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Cedar roofs have received a bad, albeit undeserved, reputation over the past decade or so. Faced with comparatively shorter life spans and more costly maintenance, homeowners have converted over en masse to composition roofs. It is easy to forget the original reasons why cedar roofs are so popular, especially here in Portland Oregon.
Unequalled by any other roofing material, beauty is the primary reason. With its warm and elegant looks, a nature material like cedar adds much value to a home. To date, no artificial material has yet to match its great look, and believe us, they try. Whether it is a concrete tile, a newer multi-material composite roof, or a laminated asphalt composition, none can duplicate nature’s handiwork.
So the big question lingers: What is a homeowner to do if you want the look of a cedar roof but are leery.
A quick education will help you greatly. Realizing that the current roof on your home that did not last as long as it should have is likely not the same as the cedar roof that All Surface Roofing and Construction could install for you today.
The difference between low and high quality cedar shakes is a large as the difference between Yugo and a Mercedes. Cedar shakes are graded, from no. 1 to no. 3, plus the additional grade of premium. Both no. 2 and no. 3 cedar shakes allow a large rate of defect within a given shake. Plus, they both can have substantial flat grain allowed in the cedar shakes (no 3 grade allows an unlimited amount of flat grain.)
You can now understand why such cedar shakes just do not have much of a chance to last beyond 15 to 20yrs. They start to soften and splinter much sooner than higher-grade shakes. Since common wisdom tells us that no. 1 is always the best is everything we encounter, one might be inclined to think that no. 1 cedar shakes are the best you can use. Yet, that is not the case. No. 1 cedar shakes, while considerably better that no. 2 or no. 3 shakes, still allow up to 20% flat grain. The best available grade are Premium shakes. Premium grade allows 0% flat grain and no defects, meaning that every cedar shake is 100% vertical, edge grain.
Moreover, the thickness of a cedar shake has quite a lot to do with its longevity. Medium thickness shakes must be at least ½” (measured on the inner surface at the butt end.) Less common but even better is a “Heavy” shake, which must be at least ¾” (measured on the inner surface at the butt end.) Heavy is not as much a grade but rather just a larger, “heavier” cedar shake. You can learn more about cedar shake grading here.
This information relates to the many short-lived roofs that have damaged the reputation of cedar roofs in the following way. Throughout the 1980s and 1990, many Portland Oregon homes were built using “builder grade” shakes (no. 2 and no. 3 cedar shakes.) Both expensive and common homes alike commonly used this grade of cedar shake. The homes built with no. 1 shakes, while lasting longer than those with no.2 and no. 3 shakes, did so with large amounts of maintenance required (not surprising, it is usually the allowed 20% flat grained that failed first.)
All Surface Roofing and Construction only install cedars roofs using either Premium Grade medium thickness shakes or “Heavy” shakes.
Eventually, even these quality cedar shakes will need some shakes replace throughout the years, but the volume of needed replacements is considerably less. With a cedar roof install by All Surface, you can count on a roof that will last 35 to 50 years with proper maintenance.
No one can say for certain when your new cedar roof will still be more expensive to maintain that other roof types but most likely, yes it will be a little more. However, from an economic standpoint, you must also factor in the extra value that a quality cedar roof adds to your home. When this added value is taken into consideration, the costs likely equal out or you might actually be slightly ahead from choosing cedar.
Moreover, cedar roofing is a natural, renewal resource. In Portland, Oregon, we are located close to the production areas which further helps keep resource usage and transportation cost lower.
As a result of choosing the right type of cedar shake and the right roofer, you can enjoy the beauty, enhanced home value and green benefits of a natural cedar shake roof and have it be one of your best long lasting investments in your home.
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