Find us on Google+

Cedar Roof Shingles Information

by Thomas Shaw

Cedar ShingleCedar shingles have been around for centuries. Their rustic appearance compliments a variety of architectural styles. Typically made of Red, Yellow, or White Cedar, wooden shingles are a long lasting insulation choice for your roof.

Western Red Cedar is flexible, durable, and naturally insect-resistant. It accepts treatments such as color stain or fireproofing well. Red Cedar is extremely long lasting. Chemically pressure treated Red Cedar doesn’t need after market spray on treatments.

Yellow Cedar is also highly durable and insect-resistant. Because of it’s tight grain and natural wood oil, it’s heavier than red cedar. The same properties that make them excellent water and insect repellent roof material also make them hard to stain or paint. As an added bonus, it weathers to a lovely silver gray colour.

Image Coutesy of

White Cedar is long lasting, insect-resistant, weather repellent with good insulation. Like western red, White cedar can be stained, painted, or it can be left to weather. This variety of tree grows quickly, making it a green renewable choice for your home.

Red and Yellow are grown in the Western US and Canada, while White Cedar is grown in the east. Shingles and shakes from all three cedar varieties are manufactured and shipped worldwide.

Cedar Shingles Short Background

Cedar is renowned for being easy to work with, great to look at, an effective insulator and incredibly durable. Research shows that it was often used by Native Americans years ago to create totem poles and build strong canoes. These days it’s mainly used for roofing, walls and ceilings although it’s sometimes sought out to produce intricate carvings for shrines to place in religious buildings.

Depending on the climate and the place you live, cedar could well be the roofing solution for you. Over the years, cedar has undergone stringent tests, and the results show that as a roofing material, it is extremely durable, water resistant and not as prone to decay as other types of timber. On top of all those qualities, it’s naturally beautiful, has a pleasant aroma and can save you hundreds of pounds or dollars on your yearly utility bills.

Different Types of Cedar

Of course there are many different types of cedarwood, Western Red, Yellow and White being the main ones that will be discussed on this website.

Shingles and Shakes

As a roofing tile, shakes and shingles tend to be laid in rows in a flat rectangular shape which overlap each joint. They are far less likely to split, warp or become infested with insects due to its natural properties so these are some of the reasons why people tend to choose cedar over other roofing products such as slate, asbestos-cement or asphalt shingle. Fundamentally, a cedar roof will withstand adverse weather like hurricane winds and hail storms much more effectively than other roofing materials.


Image Courtesy

What’s the Difference Between Shakes and Shingles?

The overall quality of a shingle and shake will be determined by several factors including where the wood was grown and how it was cut. Don’t confuse cedar shingles with cedar shakes as they are quite different. Shakes tend to be hand cut and are usually thicker than shingles. Shakes are certainly not considered to be the most suitable product for roofing and are often used for less precise jobs where a more rustic finish is required.

Shingles and Shakes Comparison

Because shakes are thicker they naturally have more exposure which refers to the height of every row of shakes or shingles above each successive row of cedar shingles; that is the exposure is a reference to the amount of the shingles visible width above the line of every laid row of shingle. It’s paramount that shingles are installed as per the recommendation of the manufacturer as getting the exposure right is very important.

Shingles in the UK

Choosing the correct type of cedar is the first thing that you should take into consideration when doing any research about what type of roof to install on your property. Things like quality will vary between distributors so it’s wise to read reviews or ask neighbours where they bought their shingles or shakes. You should also look at the weather in your area as some types of cedar are more appropriate for specific types of climate, particularly so when choosing cedar shingles in the UK. You want your roof to last you for many years so picking out the correct wood could save you money in the long term.

Blue Label Cedar Shingles are not Always the Best Quality

Many people wrongly assume that blue label means that the wood simply refers to one kind of shingle that is uniform but the truth is that there is actually a large variety of various brands and types to choose from.

As well as looking at different brands, there is also varying levels of quality to suit a range of needs. Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking that you are getting superb quality just because the wood has a ‘blue label’ price tag.

No.1 Blue Label ShinglesThere can be some unscrupulous traders out there, so never buy on impulse. Allow yourself a few days to find out as much information as possible about different manufacturers, distributors and sellers. It is possible for blue label to be of inferior quality so keep a clear head and learn where the wood has been sourced and how it has been processed before you make any kind of purchase.

