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How to Install Cedar Shake Roof: Beginner’s Guide!

How to Install Cedar Shake Roof

To install a cedar shake roof, start by installing roofing felt and interlaying each shake. Secure the shakes with rust-resistant nails, ensuring proper overlap for waterproofing.

Embarking on a cedar shake roof installation can imbue your home with a rustic charm and exceptional durability. Cedar shakes, known for their natural insulation properties and resistance to harsh weather, provide a timeless aesthetic that complements various architectural styles.

This project demands meticulous attention to detail, starting with a solid sheathing base, typically followed by a layer of high-quality roofing felt. Proper spacing and alignment of each cedar shake are crucial to maintain the structural integrity and weatherproof nature of the roof. As cedar shakes are installed, staggering the joints is essential to prevent potential leaks. Nailing the shakes with the right fasteners—usually stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized nails—is vital to prevent corrosion and lengthen the roof’s lifespan. With precise installation techniques, a cedar shake roof can offer superior protection and a distinguished appearance for your home.

How to Install Cedar Shake Roof: Beginner's Guide


Cedar Shake Roof Installation Essentials

When it’s time to bring a warm, rustic charm to your home, a cedar shake roof is an outstanding choice. Not only does this roofing option boast durability and a timeless appeal, but its insulation qualities are exceptional. To ensure you reap the full benefits of this natural material, mastering the essentials of cedar shake roof installation is crucial. Let’s dive into the key factors, including the proper tools and materials needed, as well as understanding the optimal conditions for a successful installation.

Key Tools And Materials Needed

Gathering the right tools and materials is the first step in starting your cedar shake roof installation. Without these essentials, it would be like trying to paint without a brush—a futile effort. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

  • Cedar Shakes: First and foremost, you’ll need a sufficient quantity of high-quality cedar shakes.
  • Hammers: A roofing hammer will be indispensable for nailing shakes in place.
  • Nails: Stainless steel or hot-dipped galvanized nails are recommended to prevent rust.
  • Utility Knife: A sharp knife for cutting shakes to the right size.
  • Chalk Line: Essential for creating straight installation guidelines.
  • Ladder & Safety Equipment: For safe access and navigation around the roof.
  • Saw: For trimming shakes, a circular saw or handsaw can be used.
  • Pry Bar: To remove any existing roofing material or to adjust shakes during installation.
  • Tape Measure: To measure roof dimensions meticulously.

Along with these tools, it’s essential to prepare the underlayment, flashing, and hip and ridge units that will complete your roofing system.

Understanding The Right Conditions For Installation

Timing and weather conditions are pivotal for a cedar shake roof installation. The right conditions can substantially simplify the process and ensure longevity. Here are the factors you must consider prior to installation:

Condition Description
Weather A dry, mild day is ideal for installation. Rain can cause the shakes to swell, while extreme heat may crack them.
Moisture Content of Shakes Ensure the cedar shakes are not overly saturated with moisture; they should be dry and flexible.
Rooftop Temperature Too hot, and it could affect the shake integrity; too cold, and they might be too brittle.

Proper timing not only facilitates easier installation but also provides an environment where the cedar shakes can acclimate and perform best. Assure the shakes get exposed to the ambient conditions at least 24 to 48 hours prior to installation, which can help in stabilization and reduction of future movement and potential wear.

Preparing For Cedar Shake Installation

Embarking on a home improvement project such as installing cedar shake roofing is an excellent way to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property while also increasing its durability against the elements. Preparing for cedar shake installation is a crucial phase that dictates the success of your roofing project. A well-prepared roof ensures a seamless installation process and guarantees the longevity of your cedar shakes. Let’s delve into the necessary steps to prepare your roof effectively.

Assessing roof readiness: decking and sheathing

Assessing Roof Readiness: Decking And Sheathing

To ensure that your roof is ready for the cedar shakes, assessments must be conducted meticulously. The roof’s decking and sheathing form the foundation upon which the shakes will be laid. These structures must be stable, free of damage, and able to support the new roofing material. Follow these steps to assess your roof’s readiness:

  • Inspect the decking for signs of rot, warping, or damage. Replace any compromised sections to maintain structural integrity.
  • Verify the sheathing is firmly attached to the rafters. All fasteners should be secure, with no gaps or movement.
  • Consider the age and condition of any existing roofing material. Remove any old layers if necessary to prevent excessive load on the structure.
  • Ensure proper ventilation is in place to allow for air circulation, preventing moisture buildup that can damage the cedar shakes over time.
  • Check for and install an appropriate underlayment if required, which will provide an extra layer of protection against water infiltration.

