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Thinking of Re-Roofing ?

Go to Budget Information Sheets

 Proceed forward for editorial, and general information ...scroll down:

        I'm thinking of re-roofing my Cedar Shake or Tile Roof

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             My Choices are...

  • Asphalt and Fibreglass Shingles

  • Synthetic Plastic and Rubber based Shakes and Slates

  • Architectural Shingles

  • Metal Roofing

  • Cedar Shingles and Cedar Shakes

Normal Decision Issues:

  • Keep Executive Class Look of Shake Roof.

  • Keep Architecture and appearance of my home the same.

  • Stay with roofing material that is in keeping with the look of the other neighbourhood homes.

  • Hold the market value of my home by protecting my investment with timely restorations and exterior upkeep.

  • Invest wisely without over-spending on re-roofing project.

  • Good value for the investment in terms of worry free storm and weather protection, as well as the need for a reasonable life expectancy of new roof.

 

Option One: Replace Old Cedar with New Cedar

Advantages:

  • Keep architecture and appearance the same

  • Know that the market value and neighborhood design remain the same.

  • The existing home's framing and sheathing probably doesn't need to change.

Disadvantages:

  • Cedar is a costly roof to buy and install.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, cedar shakes were plentiful and cheap. Old growth wood was still common, and the quality was good or better. Back then $600 would upgrade a home, from a cheap looking 10 or 15 year 3-tab asphalt shingle, to a hand-split wood shake with a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. That was an easy decision considering the warm look and texture it added to our West Coast architecture.

But today, cedar is in short supply. The old growth cedar blocks from which good cedar shakes are made are now a rare commodity.  The environmental movement,  which is restricting logging from those old growth cut-blocks that may still be left, has affected the source of raw cedar blocks. Where once cedar block crews would salvage fall down and residual wood after a forestry operation had cleared the old growth areas, they now have less wood to salvage as forestry is on its decline. Cedar blocks are now often sourced from second growth forestry cut-blocks, where the wood quality is younger, wider grained, and without its traditional strength and rot-resistance.

The poor supply of raw cedar has increased exponentially the cost which mills pay for the wood. The end result is that now Cedar Shakes now cost between $270 per square ( 100 sq ft normal coverage) up to $350 per square to buy just the field shakes, before factoring in extra costs for felts, metals, capping, vents, taxes, etc. . The installed cost of cedar is now $750 to $1200 per square.

A Cedar Shake roof is fairly labour and time intensive to install, and this results in a roofing system which will cost a few thousand dollars more than other similar appearance roofing material systems.

  • Cedar Shake Roofs do not last as long as they used to

The younger or second growth raw cedar blocks that are normally used for producing  new Cedar Shakes produce two specific problems.

First, it is harder to produce good hand-split cedar shakes from wood with the wider grain of young cedar blocks. Good Hand-Split shakes have had the longest life expectancy, but without sufficient supply, the product of choice is now being produced is the "Tapersawn Shake". A fully sawn 5/8" thick shake, it takes the lowest pick of the raw wood pile to produce this machine made shake, and it is now the "normal" shake provided by the industry in South West B.C.

Tapersawn shakes have shown to have a shorter life expectancy as a roofing material. Where some may survive to 14 or 18 years of age before requiring re-roofing, many roofs with Tapersawns have suffered premature failure in as little as 8 to 10 years. This is a very short useful life for a roof as expensive as a cedar shake roof.

The second problem, related to the newer growth cedar being produced into shakes and Tapersawn shakes, is the lateral strength of the wood as well as  the rot resistance of the wood is diminished.  Younger Cedar does not contain as much natural oils and density of wood as the old growth product. Tapersawn shakes can often be seen curling up, cracking diagonally and checking, as well as weeping water through the cedar itself.  When this happens the ability of the shake to withstand our wet "rainforest" and winter storm climate is severely limited, and re-roofing should be considered soon.

  • It is hard to tell if I'm getting No. 1 Material

No. 1 might be on the label of the shake, but the material in the bundle may not actually be Number 1 grade material. This may be hard to believe, but those involved in the industry know the truth.