Ideally, the very finest blue label cedar shingles would be recommended to you by the retailer if you requested premium timber. Typically, premium blue label cedar is 100% heartwood with 100% clear meaning that it has no defects.

Once you have located some great quality blue label cedar shingles you should ask an expert whether you need to treat the wood. Again, this will most likely be dependent on the climate. More rural areas tend to encounter damper weather so may need additional protection against moisture damage. Generally speaking though, blue label cedar is an excellent material for roofing thanks to its straight grain, lighter weight and stability.

Natural or Pre-Finished

It’s common for western red cedar to be used both in the UK and elsewhere in the world for both commercial and domestic purposes. This is down to the wood’s natural insecticides, durability and aesthetic properties. You can buy western red cedar shingles from an array of retailers with different degrees of weight and thickness.

In the majority of cases, your shingles will come with no finish at all or with a natural finish. Some sellers may offer you the chance to decide on the finish of your shingles to allow you to create a more bespoke look for your roof. In order to decide what type of customization to opt for, take things like personal taste and the surroundings of your home into consideration to find the perfect unique look for your business or home.

Design Properties

As well as being striking to look at and making your house look amazing, western red cedar shingles are famous for being resistant to moisture and insects. Most materials that are constantly exposed to the elements will suffer damage but thanks to the durability of this variety of cedar, this is less likely to happen.

Because of its even grain and fine texture, it’s the perfect choice for house proud people who want a more natural look for their home. Its low density and lighter weight make it a suitable choice for building a roof which also means that the framework will require less wood.

Western-Red-Cedar-PropertiesIf you’re aiming to achieve a rustic look, western red cedar shingles will meet the brief perfectly without compromising stability and quality. If you live near a heavily wooded area like a forest or you simply live in the countryside, well away from the hustle and bustle of the city, red cedar is the number one choice for roofing. The natural beauty of the wood will effortlessly blend in to your existing surroundings which will allow your roof to look like it immediately belongs. If keeping in tune with your environment is an important factor for you then red cedar will not cause you any problems as it has such a pureness to it that clearly displays that this material is not at all man made.


No matter what type of building you own, if you install a cedar shingle roof you’ll be guaranteed that your roof will have a reliable, robust covering that should last for years with minimum maintenance. Red, Yellow and White possess similar properties so you will be safe in the knowledge that the timber you’re using is going to be more resistant to moisture and general wear and tear than other softwoods. Cedar is an investment for any type of project as it will remain aesthetically pleasing for years to come and won’t lose any of its original charm and benefits.

Treatment | Do Shingles Need to be Treated?

There are various ways to treat cedar shingles but it’s always important to read the instructions thoroughly on any type of cleaner or preservative to ensure that it’s safe for the environment.

Cedar Treatment Brush and Tin

Although cedar shingles have been used since the earliest days of colonization, and they are unbelievably sturdy, they will sometimes require a type of treatment.

For example if you live in a region that has mainly wet weather conditions then the chances are that you will eventually encounter some damage to your roof.

Unfortunately, moisture can degrade cedar and this may lead to splitting or cracking or a build up of moss. It’s better to treat your cedar immediately if you are concerned about damp climates and this will give you extra peace of mind that you have taken the necessary precautions.

What to Treat Cedar Shingles With?

You can use the commonly practised two step process which involves cleaning the wood with a generic wood cleaning fluid and then staining the shingles with an oil-based stain of your choice. Remember to dilute the cleaner as it will probably be sold in a concentrated form. One coat of stain will not be sufficient to protect your roofing so you may have to apply several layers to achieve the required result.

For convenience you could use a pump spray which will speed up the staining process. Once you have finished staining you will have to remove any excess stain ‘runs’ from the shingles. This is necessary because if excess stain is left to dry on the outer surface of your shingles it will create an unwanted appearance as the wood will look dull and tacky and this kind of surface would encourage the growth of mold and mildew.

Water borne preservation’s such as Cunapsol 5 will help to provide some protection from decay and damp although it’s not as effective at controlling the effects of the sun’s rays.

