Wooden shingles, also called shakes, are most often made from cedar. They provide an attractive and authentic look for a home, but also require a great deal of regular maintenance. Cedar shingles come in a variety of different colours and four different grades. The two major colours in which cedar shingles are available are red and white, while the grades are assigned a variety of designations.
Red cedar shingles are extremely durable, at least for cedar shingles. They are also resistant to weather and the elements. However, these shingles have a major downside in that they tend to turn black when exposed to the weather for an extended period of time.
White cedar shingles are not as durable and long-lasting as red cedar shingles, but they also do not weather in such a drastic manner. Instead of turning black, white cedar shingles turn a silvery colour that looks more natural and attractive. In general, builders recommend that seaside properties or homes in climates with a great deal of rainy and windy weather use white cedar as opposed to red cedar.
Cedar shakes are a bit different from cedar shingles, but it is only a matter of degree of milling. Cedar shakes have a rougher appearance than cedar shingles. Unlike shingles, which are sawed cleanly from a block of wood and sanded down into a uniform shape, cedar shakes are split from the wood and do not have a uniform appearance. They also have a rough, highly textured appearance.
The average lifespan of cedar shingles is 20 to 25 years. In some instances, shingles have lasted as long as 60 years.
Cedar shingles need to “breathe.” There must be air flow under the shingles to allow them to dry after absorbing moisture. Mounting cedar shingles onto sheathing can reduce lifespans to 15 years or less.
Some installers recommend treating cedar shingles with a sealant every 5 years to protect and preserve the wood. Sealants should be applied on roofs by professionals since they make cedar roofing slippery.
Some cupping and warping of shingles is normal and does not indicate shingles that have outlived their lifespan. If cupping and warping is excessive, over a wide area, it could be a sign of installation problems.
Cedar shingles, long wooden slats used as an alternative to traditional siding, will endure for years and maintain an attractive appearance when cared for properly. As with most types of siding, the biggest problem with cedar shingles is discoloration due to weather, mildew, mould and dirt. One of the easiest ways to clean the discoloration off of cedar shingles is by using a low pressure washer.