Measuring and calculating roof dimensions

Measuring And Calculating Roof Dimensions

With the roof’s foundation assessed, the next step is measuring and calculating the roof’s dimensions. Precise measurements are essential to determine the quantity of cedar shake needed. The following process will help you measure your roof accurately:

  1. Measure the length and width of each roof section to calculate the overall square footage.
  2. Factor in the roof pitch (slope) as steeper roofs require more material.
  3. Prepare a detailed diagram of the roof, including hips, valleys, and any dormers or projections.
  4. Add an additional 10-15% waste factor to your total square footage to account for cutting and fitting shakes, especially around edges and fixtures.

A well-detailed diagram and accurate calculations ensure you purchase the correct amount of material, avoiding delays and excess costs. Having all the necessary materials ready streamlines the installation process, bringing you closer to enjoying the timeless appeal of a cedar shake roof.

Laying The Foundation For Cedar Shake Roof

Before you bask in the rustic charm of a cedar shake roof, it’s essential to lay a rock-solid foundation. Proper installation of water barriers and underlayment, coupled with meticulous attention to drip edges and flashing, is crucial for a durable and weather-resistant finish. Let’s dive into the steps to ensure your cedar shake roof stands the test of time and the elements.

Water Barriers And Underlayment Installation

The first line of defense against moisture is a robust water barrier teamed with a stout underlayment. It’s not just about laying them; it’s about laying them right. Follow these detailed steps:

  • Start by clearing the roof deck of any debris or old roofing materials.
  • Measure and roll out the water barrier material, ensuring an overlap of at least 6 inches where the sheets meet.
  • Secure the barrier with cap nails or staples, spaced at regular intervals.
  • Next, layer the felt underlayment over the barrier, overlapping the edges similar to shingles to promote runoff.
  • Staple the underlayment at least every 6 to 8 inches along the edges and in a two-foot grid pattern throughout the body.

Drip Edge And Flashing Considerations

Terminating water correctly is non-negotiable. Drip edges and flashing not only protect the perimeters but also prevent water seepage around openings. Precision here can make or break the roof’s lifespan. Consider the following:

  1. Install drip edges along the eaves before the underlayment for optimal water shedding.
  2. On the rakes, the drip edge goes on top of the underlayment to prevent wind-driven rain from sneaking underneath.
  3. Use corrosion-resistant flashing around chimneys, vents, and valleys. Ensure there is at least a 4-inch overlap where pieces meet.
  4. Seal the edges of the flashing with roofing cement to create a water-tight barrier.

Remember, every barrier, flashing piece, and nail is a pledge against the elements. Execute them with precision, and your cedar shake roof will serve as a timeless shield for your home.

Starting Your Cedar Shake Application

Welcome to the comprehensive guide on Starting Your Cedar Shake Application. A cedar shake roof offers a natural and aesthetically pleasing look to any home, combining durability with a classic architectural style. The key to a long-lasting cedar shake roof lies in the correct installation of the first course. This foundational step is crucial for ensuring proper alignment, water-shedding, and overall integrity of the roofing system. By following the steps below and adhering to the best practices in nailing techniques and spacing, homeowners and contractors can install a cedar shake roof with confidence and precision.

Aligning The First Course Accurately

Proper alignment of the first course sets the tone for the entire roof. Begin by determining the roof’s eave edge. Here’s how to get started:

  • Measure and Snap: Use a measuring tape to find the correct overhang distance (commonly 1½ inches) past the eave and fascia. Then, snap a horizontal chalk line across the roof to guide the alignment of the first course.
  • Starter Course: Lay a starter course using a flat shingle or a cedar shake that’s doubled up. Ensure it is straight and extends beyond the chalk line as specified.
  • First Shake Position: Place your first cedar shake against the starter strip aligning it with the chalk line. Use a level to double-check that it’s perfectly horizontal.