There are many grading bodies and label types that the shake mills that produce the Cedar Shakes might be a member of. Some of these grading bodies are well recognized, while others come and go. In any event there are different standards for different regions of North America. Some labels will allow certain grades of wood to go into a No.1 grade Cedar Shake which will pass in Calgary, but be immediately rejected in the Lower Mainland. Other labels have a No.1 Grade pass standards for Texas, but would not stand up to scrutiny in Calgary or Toronto. A No.1 is not a No.1, is not a No.1.

In any event, the inspection bodies that are set up to oversee these various labels, on Cedar Shakes produced by hundreds of mills all over the province, work on a random inspection process. Some mills will have a small selection of their product inspected once or twice a month, depending on the volume of the mill, and this sampling will only result in perhaps 2% of the wood actually getting inspected to what ever standard that mill is supposed to conform to.

City inspectors, if they inspect the roofing at all, are not grading experts, and may or may not recognize secondary product. Do not rely on the building inspection department to control the quality of wood being installed on your project.

In re-roofing it is only worse. The integrity of your contractor is never more important, as the culled or secondary Cedar Shakes and Tapersawns often end up in re-roofing projects. Number 2 product may be mixed in with No.1 product, and some contractors even go so far as to insert No. 1 labels (copies) on No.2 or re-sorted material.

Buying Cedar Shakes is like Russian Roulette. Certainly "buyer beware" is the name of the game in Cedar Shake roofs. And ultimately, a Cedar Shake comes with no warranty and no guarantees. Even if a mill produced a warranty, how many mills have actually been around longer than 10 years, and can be expected to survive for warranty coverage and back-up in any event. 

  • In 5 to 10 years my roof will look old again

Sometime in the future, the resale of your home may become an issue. Although Cedar Shakes look great when they are new, after 5 to 10 years they will appear old again. And at that time a potential buyer of your home may wish to factor in a cost of re-roofing into the market value of your home, or that buyer may just look harder at the home which has a newer appearance roof on it.

In either situation, the investment in the Cedar Shake roof depreciated rapidly. The moment that the Cedar Shake is installed it immediately begins the aging and rotting process, waiting for the inevitable algae growth and unsightly discolouration to occur.

In fact in Southwest BC and the Pacific Northwest cedar roofs are considered effectively fully depreciated in 10 to 15 years. We believe this to be true as after ten years the typical home inspector will note the cedar roof as being 10 years old or greater and may need to be replaced in the near future. That can often bring in re-roofing costs on to the bargaining table when selling a home to a buyer who is made aware of this potential near-term cost. And this seems to be the case whether the roof has good cedar on it, or poorer quality cedar installed. The inherent value of the cedar roof has thus depreciated to zero value, or even worse may have a negative impact on the marketability of a home. 

  • My roof is a fire hazard

All over the United States, Cedar Shakes have being getting banned because of the fire hazard that cedar roofs possess. Since the disastrous fires in Central and Southern California, as well as Eastern Washington and Idaho, Class A fire rated roofing materials are now required in most U.S. jurisdictions.

After the large fires in Kelowna, Penticton, and Clearwater, BC even Western Canadians should be concerned and aware of the fire hazards of real cedar roofs. We believe that wood roofs in Southern Alberta are a disaster waiting to happen next, as the grass fires will inevitably catch a wood roof on fire, and in that dry climate to wood roofs can be like kindling waiting for the match. 

Cedar gets a Class F for fail unless it is fire treated which adds $40 per square on to the cost, and diminishes the life expectancy by half. To treat a Cedar Shake or Shingle, the wood is first kiln dried to remove most of its natural oils, and those oils are replace with a retardant. Class C fire rating is the result, but the natural oils now missing can cause the shakes to rot or decay prematurely.

Although we have suffered less Forest and Brush fires involving homes than the U.S. up to the Kelowna fires of 2004, it would be irresponsible to not see that a tinder dry cedar roof is an explosive fire hazard waiting for a spark to ignite it. And in outlying areas, the Insurance companies require minimum standards of fire-rating.