Oil based preservatives which contain an aphthenic or paraffinic oil are a good all-rounder as they protect your shingles from mildew, mould, moss, algae, lichen and the sunshine. It’s also interesting to know that this kind of treatment will not increase the flammability of your roof and is not expensive to buy. Always select any treatment that has been approved by the Federal Occupational Safety and health Administration (OSHA) as this will give you assurance that your product has already been tested rigorously and are not carcinogenic. Some reliable oils worth considering to treat your roof are Sunthene 40, Sun Oil and Chevron Shingle.

How to Clean Your Shingles

Wherever possible, try to remove any loose debris such as rotting leaves, berries and twigs by hand. You can then use a weak household bleach solution and spray the stained area several times until the moss and algae starts to dissipate. Alternatively you could use a pressure washer on a low setting for general day to day dirt and grime. You can buy cleaning solutions from your local hardware store but remember to check the ingredient list to see if any of it is harmful to humans, animals or plants.

 Correct Nails for Cedar Shingles

what kind of nails for cedar shinglesIf you’re not hiring a professional to install your cedar roofing it’s worth remembering that it’s usually advisable to use fasteners and nails that are made from stainless steel.

Typically, the stainless steel nails need to be approximately 1.25 inches to 2 inches but this would depend on the particular design of your individual roofing project. Fasteners and nails should be galvanized and double dipped so that they have the ultimate protection against the elements.

Generally speaking, it’s vital to buy and use the correct type of fasteners to provide longevity. Don’t be tempted to cut corners and scrimp on your spending as it’s been proven that cheap fasteners can compromise the structural integrity of a cedar roof. You get what you pay for in life and this is definitely the case with fasteners because the poorer quality ones won’t be as strong as the more expensive ones and may let you down during different conditions such as hail, snow or wind. Cheap fasteners will also corrode and will leave you with unsightly rust stains on your shingled roof.

Roof Installation

installing roof shinglesLaying cedar shingles is not recommended for the DIY novice, as the installation does require a certain level of experience and craftsmanship. In most cases, people hire a professional roof contractor so that the job gets done properly.

A roof is an important part of a home or building so it’s not really worth trying to save money and tackling the task yourself. Cut the risks and pay an experienced tradesman to complete the work for you as this will be money well spent.

Fixing shingles to a roof are most often applied in single courses over either solid or spaced sheathing, with corrosion resistant fasteners. Fireproofed shingles also require special fasteners.

If you live in a high humidity environment, even more care is needed when installing cedar shingles. A precision installed roof will last longer and perform better with less maintenance. Hire professional installers experienced in cedar shingle roof installation for the best results.

Fireproof Cedar Shingles

Properly treated cedar shingles can be fireproofed up to a B rating and are acceptable almost anywhere when applied with appropriate fire-resistant chemicals. Factory treated shingles are impregnated with fire suppressing chemicals and pressure-treated to incorporate the chemicals deep into the wood. After market fire suppressants must be reapplied frequently. Buy fireproofed cedar shingles to avoid this bothersome, expensive chore.

Properly applied and maintained, your cedar shingle roof will add beauty and longevity to your home. With professional installation, high quality shingles and shakes will offer you many years of service.

The General Lifespan of a Cedar Roof

If you’re considering a cedar shingles roof for your home or business you are probably wondering how long it will last. Obviously adding a new roof is a considered purchase so it’s wise to know all the facts before you make up your mind.

The lifespan of a cedar roof can vary greatly depending on things like the climate where you live and the actual quality of the original installation, the weather and how regularly the roof is maintained. The average lifespan of a cedar roof is between thirty and forty years and can be slightly longer than asphalt roofs, although this can vary depending on individual circumstances such as the frequency of extreme weather conditions and whether there are any overhanging trees nearby.

The best way to increase the durability of a cedar roof is to treat the wood with a preservative which will penetrate and fully absorb into the woods grain. It’s probably wise to repeat this treatment every five years or so to ensure longevity and help to prevent mildew, mold and rotting. As well as applying a wood preserver, it’s essential to regularly remove debris such as rotting foliage, dust and dirt.

Cedar Shingles Prices

During the research phase of your project you will soon discover that the price of cedar shingles can vary greatly and this is because the products themselves can be completely different depending on where you shop.

Each type of cedar shingle will have its own special price so you need to decide the type you want to purchase and then have the retailer work out exactly how much timber you will need.

Extensive research may help to save you money as you may find out where the best suppliers are and this will ensure that you won’t make any costly errors by purchasing the wrong wood.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment