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How to Install a Cedar Shake Roof: Essential Guide!

How to Install a Cedar Shake Roof

To install a cedar shake roof, start by laying down the roofing felt on the solid plywood deck. Secure the first course of shakes with rust-resistant nails while ensuring proper overlap.

A cedar shake roof adds rustic charm and durable protection to any home. Embarking on this project requires a solid understanding of the process and meticulous attention to detail. Quality materials and the right tools are paramount for a successful installation.

While the task may seem daunting, proper preparation and adherence to industry standards can ensure a beautiful and long-lasting cedar shake roof. Homeowners and professionals alike recognize the value of this natural, resilient roofing choice. Your home’s roof not only defends against the elements but also significantly contributes to curb appeal, choosing cedar shakes a rewarding investment.

Preparing For Cedar Shake Installation

Welcome to the essential phase of your roofing journey—preparing for cedar shake installation. Cedar shakes provide a timeless aesthetic and robust protection for your home. Proper preparation ensures a smooth installation process and a durable, attractive result. In this section, we’ll walk you through the critical steps to get your roof ready for beautiful cedar shakes.

Assessing Roof Structure Integrity

A crucial first step before laying a single shake is to assess the existing roof structure’s integrity. Cedar shake roofs require a solid foundation to ensure longevity and performance. Inspecting the rafters, sheathing, and attic space for signs of damage, rot, or weakness is vital. If issues are found, repairs or reinforcements must be made before shake installation.

Choosing The Right Cedar Shakes

Selecting suitable cedar shakes is imperative for aesthetics and function. Consider thickness, length, width, and grade quality. High-quality cedar shakes come in a variety of grades, with Grade 1 being the premium option. These are typically 100% edge grain, free from defects, ensuring maximum durability. It’s important to balance your budget with the quality that will provide a lasting roofing solution.

Gathering Necessary Tools And Safety Equipment

Installation of a cedar shake roof requires specific tools and adherence to safety protocols. Gathering all necessary items before you begin work will make the process smoother. Here’s a checklist of tools and safety equipment you’ll need:

  • Hammer or nail gun
  • Roofing nails suitable for cedar
  • Utility knife for trimming shakes
  • Chalk line for ensuring straight courses
  • Ladder and scaffolding for roof access
  • Safety harness and rope
  • Hard hat, gloves, and safety glasses

Having the right tools and prioritizing safety cannot be overstated. Investing in quality tools and protective gear ensures that you can install your cedar shake roof safely and effectively. Preparing thoroughly for your cedar shake installation sets the stage for a successful roofing project that adds charm and value to your home.

How to Install a Cedar Shake Roof: Essential Guide


Essential Steps To Install Cedar Roof

Transforming the roof of your home with cedar shake brings timeless charm and enhanced durability. The installation process is an intricate one. Careful execution is critical to ensuring the integrity and longevity of your roof. Let’s break down the essential steps to a successful cedar shake roof installation.

Removing Old Roofing Materials

Preparation is key before embarking on a new cedar roof installation. It starts with the removal of existing roofing materials. This step ensures that the new cedar shakes have a clean and stable foundation to lie upon.

  • Safety first: Start with necessary precautions and safety gear.
  • Strip the old roof: Remove all shingles, nails, and debris systematically.
  • Inspect your deck: Check for any signs of damage or rot. Repairs should be done before proceeding.

Installing The Underlayment

A sound underlayment is the backbone of any cedar shake roof. This layer provides an extra barrier against water and elemental damage.

  1. Start with roofing felt: Apply it across the entire surface, ensuring proper overlap.
  2. Secure the felt: Use staples or cap nails to hold it firmly in place.
  3. Pay attention to valleys: Additional layers or specialized materials might be necessary.

Setting The Starter Course

The starter course is essential for proper water runoff and sets the baseline for the rest of the installation.

