There are key pieces of information you need to know about cedar roofs that will help you both survive and thrive during the next hailstorm season … keeping both your business and sanity intact.

Photo by Bob Matheson. Courtesy of the Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau.

You’ve spent the entire cedar roofing season sweltering through intense heat and drying off after ominous thundershowers. Your customers appreciated the extra precautions you took to get the job done right, on time, and with the right materials. Heck, one of them even wrote you a thank you card. Could it get any better?

You reach for the volume knob on your truck’s new stereo system to crank some tunes; instead, the weather report suddenly brings a deep frown to your face.

Hail is on the way. Mother Nature will pound the city with ice balls packing a wallop tomorrow afternoon. Hail means roofing damage, upset customers, callbacks, leaks and insurance adjusters all over town. Wait a minute. You’re an experienced tradesperson. Fixing leaks and roof repairs is second nature to you. It’s the misinformation and general market pandemonium that concerns you. Last time a hailstorm went though your town, you had dozens of homeowners wanting new roofs when they only experienced cosmetic damage. Insurance adjusters were handling hundreds of claims, and the news media even did an exposé on those notorious scam artists who offer homeowners the world, yet leave them holding nothing more than empty promises.

Let’s turn last year’s nightmare into today’s more pleasant reality. There are key pieces of information you need to know about cedar roofs that will help you both survive and thrive during the next hailstorm season … keeping both your business and sanity intact.

Working Together

It is critical to understand and accept that roofing contractors and insurance adjusters both benefit from correct claims handling procedures. No one wants to deal with the homeowner insisting on a new roof simply because of “neighboritis” - that is, his neighbor got one, so now he wants one, too. Preventing this occurrence, as well as encouraging an improved and openly competitive roofing climate, is better business for the entire marketplace. Specific benefits roofing contractors obtain by working with insurance companies include the following:

• Referral business. Insurance companies have developed lists of reputable contractors who will provide roofing services in hail-prone areas. They are seeking reliable, established, quality-oriented firms who can provide reassuring services to policyholders who have just experienced a storm-damaged roof. Inquiring if insurance companies have referral lists and how a roofing contractor can qualify for this list are good questions to ask. Do your homework before the next storm hits; in the aftermath of a major hailstorm, it’s too late for this proactive work.

• Reduction in “neighboritis” calls. If you are familiar with general insurance company terminology, procedure, recognized product impact resistance ratings and claim qualifications, then you will be better able to make recommendations to homeowners calling about potential roofing damage. For example, just knowing that a policyholder should check his or her insurance policy document for any cosmetic damage exclusions is a good piece of information to share. Above all else, tell clients to contact their insurance agent, provide accurate information to the claim adjuster, and get the correct data from the right source.

• Cooperation in sharing correct information with the media. Big hail is big news. It also means swarms of reporters all in the quest of the ultimate scoop. The roofing industry is best served by the sharing of accurate and educated information, data that the public can use to understand how the entire storm affects roofing products and which types of repairs are practical.

• Better marketplace education. You are an experienced contractor with a lot of great in-field knowledge gained over the years. Consider holding a local seminar for the public so homeowners can get educated and access manufacturers’ literature about the subject. Share product benefits brochures and testing results. This will help your business with more qualified leads and likely more business as people remember your educational outreach work.

Figure 1. These photos demonstrate the correct installation of cedar shingles.

Product Types and Installation Reminders

There are over 100 different product types manufactured by Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau (CSSB) members. All roofing contractors should be aware of the three main cedar product types:

1. Certi-Split® Handsplit and Resawn Shake: Split on one face, sawn on the back, used for a more rustic look.

2. Certi-Sawn® Tapersawn Shake: Sawn on both sides, giving a tailored appearance with a heavier shadow line than a shingle.

