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Should Cedar Shingles Be Sealed Or Otherwise Treated?

The natural look of cedar shingles is difficult to beat. It creates a unique look for any house you cannot get by using shingles made from more common materials.

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However, there are a few more steps to take with cedar shingles than with other types of shingles. This post will explore all of the extra responsibilities of cedar shingles.

Cedar shingles must be sealed with some stain, paint, or waterproof treatment to last longer.

Cedar shingles will only last five years or less without any treatment, depending on your local climate.

This is due to rotting, discoloration, and cracking due to weather exposure.

Because wood is more sensitive than other materials, it is easier to damage these shingles. This makes it incredibly important to care for them to improve their longevity properly.

There are several different ways to protect cedar shingles from harmful elements, so we will discuss which options may work best for you.

Background of Wall with Green Cedar Shingles, Should Cedar Shingles Be Sealed Or Otherwise Treated?

Options For Treating Cedar Shingles

The best way to protect cedar shingles from harmful sun rays, rain, and strong winds is to use a stain or waterproof treatment. However, some people may opt for using paint of their choosing.

Which option to go with depends on your personal preference. Some like the idea of choosing the color for their shingles, while others stick to clear stain and treatment to enjoy the natural wood look.

If choosing paint, any kind meant for wood will work. Most people choose not to use paint for cedar shingles because it involves losing the natural color of the wood.

Another reason is paint tends to chip and peel faster than other options. Because of this, maintenance would occur much more frequently than with stains or treatment.

A second option would be to use a water repellant preservative or WRP. These products are transparent and protect the wood from rotting due to water exposure. Some of these are even specific to the type of wood.

This can be handy because some woods are more sensitive to specific ingredients.

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The final option is wood stain. There is a large variety of wood stains to choose from. They can be water or oil based and either clear or colored.

If the cedar in your shingles is subtle, you can use a stain with cedar coloring to enhance the natural beauty and make it stand out more.

Stain tends to last the longest out of these three options and provides all the protection your wood shingles will need. Another perk for using stain is you have the option to clear coat or color coat.

This provides the best of paint and WRPs in one product.

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How Do You Treat Cedar Shingles?

Abstract wooden texture of cedar shingles

Now that we know some treatment products, you may wonder how to apply these products to the shingles.

The best methods for applying the treatment to the cedar shingles depend heavily on which option you decide on. Clear products will not require as much attention to detail as colored products and, therefore, can be done quicker.

For clear water repellent protectives, the most effective way to treat your shingles is to dip several at a time in a large container with the WRP. This is a dip-apply method that allows you to save some time by doing several pieces at once.

When applying stain or paint to cedar shingles, more patience is helpful. The only two options for these products are brushing or spraying the shingles until they are evenly coated.

Brushing may make it easier to keep the coats of paint or stain even and smooth. However, investing in a pump sprayer will make the task less time-consuming.

It is also important to note that the best way to ensure these treatments continue to protect your roof is to reapply them every one to three years.

How often you need to do this depends on your choice of treatment and your local climate. You can also add treatments to prevent algae and similar plants from growing.

How Long Will A Cedar Roof Last?

When taking the precaution of sealing your cedar shingles, you may wonder how long you can expect them to last now. While many more traditional roofing options may need replacing every 12 to 20 years, cedar roofs can be expected to last at least 30 years.

It is possible to get an even longer lifespan from these shingles if they are correctly maintained. They can sometimes last as long as 50 years!

One of the reasons cedar shingles last so much longer than other options is that cedar is one of the strongest types of wood.

This wood is a lot less likely to crack and warp over time due to the natural oils that protect it. When this natural protective oil is paired with a protective sealer like those previously mentioned, this wood becomes highly durable.

Westen red cedar shingles natural texture pattern

How Do You Maintain Cedar Shingles?

Another way to ensure your cedar roof will last a very long time is to take care of it properly. One way to do this is to ensure gutters stay clean and empty.

Without empty gutters, debris like pine needles and leaves can back up onto the actual roof. If left there for too long, this can create a breeding ground for moss and fungus.

These plants can eat away at wooden shingles and cause serious damage.

In addition to keeping gutters free from this debris, checking the crevices between shingles for debris is vital. Natural debris can easily become stuck in between cedar shingles.

If these areas are not checked regularly, moss and fungus can do extensive damage before you even realize it's there. One of the easiest ways to clean the roof is to regularly power wash it.

A power washer can quickly remove the debris along the rooftop and also aids in keeping the wood shingles strong. This method will also wash away pieces of broken or rotten wood. Because of this, you will have an easier time knowing when to replace shingles.

You can also treat a cedar roof every few years for pests drawn to wood. This can protect your shingles from harmful bugs, such as termites. If you live in an area where pests like this are common, it may be a good idea to take steps toward preventing their arrival on your roof.

Cleaner with pressure washer at roof house

Which Is Better: Red Or White Cedar?

When using cedar shingles for your roof, you must face one decision that at first may seem purely about aesthetics: the color of the cedar.

Though the overall look of your house is undoubtedly an essential factor to consider, there are other reasons to decide carefully. The color of the cedar plays a key role in how well the roof will protect your home.

One factor to consider with cedar colors is how they affect the insulation. Red cedar does better at holding air in the home because it is a stronger wood than white cedar.

If energy efficiency is essential for you, red cedar may be an option to seriously consider for your roof. Another downside to white cedar is how much weaker it is than red.

White is more likely to crack and break apart over time. There is a possibility of white shingles cracking during installation.

Even though white cedar may be an easier match for the rest of your house, there are definite drawbacks to keep in mind.

To Finish

Cedar Shingles

The natural beauty of cedar shingles comes with the price of additional steps to ensure they last a long time. To keep your rustic shingles longer than a few years before needing to replace them, sealing them in some protective treatment is essential.

This will allow you to enjoy the natural beauty of your roof for many years without worry.

For more helpful information on roofing options, check out these posts:

11 Roof Shingles Color Ideas And Options

Can You Put A Metal Roof Over Wood Shingles?