Step Details
Cut first shake Cut the first cedar shake to fit snugly against the edge of the roof.
Fix in place Use corrosion-resistant nails to secure the shake.
Repeat Continue along the roof edge, ensuring shakes are even and aligned.

Attention to detail here will set the tone for a successful roofing project.

Laying Cedar Shakes Properly

Installing a cedar shake roof offers a timeless and classic charm that can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of any home. However, the beauty and longevity of a cedar shake roof rely heavily on the precision of its installation. To ensure your cedar shake roofing performs at its best and stands the test of time, paying close attention to the laying process is crucial. In this section, we’ll guide you through the steps of properly laying cedar shakes with a specific emphasis on alignment, staggering, and implementing weaving and capping techniques to guarantee a professional finish.

Aligning And Nailing The First Course

The journey to a flawless cedar shake roof starts with the first course. Proper alignment of this course sets the stage for everything that follows. Begin by ensuring the roof deck is clean, dry, and flat. Use a high-quality, weather-resistant underlayment as your foundation. Start at the roof’s edge, using a chalk line for a precise, straight guide. Carefully place the first shake, allowing for an appropriate overhang to prevent water runoff from damaging the building’s façade.

Drive two rust-resistant nails per shake, positioning them around ¾ inch from the edge and about 1 inch above the exposure line. Nails should penetrate the roof deck by at least ¾ inch for a secure hold. It’s crucial to leave a small gap between shakes to accommodate natural wood expansion.

Staggering The Shakes For Optimal Coverage

Achieving optimal coverage and a water-tight barrier involves staggering the cedar shakes. This process, known as creating a shingle offset, prevents water infiltration by ensuring the joints between shakes do not align vertically. Proceed to the second course by measuring and cutting your first shake to create the stagger. Alternate the lengths as you work up the roof, typically by half a shake, to maintain the offset pattern. As a rule of thumb, no joint should be closer than 1.5 inches to a joint in an adjacent course.

  • Measure the offset for the second course to avoid direct alignment with the first course.
  • Ensure subsequent courses follow the correct offset measurement.
  • Use a straightedge or level to check the alignment regularly.

Implementing Weaving And Capping Techniques

Weaving and capping are advanced techniques that provide the finishing touches to a cedar shake roof. Weaving involves interlacing the shakes at the joints, ensuring each new layer overlaps the joint below. This method requires precision but offers an extra layer of protection against the elements.

Begin weaving by laying the shakes in a staggered fashion while allowing each one to overlap the split on the course directly beneath. The capping technique is applied to the roof’s ridge and hips. Use pre-formed ridge caps or cut shakes to fit. Align and nail them in place, covering the peak and providing a neat and watertight finish.

Employ narrow staples or nails to affix these cap shakes, ensuring they are long enough to secure them through the layers beneath. Remember to overlap each cap slightly to maintain the integrity of the ridge barrier.

Cedar Shake Roofing Best Practices

Installing a cedar shake roof combines traditional aesthetics with the benefits of modern roofing technology. When doing so, it’s vital to adhere to best practices to ensure integrity, durability, and the timeless appearance of your roof. The following best practises serve as a guide for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts preparing for a cedar shake roof installation.

Maintaining Consistent Exposure

For a uniform and appealing cedar shake roof, keeping a consistent exposure of each shake is critical. Exposure refers to the part of the shake that remains visible after installation. Here’s how to maintain it:

  • Measure and mark a guide on the roof to keep rows straight.
  • Use a quality exposure gauge tool for precision.
  • Allow for a maximum of half the shake’s length as exposure to ensure proper overlap. This protects the underlayment and interior from the elements.

Choosing The Right Fasteners

Selecting the appropriate fasteners is essential for the longevity of a cedar shake roof. Here’s what you should consider:

  1. Corrosion Resistance: Stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized nails resist rusting and corrosion.
  2. Length: Fasteners need to be long enough to penetrate both the shake and the roofing deck by at least ¾ inch.
  3. Type: Use nails rather than staples for improved holding strength and durability.

