Cedar Conversions in Mission & Neighbouring Areas

Important: At Roofing Mission & its Neighbouring areas (a.k.a “BulletpRoof Roof Systems”), we take a roof down to its “bare bones”; Reason being, in the Fraser Valley, it isn’t uncommon for there to be multiple layers of asphalt shingles on top of an old cedar roof. Allowing us to repair the roof deck, skip-sheathing, what-have-you under the shingles that could have been causing serious damage to your home without even realizing it

Decades ago, back in the 70’s & 80’s cedar shakes were a common roofing choice, being made from old-growth cedar it was aesthetic, renewable and a natural insulator. Being cedar, it had to be treated to be fire (chance it could still combust at any time) and weather resistant based on the location of your home. Its curb appeal made it seem like cottages, cabins or country side homes in the suburban Lower Mainland.  

Over time, it became more difficult to get good quality cedar shakes at a fair price due to old-growth forest cutting restrictions, which quickly made it one of the most expensive roofing options available. Aside from the cost of replacing a cedar shake roof, it required additional maintenance to ensure the cedar shakes remain breathable; regular treatment to prevent moss, mold & rot growth, warping, unwanted moisture absorption, and debris cleanup.

On average, around 10 years cedar shakes become sun-faded (colour fades away) and as it inches into the 15-20 year range it will start to show signs of wear & tear, depending on the location of the home and level of maintenance; Maintaining by regularly clearing debris or moss, and applying regular treatments to reduce rotting, warping, moisture absorption and moss growth. Noticeable signs are cedar cracking, curling, shingles falling out of place or off the roof, cedar cap damage, roof leaks due to weather and rodent damage to name a few.  

Table of Contents

  1. What is a Cedar Conversion?
  2. Switching to Another Roofing Material: Pros and Cons
  3. Cedar Conversion Process
  4. Cedar Conversion is Completed, What’s Next?

What is a Cedar Conversion?

Which means it’s time to look into your roof replacement options – either a cedar roof replacement or a cedar conversion (from cedar to another roofing material).

A cedar roof replacement involves tearing off your entire old cedar shake roof and replacing it with a whole new one; cedar shingles, skip-sheathing and all. Suggested in cases where the roof is damaged beyond repair like damaged skip-sheathing, leaks in the roof, or excessive mold and rot making the roof structurally unsafe for the homeowners to live in their home, etc. Being the extreme alternative, it’s the more expensive solution in both time and cost, that very few homeowners can afford.

A cedar conversion, which is a variation of cedar roof replacement, involves replacing cedar shingles with a new material like asphalt shingles, rubber shingles, metal panels, concrete tiles, etc.; Each option requiring a roof deck to be installed because cedar shakes don’t have one to begin with. Homeowners normally opt for a cedar to asphalt shingle conversion for its comparative durability, affordability and versatile design options to other roofing materials.

When choosing either of these options, there are some areas to consider: 

  • Protection of property while working because a lack of roof deck to prevent debris from falling into the exposed attic
  • Longevity of a new roof, finding a balance between applying enough of the correct treatments to withstand the weather & fire and replacing enough of the roof’s structure for the roof to last
  • Aesthetics of selecting a new roofing material vs.using the Cedar shake warranty
  • Manufacturer support being available; Many manufacturers are no longer around anymore
  • Weather variability, in Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. Weather can be unpredictable and generally wetter than other areas, which promotes the growth of algae, rot and mold; Along with causing unexpected damage to occur over time.          

Depending on your research into these areas, it should make the decision a little more clear. If not, please reach out to Roofing in Mission & neighbouring areas, one of our “BulletpRoofers” would be happy to assist you.

Switching to Another Roofing Material: Pros and Cons

When deciding to switch, it’s worth considering what each roofing material can do for your home and not do as well; Whether it is an asphalt shingle, metal panel, slate, concrete or clay tile, rubber shingle, cedar shakes, etc.

Metal panels, rubber shingles and concrete or slate tiles are: 

  • Long-lasting, may last up 40-50 years, normally needs replacing in the 20-30 year range 
  • Fire, water, ice and wind-resistant, being non-combustible and difficult for winds/water to easily grip onto and for hail to easily penetrate
  • Little to no maintenance required to prevent age-related damage over time
  • Highly durable and able to take decent hits from debris without taking damage
  • Metal and rubber are often recyclable, while concrete is disposed of in the landfill  
  • All of the above, make them the more expensive option for installation which could include a structural engineer’s approval depending on the weight on the home and reinforcing the entire home (most cases for concrete or slate tiles); Offered in fewer design options that may replicate the cedar shakes you’re used to than asphalt shingles

Cedar shakes are:

  • Averages a 15-20 year lifespan
  • Being made from natural cedar, its an insulator (energy efficient) and is a renewable resource (eco-friendly)
  • Variety of sizes and thicknesses to give it a unique appearance
  • Limited fire, water and ice resistance; Treated to resist each and requires regular treatment, except it is still susceptible to fire and water seepage. Water seepage can turn into moss, rot, mold, algae growth, and any holes or openings caused by any damage can lead to rodent infestations. Reason being, cedar shakes are installed without a roof deck because it requires plenty of room for aeration, its split-sheathing has gaps for rodents to get through
  • Expensive due to old-growth cutting restrictions, and regular roof treatments and repair maintenance costs   

Composite or asphalt shingles are:

  • Decent lifespan, averaging 20 years; Towards the end of it’s life granule loss, buckling, cracking and sun-fading may become more evident
  • Wind, ice and fire resistant, it can handle a decent amount of weather-related damage. Largely dependent on the location of the home.
  • Versatile shingles, that come in a variety of designs, colours and specifications that would make it a suitable replacement for any other material above, and its specifications can make it durable to even storm damage.
  • Non-recyclable due to being made of fiberglass and requires landfill disposal
  • Affordable option compared to other materials, where it provides the flexibility for the homeowner to select an option that fits their quality to budget needs     

Cedar Conversion Process

Cedar shake conversion is a more complex procedure than the re-roofing procedure, having a few additional steps to ensure proper installation and the longevity of the roof.

Before the work starts, all of the paperwork needs to be completed to protect both parties. This includes signing a contract, receiving the construction lien notices, finalizing the shingle selection for the homeowner’s home and setting up an estimated project start date.

Prior to the project starting, depending on the complexity of the roof, your roofing contractor may opt to have the materials and “staged” and a mobile dump bin on your property a few days before the project starts. Ask for this date, if you’re unaware or if it is an inconvenience for whatever reason.

Project start to finish:

  1. Preparation Work – Before any tear off starts, we protect your home and make our work area safe for the team; by protecting your soon to be exposed attic space, protecting landscaping and plants, installing safety boards if the roof is steep, installing guard rails and scaffolding, moving yard furniture, protecting siding from scratches and damage, etc.
  2. Tools and Material Transport – Transport tools and prepare the new materials strategically.
  3. Tear Off Old Roof- Remove all of the old cedar shingles and debris (some of it may fall into the exposed attic), dispose of it in the dump bin. 
  4. Repair Skip-Sheaths and Re-Sheath Roof Deck – Replace any skip-sheaths with signs of damage or mold, install a new plywood roof deck and dispose of any debris in the dump bin. Depending on the weather, we use tarpaulins to protect the exposed roof from absorbing excessive water. (extra step compared to re-roofing, we mentioned earlier)
  5. Inspect Roof Deck – Check the plywood deck is in good shape; replacing any plywood that has mold, is soft due to water damage, nailing in any loose plywood, etc. Ensuring that the roof deck is acceptable for nailing new shingles, while avoiding existing damage to the roof from worsening and unsightly bumps in the roof appearing weeks later (usually 1-2 weeks after work is done).
  6. Install Underlayment – Once the roof deck is in good shape, roof underlayment is installed with added water and ice shielding to roof valleys and penetrations to avoid excess moisture to run-off. Cover the roof with roofing felt, which acts as a barrier between the shingles and the roof deck so that the shingles don’t stick. Clean up any debris and material waste, dispose of in the dump bin.
  7. Install Roof Flashings and Shingles – Once the underlayment is ready, the starter shingles, regular shingles and at the end, ridge and hip cap shingles are installed. During this step, to prevent future water issues and air circulation issues, roof flashings and venting components are installed. This involves properly fitting and sealing any plumbing, air vents, valleys, adjacent walls, skylights, etc. Cleaning up any debris and materials and disposing of in the dump bin.
  8. Repeat Steps 3-6 for one section of the roof at a time. Allowing for the roof to remain fully protected from wetter weather from damaging the roof at any time.
  9. Final Clean Up – Dispose of any remaining roofing materials and use a magnetic roller to capture any remaining nails, staples or metal debris are completely removed. Leaving your home and roof cleaner than when we arrived.

Cedar Conversion is Completed, What’s Next?

Your roofing contractor will remove any guard rails, safety boards, scaffolding, tools, materials, transport the dump bin away and provide a final inspection of the new roof. A last check for anything that was missed earlier during the cedar conversion.

At this point, the homeowner should check the new roof and confirm that it is to their satisfaction. It’s highly recommended, to discuss roof maintenance and warranties with the roof contractor to give you and your family some peace of mind that your new roof will last. 

 Anytime there are issues in the future, please feel free to contact the roofing contractor for further assistance.