Accuracy in this stage is essential for the functionality and visual consistency of the roof.

Nailing Techniques And Spacing Rules

Once the first course is aligned, it’s time to secure the shakes using the correct nailing techniques and adhering to the spacing rules:

  1. Number of Nails: Typically, two galvanized nails are used per shake. If the shakes are wider than 10 inches, use three nails.
  2. Nail Location: Position nails about ¾ inch from each edge and 1½ to 2 inches above the exposure line, ensuring they are driven straight, not at an angle.
  3. Nail Length: Choose nails long enough to penetrate at least ¾ inch into the roof deck.
  4. Spacing Between Shakes: Maintain a minimum spacing of ⅜ inch to 5/8 inch between adjacent shakes to allow for natural expansion.
Shake Width Nail Count Edge Distance Spacing Between Shakes
< 10 inches 2 ¾ inch ⅜ – 5/8 inch
> 10 inches 3 ¾ inch ⅜ – 5/8 inch

Note: Follow local building codes for specific nailing requirements and inspection checkpoints. With these techniques and rules in mind, you are ready to install a cedar shake roof that is both beautiful and structurally sound.

How To Install Cedar Shake Roof: Beginner’s Guide

Embarking on a new DIY roofing project can be an exciting yet daunting task. This guide is designed to help beginners understand the fundamentals of installing a cedar shake roof. With its natural beauty and durability, cedar shake roofing is a popular choice among homeowners. To ensure your roof installation goes smoothly, follow this detailed, step-by-step guide, remembering to prioritize safety and precision throughout the process.

Step-by-step Guide For Placing Cedar Shakes

  • Gather Tools and Materials: Before starting, collect all necessary tools such as a hammer, saw, roofing nails, ladder, and of course, the cedar shakes.
  • Prepare the Roof: Ensure the roof deck is clean, dry, and flat. It’s essential that you start with a solid foundation.
  • Install Underlayment: Apply a high-quality, waterproof underlayment to protect against moisture.
  • Starting Course: Place the first row of shakes along the edge of the roof, allowing for proper overhang.
  • Trimming and Cutting: Shakes may need to be trimmed for a custom fit, especially around edges and vents.
  • Nailing: Use rust-resistant nails to secure each shake, typically two nails per shake.
  • Staggering the Shakes: As you move up the roof, stagger the shakes to ensure a watertight and visually appealing pattern.
  • Continue the Process: Repeat the process, row by row, checking alignment and maintaining a consistent overhang.
  • Finishing Touches: Install ridge caps and perform a final inspection to ensure all shakes are securely in place.

Ensuring Proper Overlap And Course Alignment

  1. Measure the Overlap: The recommended overlap for cedar shakes is at least 1.5 inches to prevent water infiltration.
  2. Check Alignment: Use chalk lines or a laser level to maintain straight course lines across the roof.
  3. Account for Expansion: Leave a small gap between shakes to allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the wood.
  4. Vertical Alignment: Ensure each shake is vertically aligned with the one below it, except where staggering is necessary.
  5. Inspection: Regularly step back and inspect the work from a distance to catch any misalignments early in the process.

Perfecting The Cedar Shake Roofing Pattern

When it comes to perfecting the cedar shake roofing pattern, precision is key. A well-installed cedar shake roof doesn’t just offer protection; it also provides an eye-catching aesthetic to your home. To ensure your roof is as beautiful as it is durable, it’s crucial to pay attention to the details of shake arrangement and installation technique. By mastering the art of achieving aesthetic consistency and properly staggering your shake joins, you will enhance not only the appearance but also the longevity of the roof. Let’s explore the essential steps to create a roof that’s both visually stunning and expertly crafted.

Achieving Aesthetic Consistency And Alignment

For a cedar shake roof that exudes harmony and consistency:

  • Select shakes of similar color and grain to create a uniform look across the roof surface.
  • Align the shakes accurately on each course to ensure straight lines that add to the roof’s aesthetic appeal.
  • Use a vertically hung string line or a specially designed roofing tool to maintain consistent courses.
  • Check regularly for alignment and make adjustments as needed to avoid gradual drifting of the pattern.

