Roof Repair: How to Replace Cedar Shakes Roof Repair: How to Replace Cedar Shakes

What You'll Need
Replacement cedar shakes
Hammer and nails
Wooden wedges
Circular saw
Metal flashing
A block of wood

Knowing how to replace cedar shakes when they split, crack, or become damaged is a useful skill. Made from white or red cedar, they are a traditional roofing material that, when properly preserved and cared for, should last for a very long time. However, time, the elements, substandard materials, and lack of proper maintenance will wreak havoc on your roof as well as your house. Shakes that have sustained a significant amount of damage must be replaced if you want to avoid a leaking roof. Below are the steps to replacing cedar shakes.

Step 1 – Assess the Situation

If the shakes are in a very bad situation, do not walk on them. Instead, consider installing a new roof. If the roof is not that old but the shakes are falling off, cracking, or splitting, it may be that they were not properly nailed down. Go ahead and replace them. If they seem loose, but are not badly damaged, you can simply nail them back down. Do not use caulk to fix large sections of the roof.

Step 2 – Remove the Damaged Shakes

Pry out all the nails from the cracked or damaged shakes. If they won’t come out, take a chisel and a mallet and split the shake. Take care not to chip the surrounding shakes. You may place wooden wedges under the surrounding shakes to ease pressure. Take out the shake pieces and put them all in a pile. When you’ve taken out all the nails and damaged shakes, get a hacksaw and wrap one end with tape. This will serve as the handle. Slide the saw beneath the shake above the damaged one and cut off the nail that held it down.

Step 3 – Put in New Shakes

Using a circular saw, cut a replacement shake for the one that was removed. Make sure that it is a 1/4 inch narrower than the shake that was removed. Gently slide the new shake into place. Use a hammer and a block of wood to tap it into place until the bottom end is aligned with the surrounding shakes. Drill 2 holes, one on top of the other, above the new shake in the space between the shake above and the one next to it. Drive 2 galvanized nails into the holes. Be careful you don’t crack the new shake. You may use a block of wood under the bottom edge of the shake for balance while you are putting in the nail.

Step 4 – Take Additional Steps to Prevent Future Problems

To avoid leaking, put metal flashing over the nails. Once you’re done putting in the new shakes, inspect your work. Check for gaps and alignment. Inspect the area and try to figure out what caused the damage to your shakes so you can take the necessary steps to protect your new roofing.

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