Dealing With Ridge And Hip Shakes

The ridge and hips of a roof require special attention, as they are the highest points and often the most exposed to weather. Implement the following steps to ensure optimal performance:

Step Action
1 Apply a double layer of felt interlay for added protection against leaks.
2 Cut the shake taper to fit the angle of the ridge or hip.
3 Ensure proper overlapping for a seamless appearance and weatherproof seal.

Following these practices will enhance the roof’s aesthetic appeal and protect against the elements, keeping your cedar shake roof in peak condition for years to come.

After Installation Care And Maintenance

Your cedar shake roof is a stunning addition to your home, but like any investment, it requires dedicated care and maintenance to maintain its beauty and functionality over time. The resilience of cedar shakes ensures they withstand various weather conditions, but their longevity hinges on proper aftercare. By adhering to a consistent maintenance routine and understanding when professional inspection is requisite, your cedar shake roof will not only look pristine but also provide optimum protection for years to come.

Treating Cedar Shakes To Prevent Damage

Protecting your cedar shakes from damage begins with appropriate treatments. Cedar is naturally resistant to rot, but it’s not impervious to the elements. To bolster their durability, consider applying a preservative treatment that enhances resistance to moisture, UV rays, and the growth of moss or fungi. Ensure to use products specifically designed for cedar to avoid damaging the wood. An environment-friendly sealant can also be valuable in preserving the natural color of the shakes, preventing them from turning gray due to sun exposure.

For optimal results, treat cedar shakes during periods of dry weather. This ensures proper absorption and drying of the treatment substances, creating an effective barrier against potential damage.

Routine Maintenance Tips

  • Clear debris: Regularly remove leaves, twigs, and other debris that can trap moisture and promote wood decay.
  • Prevent moss: Keep the roof free from moss and lichen, which retain moisture and can lead to wood deterioration.
  • Trim overhanging branches: Reduce the potential of debris accumulation and shaded areas where moisture can persist.
  • Ensure proper ventilation: Good airflow is crucial for drying out the shakes and preventing rot.
  • Gutter maintenance: Clean gutters prevent water overflow that could damage the roof edge.

Conduct these simple yet effective tasks with regularity to extend the life of your cedar shake roof and maintain its aesthetic appeal.

When To Seek Professional Inspection

Recognizing when to call in a professional is fundamental to the health of your cedar roof. An expert can identify issues like cracked, warped, or missing shakes that require immediate attention. A general rule of thumb is to schedule a professional inspection every three to five years. Following severe weather events, it’s prudent to have the roof checked for any damage that might have occurred. Seeking professional attention in a timely manner can help prevent small issues from escalating into major repairs or replacements, securing your roof’s condition and function.

Remember, consistent maintenance and early detection of potential problems are the keys to a long-lasting, beautiful cedar shake roof.

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Install A Cedar Shake Roof

What Is A Cedar Shake Roof?

A cedar shake roof is made from split logs, creating a rustic appearance. Its unique look is matched by its durability and insulating properties, popular for homes desiring a natural aesthetic touch.

How Long Does A Cedar Shake Roof Last?

Cedar shake roofs can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance. Regular cleaning and treating can prolong their lifespan, ensuring they remain resilient against weather and age-related wear.

Can You Install Cedar Shakes Yourself?

While DIY installation is possible, it requires skill and knowledge. Proper installation is crucial to ensure longevity and performance. Hiring a professional roofer is often recommended for the best results.

What Maintenance Does A Cedar Roof Need?

Cedar roofs need regular cleaning, moss removal, and treatment application. Inspections every few years help address minor issues before they escalate, keeping the roof in optimal condition.


Mastering cedar shake roof installation can enhance the charm and durability of your home. Embrace these steps and equip yourself with patience and precision for a stunning, timeless result. Should questions arise, seek a professional’s insight. Your dream roof is just an installation away.

Ready to take on the challenge?

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