Marley Eternit’s Guide to Roofing: Cedar Shingles

Marley Eternit’s Guide to Roofing: Cedar Shingles


If you’re looking for a natural, easy-to-fix roofing and cladding material, Sarah Buchanan, marketing product manager from Marley Eternit, says cedar shingles and shakes could be the perfect choice.

Although most commonly associated with Canada and North America, cedar shingles and shakes have been used for roofs and cladding in the UK since the 1930s. While you may think of them as a specialist roofing product, they are starting to be used on a greater variety of projects, where sustainability and speed of installation are important.

From holiday resorts, self builds, heritage properties and even social housing, the use of shingles and shakes is becoming more diverse, which means there are more opportunities for builders and roofers to install them.

What’s the difference?

Shingles and shakes essentially perform the same functions but are manufactured in different ways. A shingle is produced by sawing a block of wood on both sides, giving a relatively smooth face and back. A shake is hand split from a block of cedar along the natural grain of the wood and then re-sawn to produce one smooth surface. They can be used for both roofing and cladding.

Why should I use them?

One of the biggest benefits is that cedar shingles and shakes are very easy and quick to fix and can help to cut roof or cladding installation time.

They use the same roof construction as any other pitched roof, with battens and vapour permeable underlay and are twice fixed with stainless steel nails or staples. Surprisingly, they aren’t out of budget for many projects, priced at a similar level to a clay plain tile.

They are very versatile products that can be used on a huge variety of projects – from small garden outhouses and saunas, to houses and even theme parks.

One key benefit of using our cedar shingles is that they can be fixed down to a very low pitch of just 14 degrees, and they don’t require specialist expertise to fit them. They are also particularly suited for use in exposed locations, such as coastal properties.

If you’re working on projects that focus on energy efficiency or require the use of sustainable materials, then our Western Red Cedar Shakes and Shingles are a very good choice. As well as having the lowest carbon footprint of any widely used building product, when used as cladding they offer a high degree of thermal insulation and require zero maintenance.

They are also very light to transport and to handle. This makes them ideal for alternative construction methods, like timber frame, where reducing the weight of the building envelope is important.

Are all shingles and shakes the same?

Not all cedar shingles and shakes are the same, there are variances in the quality and durability and there are some important considerations when choosing which product to use:

  • Grading – Cedar shingles and shakes are produced in three grades. These are referred to as Blue Label, Red label and Black Label. We only recommend the use of Blue Label shingles in the UK for roofing and cladding. Our JB Shingles and Shakes are certi-grade accredited by the CSSB (Cedar Shingle and Shake Bureau) to ensure the highest quality possible.
  • Certification – Make sure you choose a product that has PEFC accreditation, which promotes the sustainable management of forests and provides complete chain of custody.
  • Installation speed – Shingles are easy to install, but to make it even quicker, we supply pre-formed hips and ridges and also offer JB Shinglefix, which uses specially designed stainless steel staples to reduce shingle installation time by up to 50 per cent.
  • Durability – Cedar shingles and shakes are a durable roofing and cladding finish, with a standard life of around 20 to 30 years, but for maximum life expectancy we recommend they are preservative treated. Our JB Shingles can be treated with MicroPro a clear coating which extends the life and guarantees the product for 40 years.
  • Treatment – Check what preservative treatment is used as many are alkaline and react with the natural tannins in the cedar, often leaving black or dark stains, or are prone to leaching (washing) out. MicroPro’s unique formulation is clear and uses a suspended micronised copper-based preservative that leaves the shingle looking completely natural.
  • Fire resistance – In some instances, cedar shingles and shakes may require treatment with a fire retardant. Always check with LABC when using them near a boundary, even if there is no building close by. Our fire retardant treatments comply with BS 476.EXT.S.AA B ROOF and BS 476 EUROCLASS B for roofing and cladding respectively, making them equal in performance to a clay tile.

For further information on Marley Eternit click here.

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