The Ultimate Guide to Cedar Roof Installation – Tips, Benefits, and DIY Advice

Welcome to the ultimate guide to cedar roof installation. If you’re considering upgrading your roof and want to add a touch of rustic elegance to your home, cedar roofing is an excellent choice. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits of cedar roofing, provide step-by-step instructions for a successful installation, offer tips and tricks to maximize the lifespan of your cedar roof, and answer frequently asked questions. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about cedar roof installation.

Why Choose Cedar Roofing for Your Home

Why Choose Cedar Roofing for Your Home

Aesthetic Appeal of Cedar Roofs

Cedar roofs are renowned for their natural beauty and timeless appeal. The warm tones of cedar shingles or shakes can complement any architectural style, from traditional to modern. The variation in color and texture adds depth and character to your home’s exterior, making it stand out in the neighborhood. Whether you prefer the classic look of cedar shingles or the rustic charm of cedar shakes, a cedar roof will enhance the curb appeal of your home and increase its value.

Durability and Longevity of Cedar Shingles

One of the main reasons homeowners choose cedar roofing is its durability and longevity. Cedar is a naturally durable wood that can withstand the elements, including heavy rain, wind, and snow. Properly installed and maintained cedar shingles can last for decades, making it a cost-effective roofing option in the long run. Additionally, cedar has natural insulating properties, which can help reduce energy costs and keep your home comfortable year-round.

Environmental Benefits of Cedar Roofing

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly roofing option, cedar is the way to go. Cedar is a sustainable and renewable resource, as it is harvested from responsibly managed forests. Unlike other roofing materials that end up in landfills after their lifespan, cedar shingles can be repurposed or recycled. Moreover, cedar has a low carbon footprint compared to synthetic materials, making it an environmentally conscious choice for homeowners who prioritize sustainability.

Preparing for Your Cedar Roof Installation

Preparing for Your Cedar Roof Installation

Before diving into the installation process, proper preparation is essential to ensuring a successful cedar roof installation. Here are the key steps to take before you begin:

Assessing Your Roof Structure

Before installing a cedar roof, it’s crucial to assess the condition of your roof structure. Check for any signs of damage, such as rot, sagging, or weakened areas. Ensure that the roof is structurally sound and can support the weight of the cedar shingles or shakes. If you have any concerns about the integrity of your roof, consult a professional roofing contractor for a thorough inspection.

Necessary Tools and Materials

To install a cedar roof, you’ll need a set of essential tools and materials. Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need:

  • Handsaw
  • Utility blade
  • Hammer
  • Staple gun
  • Sturdy ladder
  • Measuring tape
  • Personal protective equipment (helmet, safety glasses, earplugs, gloves, steel-toed boots, long sleeves, long pants, safety vest)

In addition to the tools, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Non-breathable underlay
  • Cedar shingles or shakes
  • Stainless steel ring shank nails or roof staples
  • Roof battens
  • Self-adhesive tape
  • Ventilation kit

Ensure that you have all the necessary tools and materials before starting the installation process to avoid any delays or interruptions.

Safety Considerations for Installation

Safety should always be a top priority when working on a roof. Before you begin the installation, make sure to take the following safety precautions:

  • Use a sturdy ladder, and have someone assist you in holding it steady.
  • Wear personal protective equipment, including a helmet, safety glasses, earplugs, gloves, steel-toed boots, long sleeves, long pants, and a safety vest.
  • Be cautious of your surroundings and watch out for electrical wires or other potential hazards.
  • Avoid working on the roof during adverse weather conditions, such as high winds or rain.
  • Follow proper ladder safety guidelines, and never overreach or stand on the top rung of the ladder.
  • If you’re uncomfortable or inexperienced with working at heights, consider hiring a professional roofing contractor for the installation.

