Most Common Cedar Roof Repairs
Updated: Apr 2
Beloved for its rustic beauty and durability, cedar has been used as a roofing material for hundreds of years. However, despite its sturdiness, it's only a matter of time before this elegant wood starts showing signs of wear and tear. In this article, we'll cover the most common issues associated with cedar roofs and how roofing professionals go about repairing them.
Perform an Inspection
Roofing issues are not always obvious, which is why it's important for homeowners to perform routine inspections of their roof. Here are the steps you should take:
Inspect from the ground. Instead of getting up on a ladder and risking damage to yourself and your roof, see what you can spot from the ground. Do you notice any missing shingles, cracks or splits?
Find a qualified roofing contractor. If you notice any damage or wear, find an experienced roofing contractor to evaluate it — it can be hard for an untrained eye to determine the true extent of the damage. A qualified roofing contractor will send over an experienced, insured and licensed team. Stay away from any service that is unwilling to go on your roof before giving you a quote. We also recommend that you are home during the inspection so that you can talk with the roofers and ask them any questions.
Get a diagnosis. After performing the inspection, the team will share with you whether your roof needs to be repaired, restored or replaced completely.
A detailed, thorough inspection is essential to determine the level of repairs your roof needs. Your team should see if there is evidence of damage due to animals, hail or impact from debris. They should also search for related issues like clogged gutters or the wear and tear or failure of other materials such as roof flashing and accessories. Potential issues related to skylights, chimneys and overhanging trees should be evaluated as well.
We know that some homeowners are tempted to get on their roofs and perform their own inspection, but we advise against this. Not only is it dangerous, but it can also do damage to your shingles or shakes. The weight of a person standing on one is enough to crack it.
It may turn out that your roof needs no work on it at all, as what looks like damage to the homeowner is often just part of the roof's rustic appearance.
What Are the Most Common Cedar Roof Repairs?
Here are some of the common issues that cedar roofs experience and how to deal with them:
Moss is among the most common issues that cedar roof owners encounter, particularly those who live in humid, rainy climates. While both cedar shingles and shakes can experience moss growth, it is shingles that are particularly prone to moss deposits.
Moss is detrimental to cedar roofs in several ways. First of all, it damages the roof's aesthetic value, as a moss-covered cedar roof will soon look dilapidated. Furthermore, it compromises your roof's durability and longevity because it weakens the wood — and in some cases destroys the shingles from the inside out. The moisture that the moss retains can also easily seep into your cedar roof, which can eventually lead to leaks and damp spots on the inside walls. Sometimes, it can even compromise your home's main structure.
Moss growth can be identified by several telltale signs. These include spotting the moss itself, which has a fuzzy texture and tends to grow on the edges of and in the cracks of the shakes. Fraying and splitting on the bottom edges of shingles can also suggest moss growth. If you see discolorations on your interior walls just below your cedar roof, this can also be a sign.
If your roof has treated shingles, moss growth should not be an issue. The treatment used for cedar shingles includes a solution that prevents moisture growth, so if you have treated shingles and still experience moss growth, your warranty should offer a replacement. Make sure to bring this up with your contractor.
Owners of cedar roofs also tend to encounter issues with displaced or distorted shakes.
Shakes are typically rectangular-shaped and are installed either sideways or in an overlapping pattern, and displacement is usually caused by rough weather. When shakes are wobbly, they allow moisture to enter, which in turn makes the entire roof vulnerable to damage.
When you repair cedar shakes, your cedar roofing expert will first determine the condition of each damaged shake. During the inspection, they may identify shakes or shingles that are warped, curled and distorted.
This may come as a surprise, but this process of curling is a natural process and is commonly referred to as cupping. It's caused by ultraviolet rays and water. The harsher the elements in your climate, the sooner your cedar roof will develop curls and show other signs of age.
While shakes with a slight curvature can often be repaired, those that are significantly bent or stiff will likely need to be replaced instead. When replacing cedar shingles, cedar roofing repair professionals will take measurements and cut a new shingle for the replacement spot, allowing enough space for the cedar to expand on humid days. This type of replacement is critical for protecting your home and should only be performed by a cedar roof repair professional.
