Cedar shakes and cedar shingles are either CCA treated or not CCA treated. CCA stands for chromated copper arsenate. CCA is a preservative that inhibits the growth of mildew, mold and fungus and helps keep insects from eating away your beautiful cedar roof. CCA cedar can make your roof last longer, but CCA is NOT A FIRE TREAMENT. Cedar that has been fire treated is available, but your roofer will have to special order it. CCA treated cedar normally cost 15 – 20% more than non-CCA cedar. Most cedar roofs are not CCA treated.
Handsplit and resawn cedar comes in two different grades and many different thicknesses. Premium grade cedar shakes or shingles are made of clear heartwood, and are 100% edge grain. Number 1 grade cedar is also made of clear heartwood, but it they have a maximum of 20% edge grain. Two of the most popular thicknesses of cedar shakes or shingles are heavy and medium. Heavy cedar has 3/4″ (19mm) minimum thickness at the buttend, while medium cedar has 3/4″ (13mm) minimum thickness. If you hear the term “perfection” it has nothing to do with how much “perfect” heartwood the cedar contains. “Perfection” means the cedar shake or shingle is 18 inches long. Perfection shakes and shingles come in all 4 different grades.
There are a total of 4 different grades of red cedar. The following list contains the four types of cedar shingles and cedar shakes:
- Blue Label: This grade features 100% heartwood, 100% edge grain and no defects. They are the “perfect” shingle or shake. This cedar is also the most expensive of the four.
- Red Label: Red label cedar is not as “perfect” as blue label, but they are still a very good shingle. About 66% of the shingle is heartwood. It has limited amounts of sapwood and flat grain. It also has a limited number of knots and defects above the clear portion of the shingle.
- Black Label: Black label cedar is one step down from Red Label shingles. They have clear heartwood in about 50% of the shingle. Like red label, black label shakes and shingles also have a limited number of knots and defects above the clear portion of the shingle.
- Undercoursing: Undercoursing is not suitable for most exterior home applications. It is mainly used at the rake of your cedar roof as starter strip.
Cedar shakes and cedar shingles are beautiful, and they’re also a great investment. Knowledge of terms such as CCA, premium grade, Number 1, blue label and black label will help you select the right cedar roof for your home.