1… The wood starts to rot despite the best chemical treatments available. That’s because there’s no bark to prevent the rain soaking in, especially on the south side of the roof.

2… Moss and mildew move in to enjoy the damp, moist environment. They penetrate deeply into the wood if left undisturbed, and eventually start to lift the cedar shingles.

3… A cedar tree is a living structure able to counter-balance natural stresses and strains. Over time, cedar shakes cut from them begin to distort. This allows damp to penetrate to the decking beneath, which is not as robust.

4… Of course, much of this deterioration could be avoided if we maintained our cedar shake roofs regularly. But there’s seldom time for that, unless we find a wood shingle contractor willing to this for a reasonable price.

That’s Why Dimensional Asphalt Shingles are Popular

Dimensional asphalt shingles featuring two layers fused together provide a similar chunky textured look, without any of those four cedar shake disadvantages we covered.

Valiant Exteriors are acknowledged Calgary asphalt roofing experts. Give us a call on (403)829-1661, or follow that link to post a message. If you would like to learn more about what we could do for you and your home.

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Image Splitting Red Cedars Shingles the Traditional Way: Le Pombier du Désert BY CC 4.0

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