Improper reinstallation could do damage to surrounding shakes, the flashing or even the structure of the roof.
If you notice leaks inside your home, the next step should be to inspect your entire roof. This can be done without going up on your roof, though.
Looking for the source of leaks can be extremely difficult during normal weather because, unlike when it's raining, there won't be any water leaking during your inspection. To trace the source of a leak, though, you can look for the air-conditioning exhaust ducts or pipe rises that end above the roof. Attics sometimes have these, and they can be a great reference for pinpointing the location of a leak.
Another tip is to see if there is light peeking through a pinhole. You can also search for damp spots and water stains beneath the sheathing or around the rafter. Then, if possible, trace the stains or moisture to its point of origin.
Leaks in cedar roofs can be caused by a number of factors. Sometimes they're caused by shingles that have come loose, in which case they can be nailed back down easily. Other times, they're caused by more serious underlying problems and require a more intensive solution, in which case a cedar roofing professional should be called upon. They will be able to repair the leak properly so that the life of your roof will be extended.
If you discover a leak in your cedar roof, you may be tempted to plug up the spot with a sealant or other easily accessible treatments. While some treatments and sealants may improve water resistance, they may not be good for the cedar roofing itself. Cedar is an organic, natural material and has to breathe. Furthermore, completely sealing cedar roofing with clear sealants or plasticizers will further damage your roof by not letting it contract or expand, which may shorten your roof's lifespan.
4. Cracks and Splits
All kinds of cedar shingles and shakes are prone to splitting and cracking over time. The speed at which they split and crack, however, depends on a number of factors. Cedar roofs that are found in climates with frequent severe weather, for instance, will likely split and crack sooner than ones in milder climates.
Splits that are caused by natural weathering tend to be wide at the shingle's base. This is because the base is where these splits tend to start developing. When inspecting a shingle, a roofer may notice that the splits have rounded edges on the upper surface. This means that these splits have been open for a while and exposed to the elements. The interiors of these splits are the same color as the upper surface.
If the splits or cracks have sharp edges and the interiors are closer to orange in color, this means the damage occurred much more recently and was most likely the result of impacts from tree branches, hail storms or mechanical damage.
If the split or crack extends the entire length of the shingle or shake, loosening will occur, and the shingle or shake might be blown off the roof or displaced — especially if a person walks on the roof. If the splits are big enough to expose the underlayment to direct sunlight, the UV radiation will cause the felt to deteriorate, which, in turn, would let more moisture get into the roofing system.
To avoid more serious issues down the road, it's best to fix the splits and cracks of your cedar roof as soon as possible. The cedar roofing repair contractor will take out and replace any damaged shakes or shingles and confirm that no additional areas of your roof have been affected, as these problems sometimes spread.
Cedar roofing repair contractors have various techniques to fix these issues, including complete shingle replacement and metal patches.
If you have cracks on your cedar roof, do not attempt to walk on it because you might end up causing more to break. If you notice any splits or cracks that are fairly uniform in width, they were most likely caused by a person walking on the roof. Cedar roofing repair contractors are trained to walk on roofs without causing additional damage.
Contact Cedar Roof Coatings
Your cedar roof works hard to protect your home, and you want to be sure it receives the protection it needs to last. If you're having issues with your cedar roof and you live in Fairfield County CT or Westchester County, NY, trust Cedar Roof Coatings, the area's leading cedar roof restoration, preservation and repair company.
We are based in Norwalk, CT and have been proudly serving our area for 35 years. We always begin with an honest, thorough inspection of your cedar roof. If your roof is old, we won't just advise to you replace it — with proper maintenance, your roof might have another 10 or 15 years left. And if we can we save your roof by performing a roof restoration, this is what we'll recommend.
Our goal is to provide our customers with a long-lasting, beautiful roof at a fair price. Call us at 203.847.5740 or fill out our online contact form to receive a free estimate!