Skip to content
Call (604) 503-3500

Cedar Shake Myths

I have spent over 40 years manufacturing & installing cedar shakes & have listened to the miss-information about cedar products for many years.

Q. Is it all second growth?

A. It is actually almost impossible to split shakes out of second growth trees. Picture a young tree, it grows very fast, has branches (which are knots that go through the tree to the heart) The grain is very wide because it grows quickly & the knots make it swirl everywhere. This will not split straight or evenly. As the tree gets older the bottom branches drop off, the center with the knots rots out( not always) & the tree grows much slower. The exterior of this tree now starts growing with tighter grain & straight. This can be split into shakes. (Usually 200 years or more in age) It is not cost effective to make shake before this time because it can only be made into #2 or #3 cedar shingles or Tapersawn shakes ( #3 material is not allowed on a roof in BC) Virtually all the wood being used for shakes & shingles is old growth.

Q. There is no old growth left

A. My understanding is that there is about a 100 year supply left ( not including park lands). It is becoming more difficult to access but it is there

Q. Cutting down old growth destroys the environment & displaces/kills animals

A. Not a simple question & most people stay away from answering this. I lived in the bush making cedar shakes for 2 years (60 miles from a telephone) Living on a burned out second growth area where the tallest trees were 25 ft. We overlooked thousands of acres of old growth forest. Every day we went into the old growth to cut cedar trees only. In 2 years the only thing I saw was mosquitoes. Up the hill where we were staying in the second growth which had lots of underbush (non existent in the old growth) we were over run with animals, mice, martin, bears, dear, moose, owls, bugs & just about anything that walks or crawls on the earth.

I am not saying that the logging practices of old were good. Logging companies raped the woods & devastated the land. These practices are gone & most companies are doing a very good job of harvesting & regenerating our forests. Many of our forests are actually rotting faster than they are growing.

Q.Are there any advantages to cedar.

A. There is no better attic ventilation than a cedar shake. We live in a rain forest & once we seal up these roofs it is ever more critical that the ventilation works . Cedar does not have this problem. Some cities make you sheet the roof with plywood as well. In that case you would need to add venting.

Mold does not exist ( I haven’t seen it) in cedar shake roof attics.

Cedar shakes insulate against the heat. They keep the house cooler in the summer & warmer in the winter. The last roofs to melt the snow are cedar.

Q. Cedar doesn’t last

A. A Premium CCA Treated Heavy resawn shake lasts 35 years or longer. A 3/8″ CCA treated Barn shake is usually 30 years +. The sawn shakes & shingles don’t usually last as long because you are sawing across grains & with our wet/dry climate they tend to crack much more. Good tapersawn(Premium) or shingles treated are generally 25 years +.

Most of the problems have come from manufacturers not doing proper grading. Thus the curling & in many cases I have seen a roof with 25% #2 or # 3s( There still are #2 & 3s in old growth)

DC Roofing is certified by the Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau


Back To Top