 

Option Two: Replace with Cheap Asphalt Shingles - 3-tab or T-Lock

Advantages:

  • Save money

  • Cheapest option

  • Relatively easy to install

Disadvantages:

  • Serious down-grade to the appearance of the home

Installing plain asphalt shingles on a home with shakes takes a warm looking executive class Cedar Shake or Cedar Shingle appearance down to the cheapest and least stylish of any type of roofing materials.

Not only does the architecture of the home get severely down-graded, it will also age the look of the home. This is the least appealing option, and shouldn't be even mentioned except that it is sometimes being done this way by the less knowledgeable consumers who didn't investigate the options and possibilities.

  • Patterned, and aged look from the 1950's.

Unpleasant patterned designs cheapens the home, and the re-roof project fails to update the appearance of the home design and curb-appeal.

  • Not compatible with theme of neighborhood design

Not only will the neighbors be unhappy, the market value of your home and possibly the entire neighborhood may suffer from an inappropriate colour and architectural choice. Cedar Shake neighborhoods have a certain West Coast appeal, that often attract buyers because of the warmth and naturalness of the neighborhood. 3 Tab shingles and T-Lock shingles can quickly diminish this attractiveness.

 

Option Three: Replace Cedar with New "Shake-Look"  Asphalt Shingles

                

Advantages:

  • Keep architecture and appearance similar,  or in the case of some super-thick shingles virtually the same.

  • Weathered or new Cedar Shingle appearances.

  • Some shingles have an even greater thickness offering the realism of real slate or real wood shake roofs (Super Thick and triple layered architectural shingles).

  • Know that the market value and neighborhood design remain the same.

  • Inexpensive and Good Value.

  • Save Thousands from a Cedar Shake roof system.

  • One of the easiest roofing products to install.

  • Warranty coverage is from 25 to 60 years. Shingles with warranty coverage of 30 to 4o years does not have enough texture to represent real wood though.

  • Some styles come with 15 year to 20 year Algae Resistance warranties.

  • Certainteed's Landmark "TL" is triple layer highly textured shingle, that is the thickest shake look laminated style shingle available, yet is still just a mid-priced shingle solution. These shingles come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty (60 years in total).

  • Certainteed's Presidential "TL" is the thickest shingle available in the market. It creates a cobblestone slate-like texture, its the heaviest shingle currently made (480 lbs per square), and is still not very expensive. Limited Lifetime Warranty as well.

  • Laminated two ply or three ply designs for textured look.

  • Fiberglass reinforced shingle for stable curling-resistant platform for shingle.

  • Class A Fire Rated.

  • Wind and Storm Rated Warranties up to from 66MPH up to 110 MPH.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Not as thick as real cedar.

Most laminated style shingles, although a reasonable facsimile of a cedar shingle look, are not as thick as real wood shakes.

The shingles with 25 year to 40 year warranties are usually too THIN too accurately mimic real wood shingles. They usually only pretend to be thick by "painting" shadow lines on the face of the shingle to fool the eye, on most brands of two-ply laminates.

To better represent real wood or slate textures, you'll have to invest $3,000 to $7,000 more (on a typical sized home) to for better textured shingles such as Landmark "TL" and Presidential "TL". Their triple layer heavy-weight look creates a much improved replication of real wood and real slate. And the investment is well worth it as it makes the home better retain its market value and curb appeal similar to the real material these designer shingles simulate.

THICKNESS MATTERS:

Consider this ... real estate prices are averaging over $800,000 in the Southwest BC region, with many typical homes now costing more than a half million dollars, and many executive class homes typically worth between $750,000 and $1,200,000. An investment of $3,000 to $7,000 in any home in this region is well worth it to enhance the curb appeal of your home (compared to thinner laminated shingles such as 30 year and 40 year). In fact many subdivisions have a certain price swing in real estate that are quite significant, so why would you not want to give your home the best chance to be worth more money.

