Why Cedar Roof?
It is hard to beat a cedar shingle / shake roof in a beauty contest. When first installed the roof has a light brown-reddish color but then weathers over time and turns to gray or soft silver. Wood shingles and shakes are usually made from some species of cedar, treated pine or spruce. Cedar however is the best performing material for making shingles and shakes. Shingles are sawn by the machine and have relatively smoothed surface and uniform thickness but may vary in width. Shakes are manufactured by wood splitting and have a rather rough textured front surface and smooth back.
Beauty is not the only reason why people choose a wood roof for their home. Wood roof may help to greatly reduce your heating and cooling costs. The shingles and shakes with their natural wood fibres act as an additional layer of insulation to your home. Cedar prevents heat from escaping through the roof especially during a cold Canadian winter season. Therefore, the cedar roof will noursh your home with beauty and lower heating and cooling prices.
For the astonishing look, cedar shingles and shakes are more labour consuming than asphalt shingles and require some periodic maintenance usually in a form of washing away any mildew or moss and then re-oiling. Another obvious downside of the wood shingles we should mention is their vulnerability to fire exposure.
Cedar Roofing Installation Tips
Nails and Flashings - A properly installed and maintained cedar roof usually lasts at least 30 and may last up to 50 years. In fact, in some cases roof shingles may last longer than nails used for their installation and/or metal flashings. We strongly advise that you use high quality galvanized nails, when cedar roof is installed. It might be a wise idea to use copper valleys and flashings instead of pre-painted steel. When shingles are installed using an air gun many of them could be damaged, which may lead to the problems in the future. Royal York Roofing applies hand nailing technique only, which proved to be the most reliable cedar roof installation.
Exposure - Cedar shingle is usually 18" long with variation in width between 4 " and 10 ". The length of the cedar shake could also be 18", but more commonly it is 24". An exposure is a vertical distance between the adjacent shingle courses, and is a crucial characteristic of a cedar roof. As a rule of thumb, cedar shingle/shake exposure should be at least 3 times less of the shingle/shake length, so that there is at least a triple overlap. Therefore, the exposure for 18" shingle/shake should be between 5.5 " and 6.0 ", while for 24" shake it should be anywhere between 7.5" and 8.0". For a mansard (vertical or almost vertical slope) the exposure conditions could be somewhat relaxed, however, our company strongly recommends 3 time overlap regardless of the slope. It is very common that contractors do not specify what exposure they are going to use in their quotation, and when it comes to installation they use large exposures (e.g. 8" for 18" shingle instead of 5.5"-6.0"). This way they can automatically save ~33% of the cost of labour and material, which helps them to offer you deceptively low quote. We have seen exposures used by other contractors as large as 9" for 18" shingles, which is unacceptable. It is also very important that the exposure is kept consistent over the entire roof. Improper exposure dramatically reduces life expectancy of cedar roofs, therefore be wary of unrealistic, low quotes.
Grades, Thicknesses - Standard cedar shingle/shake thicknesses are 3/8", 1/2", 5/8" and 3/4". Thicker material is more expensive, but improves the look and prolongs the life of the roof. There are several quality grades for cedar shingle/shake; however, our company only recommends and installs the top quality #1 grade shingles/shakes.
Attic Ventilation - In order to increase the life of your roof, adequate ventilation has to be provided. Installation of extra vents is generally a good idea to facilitate sufficient air exhaust, mainly for heat escape from the attic. It is also necessary to check that there is an adequate air intake. For example, make sure that soffit is not plugged by insulation and that there is enough vented soffit panels or intake vents. The exhaust and intake vents are equally important in providing sufficient air flow in the attic. The air flow allows for balancing the outside and inside temperature, which reduces the temperature difference stress from your roof.
Underlayment - In a case of cedar roof, proper attic ventilation alone may not be enough to effectively vent cedar shingles. Proper underlayment, such as felt paper between cedar courses helps to increase the air flow between shingles and also ads additional water protection. In addition, to all of our clients we strongly recommend to have cedar breather installed over the entire roof. Cedar breather is a plastic sponge like material that goes under the shingles allowing for continuous air flow, and makes a great difference in prolonging the life of your roof dramatically. In fact, 80% of all cedar roofs installed by our company have cedar breather. It is also mandatory to have ice & water protection in valleys around dormers, chimneys and 3'-6' up from the eaves. Those are the primary areas of snow collection and ice build- up. However, we strongly recommend installing Ice & Water Shield or Grace Ice & Water Shield (higher grade of regular ice & water shield) protection over the entire roof.
Cedar roof is a great investment in a long run, but only when it is installed properly. Royal York Roofing has a knowledgeable and experienced team of professionals specializing in cedar roof installations and repairs. We have successfully completed hundreds of residential, commercial and heritage cedar roofing projects in Toronto and GTA. So, let the experts do the work and get the most out of your investment.
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