Cedar Shake roof

I’m inspecting my first cedar shake roof tomorrow. Can anyone give me any pointer as to what to look for (house is only 10 yrs. old) Does these roofs have any maintenance requirements ? Do I walk on this roof ? TKS In Advance

Recommended exposure is 5" with skip shearing beneath. Curling and general soundness. Proper flashing details include raised valley flashing preventing water from migrating under the shingles. Water and weather proofing are generally not an issue. Maintain proper clearances and step flashing details as per the American Shingle Association.
Roofs are generally a higher grade of resawn cedar shingles # 1 Blue Label. Mostly originating from Canada and milled here in the USA.

This may help you:


5 years a member, and you do not know about wood shingle roofs?

Take every InterNACHI roofing course and read every InterNACHI roof article.

Down here I have never done a wood roof.

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It’s all explained for you in the Mastering Roof Inspections section on wood roofs, and InterNACHI also has a video course on Inspecting Wood Shake and Shingle Roofs.
A couple of hours work to become qualified is better than asking strangers to give you tips just before you inspect a roof that could cost thousands of dollars to replace. You need to exercise some responsibility, Sam. I understand that your inspection might have been short notice, but InterNACHI’s support is designed to help you with that, especially the Mastering Roof Inspections series. Take a half hour to review it and learn the most important points if you don’t have time to learn more.

That’s a condesending statement. Do you know everything about all aspects of building?

You can do a lot of damage by walking on it. Best to study up on it before going forward.

I told Sam where to find the information he needed and that it is irresponsible to inspect only according to what people tell you at the last minute before the inspection.

If you do that, you can wind up with incorrect information like “you can do a lot of damage by walking wood roofs”. Wood shakes or shingles that are so weak and brittle that they split when stepped on are at or near the ends of their useful lives anyway. Walking on wood shakes or shingles in which no/few defects are visible will not damage them. The exception might be if sub-standard shakes or shingles have been used, which in most parts of the country is very rare these days.

Absolutely right, “Best to study up on it before going forward.”

If you have no idea what you are looking at, you are going to end up walking on those weak and brittle shakes/shingles. They were not broken when you showed up, but they are now. Regardless of them already needing to be replaced, who do you think is going to end up paying for them if you do further damage?

In my immediate area of the San Fernando valley, many insurance companies will not insure a home with a Cedar Shake roof.

So while a few exist, they are few and far between. Although I see plenty of homes I can tell USED to be Cedar Shake roof, because the skip sheeting is often still visible from the attic.

If there’s a large percentage of split shingles or shakes, no one is going to know which ones you broke, but if it’s that bad, you probably don’t need to walk it to evaluate it anyway.

I worked as a carpenter over a large part of S. CA in the 70s and 80s. Especially in the 70s, I’ll bet 40% of the homes we built- mostly tracts- had shakes over spaced sheathing.

I believe it. I see a lot of skip sheeting in the attics. Including the 1st house I owned.

But most of the actual shakes have been replaced. They (hopefully) put plywood over the skip sheeting, and then asphalt/composition shingles.

Now if you go up into the mountain communities, cedar shakes are way more common. But it’s rare I go that far for an inspection.

Simple answer: “You should.”

Probably will raise some hackles.

The first reply should been to have a knowledgeable experienced roofing professional to go with you to evaluate the roof that you do not know what to look for. Most anything else would be fraudulent. Obtaining an overnight “Certification” of some kind sounds good (marketing) but really doesn’t cut it either.

Knowing, understanding and having experience of the past 70 years of shake materials and installation methods is crucial. Knowing how installation recommendation/methods have changed and why those have failed and why is crucial. Getting a few tips does not ethically cut it if a professional inspection and evaluation is to be performed.

5" exposure and labeling was mentioned and that is just the tip of the iceberg. 18" or 24" double sawm, hand split single sawn, treated or untreated along with #1 Blue or Black is in the beginning. But that is far from a true start for acceptable understanding.

There is also the aspect of being able to determine the difference between a roof that has a bad appearance and one that is functionally bad. Shakes have the ability to look bad but are just fine. Knowing the difference is experience and knowledge and to often the uninformed the mistake is easily made.

Would you walk this roof?

From the photos, there looks to be a fair amount of split, cracked and cupped shakes. Maybe even some missing shakes on the bottom as well, but it is hard to tell from the photo. The pitch looks fairly steep on top of it all. I personally would not walk it. From whatever vantage point you shot these from, the condition can be determined without getting onto it.

Good analysis, Jeff. There were a few missing at the transition from upper to lower roofs.
The shakes were starting to weather-split, creating an increasing percentage of inadequate sidelaps (less than 1.5") and beginning to show some erosion that exposed interlayment. I shot this upper roof, about 5&12, from a lower roof above the porch, about a 3&12, that was in the same condition, but I walked all slopes. I didn’t notice any shakes cracking underfoot and you couldn’t tell where I had walked by looking. If an inspector walks an old, brittle clay tile or slate roof, or even some concrete tile roofs, they may break some tiles and (rightly) be asked to pay for repairs, but if they cause damage at all walking a wood roof, it changes the overall condition of the roof very little.
Found another shot of that roof. Same roof but different slopes.

Cedar roofs are generally available in a couple of specific qualities. You must select the one according to your budget and need. There are a variety of options available in the market stores. At least one is the shingle made out of red cedar while the other is produced out from the white-colored variety. No, these roofs do not have any maintenance requirements.

Of course they require maintenance, stop posting nonsense, David. :roll:
Especially avoid accumulation of debris, which will hold moisture against the roof and promote decay. Split shakes that create less than 1.5" sideslip should be replaced, and so should damaged shakes. Loose shakes should be re-fastened. Flashing may need to be replaced.