Caring For Your Cedar Shake Roof: How To Keep It Looking Great And Protected From Rot

Cedar is a durable wood, and it contains natural oils that make it resistant to pests and microbial growth. However, it's not completely immune to them, and some of these natural oils will inevitably be washed out of the wood by the rain. In order to keep your cedar shake roof in good condition and maximize its lifespan, you'll need to keep it well-maintained. To find out how to best care for cedar shake roofing, read on.

Trim Overhanging Tree Branches

One of the best ways to keep your cedar shake roof in good condition is to make sure there are no tree branches hanging over it. This helps prevent moss and algae from growing on your roof. Shade from the tree branches will slow down the rate at which rainwater evaporates, giving these living organisms more time to grow and take root on your roof. In addition, you'll also minimize the number of leaves that fall on your roof. Leaves can trap moisture against the cedar shakes, damaging them.

Remove Leaves, Moss, and Algae

Moss and algae are visually unappealing, and they can damage your roof as well. Like leaves, they will trap moisture against your roof and damage your cedar shakes. Remove leaves from your roof using a garden hose with a spray nozzle attached to it.

Moss can be manually scraped off with a long-handled brush. If you can't reach it, spray moss remover on it. These products usually contain potassium salt, which will kill the moss. Moss removers are more effective on moss that has just started growing, so make sure you periodically check your roof.

Install Zinc and Copper Strips on Your Roof

In order to cut down on how often you need to clean your roof, you can have a roofing service install metal strips on your roof. The strips need to be made out of zinc or copper, and they're usually installed on ridge caps.

Whenever it rains, some of the metal will be washed downhill with the rainwater, where it will seep into the cedar shakes. Both of these metals have natural antimicrobial properties, so they do an excellent job of preventing moss, algae, and fungus from growing on your roof.

Apply a Fungicidal Surface Treatment

While zinc or copper strips are helpful in preventing microbial growth, you usually won't be able to achieve full coverage with them. Areas that aren't receiving rainwater containing the metals should have a fungicidal surface treatment applied to them. Fungus is responsible for causing wood to rot, since it eats the fiber in the wood. If fungus starts growing on your roof, it can quickly become damaged.

Copper naphthenate is a good choice for this, since it will seep into the cedar shakes. You'll need to buy a solution that's specifically designed for cedar shake roofs, since copper naphthenate is green—the fungicidal solution for cedar shake roofs is dyed brown in order to match the roof.

The copper naphthenate will be washed away by the rain eventually, so you'll have to re-apply it every few years. How often you'll need to reapply it depends on your local weather conditions. If you notice moss, algae, or fungus coming back, it's time to re-apply it again.

Replace Rotting Shakes Immediately

Although taking all of the precautions above will minimize the chance of your cedar shakes rotting, there's still a chance that it could set in. If you do notice any rotting shakes, you'll need to call a cedar shake roofing service and have the shakes replaced immediately. Rotting shakes will eventually begin to crack apart, which can expose your home to rainwater. Worse, the rot-causing fungus can begin to spread and infest the shakes nearby. Removing the rotten shakes will prevent the spread and restore the integrity of your roof.

To sum it up, prevention is better than periodic cleaning when it comes to maintaining your cedar shake roof. By trimming back overhanging branches, installing antimicrobial metal strips and using fungicidal surface treatments, you'll protect your cedar shake roof and reduce the amount of cleaning that you'll have to do. By keeping your roof free of things that trap moisture against it, you'll improve the appearance of your roof along with its longevity.

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