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Shake Roof Cleaning, Care, and Maintenance

There was a time years ago when the wooden shingle or shake roof was one of very few available types of roofing. These days, it’s a less common choice and more of an ultra-premium option, which comes with quite the price. Wooden shingles are chosen for both their natural beauty and hard-wearing properties. Despite their high quality, shake roof cleaning is still required to maintain this roof type. This is a job that requires a slightly different approach in order to both achieve the desired result and avoid damaging the shingles in the process.

Care and Maintenance

Along with looking the part, a quality shake roof will usually offer superior performance and protection from hail, strong winds, heavy rainfall and so on. They may be more susceptible to damage from warping, splitting, and rotting than other types of roof, though all such risks can be minimized with preventative care and maintenance.

Looking after a shake roof means keeping an eye on leaf litter, dirt, grime, and the general debris that accumulates over time. This build-up can be found both on and between the shingles, along with any valleys created by the roof structure itself. Debris should be removed on a regular basis, paying particularly close attention to your roof during the late-spring and mid-autumn.

Accumulation of dirt and debris will over time have two detrimental effects on your roof. First of all, a build-up of debris makes it more difficult for water to drain away from your home efficiently, which can lead to leaks and erosion. Secondly, debris can also harbor and retain moisture on a near-permanent basis, which can lead to the growth of wood-rotting fungi.

The kind of fungi that could slowly eat away at your roof requires a constant supply of water to survive. If you can minimize accumulation and retention of water, you’ll also reduce the likelihood of fungi damage.

Promote Faster Drying

Along with adequate shake roof cleaning, it’s also important to think about promoting faster drying. Where areas of your roof spend prolonged periods in the shade, moisture naturally evaporates much slower or not at all. In addition, the cooler temperatures combine with the moist conditions to promote the growth of roof moss.

Branches can also lead to reduced flow of air around certain areas of the roof, once again leading to the build-up and retention of moisture. Where moss or lichens are growing excessively, it’s usually a strong indicator of an area of your roof that’s not drying fast enough. These are also the areas that are most likely to rot and deteriorate at an accelerated pace.

Any overhanging branches that come into physical contact with the roof itself should also be removed, or trimmed back as necessary. Over time, branches that brush or scrape the wooden shingles will eventually compromise the integrity of their surface, or perhaps dislodge them entirely in severe weather conditions.

Deeper Cleaning for Shake Roofs

In terms of deeper and more thorough cleaning, it’s usually possible to make a big improvement to your wooden shingle roof with nothing more than a hosepipe, a stiff broom, and a ladder. The broom can be used to remove leaf litter, conifer needles, dry moss and so on, after which a good rinse with the hose may be adequate. Just be sure to remove as much debris as possible before rinsing, in order to avoid clogging your gutters and downspouts.

Contrary to popular belief, pressure washers are absolutely not recommended for the cleaning of shake roofs. Excessive pressure will almost certainly cause damage to the shingles, if not rip them clean off the roof entirely. A low-pressure setting is fine for giving the roof a rinse, but should never be increased under any circumstances.

It’s also important to exercise caution when it comes to chemical cleaning products and homemade alternatives. Wooden shingle roofs are particularly susceptible to damage by harsh chemicals, even if the damage doesn’t show at the time. Harmful run-off can also pose a threat to your garden, your home’s occupants and local habitat in general. Where possible, use only approved cleaning products under the advisement of a professional.

Safety First

If you do decide to tackle the job manually, it’s crucial to bear a few essential health and safety precautions in mind at all times.

  • Wear appropriate shoes or work boots with plenty of grip. Remember that a wet roof can be as slippery as sheet ice.
  • Set your ladder on stable ground and check its conditions before climbing it.
  • Transport tools to the roof using a bucket and rope – never carry them up the ladder.
  • Work across the roof in horizontal lines, instead of going up and down from top to bottom repeatedly.
  • Wait for a dry, warm and sunny day for the safest possible conditions.
  • Remain seated as much as possible while working to lower your center of gravity.
  • On higher roofs or those with a steeper pitch, use safety lines and belts at all times.
  • Never go about these kinds of jobs alone.

Call the Experts

Like most household jobs, shake roof cleaning is something you can perform yourself. However, often times, it’s worth it to call in the experts who know exactly what they’re doing, and have all the right tools to get the job done safely and properly, without causing any further damage.

If this is something you are interested in, click here or give us a call at 503-407-3346 for a free quote.