For beauty, versatility, friendliness to the environment and more, Western Red Cedar is the preferred wood used by the cedar roofing experts at Shake Guys. Learn more about the benefits of cedar here.
The Shake Guys are happy to work with any type of wood a Chicago homeowner requests for their roof renovation/restoration, of course. But our product of choice is Western Red Cedar in a special cut known as 100% Premium Edge Grain. We like shingles in Western Red Cedar, but we adore cedar shake, in particular, that’s made from this versatile wood.
Why the Shake Guys Love Western Red Cedar
Our Western Red Cedar comes from mills in Vancouver, British Columbia, where this beautiful tree is the official provincial tree. The soft, red-brown timber of Western Red Cedar has a wonderful grain that’s straight and tight, and the wood has very few knots. Its lovely aroma, unique appearance and natural ability to thwart decay make it extremely valuable for outdoor uses like roofing, decking, posts, siding and more.
Because of its many desirable characteristics, Western Red Cedar often is used for framing lightweight kayaks and sailboats — it’s typically significantly lighter than other woods commonly used in boat-building. Despite its light weight, Western Red Cedar is surprisingly strong.
The aromatic oils in Western Red Cedar are thought to discourage the growth of insect larvae, and the wood is often used for lining chests and closets. Well-sealed chests made of Western Red Cedar keep their distinctive aroma for many years and sometimes for more than a century. The wood also resists rot and decay, making it perfect for use in long-lasting building applications.
Beauty and Versatility
Western Red Cedar provides superb aesthetic benefits for use in cedar shake roofing. Its beautiful tones fit perfectly in natural settings, creating the feel of a rich, outdoor retreat. The unique colors complement nearly any home style, whether the architecture is traditional or cutting-edge.
The wood is free of resin and pitch, making it suitable for a wide variety of finishes. It also offers a number of choices in lumber dimensions, grades and textures for maximum versatility.
Going green with Western Red Cedar
When it comes to preserving the environment, there’s no question that natural wood is the material of choice. In every way, it outperforms synthetic materials time and again, generating no greenhouse gases — and actually removing them from the Earth’s atmosphere. Unlike cement, steel, brick and other materials, Western Red Cedar eventually biodegrades, and it comes from some of the world’s most sustainable forests.
Studies have shown that building materials made from wood take less energy than concrete or steel to produce. In addition, wood saves energy — and money — through lower costs for heating and cooling.
Wood Shingles in History
Wood shingles have been used as a durable, beautiful roofing choice for centuries. They were the preferred roofing material in the U.S. colonies — with Cape Cod-style homes serving as a preeminent example. Historically, they were split from bolts of wood that were free of knots and that had a straight grain.
Today, wood shingles typically are cut, which differentiates them from traditional cedar shakes, which usually are split from a bolt. Properly installed and maintained cedar shakes provide many years of comfort and beauty, including protection from weather.
Hand-Split and Resawn Shakes
The Shake Guys — the premier cedar roofing contractor serving Northern Illinois (Chicagoland) — typically work with two types of Western Red Cedar shakes: hand-split and resawn.
The fact that this particular type of shake has been used in the United States and elsewhere in the world for more than a century speaks to its lasting beauty, strength and durability. Naturally split by hand before being resawn, these Western Red Cedar shakes are high-quality and provide both a rustic look through their exposed, split face and a roof that lies beautifully flat.
To produce the shakes, cedar logs are trimmed to the desired lengths. After being split into blanks of just the right thickness, they’re run at a diagonal angle through a bandsaw, producing two perfectly tapered shakes from each of the blanks. The method of cutting produces the perfect split-face effect.
Western Red Cedar hand-split shakes come in a variety of sizes, types and grades. The cedar roofing experts at the Shake Guys work with you to choose the best options for your individual needs.
The Shake Guys also use tapersawn shakes, which are sawn on both faces but are thicker than shingles. The additional thickness — two-ply with a paper-and-felt inlay — allows it to be applied as a shake, resulting in reduced application costs.
Many architects prefer the more-defined shadow line provided by tapersawn cedar shakes. These shakes, used both on roofs and sidewalls, provide a semi-textured look.
The Right Fasteners
Using the appropriate fasteners is critical when installing cedar shake roofs. The experts at the Shake Guys understand that cedar shake shingles can absorb water and hold it for some time; therefore, nails will become wet and remain that way.
Plain and coated steel nails tend to rot in record time. The nail heads fall off, shanks rot — and shingles tumble off the roof. This issue causes chronic problems in the roofing industry when contractors cut corners or lack the proper training and education. Bad nails begin to become a problem about five years after a roof installation, so it’s something you won’t notice right away.
Stainless steel fasteners provide you with the highest degree of anti-corrosion protection. It’s imperative that cedar shakes are nailed, using a hammer, with stainless steel nails only. The experts at the Shake Guys use ring-shanked stainless steel and Maze double hot-dipped, zinc-coated nails — which come with a lifetime warranty.
The other cedar roofing products we us to construct or repair a roofing system are important too but the wood and nails are what sets us apart.
The Best Cedar Roofing Products for Every Roof
When you choose the Shake Guys as your restoration/renovation cedar roofing contractor, you choose the experts. We work with and advise our Chicagoland clients on the best use of any wood they prefer, but our choice of Western Red Cedar shakes from Vancouver, British Columbia, will be at the forefront.
You can rest assured that when you work with the Shake Guys, you’re getting the best materials installed by experts. For more information about our cedar roofing products, services or to schedule a no-cost consultation in the Chicagoland area, contact the Shake Guys.