Cedar shingles – the roofing product that does grow on trees!
Cedars are fast growing, prevalent species, Eastern White cedar being a naturally reseeding species reaching maturity in as few as 50 years. Cedar shingles have a long history of use in North America as an exterior building material for centuries. Settlers apparently found the native Americans using shingles and cedar products for housing, canoes and enclosures when they arrived in the St Lawrence valley in the 1500’s. This wood has been used ever since. The use of Cedar shingles commenced in the UK during the 1800’s when local grown pine was found not to be a suitable replacement for scarce oak and larch.
Eastern White cedar is forested and cut into logs which are then stored in open yards for around six months. The bark is then removed and the wood cut into smaller 40cm logs which are automatically taper cut (cut into wedge shapes) vertically with an angled saw. These tapered pieces are then cut along their length by an inspector to optimise the fault free width dimension. Timber off-cuts are converted into mulch which is ideal for use by gardeners and landscape architects, so not one part of the tree is wasted.
Shingles made from Cedar - aesthetic and durable
Cedar shingles are either pale brown (untreated) or green (treated), although after installation both versions will weather to a silver grey. Treated shingles have a much longer lifespan of 50-60 years (sometimes up to 80!) whereas untreated shingles can be expected to last 25-30 years.
Eastern White cedar shingles offer a fine, even grain, low density and are light weight and robust, making them very easy to work with. As well as being attractive, Cedar shingles are a sustainable building material and a naturally occurring preservative gives the shingles a resistance to fungal, insect and moisture decay and so can be used without the need for chemical treatment.