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Germantown Roofing: Article About Cedar Shake Roofing

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Cedar shakes and shingles have been topping roofs for centuries. Valued for their elegant natural beauty and durability, cedar shake roofs are surprisingly kind to the environment. This is because the trees are grown and managed using forestry techniques that have been endorsed by environmentally responsible organizations. Additionally, while a cedar shake roof may have a high up-front price tag, it can last 30 to 40 years if properly installed.

Most shake roofs are made from western redcedar, Thuja plicata, a coniferous evergreen tree from western North America and a member of the cypress family. The wood from the redcedar tree is known for its straight, blemish-free grain. A popular Germantown roofing material, cedar shakes are naturally resistant to damage from rot, ultraviolet light and insects. Cedar shake roofs also perform well in areas that are subject to rain, wind and snow.

Homeowners need not become alarmed when their cedar shake roofs turn from a reddish brown color to a silvery gray during their first year of exposure to the elements. This happens because the sun's ultraviolet rays strip off the thin surface layer of specific materials in the cell walls. Eventually, micro fungi will colonize the wood's surface, changing its color again.

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This time it turns from silvery gray to something more like pencil lead, or graphite.

Because it is a natural product, a cedar shake roof will soon develop its own micro-ecosystem if left to its own devices. Repeated cycles of wet and dry conditions will eventually create microscopic cracks in the wood. These cracks will trap water and allow the growth of wood-rotting microorganisms. Debris from overhanging trees will start to accumulate in the cracks and in the valleys of the roof itself. New plants, mostly moss and lichen, will start to colonize the area, giving it a natural and rustic look. Then, curling and cupping will start to appear, leading finally to leaks.

All this rustic cycling of flora and fauna, as charming as it may be, can take years off the life of a cedar shake roof.

Wood-rotting organisms require water in order to live. Keep the roof dry, and they will not grow. The presence of lichens and mosses are an indicator that the roof is damp and in perfect condition to promote rot. It is also essential to keep the roof free from debris and contact with overhanging tree branches.

However, with a little care and attention from your local roofing contractor, a cedar roof can realize its full 30 to 40-year life cycle.

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