Smart roofing contractors go the extra mile and learn as much as possible about the products they install. Recent industry developments and product innovations support cedar roofing materials' renewed popularity. Contractors working with cedar in 2006 know that they have to be up to speed on trends, market niches, product quality and type, as well as sales support.

Photo by Robert Benson

Smart roofing contractors go the extra mile and learn as much as possible about the products they install. Recent industry developments and product innovations support cedar roofing materials' renewed popularity. Contractors working with cedar in 2006 know that they have to be up to speed on trends, market niches, product quality and type, as well as sales support.

The Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau (CSSB) is a 501(c)6 not-for-profit trade association with offices in both the United States and Canada. The CSSB represents over 360 members, including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, brokers, approved installers, business service/accessory product providers and other associates. Of particular interest is the strong approved installer membership group, roofing contractors who offer experience, quality workmanship and dedication to servicing their customers' needs. All CSSB members work under the Certi-label™ brand banner, a name associated with top quality, the basis of the CSSB's proud reputation as "the recognized authority since 1915."

Cedar has been used for hundreds of years throughout North America with great success. Style preferences change over the course of many decades, and cedar product lines continue to evolve and offer diverse solutions. The CSSB is focused on correct product development based on accurate research to back up its product line focus. In 2005, it commissioned a thorough market research report that analyzed marketplace trends. Three key results of this study are evidence of marketplace niches, a strong desire for top quality and the need for factual product information.

Photo courtesy of the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau and Victor International Corp. Architect: Alexander Bogaerts & Associates.

Marketplace Niches

Cedar has a strong foothold in many niche markets across the United States and Canada. Prized for adding a welcoming, warm look to any home, cedar offers many benefits, including:
  • High insulation value.
  • Wind, impact and fire resistance.
  • Meets national and international building code standards.
  • Highly resilient in earthquakes.
  • Lightweight - no re-decking required.
  • Natural beauty - increases home value.
  • Long-term warranties available.
  • Natural decay resistance.
  • Renewable resource - biodegradable.
  • No worries about matching factory color lots.
Roofing contractors seeking to expand their cedar roofing sales should investigate local neighborhoods and determine which areas prefer wood roofs. Cedar roofed neighborhoods are found in clusters all across the United States and Canada. With a little bit of work (i.e., talking to the locals), one can easily determine where a cedar roof sales campaign would be most productive.

Top Quality

These days it's hard to find time to get enough sleep, let alone accomplish all we want to in a span of 24 hours. Everyone wants efficient solutions. Roofing contractors want to avoid as many callbacks as possible. The mantra is get the job done right, the first time, on time. A large part of this equation involves using top-quality products. The CSSB has set itself apart from the competition by offering a two-layer quality control program. Manufacturing members undergo third party independent inspections, plus audits by the CSSB's own staff Cedar Quality Auditor. Mill visits are random and unannounced, and top-quality products are the result. Each bundle of product manufactured by a CSSB member must have a Certi-label™ underneath the bundle strap. Labels are monitored by the CSSB office, ordered electronically upon mill request, and also randomly audited for compliance with production reporting figures.

Homeowners want to come home after a long day at work and unwind; they do not want to have to deal with roofing problems. On a similar note, after a tough day in the trenches, roofing contractors don't need the hassle of callbacks, either, so the key is to specify top quality at the start, install products correctly and watch your cedar roofing business grow.

Photo courtesy of the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau and Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce. Architect: Traditions West Designs Ltd. Photo by Kelly Vaille.

