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White Cedar Shingles


JohnC
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Hi,

I'm inspecting a ten year old house next week with white cedar shingles. I've never inspected this type of roof before so looking for any helpful advice. Can I walk on this type of roof? Should this roof have felt strips and is it visible in the attic? Should I be able to see the felt strips from the exterior? I recall reading that these shingles are not as durable as red shingles. Are there any maintenance tips I should be giving. What is the typical lifespan of this type of roof? I saw Mike had a link to this site so I'll check it out.www.cedarbureau.org Any tips would be appreciated.

Thanks,

John Callan

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Hi John,

You should be able to walk on them without difficulty; just don't even try if they're wet. You shouldn't see felts in the attic. Rift-sawn shingles are consistent in thickness and have smooth edges. When they're installed correctly without felt of any kind they don't leak. Notice the emphasis on the word correctly. Properly maintained, I don't see why they wouldn't last as long as cedar but since I don't see them here I'm no authority on the subject.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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White cedar shouldn't be used as a roof covering. Ok,Ok, some people use it but its life will be dramatically shorter than western red cedar.

White cedar is better used to clad a structure.

As Mike said rift sawn shingles are good; rift sawing (sawing the log like a pie is cut) yields a vertical grain while flat sawing produces what we see on decks and the resulting failures.

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Kurt that's what I thought , but that's what is on this roof. This is in an upscale location in Kennebunkport and they have a neighborhood covenant which among many other things states roofs must be white cedar shingle! -Who knows maybe the covenant states all building inspectors must wear suits!

John C

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Eastern white cedar is an excellent roof covering, that's why it was used on many buildings in the 18th century eastern colonies. I saw the replacement of a white cedar shingled roof, documented to be at least 165 years old, on a Quaker meeting house in NJ. Some well known authentic historic restoration projects have specified white cedar for re-roofing.

The reason folks say it shouldn't be on roofs is that they have no experience with the roof grade shingles. Eastern white cedar trees are smaller, thus have more knots and less heartwood than western red. As a result, a large majority of it is milled for "wall grade" installations. Roof grade has no knots and is mostly heartwood. Hand split and re-sawn is the best. A-grade (extra clear) white cedar, installed properly (on spaced battens, with NO felt), will last just as long as any western red.

The reason it is specified for that Kennebunkport community is that red cedar will quickly turn a horrible black when exposed to the ocean air. There are a couple suppliers of excellent quality roof grade white cedar in Maine. It's also cheaper than red.

There is no difference in the installation specs between white and red so the shake & shingle bureau link is a good resource to review. White cedar is a little bit weaker than red if you decide to walk it.

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Originally posted by AHI

Isnt cedar one of the roof types you would want to stay off of, if at all possible?

Instead maybe spend extra time checking out the performance of the roof from within the attic?

You can walk on cedar. You just have to watch where you put your feet.

Looking at the underside of a cedar roof can be deceptive as hell. The tannin leeches out of the cedar and turns black in the attic. If one didn't realize that and know what it was, one might write it up as deficient, moldy or rotten and be completely wrong.

They're best viewed from outside on the surface where you can find the pressure-washing damage, see the improperly laced flashings, worn ridges, etc..

OT - OF!!!

M.

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The reason folks say it shouldn't be on roofs is that they have no experience with the roof grade shingles. Eastern white cedar trees are smaller, thus have more knots and less heartwood than western red. As a result, a large majority of it is milled for "wall grade" installations. Roof grade has no knots and is mostly heartwood. Hand split and re-sawn is the best. A-grade (extra clear) white cedar, installed properly (on spaced battens, with NO felt), will last just as long as any western red.

I learned something.

Two years ago I called the Cedar Shingle Association (I'll look up the name later) and they're the folks who told me that white cedar was not suitable for roofing. They didn't qualify the remark.

Maybe I called the "Western Red Cedar Association"

Sorry for filling the internet with that bit of misinformation.

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