Cedar Roofing Installation: The Top 5 Things You Must Know
Cedar Roofing Installation: The roof is an essential and often undervalued part of any structure. We often fail to recognize its worth and importance in our daily lives – that is until it shows signs of wear and tear, or even starts to fail!
After deciding to build your dream home or tackle on that long-overdue makeover project for your roof, the next step is to educate yourself about cedar roofing installation. Doing it on your own takes a considerable amount of time and patience – and there is a high margin of error if you have never worked on a roof before. You must consider roofing choices: how sturdy are they? What are the best products? Can your home support the weight of your intended roofing system? For this reason, and many others, we recommend calling a professional roofing contractor if you have not had roofing experience as you could end up causing more damage to your home if roofing is not installed correctly.
Cedar is an appealing roof material that many homeowners select for their houses. Not only does it protect your house from the heat and the rain, it’s made to last over a long period of time. It can be treated in the factory to be resistant to fire, moss, fungi and many other elemental factors that are known to cause damage to roofs.
A cedar roofing installation is also energy-efficient, giving you up to twice the insulation power when compared to other roofing materials. During the summer, cedar stabilizes the temperature in your home by helping to decrease the temperature inside the house, and it also acts as an insulator during winter by not allowing heat to escape. Another advantage to getting a cedar roof installed is the added curb appeal to the property. A lot of homebuilders and homeowners choose a cedar roofing installation for the natural and timeless beauty it gives to the house.
Overtime, as the cedar ages, it only transforms into a more durable and elegant material. There is an array of tones you can choose from depending on the style of your house, like brown, red, amber and gold. Cedar is known to adapt to the harshest weather conditions and endure strong winds. Even though cedar has many perks, it can be tricky to install if you do not call a professional.
Cedar roof installation is a daunting task that must be approached with precision and patience. Whether you decide to try and install a roof yourself (which we do not recommend for safety reasons) or hire a professional contractor, it is important to teach yourself as much as possible about cedar as a roofing material. Here are the key 5 things you should know before undertaking a cedar roof installation project.
1. Shakes or Shingles
Red cedar and Alaska-yellow cedar are the most common types of cedar found in the market. Decide whether you want to install cedar shingles or shakes. According to the Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau description:
“Generally, a shingle is sawn on both sides and is thinner at the butt than a shake. A shake is typically split on one or both sides.”
While both cedar, the two have a number of differences pertaining to cost and overall aesthetic.
At first glance, you’ll note that cedar shakes are thicker than cedar shingles. Shingles will have a smoother appearance, while shakes provide the more rustic and rugged look. Shingles are machine made, while shakes are often handmade. Shakes are split from the cedar logs and left that way to retain its authentic character and the rough effect that some people prefer.
A cedar shake usually has a thick butt end, unlike the thin shingle, and can be sawn in factories to achieve a uniform side. Additionally, there is a wide variety of cedar shingle and shake according to grade and finish. Red cedar shakes follow a classification system with rankings like: Blue Label, Red Label, Black Label and Under-coursing.
Under-coursing is usually used as the first strip but is not recommended for use on the exterior. Shakes can be split or tapersawn and come in a large array of sizes. They can also differ greatly in price, installing cedar shakes can cost you more than cedar shingles, as shakes are a more premium material, are hand split, and use more wood. Still, a lot of homeowners choose cedar shakes for their roof to achieve a unique character for their house.
Most cedar wood products available for purchase are already finished and treated with preservatives. Most cedar shake and shingle are already treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) that protects the wood from fungus, mold or mildew growth. It is highly recommended to purchase cedar treated with CCA in areas with high humidity to extend the life of your roof. You can also choose between different grades of cedar, for instance, shakes come in premium and grade I.
Higher grade cedar means it’s going to last for a longer period of time. For example, grade I cedar shingles are 100% clear and 100% made of heartwood with vertical grain. It costs more than the others but is expected to last significantly longer than the other grades of cedar wood. Before selecting a grade to work with, be aware there may be certain limitations to the cedar wood type and grade you can install based on local building codes, so be sure to check those first.
When working with a cedar roofing installation, either shakes or shingles, it is vital to know the type of nail and other materials to use with it as cedars interact with different metals and adhesives differently. Using the right type of nails for your cedar roof is often taken for granted by a lot of DIYers and could cost you more money in the long run as they can speed up wood rot and even damage your roofing structure. It’s good to keep in mind that cedar wood absorbs moisture and using the wrong type of nail could cause an unwanted reaction.
