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Why a Cedar Roof Needs a Cold Roof System

May 08, 2017

Use skip sheathing and a ventilation space to extend the life of the shingles

Traditionally, cedar roofing was installed over skip sheathing, narrow 1-by material fastened perpendicularly to the rafters with a couple of inches between each piece.

Installed over a vented attic, skip sheathing extends the life of wood shingles by allowing them to dry evenly—from above and below.

Nowadays engineers want roofs to be continuously sheathed for strength, which poses a problem for wood shingles. When installed over roof underlayment and sheathing they simply won’t last.

In this video roofing contractor Chris Verrone shows how to install what he calls a “cold” cedar roof.

A cold roof is one where roofing is attached to sheathing over a vented airspace that keeps it the same temperature as the outside air. This prevents melting snow from refreezing and forming ice dams.

Verrone uses it as a way to install wood shingles on skip sheathing on a house that is continuously sheathed.

How to do it:

  • Install roof underlayment on top of the sheathing.
  • Attach wood spacers over that—in line with the rafters below
  • Fasten skip sheathing to the spacers
  • Install wood shingles in the usual way
  • Create a channel for airflow by spacing the fascia off of the framing

—David Frane is a freelance editor and a good buddy of ours. Formerly, he was editor of Tools of the Trade magazine and website. He lives in Northern California.

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