  • Can't produce the product from a tree in your back yard

  • Cedar Roof preparation requires plywood

Before installing any type of Asphalt, Fiberglass, or Laminated shake-look shingle, a layer of 3/8" plywood or 7/16" OSB sheathing must be installed immediately upon the removal of the old cedar. This is an extra step in both labour and material cost. But even with these costs, a Cedar Shake roof converted to a laminated shake-look shingle will save thousands.

  • Must follow installation instructions to receive warranty

Good workmanship should always be a pre-requisite to any product. But some brands of laminated shingles may be leak prone or unsightly unless installed correctly, so ensure you applicator can handle the job.

Malarkey Laminates are one of the most user friendly and easiest to install laminated shingle in the market. With approximately three times the lap and nailing zone, these shingles are the toughest shingle to install wrong, and have the greatest leak resistance of all other brands. Their 40 year warranty Northwest XL is available with Scotchguard Copper Granules for algae resistance and a better thickness than 30 or 35 year laminates (although still not very thick).

Certainteed shingles include the top three rated shingles (by Consumer Reports)...Rated number one is the Grand Manor, rated number two is the Landmark Premium ,  followed closely by number three is the Landmark "TL". The Landmark "TL" has an extra layer thickening up the look of the Landmark Premium.

 

Option Four: Replace Cedar with New Synthetic or Composite Shakes or Slates

                

Advantages:

  • Keep architecture and appearance as good or better than the original shakes.

  • The look of real Cedar Shakes

  • Real Slate simulations for outstanding architecture

  • Synthetics retain their original look and essential colours for decades

  • Plastic Slates, Plastic Shakes, Composite Slates are the lightest materials one could use

  • Know that the market value and neighborhood design remain the same.

  • Comparatively priced to using better cedar shakes ... the price of the actual material is similar, as well as the installed costs.

  • The texture and style is as good or better than real cedar.

  • DaVinci Shakes and Slates have outstanding colour blends, plus a variety of widths in each bundle just like real wood.

  • Class A Fire Rated.

  • Available with 50 year warranties

  • We expect the synthetics and composite products we distribute to outlast a cedar roof by a factor of two  to three minimum.

  • The real payoff in investing in synthetics is in year 10 to 20. A real cedar roof will already be considered "done" and ready for re-roofing again in year 10 to 20, whereas the synthetic will have decades of service ahead of itself.

Disadvantages:

  • Costs more than thick and super thick laminates.

  • Costs a modest amount more than using real wood

  • Although plastic roofing technology has been installed for almost 20 years now, most of the companies making these synthetics today have only had product installed on roofs from 5 years to 11 years. They are therefore not as time proven as asphalt shingles or real wood.

THICKNESS MATTERS:

Consider this ... real estate prices are averaging over $800,000 in the Southwest BC region, with many typical homes now costing more than a half million dollars, and many executive class homes typically worth between $750,000 and $1,200,000. An investment of $10,000 to $15,000 on many homes in this region is well worth it to enhance the curb appeal of your home ( compared to any type or thickness shingle). In fact many subdivisions have a certain price swing in real estate that are quite significant, so why would you not want to give your home the best chance to be worth more money. Ocean front, ocean view, West Vancouver, Westside, South Surrey, Westwood Plateau, Sunshine Hills estates, all have such wide price swings that the right synthetic may appreciate the curb appeal enough to yield huge benefits in salability and resulting real estate price.

We are not as confident with rubber based synthetics, whether they include plastic or not. Panel type rubber matt looking roofing products may look good in a showroom, but after a couple years on the roof may not look anything like the consumer had in mind. Panel type synthetics which emboss the image of 3 slates, or 7 or more shakes on each piece ( about 3ft long) often fade different than their neighbor panels, resulting in blocks showing up in the field of the roof. These chicklet like 3 foot blocks do not look natural , are not covered by the manufacturer warranty as fading problems, and they look unsightly. Further problems include rubber expands, so large panels may "un-lock" and or distort after installation. I have personally watched a couple of roofs required to be torn off after only 3 years or less.