3. Certigrade® Shingle: Sawn on both sides, used for a tailored appearance.

Installing cedar shakes and shingles correctly proves that you are a true craftsperson. As no two pieces of this natural product are exactly alike, it takes both skill and knowledge to install them to CSSB specifications. You need to be informed about fasteners, interlaid felt, keyways, and much more. You also have to be able to explain the proper installation procedures to customers so they’ll know what to expect and understand why hiring an experienced, quality-oriented contractor is essential.

Cedar Weathers the Storm

Cedar shakes and shingles offer the fundamental weather-resistance properties that are so important to clients.

• Certi-Guard® pressure-impregnated fire retardant treated cedar shakes and shingles have been tested to meet Class A, B and C standards for use in fire hazard areas.

• Certi-label™ products have been tested to meet Class 3 and 4 impact resistance ratings.

• Certi-label™ cedar shakes and shingles have undergone the UL-1897 (fourth edition) “Uplift Test for Roof Covering Systems” with exemplary results.

For complete testing details and engineering reports, please contact the CSSB ( In addition to offering these strong defenses against the weather, trees are a renewable resource and an environmentally sound choice. Wood is highly energy efficient and eminently recyclable and biodegradable, unlike many substitute products.

Figure 3. This photo shows actual pressure-washing damage.

Roofing Inspections

Insurance adjusters working a hailstorm area are busy people, and roofing contractors are often in a position to help them. Many times adjusters have been specifically deployed to an area to help augment insurance company staff permanently based in the area. Their days are long and they appreciate good information.

Educated adjusters know that roof damage cannot be accurately determined from the ground, with binoculars, or from the top of a ladder. They protect themselves via proper safety procedures when on each roof. Their employer has likely furnished them with a worksheet designed to collect information such as roof area, age, decking, flashing type, installation and product quality, slope, size, number of splits, environment, overhanging vegetation, and storm pattern. Good adjusters are also big fans of continuing education. They know enough not to be fooled by non-hailstorm damage such as that caused by ballpeen hammer hits, foot traffic or pressure washing. (See Figure 3.)

You will likely meet insurance adjusters very soon after the hailstorm, likely on adjacent jobsites or through general contacts and meetings. Offer to assist if they need a second opinion by engaging your firm’s services. Give them free educational brochures such as the CSSB’s Certi-label™ Cedar Roofing: A Claim Adjuster’s Guide to Handling Hail-Related Claims. Invite them to an upcoming seminar. Put them in contact with the trade association that can supply them with additional product and installation details. It will pay off for your roofing company; people remember who was kind enough to help them yesterday, last week, even last year. Remember also that the best referrals are through word of mouth.

Figure 4. Repairing a cedar roof.

Repair vs. Replacement

Homes in the direct path of a severe hailstorm will likely experience roofing product damage, no matter what type of roofing material is used. Insurance adjusters appreciate honest roofing contractors who know when repairs are more appropriate than a complete reroofing job. Cedar repairs are both possible and practical. Shimming is one technique to consider - however, no more than 20 percent of a roof area should be shimmed, for both roofing system integrity and cosmetic appearance purposes. If this 20 percent limit is reached, one should consider repairing the area with new shakes or shingles or undertaking a complete reroofing job, depending upon the circumstance and level of damage.

The detailed Repair Cost Formula (Marshall and Herzog, Proceedings of the North American Conference on Roofing Technology, 1999) was developed to assist determining the cost of a repair versus a replacement job. The formula is as follows:

RC = D x U x R x A

RC = the cost to repair the entire slope (in dollars).

D = the number of damaged shingles or shakes per roofing square.

U = the unit cost to repair a shingle or shake (in dollars). Check the local market for current costs.

R = the repair difficulty factor.

A = the actual area of the slope (in roofing squares).

It is very important to keep in mind that different regions of the country as well as the size of the specific catastrophic storm are factors contributing to labor and hence repair unit cost factors.

Prized for their beauty around the world, cedar shakes and shingles have a long and proud history on both roofing and sidewall landscapes. They also offer the protection homeowners seek for their most valuable investment.