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A Cedar shake roof is a popular choice for many homes, bringing a warm and premium look to houses while blending seamlessly with natural surroundings. Despite its charm, there are important things to know about this roofing material, especially the common problems it faces and the maintenance it requires.

The Appeal of Cedar Shake Roofs

Cedar shake roofs are a favorite in Canada, often using Western Red Cedar in shake form for added strength and protection against harsh weather, including hailstorms. The natural oils in cedar make it resistant to decay, ensuring durability.

Common Problems with Cedar Shake Roofs

Weathering Effects: Exposure to sun and precipitation can cause cedar to change color, turning from silver-gray to darker graphite-grey in the first year. This weathering also leads to expansion and contraction, resulting in cracks and openings for microorganisms to damage the wood from within.

Debris and Moss Accumulation: Fallen tree branches and moss can accumulate on cedar roofs, causing them to split, curl, and crack. This debris can also lead to leaks, exacerbating the overall problem.

Maintenance for Cedar Roofs

Cedar roofs demand regular inspections and cleaning to ensure longevity. Using a brush and water, it’s essential to remove accumulated debris, focusing on valleys, chimneys, and visible keyways. However, more intensive cleaning methods, like pressure washing, may be needed, often requiring the expertise of a maintenance contractor.

Additional Maintenance Measures

Chemical Treatments: To prevent the growth of mold, fungi, moss, or mildew, chemical treatments are necessary. These treatments not only protect the roof but also safeguard the entire home from potential infestations.

Preservative Treatments: Increasing the life of a cedar roof may involve preservative treatments. While these can extend the roof’s lifespan, they come with a cost, both in terms of time and money.

Alternative Roofing Materials

Considering the intensive maintenance required for cedar roofs, some homeowners opt for alternative materials that offer similar aesthetics but with lower maintenance needs. Exploring these options can help you make an informed decision based on your budget and preferences.


While cedar shake roofs provide a beautiful and premium look to homes, it’s crucial to be aware of the challenges they face. Regular inspections, cleaning, and maintenance are essential to ensure a longer lifespan. Homeowners may also explore alternative roofing materials to strike a balance between aesthetics and practicality.