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How to Repair a Broken Cedar Shake

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Cedar roofs have a natural ability to resist rot, but even a cedar roof will wear down over time. You can get your cedar roof to last for forty years or more, but not every shake on your roof will last for exactly the same amount of time. Many factors can combine to weather certain shingles more than others. Thus, you need to be vigilant. When you detect damage, you can usually take care of the repairs on your own. 

How to Spot Damage

Different roofing materials will weather in different ways. With with cedar shakes you look for breaks. If you have a good pair of binoculars, you can usually spot signs of damage from the ground. If you feel comfortable on your roof, you can climb up and take a closer look. Just be careful how you walk on your roof to avoid creating further damage. 

How to Make a Repair

When you find broken shakes, you should consider making the repairs on your own. You don't need specialized tools; you just need to have an idea of what to do. Here are some steps to follow.

  1. When you remove a broken shake, you break it up into smaller pieces, and then pull the smaller pieces out. 
  2. Once the old shake is out of the way, you need to take care of the nails. With a crowbar, you can gently pull the old nails out. 
  3. Cover the nail holes and any other holes in the tarpaper under the shakes with roofing cement. Make sure you smooth out the roofing cement, so that it lies flat against the tarpaper. 
  4. Sweep away any dust or debris from the tarpaper. 
  5. Measure the gap between the shakes on either side of the missing shake and cut your new shake so that it is a half inch smaller than the gap between the shakes. 
  6. Slide the new shake into place, but allow the bottom edge to hang down about a quarter inch below the other shakes in the same row. Also, allow a quarter inch gap between the replacement shake and the shakes on either side. This will allow the shake to expand and contract as the weather changes without causing problems for surrounding shakes. 
  7. Drive nails into the top of the shake right at the bottom edge of the shakes from the row above. Be sure to drive the nails at a slight angle toward the upper row of shakes.
  8. Cover the nail heads with roofing cement. 
  9. Once you have driven the nails into place, tap the bottom edge of the replacement shake with your hammer until the bottom edge is even with the other shakes in the same row and the nail heads are covered by the upper row of shakes. 

Fixing your cedar shakes is really not difficult, but climbing around on your roof can be unnerving at best and dangerous at worst. If you doubt your own ability to fix your roof, you can call in a professional such as Allied Construction Inc. to make the repairs for you.