By prioritizing safety, you can ensure a smooth and accident-free cedar roof installation process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing a Cedar Roof

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing a Cedar Roof

Now that you’ve completed the necessary preparations, it’s time to dive into the step-by-step process of installing a cedar roof. Follow these instructions carefully for a successful installation:

Removing Old Roofing Material

Before installing the cedar shingles or shakes, you’ll need to remove any existing roofing material. Start by identifying the areas that need to be stripped down to the roof deck. Use a handsaw or utility blade to carefully cut and remove the old shingles or shakes. Dispose of the old material responsibly, following local waste management regulations.

Installing Underlayment and Battens

Once the roof deck is exposed, it’s time to install the underlayment and battens. The underlayment provides an additional layer of protection against moisture, while the battens create a stable surface for the cedar shingles or shakes. Start by laying the non-breathable underlayment across the entire roof, ensuring there are no gaps or wrinkles. Secure the underlayment with self-adhesive tape.

Next, position the roof battens across the width of the roof, starting around five inches from the outer edge of the fascia. Use a hammer and nails to secure the battens in place, ensuring they are evenly spaced, approximately five inches apart. Take care to measure and align each batten properly to maintain a consistent installation pattern.

Laying Cedar Shingles or Shakes

With the underlayment and battens in place, it’s time to start laying the cedar shingles or shakes. Begin at the bottom of the roof and work your way up. Overhang the shingles or shakes by approximately 1.5 inches on the roof eaves to provide proper coverage and protection.

To achieve a secure and visually appealing installation, follow a “broken bond” pattern. Lay two shingles or shakes side by side and place a third on top, directly over the joint. Leave a small gap of about one-fifth of an inch between each shingle or shake to allow for ventilation and natural thermal movement.

Use stainless steel ring shank nails or roof staples to affix the shingles or shakes in place. Ensure that each fixing is three-quarters of an inch from the edge of the shingle or shake and approximately one inch from the butt of the shingle or shake above it. Maintain a straight line by using a tape measure or chalk line as a guide.

Techniques for Proper Shingle Alignment

Proper shingle alignment is crucial for a visually pleasing and functional cedar roof. Follow these techniques to ensure accurate alignment:

  • Start each row with a shingle or shake that overhangs the previous row by approximately one inch.
  • Install the thickest part of the shingle or shake at the top of each row for a consistent appearance.
  • Maintain a quarter-inch gap between each shingle or shake to allow for ventilation and water runoff.
  • Check the alignment regularly to ensure a straight and symmetrical installation.

Finishing Touches and Weatherproofing

As you near the completion of the cedar roof installation, pay attention to the finishing touches and weatherproofing. Trim the top layer of cedar shingles or shakes using a hand saw or utility knife to create an even ridgeline. Aim for a ridge that extends approximately five inches from the fascia, ensuring uniformity across the roof.

Consider adding preformed hip and ridge shingles for added protection and aesthetic appeal. These preformed shingles fit over the edge layer of the cedar shingles or shakes and provide a secure and finished look to the roof ridge.

To enhance the weatherproofing of your cedar roof, inspect the installation for any gaps or loose shingles. Seal any gaps or exposed nails with appropriate sealant or adhesive recommended for cedar roofing.

Tips and Tricks for Cedar Roof Installation

Tips and Tricks for Cedar Roof Installation

Installing a cedar roof requires attention to detail and proper techniques. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure a successful installation:

Selecting the Right Cedar Shingle Type

When choosing cedar shingles or shakes, consider the specific type that best suits your climate, budget, and aesthetic preferences. Cedar shingles are generally thinner and more uniform, while shakes are thicker and have a more rustic appearance. Research the different cedar shingle types available and consult with a professional roofing contractor to determine the best option for your home.

Overcoming Common Installation Challenges

Cedar roof installation can come with its fair share of challenges. Some common issues include misaligned shingles, inconsistent spacing, and difficulty achieving a uniform appearance. Take your time during the installation process, double-checking alignment and spacing at each step. If you encounter any challenges or are unsure about a particular installation technique, consult a professional for guidance.

Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Cedar Roof

To maximize the lifespan of your cedar roof, proper maintenance is crucial. Regularly inspect the roof for any signs of damage, such as cracked or missing shingles, and address them promptly. Keep the roof clean by removing debris, leaves, and moss regularly. Additionally, consider applying a protective finish or treatment to enhance the durability and weather resistance of the cedar shingles or shakes.

Maintenance and Care of Cedar Roofs

Maintenance and Care of Cedar Roofs

As with any roofing material, proper maintenance and care are essential for the longevity and performance of your cedar roof. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your cedar roof in optimal condition:

Routine Cleaning and Inspection

Regular cleaning and inspection are key to maintaining a cedar roof. Remove debris, leaves, and branches that may accumulate on the roof surface. Inspect the roof for any signs of damage, such as cracked or missing shingles, and address them promptly. Additionally, check for moss or mildew growth, which can be removed with a gentle cleaning solution or by hiring a professional roof cleaner.

Dealing with Moss and Mildew

Moss and mildew can be common issues with cedar roofs, especially in damp and shaded areas. To remove moss or mildew, use a gentle cleaning solution specifically designed for cedar roofs. Avoid using harsh chemicals or high-pressure washing, as they can damage the cedar shingles or shakes. If the moss or mildew growth is extensive, consider hiring a professional roof cleaner to ensure safe and effective removal.

When to Repair or Replace Cedar Shingles

Over time, cedar shingles may experience wear and tear or sustain damage from weather events. It’s important to address any issues promptly to prevent further damage to the roof. If you notice cracked or broken shingles, loose nails, or significant deterioration, consult a professional roofing contractor to assess the extent of the damage. In some cases, repair may be sufficient, while in others, a full replacement may be necessary.

The Pros and Cons of DIY Cedar Roof Installation

The Pros and Cons of DIY Cedar Roof Installation

Deciding whether to tackle a cedar roof installation as a DIY project or hire a professional roofing contractor is an important consideration. Here are some pros and cons to help you make an informed decision:

Understanding the Complexity of the Task

Cedar roof installation is a complex task that requires specific knowledge and skills. It involves working at heights, handling sharp tools, and ensuring precise alignment and spacing. If you have prior experience with roofing projects and feel confident in your abilities, a DIY installation may be feasible. However, if you’re inexperienced or uncomfortable with working on a roof, it’s best to hire a professional to ensure a safe and successful installation.

Cost Savings vs. Professional Expertise

One of the main reasons homeowners consider DIY cedar roof installation is the potential cost savings. By eliminating labor costs, DIY installation can be more budget-friendly. However, it’s important to weigh the potential cost savings against the expertise and experience that professional roofers bring to the table. Professional roofers have the necessary skills, knowledge, and tools to ensure a high-quality installation that adheres to industry standards.

Hiring a Professional Cedar Roof Installer

Hiring a Professional Cedar Roof Installer

If you decide that DIY installation is not the right choice for you, hiring a professional cedar roof installer is the next step. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a roofing contractor:

What to Look for in a Roofing Contractor

  • Experience: Choose a contractor with extensive experience in cedar roof installation. Ask for references and examples of their previous work.
  • Licensing and Insurance: Ensure that the contractor is properly licensed and insured to protect yourself and your property.
  • Reputation: Research the contractor’s reputation by reading reviews and testimonials from previous clients. Look for any complaints or disciplinary actions.
  • Warranty: Inquire about the warranty offered by the contractor. A reputable contractor should provide a warranty for both materials and workmanship.
  • Cost Estimate: Obtain detailed cost estimates from multiple contractors and compare them. Beware of significantly lower bids, as they may indicate subpar materials or workmanship.