Although there are many types of nails that you could get, like stainless steel, galvanized or aluminum, it is advisable to use stainless steel nails for your cedar as they offer the highest degree of resistance against corrosion that occurs when exposed to water. It’s also good to take into consideration the location of your home. Using a certain type of alloy nail for your cedar roof when you live near the ocean can cause more damage than good due to salt content in water and air as well as humidity. It is best to consult your local hardware or contractor for advice on this aspect of using cedar wood.
It takes more than nails to hold on a roof, and using the best fastener that’s appropriate for cedar woods is another thing to consider. As with the nails, fasteners can be hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel and should be resistant to corrosion from water exposure. Cedar wood may shed water but, as with all other wood, is not 100% waterproof, even with waterproofing treatment.
Exposure to sun and rain is also inevitable and might lead to moisture retention, which is something to be avoided at all costs. This is where having an efficiently spaced sheathing comes in. Spaced sheathing, or skipped decking, are the boards in the substrate where the shingles or shakes are nailed on. Spaced sheathing plays a part in conduction and airflow in and out of the roof to completely dry out the cedar wood and keep moisture from building up. You also will need to choose the right drip edge and valley flashing material to go with your cedar shake or shingle during installation to ensure proper water runoff.
Also, before you jump on this project, it would be an advantage if you are adept with power tools. For instance, incorrect usage of a nail gun can result to more damage to your cedar shake or shingle, and possible bodily harm. Because cedar is a softwood, thus very delicate to handle, one should be cautious in using a nail gun and inadvertently firing it too strong or too far, causing the wood to break or chip off. It is also a good idea to interlay copper or zinc strips to help prevent the growth of mold, mildew or fungi – this process requires its own set of special tools as well.
Before you begin the cedar roofing installation process, it is recommended to let the wood adapt to the climate of the area. Once the cedar wood arrives, you just have to place it outdoors undercover for some time to allow the wood to expand or contract. Staining the cedar wood is not encouraged by a lot as the wood needs to breathe. In addition to tools and materials you will need protective gear to keep yourself safe. Your work clothes should be comfortable and your gloves and face shield should fit perfectly.
3. Installation Process
Having chosen the desired cedar type and nails, it is now time to get your hands on some information about the cedar roofing installation process. As with the process of choosing between shingles and shakes, this comes as no easy feat and there are a number of things to consider. For instance, installing a three-ply application requires an interlay, meaning you would need to apply a felt lay, for split shakes but not for tapersawn shakes. Installation of felt can be done by using the lap lines as your guides. You could also check with the felt paper instructions for the proper stapling pattern to use. It’s important to keep the rows straight and even by aligning the bottom of each shake with the bottom of each interlay.
Also, you will need to alternate the cedar shakes from the top with the rows to promote water resistance. Shingles, on the other hand, do not need felt interlay, as it causes the cedar shingle to rot. The distance between the shakes and shingles is dependent on the type and grade of cedar used, the grain, the width of the shake or shingle, the location and general climate. As a general rule, shingles must be placed ¼ to ⅜ inches apart, while shakes should be spaced ⅜ inches apart, but still depends on the moisture content of the area. The number of shakes or shingles you’ll need will depend on the measurement of the entire roof, adding allowance for the edges. If you are at all unsure of spacing and materials, you may want to call a licensed contractor to ensure you don’t damage your home.
Furthermore, there are a number of specialized cedar roofing installation methods that you can follow but, generally, you must be knowledgeable about them first. For installation, we commonly have the rainscreen, horizontal nailing strips and the direct application methods. The rainscreen technique allows air to pass through, thus providing an opportunity for the moisture absorbed by the cedar to dry out. Horizontal nailing strips do not provide as much air circulation as the first one but just enough to keep the roof dry. The direct application method is joined directly to the sheath.
It’s recommended to consult the local building code office for the installation method approved in your area. Additionally, extra care must be taken to ensure proper spacing between the cedar shingles or shakes. We know that cedar can warp or curl without proper airing and ventilation and depending on the general climate of the area, so it is highly advisable to check with your building manual before carrying out the task. It is vital as well to get the proper measurements before installing the starter course, deciding on the length of overhang or you could leave parts of your home exposed and unprotected.
It is also wise to test out the fitting of the shakes or shingles to see what it looks like and so you can make any required adjustments before actually nailing them down. During the cedar roofing installation process you also need to be painstakingly accurate in measuring from the eaves up to the butt ends to ensure proper alignment all throughout your entire roof. You can consult with your local building code to know the ridge ventilation requirements appropriate for your area and climate.
As mentioned above, the length of the nail is vital to hold the shakes or shingles together. The right amount of force used to fire the nail gun is also important to prevent the wood from being damaged. Weather is also an element to think about. You must ensure a nice, sunny weather before starting the installation process as you can run into problems trying to install a roof in the rain.
