Replacing Cedar Shingles

by Connor Pena

Cedar shingles can last fifty years or more, but this is not a guarantee. If you want to get the most life from your shingles, you need to inspect them regularly and make repairs when necessary. Unlike other roofing materials like slate or tile, you should be able to make repairs to your cedar-shingle roof on your own. 

Identifying Problems with Your Roof

A cedar roof has naturally occurring tannins which resist rot and help to preserve your roof. While these tannins will help to keep your roof intact, they will not maintain the color of your roof. Red cedar will fade to a dark grayish black color, and white cedar will fade to a silvery grey. Thus, discoloration in your roof is not a sign of damage. Instead, you should look for shingles that crack or break. Once a shingle breaks, you will need to replace it in order to keep your roof in good condition. 

How to Replace Shingles

If you know what you are doing, you should be able to replace broken shingles in your roof on a Saturday afternoon. The following steps will help:

  1. It is easier to remove broken bits of shingle than to try to remove the nails that hold a shingle in place. Use a hammer to break up the damaged shingle. You may want to use a chisel to improve your precision. 
  2. Pull the broken bits of shingle until they come free of your roof and throw them away. 
  3. Use a crow bar to remove the old nails and then fill the nail holes with roofing cement.
  4. Measure the gap between the shingles to either side of the hole you have created and cut your new shingle so that it is a half-inch smaller than this gap. 
  5. Position the new shingle so that there is a quarter-inch gap on either side of the shingle and slide it up until only about a quarter-inch of shingle extends below the bottom edge of the other shingles in the same row. 
  6. Drive nails at the top of the shingle at an upward angle. Position the nails as close as you can get to the bottom edge of the shingles from the row above the missing shingle.
  7. Cover the nail heads with roofing cement and then tap the bottom edge of the new shingle until it is even with the shingles in the same row and the nails are covered by the shingles from the row above. 

As you can see, you don't need any specialized equipment or training to make repairs to a cedar-shingle roof. Still, if you are not comfortable working on your roof, you can call someone like Starkweather & Sons Roofing & Siding to make the repairs for you.