Ensuring Quality Workmanship and Materials

When hiring a professional roofing contractor, it’s essential to ensure quality workmanship and materials. Here are some steps to take:

  • Request a written contract that outlines the scope of work, materials to be used, and timeline for completion.
  • Verify that the contractor will use high-quality cedar shingles or shakes from reputable manufacturers.
  • Inquire about the installation techniques and practices that the contractor follows to ensure a durable and long-lasting cedar roof.

Cedar Roof Installation FAQs

How Long Will a Cedar Roof Last?

With proper installation and maintenance, a cedar roof can last anywhere from 30 to 50 years. Regular inspections, routine cleaning, and timely repairs or replacements of damaged shingles or shakes can extend the lifespan of the roof.

Is Cedar Roofing More Expensive Than Other Materials?

Cedar roofing is generally more expensive upfront compared to other roofing materials. However, its longevity and durability can make it a cost-effective option in the long run. Additionally, the aesthetic appeal and environmental benefits of cedar roofing can enhance the value of your home.

Can Cedar Roofs Withstand Harsh Weather Conditions?

Cedar roofs are known for their resilience and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions. Cedar shingles or shakes can handle heavy rain, strong winds, and even snow. However, proper installation and regular maintenance are crucial to ensure the roof’s performance in extreme weather.

Are Cedar Roofs Fire Resistant?

Cedar roofs are not completely fireproof, but they do have natural fire-resistant properties. Cedar contains natural oils that can slow down the spread of flames. However, it’s important to note that cedar roofs should be treated with fire-resistant coatings or treatments for enhanced protection against fire.

What do you put under cedar roof shingles?

When installing cedar roof shingles, it’s essential to use a non-breathable underlayment. This underlayment acts as a moisture barrier and helps protect the roof deck from water infiltration. Ensure that the underlayment is properly installed and secured with self-adhesive tape.

Is cedar shake roof expensive?

Cedar shake roofs can be more expensive upfront compared to other roofing materials. However, their longevity, durability, and aesthetic appeal can make them a worthwhile investment. Additionally, cedar shake roofs may offer energy-saving benefits due to their natural insulating properties.

Is cedar good for roofing?

Cedar is an excellent choice for roofing due to its natural durability, resistance to the elements, and aesthetic appeal. It’s a sustainable and renewable resource that offers environmental benefits. However, proper installation and maintenance are crucial to ensuring the longevity and performance of a cedar roof.

What is the spacing for cedar roofing?

The spacing for cedar roofing shingles or shakes is typically around 1/8 to 1/5 of an inch. This spacing allows for proper ventilation, thermal expansion and contraction, and water runoff. However, the exact spacing may vary depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations and local building codes.


In conclusion, cedar roof installation is a rewarding project that can enhance the beauty, durability, and value of your home. By following the step-by-step guide, tips, and tricks outlined in this ultimate guide, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle a cedar roof installation. Remember to prioritize safety, choose high-quality materials, and consider professional assistance if you’re unsure about any aspect of the installation. Whether you decide to embark on a DIY installation or hire a professional roofing contractor, a well-maintained cedar roof will provide years of protection and visual appeal for your home. Make an informed decision, and enjoy the timeless beauty of a cedar roof.

Get Expert Assistance with Your Cedar Roof Installation

If you’re seeking expert assistance with your cedar roof installation, look no further. Our team of experienced professionals is here to help you every step of the way. From assessing your roof structure to selecting the right cedar shingles or shakes, we’ll ensure a seamless and high-quality installation. Contact us today for a consultation and let us bring your cedar roof vision to life.

Skylar Beamwright

Skylar Beamwright is a notable expert in roofing with over a decade of experience in construction and home improvement. He specializes in diverse roofing systems and has a background in Architectural Engineering. Skylar has implemented innovative roofing solutions, contributed to industry literature, and is a proponent of sustainable building practices. He is respected for his commitment to excellence, knowledge-sharing, and providing insights that empower homeowners and professionals in making informed roofing decisions. Skylar is also passionate about eco-friendly materials and technologies.

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