Why do cedar and pine roof shakes need maintenance?

Medium resaws are the most popular cedar shake in Calgary. The shakes dry out and check (crack) and expose the interply felt between courses. Over a period of time the felt will deteriorate and expose the sheathing. If left unattended, this can cause interior water penetration and leaking.

Over the years, cedar has built up natural enzymes that fight rot, however left alone or unmaintained over a period of time, a cedar shake will start to rot. Another problem is ridge cap staples become loose and need refastening. Flashing intersections need re-sealing and a general checkup will assure maximum longevity.

How often should a cedar and pine roof shake be looked at?

Shake Experts strongly believe 5 year maintenance intervals will decrease costs and maximize conditions for the roofing system to function at peak efficiency.

How long will my cedar and pine roof shake last?

There are a few variables involved, such as weather, type of cedar, pitch of the roof, and the quality of the installation. On average, through regular maintenance, a cedar and pine shake roof may last 50 years. Without maintenance, possibly 15 - 20 years before water begins to penetrate the roofing system.

Don't I have a 25-year warranty with my cedar and pine roof shake?

You must actually have the warranty card to have a valid warranty. That is given out at the time of installation or shortly thereafter. If you do have a valid warranty card, it is very likely a pro-rated warranty. It decreases in value 1/25th for every year the roof is on the home. It is also good for product only and not for labour. It is only good for the original cost of the roof. If you paid $12,000 for your roof in 1990, with $7,000 of product and $5,000 in labour, the value of your year 2000 warranty claim would be worth approximately $4200. Some warranty! You will still have to pay the difference for the inflated price of cedar, compared to 1990 prices, never mind the price of installation!

Is there something I can do to help the roof last longer?

Keep tree branches away from the roof. Keep valleys and gutters clear and free flowing, and of course provide regular maintenance.

Is cedar better than pine?

Cedar has over time built up natural enzymes that help it fight the fungus that destroys wood cells in other woods. Cedar is most commonly resawn so the natural grains and oils of the wood are exposed to the elements which help longevity. Untreated pine is tapersawn and is proven susceptible to the wood destroying fungus. In short, if left alone with no maintenance cedar will last longer than untreated pine.

If you add new shakes, how long will it take for the new shakes to fade and match the original shade of the roof?

Depending on the season it should take new cedar and pine roof shakes about 6 to 9 months to fade to about 90% of the original shade of grey. If you use a treated pine shake for maintenance on an originally installed untreated pine shake roof, the color will not blend exact. The north slope of the roof will take much longer than the south to fade. After 2 years, most of the shakes will match to within 70 to 80% of original untreated shake color.

How does your warranty work?

Depending on which maintenance option is chosen we will extend either a 2 to 5 year warranty that covers the entire roof area, not just the areas we repaired.

What can you offer me that would make your company different?

Our warranty is exclusive. We are also a proud member of BBB and AARA. We have countless references, all available upon request. We are also the only company in Calgary specializing in wood roof inspections, maintenance and repairs.

Why should I fix my untreated pine shake roof versus just installing a new roof?

There are several reasons to maintain a roof over installing a new one. The 3 main reasons are:

  1. If we assume 30% of the roof is deemed to be deficient, then 70% of the shakes are deemed to still be in good condition. Why dispose of perfectly good shakes in our landfills? Why remove an entire roof when not all the shakes are at the end of their life span? Does this make financial sense?
  2. A new shake roof can cost $14,000. If you spend $2000 to fix a shake roof at year 5, then another $2500 for maintenance 5 years later, and another $2500 at year 15, another $3000 at year 20. That is about $10,000 spread over 20 years compared to $14,000 spent today. The new roof will still have to be maintained every 5 years, driving these costs even higher. The maintenance route will also have a warranty attached that covers the entire roof for 20 years. A new roof should also have maintenance so there will still be maintenance costs every 5 years.
  3. Ask yourself this question: “do I plan on selling my house within the next 10 years?” If the answer is “yes” or even “maybe”, consider in most cases all the money you put into your roof you will not receive back through a sale. You might be better off maintaining the roof and putting the extra money back into your pocket.

My friend says that tearing the felt during repairs or maintenance may actually make the condition of my roof worse. Is that true?

Shake roofs are installed with a double felt overlapped system. If one of the layers is slightly torn, the layer below it will act as secondary coverage. In most cases when a shake is removed, there are only holes in the felt where the old fasteners were. When you slide a new shake into the vacant spot, it will cover the old fasteners holes. We have completed thousands of repairs, and have been very successful in not inducing leaks.


Fun Facts

Number of shakes installed for maintenance only: 1999 - 79,000 / 2000 - 92,000 / 2001 - 215,000 / 2002 - 93,000 / 2003 - 125,000 / 2004 - 190,000. A total of almost 800,000 shakes. That's over 300 miles of shakes laid end to end! The distance from Calgary to Edmonton and back, almost!

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