It was originally thought that cedar shake roofs or any outdoor wooden structure made from pressure-treated wood or cedar, were maintenance free. Although the public’s awareness is on the rise, manufacturers are recording many calls from concerned homeowners asking what should be done to protect their investment. Just like a new car or your skin, proper cleaning and protection are required to keep it preserved and looking good for a long period of time. A good maintenance program is very important for the well being of a wood deck or cedar shake roof.
Wood is a natural material. Once the bark is taken off the tree, it has no way of protecting itself. The damaging effects of weather on unprotected wood can begin immediately. Rain, melting snow and morning dew are quickly absorbed by unprotected wood causing it to soften and swell. The sun’s heat causes drying, which makes the wood shrink. These cycles of wet and dry, swelling and shrinking, cause wood to warp, split and crack – all of which lead to shortened wood life and expensive repairs and replacement.
Whether the wood is cedar, redwood, pressure-treated pine or iron wood, it must be protected. Most people think the lifetime guarantee on pressure-treated wood is the only protection they need. In reality, the guarantee on pressure-treated wood only covers wood rot and termite attack. Much of the cedar and redwood, which are used in construction today, are young growth cedars and redwoods that do not have the strong resistance to decay and insects as the older growth trees. Young growth cedar and redwood have higher sapwood content and are less resistant to biological enemies. Regardless of what type of wood your structure is, it is not possible to completely stop the weathering process. But, cleaning and the use of a protective finish will help slow it down.
Cleaning and restoring a cedar roof involves spraying the roof with a sodium percarbonate cleaner, washing the roof to remove the moss and algae and then neutralizing the wood with an oxalic wood brightener. To clean and restore a deck that currently has a coating requires the deck to be treated with a sodium hydroxide based cleaner. If the deck is new or does not currently have a coating, the deck needs to be cleaned with a sodium percarbonate based wood cleaner. The wood must then be washed using low pressure and then neutralized with an oxalic wood brightener. The wood needs to dry to a moisture content of 15% or less. A moisture meter should be used to measure the moisture in the wood. Dry wood is a critical step for the sealer or stain to bond properly to the wood. The wood should then be sealed or stained with an oil based sealer. Oil based sealers penetrate the wood and are easier and less costly to maintain in the long run than water based sealers and stains.
Whether homeowners do it themselves or they hire a company like Roof-to-Deck Restoration, regular cleaning and sealing of a deck or cedar roof can effectively double the life of wood saving a homeowner thousands of dollars.