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How To Clean Wood Shingles [7 Steps]

Wood shingles can provide homes with an earthy and charming appeal. While some roofing experts argue that wood shingles don't require much cleaning, others argue that it is absolutely required for the shingles to reach their full life expectancy. Have you considered cleaning your wood shingles? If so, you've come to the right place! We've found the best technique for cleaning wood shingles to discuss with you.

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Here are the steps to clean your wood shingles:

  1. Gather your materials
  2. Brush away surface dirt
  3. Remove tough stains
  4. Pressure wash the shingles
  5. Rinse the singles
  6. Apply a stain
  7. Repeat the process

Cleaning your wood shingles can be a very involved project. The best way to start the project is by making sure that you have all of the right materials, including a ladder and an appropriate cleaning solution. Continue reading to learn more about what each step entails. We'll also answer whether you can power wash wood shingles and what you can expect for longevity if you regularly clean and maintain shingles.

A gray wooden shingles at the roof, How To Clean Wood Shingles [7 Steps]

How To Clean Wood Shingles

Wooden single tiles

It's best to plan two to four hours for the project's completion. Let's take a look at how to start this project!

Things you'll need:

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Soft push broom with a wand
  • A pressure washer or garden hose with a spray nozzle
  • Roof ladder
  • Roofing boots
  • Garden hoses
  • Wood shingle cleaner

1. Gather Your Materials

It's best to start with a list of tools and cleaners you'll need for your shingle project. An outdoor wood cleaning solution will work to get rid of most surface stains. However, you can also use homemade solutions or stain removers to assist with this. Grab your ladder and set it on the side of your home, making sure that it is on an even surface. Place all of your tools and cleaners near the side of the home so that you don't trip over them. Next, pull out your pressure washer and place it on the lowest pressure setting.

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2. Brush Away Surface Dirt

Remove any surface stains by giving the shingles a light scrub with your push broom. You can purchase an extension wand to reach the highest areas of your roof-- if you don't want to climb the roof. Scrubbing the shingles will soften the wood and prepare it for deeper cleaning. It will also help to loosen mildew, mold, moss, and other microorganisms that can grow on the wood shingles.

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3. Remove Tough Stains

Pour your stain-removing solution into your pressure washer. Starting at the top of the roof, run the pressure washer over the roof using horizontal sweeping motions. Be sure that the pressure washer is placed on a low setting to avoid damaging the shingles.

Remove any black and blue iron stains using a solution of water and oxalic acid (or any product that contains it). To make this solution, mix 20 parts of water with one part of oxalic acid. You can also add cleaning products to the solution as needed, but avoid products that contain bleach or ammonia. If you have a wood brightener, now's the time to use it.

4. Pressure wash the shingles

After you have removed the tougher stains on the shingles, it's now time to pressure wash them. If you don't have a pressure washer, you can also use a garden hose. You may need to use two or three garden hoses to reach the top of the roof. Also, make sure that your garden hose has a spray gun attachment.

Start at the top of your roof and spray your cleaning solution across it using horizontal sweeping motions. Pay extra attention to any areas where there may be remnants of mildew, lichen, or moss. If the wood shingles are especially dirty, allow your cleaning solution to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes.

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5. Rinse the singles

After thoroughly cleaning your wood shingles, pour out the remaining solution from your pressure washer, and go over the roof again with just water to remove any soap residue. You can also use your garden hose for this task if you don't have a pressure washer. Be sure to rinse the roof from the top down to remove any remaining debris, dirt, leaves/branches.

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6. Apply a stain

If you want, you can also stain the wood shingles once they have dried from the cleaning. It's best only to apply to the stain when the outside temperature is above 50° Fahrenheit to prevent it from becoming blotchy after it dries. While staining is not necessary, it can help preserve your wood shingles' texture and color. If the shingles look a bit dry or faded, a high-quality stain will restore their shine and help the wood's natural texture stand out.

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7. Repeat the process

Regular cleaning is an essential step to keeping your wood shingles looking great decade after decade! So now that you know the process, repeat it every five to ten years.

Homemade Wood Shingle Cleaners

If you prefer to make your own homemade cleaning solutions, here are a couple of options for you to consider.

Bleach Solution

To create the bleach solution, mix five parts of water with one part of bleach. Then, sprinkle four or five tablespoons of laundry detergent into the mixture, combining them all in a five-gallon bucket or spray bottle. When applying the cleaning solution, be sure to use appropriate equipment, including rubber gloves and protective goggles. Do not use any detergent that contains acetone or ammonia.

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Citric Cleaning Solution

If you prefer more of an all-natural solution, you can avoid bleach altogether. Citric-based solutions work wonderfully on a variety of surfaces and are non-toxic and affordable. To make your own citric-based solution, add 20 drops of lemon essential oil to two cups of water and one teaspoon of Castile soap.

Be sure to shake the mixture well and then pour it into a spray bottle or a cleaning bucket. You can also purchase citric cleaning solutions from local hardware stores or online. In fact, many of the commercially available citric-based cleaners also contain agents and oils that can help restore the shine to your wood shingles.

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Knowing When It's Time To Replace Wood Roof

Weatherization and age can make your shingles appear old and worn. They may begin to chip, peel, or turn gray. This can affect your home's overall aesthetic, as the roof is one of the first things that people see when viewing a home. Sometimes cleaning just won't cut it, and the shingles will need to be replaced. But how do you know when this is necessary? Here are a few ways to determine whether or not your shingles may need to be replaced:

  • Missing shingles resulting in exposed roofing felt
  • Warping
  • Cracking
  • Splitting or curling
  • Significant leaking
  • Permanent discoloration

If you notice any of the following issues with your shingles, it may be time to have a roofing expert provide a consultation for a potential roof replacement or the replacement of damaged shingles.

Are Cedar Shingles Waterproof?

Old wood shingles on top of house

No, cedar shingles are not waterproof. However, they are designed to repel water so that it rolls off of the roof. They are prone to mildew, mold, and other issues that may result from frequent contact with water or moisture. However, they are not meant to be waterproof, as this is the purpose of laying them on top of roof underlayment.

Can You Power Wash Wood Shingles?

Yes, you can power wash wood shingles, similar to how you would powerwash a deck or home siding. Some roofing experts recommend against it due to its potential to damage the roof. However, many roofing and home improvement experts are completely for it. One of the most important things to remember when power washing the shingles is to set the pressure to a low setting to avoid damaging the wood's surface. It's also a good idea to first spot test the pressure washer to determine if the lowest setting is, in fact, low enough that it doesn't damage the roof.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Wood Shake Roof?

While there are a few factors that will determine your particular wood shake roof's lifespan, such as your location, roof type, and the type of wood that you use, the average life expectancy it's about 25 to 30 years. Annual cleaning and regular maintenance can help to increase the lifespan of your wood shake roof.

Are Wood Shingles Expensive?

Compared to asphalt shingles, wood shingles are typically less expensive and can be purchased at around $6.50 to $11 per square foot. Installation can range anywhere from $500 to $1,100 per square foot, depending on where you live.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope this post has answered all of your questions regarding how to clean your wood shingles. When cleaning your wood shingles, the most important thing to remember is to set your pressure washer to the appropriate level not to damage the shingles. It's always best to do a quick spot test first to ensure that you have a suitable setting.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

What Color House Goes With A Black Roof?

Wood Siding Bulging Out – What To Do