Factual Information

Facts are important to both you and your customer. When it's time to reroof or to select a roof for a newly designed project, it's best to avoid industry myths and know the truth. Here's some important information about cedar that you need to know so that you can pass it on to the homeowner:
  • A little-known fact about cedar shakes and shingles is that many are actually made from salvaged wood fiber - that is, wood left over from past logging work or windblown material left on the forest floor. CSSB members use helicopter and manual methods to remove it from the forests in a habitat-sensitive way, thus ensuring the best use of a valuable resource. Wood is nontoxic, energy efficient to produce, and eminently recyclable and biodegradable. Wood is also the most energy-efficient building material available today. When you compare the total energy costs of different kinds of building materials - including the cost to acquire the raw material, transport it, process it into a useful product and then actually use it - wood far outshines its competitors. (Source: See for more information)
  • Certi-Guard‚ pressure impregnated fire retardant treated cedar shakes and shingles can be used for Class A, B and C roofing systems. This treatment is locked into the cells of the wood and does not leach out after a rainstorm. These Class ratings are the same ratings used for alternative product types; Class A = Class A = Class A.
  • Certi-Last® pressure impregnated preservative treated products are also available. Contractors should note: At this time you cannot obtain a pressure impregnated treated product with both fire retardant and preservative treatments. Choose the treatment that is most important to your local area.
  • Certi-label™ cedar has demonstrated exemplary results in the UL-1897 wind uplift test, easily satisfying the most stringent hurricane wind area requirements. On a similar note, member cedar shakes and shingles have withstood the impacts of 2-inch diameter steel balls when dropped from a 20-foot height as per UL-2218 test standards. UL-2218 is the standard impact resistance test used by all products in the roofing industry. As a result, CSSB member manufacturers can offer Class 3 and Class 4 designations. One of the most notable features of cedar is its impact resistance, and the fact that certain hail-caused damage will rebound over time, leaving little to no mark.
It is a fact: People are coming back to a product that has withstood the test of time. When you present the facts to the homeowner, they will see that that cedar is a value added product that is aesthetically pleasing, durable and environmentally responsible. It's a winning combination.

Diverse Range of Value-Added Products

Here's an interesting tidbit: contrary to popular belief, it is not possible to buy a "shake/shingle" - they are two distinct products! Few homeowners know that there are over 100 different Certi-label™ product types. The trend towards natural products on treasured homes has resulted in a very wide and deep product line offering from CSSB members. The range of selection today goes far beyond Certi-Split® handsplit and resawn shakes (split on one face, sawn on the back), Certi-Sawn® tapersawn shakes (sawn on both sides, but with a heavier shadowline than a shingle), and Certigrade® shingles (sawn on both sides for a tailored appearance). Lengths and butt thicknesses vary according to the aesthetics desired.

Pressure impregnated treated products provide fire retardancy or preservative qualities to cedar roofs. Sidewall shingles have come back with massive popularity in the past few years. Today, one can obtain rebutted and rejointed (remanufactured on all four sides) sidewall shingles, also with choices of pre-finished, pre-primed, pre-stained, machine grooved, or sanded features. Unique design patterns are created using Certi-Cut® fancy butt sidewall shingles. Many of the most frequently asked questions received by the CSSB concern product finishes and coatings; for example, sealants should never be used on a cedar roof. CSSB field representatives have a wealth of additional, free information available to roofing contractors about these topics, and they are ready to assist you with your queries.

Responding to Market Needs

The CSSB offers a well-organized and well-planned program combining top-quality products; technical assistance and literature; product type and installation demonstrations; education for insurance teams, homeowner associations and builders; American Institute of Architects continuing education seminars; and Florida State Course Provider classes.

A supportive program of trade shows, building code and government liaison work is also performed in conjunction with these educational programs. New products and programs are continually being developed in response to marketplace needs and trends. A fully staffed administration office and two field offices offer extensive support across Western to Eastern time zones.

More Educated Target Audience

Cedar roofs are selected by discerning project specifiers. Architects and builders are now working in coordination more than ever to ensure cost effectiveness, proper project implementation and correct subcontracting. Roofing contractors also form a large part of this sales channel. Homeowners are now much more educated, and, after searching the Internet, they are asking more and more specific, well-researched questions of cedar product installers. The CSSB responded to this marketplace need by completely revamping its Web site ( Extensive product data and installation information is available, along with project ideas and contact information for free literature.

The CSSB is aiming to become even more responsive to roofing contractor needs; by continuing to expand its approved installer program, it ensures that correct installation techniques, along with a focused program, support member cedar products and services. The CSSB receives thousands of telephone calls each year and refers callers to member companies. Members are also listed on the CSSB Web site, which receives thousands of hits each year.

On the educational front, this year's Annual General Meeting will be held Sept. 28-30 in Philadelphia. This event offers a full set of educational seminars, and extensive networking opportunities. Roofing contractors who get calls from customers seeking natural, top-quality and versatile products should attend this event to learn more about meeting marketplace needs.

A Salute to True Craftspeople

Top-quality, service-oriented roofing contractors are true craftspeople. Over a lifetime it is possible to develop special, much-in-demand skills for cedar eyebrow windows, fancy sidewall design, double coursing, and staggered butts applications. The camaraderie in the industry, coupled with the pride of work, is evident. The CSSB salutes all the dedicated, hardworking men and women who use proper cedar installation techniques to create unique looking homes that are a true showcase for the industry.