Staggering Joins And Mixing Shake Widths

  1. Prevent water infiltration; ensuring shakes do not line up with the gaps below is crucial for a watertight installation.
  2. Enhance the roof’s durability by distributing the load and reducing potential weak points.
  • Avoid uniform joints which can lead to aesthetic monotony and structural vulnerabilities.
  • Generate a dynamic, rustic appearance that cedar roofs are celebrated for.
  • Maximize the use of various shake sizes allowing for efficient material management and cost-effectiveness.

Never hesitate to trim shakes for a better fit, remembering that the goal is to create a seamless, interlocking pattern for both visual charm and structural integrity.

Ensuring Longevity Of Your Cedar Shake Roof

Ensuring the longevity of Your Cedar Shake Roof starts with proper installation and continues through rigorous post-installation maintenance. Cedar shake roofs are renowned for their natural beauty and durability but making sure they last requires attention to detail during every step of the process. By carefully addressing the installation of ridge caps and ensuring proper roof ventilation, as well as committing to ongoing post-installation treatments and maintenance, homeowners can significantly extend the lifespan of their cedar roofs.

Installing ridge caps and roof ventilation

Installing Ridge Caps And Roof Ventilation

The peak performance of a cedar shake roof highly depends on the effectiveness of ridge cap installation and the efficiency of the roof ventilation system. A well-ventilated attic space helps prevent the buildup of moisture, which is a known enemy of wood roofing materials. Here’s how to approach these critical tasks:

  • Choose high-quality cedar ridge caps designed to match the shakes for a seamless finish.
  • Ensure that the ridge caps overlap properly to provide a continuous barrier against the elements.
  • Ventilation is vital—install ridge and soffit vents to promote air circulation, which helps the roof structure remain dry and stable.
  • Assess attic insulation. Adequate insulation contributes to appropriate temperature regulation, complementing the ventilation system.

Post-installation treatments and maintenance

Post-installation Treatments And Maintenance

After the cedar shake roof installation, ongoing treatments and regular maintenance become the cornerstones of longevity. Implement the following strategies to preserve the integrity of your cedar roof:

  1. Apply protective treatments that safeguard against fungal growth, UV radiation, and moisture penetration. Options include coatings, sealants, or oils specifically designed for cedar roofing.
  2. Clean the roof regularly to remove debris, leaves, and branches that can trap moisture or cause the shakes to deteriorate prematurely.
  3. Inspect your roof annually, looking for signs of wear, damage, or loosening shakes, and address issues promptly to avoid more extensive damage.
  4. Keep gutters and downspouts clear to prevent water accumulation and ensure efficient runoff.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can significantly extend the lifetime of your cedar shake roof, ensuring it remains not only functional but also visually appealing for decades to come.

Frequently Asked Questions Of How To Install Cedar Shake Roof

What Are Cedar Shake Roofs?

Cedar shake roofs are crafted from natural cedar wood shingles. These shingles are known for their durability and distinct, rustic aesthetic. They provide a natural insulation effect and are often sought after for their traditional appearance.

How Long Do Cedar Shake Roofs Last?

Properly installed and maintained, cedar shake roofs can last up to 30 years. Longevity depends on the quality of materials, installation, climate, and maintenance practices like regular cleaning and treating against moss and fungi.

What Is The Cost Of A Cedar Shake Roof?

The cost of a cedar shake roof varies widely depending on factors like location, roof size, and shake quality. On average, expect to pay between $5 and $7 per square foot for materials alone. Installation costs are additional.

Are Cedar Shake Roofs Eco-friendly?

Cedar shakes are a renewable resource, offering an eco-friendly roofing option. They provide excellent insulation, reducing energy consumption. However, considerations like the treatment process and the source of the cedar wood impact their overall environmental footprint.


Embarking on a cedar shake roof installation can seem daunting, yet it’s achievable with the right tools and guidance. By following the steps outlined in our guide, your new roof’s natural beauty will soon enhance your home. Remember, proper technique ensures longevity and performance.

Ready to tackle your project? Your stunning cedar shake roof awaits!

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