Like any other part of your house, keeping your cedar roof well-maintained could lead to saving you both time and money. Making sure that the roof is regularly cleaned from leaves and debris goes a long way. Leaves, small tree branches and other fallen debris can retain moisture and cause long-term damage to your cedar roof. It’s also encouraged to regularly clean the cedar roof with a professionally recommended solution to avoid having to deal with the nasty mold, mildew and algae growth.
As mentioned, cedar wood is a softwood so it naturally degrades from sun exposure and may cause the cedar wood to change colors or tone. The Cedar Bureau recommends making a bleach cleaning solution of one part bleach to three parts water and using it to gently spray on the wood if it requires cleaning. However, as it can be difficult to determine the extent of any damage it is best to consult a professional.
It’s best to use appropriate safety attire such gloves and eye protection. Cleaning should be done in a gentle manner with mild products to avoid causing too much damage to the wood. Vigorous brushing should be avoided as this only damages the wood and may remove the natural finish and cause the wood to become thinner, thus affecting its longevity and allowed for mold to grow. Leaving the bleach on for too long can cause it to ruin the quality of the cedar wood, so it’s best to leave it on for not longer than ten minutes before rinsing it off if at all.
If you feel the need to have a thorough washing of your roof, you can hire a professional to do it. This option may cost more but is a worthwhile investment as cedar has to be walked on a certain way and often requires a trained eye to spot damage. Professionals can also recommend a proper sealant to re seal a cedar roof after it has been damaged or cleaned. Before applying the finish, make sure the wood is totally dry and that no moisture is present, including in the surroundings. It helps to apply the finish during a hot summer day, when the temperature rises above 50℉. Leave it out to dry for a day or two before applying another coat.
You can also apply preservatives and protectants to your cedar roof. You can do this by using a wide brush, roller or a pump-type spray. In doing so, make sure to evenly coat the whole surface and be meticulous enough to get into the small crevices, especially in the butt of the shingles. It’s also always good to consider the present condition of the cedar roof before applying any finish or protectant to it. Other people use oil to replenish the natural oil in the wood and bring it back to its previous condition. Most cedar roof tends to give off a silvery sheen, but if it’s not akin to your style, you could always have it treated. Please be aware that walking on your cedar roof could damage the shingles and shakes, and that a professional would have more training to undertake this type of task.
Learn more about cedar roofing maintenance here >> The Ultimate Guide to Cedar Roofing Maintenance
5. Call for Help
The whole cedar roofing installation process will be meticulous and one should employ a lot of patience and precision to successfully finish the project. To a beginner, this could be an overwhelming experience, and we recommend calling a professional if there is confusion or stress. Safety issues are also a vital thing to consider. With any project that you at home, it’s good to be always safe, otherwise, you should leave it to the capable hands of the contractors.
Having learned all these crucial factors when installing a cedar roof, it’s still best to contact a professional to ask for their opinion regarding the project and get sound advice. If you are not confident to install a cedar roof by yourself, it’s always a good idea to hire someone who can do it well. If you feel overwhelmed by all this information, or are afraid that you might be choosing the wrong nail or cedar shakes grade, don’t be afraid to call for help. It may mean spending more now, but it could mean avoiding unnecessary mistakes and incorrectable damage, and saving money down the line. Calling a professional contractor ensures your warranties are valid, the job is done properly, and takes the headache out of figuring out spacing and shake and shingle layouts.
Cedar roofing installation can be tricky and is definitely not for amateur DIYers, or those who wish to save money by doing everything themselves. While it may appear cheaper to install one of these roofs on your own, one mistake can render your roof and possibly building structure irreparable. There are a lot of things to consider and knowledge to be acquired in order to accomplish this successfully. The best contractors have the experience and know-how under their belt. It could give you peace of mind knowing that the installation of your cedar roof is done by someone who has the knowledge and expertise.
One good way of lowering maintenance costs for your home is having high quality roofing which has been installed properly. Having a sturdy roof has great impact not only on the curb appeal of your house, but also on the overall integrity of your home. A good roof not only keeps the rain out, it also protects the homeowners from harsh weather condition. Before you decide to take on this kind of project, make sure you are equipped with the proper knowledge of the whole process and really put an effort into doing research and studying about the details of the whole installation process.
Even if you hire a professional, and frankly we recommend it – it’s still best to have this information for you to be able to make better decisions and discuss these decisions with your contractor. It really pays to know your stuff, it will help you avoid bigger issues in the long run.
If you are considering a cedar roofing installation A.B. Edward Enterprises Inc., is a reliable and trustworthy contractor who can help you get your project started. Contact us today for a FREE estimate on cedar roofing installation!