Two Dormers on Wood Shaker Roof

When deciding what roof to install on a home, many people choose cedar shingle. Also called cedar shake roofing, these wooden shingles are made from the split logs of cedar wood— which gives them that natural appeal so central to historic homes. This style of roofing is hardly new, and that’s because it isn’t just pretty to look at— it’s also an incredibly durable product. 

Every year our team at Dominion Roofing gets asked about the longevity of this type of roofing. So, how long does a cedar shingle roof last? The answer might just surprise you, because with the proper maintenance, a cedar shake roof can easily last the duration of your lifetime in a home— as many as 50 years or more. But how does a simple wooden roof perform so well? We’ll dive into everything you need to know about the life expectancy your cedar shake roof here. 

How to know if your cedar shake roof is bad

The best way to ensure the longevity of your cedar shingle roof is to maintain it. Like other wood products, moisture is the enemy. Too much moisture can rot away at your cedar roof, but this can be avoided with proper maintenance and checks. 

In addition to the usual suspects of a leaky roof or a roof with missing shingles, you’ll also want to regularly check your cedar shake roof for rot, algae growth, or any warped or split shingles. All of this is a sign that your cedar roof might be due for maintenance, or at the very least require a checkup by the professionals. 

Another thing that can greatly improve your cedar shake roof life expectancy is to install what’s called cedar breathers. Cedar breathers are a mesh underlayer that allow for more regular airflow between the roof deck and the shingles, thereby helping to stave off any rot or excessive moisture in the shingles themselves. As you can imagine, having this type of system in place makes a big difference when it comes to keeping your roof happy and healthy. 

Why “where you live” matters

Like we mentioned earlier, cedar shake and excessive moisture don’t mix well. This is why “where you live” matters when it comes to the maintenance checks required by your roof system. 

In the mid-Atlantic region for example, most cedar shake roofs tend to last between 15-25 years before requiring some work. That’s because mid-Atlantic cities like Baltimore and Bethesda, Maryland have a relatively unstable and humid climate, making it difficult for cedar shingles to properly dry out between storms and exposure to moisture. 

The bottom line

Cedar shingle is an appealing style of roofing on just about any home— particularly those built in older styles, like historic homes. Ultimately, the choice of what roof to choose for your house depends a lot on where you live and what kind of maintenance you’re willing to do. 

Every roofing system requires something a little different which will vary from place to place, and even from home to home. The best thing to do if you’re unsure about your roof situation is to chat with a professional. 

Looking for roofing advice in Maryland? Get in touch and let us know how we can help.