Another problem with rubber is that it smells like burnt rubber every summer on certain brands, there is a hazard of choking black rancid smoke if a fire were to occur ( watch out for fire resistance), and rubber is unstable subject to fading and crumbling over time. In fact most rubber based roofing materials using old tires ( as an eco-friendly idea), actually use very little of each tire ( the rest is thrown away or must be used by other industries (burning in Power Plants), and now are more of a plastic than a rubber product. The plastics are required for colour, fade resistance, colour fastness, fire resistance, stability, control expansion, water resistance, odor control, etc. If the product is mostly plastic anyway, you may as order true polymer plastic roofing.

All synthetics, plastics, rubbers, and composites are better roofing materials if they are formed into individual sized pieces rather than panels. If one piece fades different than its neighbor, the roof still looks natural and unblemished.

Our Trimline Composite Slates (formerly known as VandeHey Raleigh Composite Slate) has been on roofs around 8 years in North America. Their two pieces of slate image per 24" width panel has historically shown no blemishes in the finished roof after installation. This unbelievably rich and thick textured composite slate looks just like real luxury slate one would find in Chicago, New England, and Europe. Eventually they may design their product as a single unit slate, but for now we have great confidence in the current design.

The best looking synthetic slates and synthetic shakes is currently made by DaVinci Roofscapes. They are 100% virgin polymer plastic injection moulded slates and shakes that are Class A Fire Rated, fade resistant, colour fast, colour through, and individual sized pieces. Each bundle consists of a variety of widths and a unique colour blend, that any good wood or slate installer can easily place and install.  

 

Option Five: Replace Old Cedar with Metal Roofing

Advantages:

  • Change the Architecture and Appearance

  • Long lasting pre-painted metal finish such as KYNAR finish

  • The existing home's framing and sheathing may not need to change

  • Standing Seam Snap-Lock type roofing panels are very durable.

  • Some styles have Shake Look, Slate Look, and Tile Look

  • Class A Fire Rated

 

Disadvantages:

  • Change the Architecture and appearance

Straight roll-formed metal profiles will probably take away from the appearance of the home, especially when compared to Cedar Shingles within our West Coast architectural styling. Normally these 6" to 9" spaced rib roofing profiles are not used as a shake conversion material.

At the very list, if metal roofing is one of the choices, then we recommend the newer styles "Snap-Lock" type roofing. It is a standing seam roof with 1" to 1.5" ribs about 12" apart. These produce a hidden fastener roof system with a more modern, more contemporary style.

Shake-Look or Tile Look metal roofing is a suitable alternative for a shake conversion. Some neighborhoods may not suit the shiny look of architectural metal roofing, but it is a great improvement over plain 3 Tab or Inter-Lock shingles.

  • More costly than Laminated Shingles

Even the plain looking 9" center ribs of roll-formed roofing will cost greater than a laminated shake look shingle. The material in metal roofing and certainly the labour in metal roofing is higher in cost. See re-roofing budgets for more information.

Specialty Architectural Shake Look or Tile Look metal roofing will cost similar or higher than a Cedar Shake roof installed.

  • The installation can be complex and difficult

Metal Roofing labour and installation requires some of the best detailing and experience to create a problem free roof. Smaller panels of Shake and Slate look are simpler to install than long roll-formed panels, particularly around vents, skylights, and details.

The qualified installers of metal roofing are in less supply than Shake, Shingle, or Tile applicators and hence the installation is more costly as a system. And normally metal roofing looks better on a cut up or hip roof style building which takes more skill to lay up.

  • Rain can be heard more on a metal roof

Some people may like the rain on a tin roof, but many ask us how it can be quieted or noise reduced. It is possible for us to design noise reduction on plywood based roof systems.

  • Doesn't look like real wood or tile

Only real wood or real tile looks like the real thing. The obvious shiny appearance and repetitive pattern of metal roofing will at best only resemble a reasonable facsimile of the product it is depicting.

  • Will require periodic maintenance

Most roofs benefit from periodic preventative maintenance. But some metal profiles have exposed fasteners, and these will have to be observed, and may require replacement or adjustment or sealing in 10 to 15 years. A good underlayment system installed during the initial installation of the metal roofing will greatly assist the roof system in performing.

 

Updated 16th March 2008