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Can I Walk on My Ceder Shake Roof?

Mike Parker

Cedar shake has been used as a roof covering material for centuries. Good quality cedar shake, or shingles, can last for 30 years or more. They have the advantage of being an all-natural insect-repellent substance. Cedar shake comes in a variety of thicknesses, lengths, grades and levels of fire resistance. Cedar shake roofing or siding may need occasional maintenance to keep it looking good, but unless you are a trained roofer you should not walk on a cedar shake roof.

Cedar Shakes

You can repalce individual cedar shake planks.

Cedar shake is distinguished from cedar shingles by the planks' cut and dimensions. A piece of shake is typically 18 inches to 24 inches in length and have a butt thickness of at least 1/2 inch. Premium quality shake is hand-split, then sawn diagonally with a band saw. Shake may be pressure-treated with a fire retardant to meet local building codes. High-quality cedar shake usually costs more than other roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, but cedar shake roofs are valued for their natural beauty, environmental friendliness and resistance to decay.


High-quality cedar shake is tough, flexible and resilient, but it is not designed to bear excess weight. You can damage your cedar shake and the structure supporting it if you walk on your shake roof. Individual shake planks may crack or split, particularly around the nails. If a crack or split is minor, it should not cause a problem; but large cracks or splits may allow moisture to penetrate, resulting in a leak.


The Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau advises homeowners to refrain from walking on cedar shake roofs for safety reasons. Cedar shake can become extremely slick when it gets wet, which plainly creates a dangerous environment for anyone on the roof. Refrain from walking on a wet cedar shake roof.


You may be able to gain traction on a cedar shake roof by wearing roofer's cleats. Roofer's cleats will leave small indentations in the shake but usually don't cause permanent damage. The natural properties of cedar shake causes it to rebound to a normal state of appearance over time.