There are many variables that factor into the quality and character of cedar shake and shingle roofing; the age of the tree when logged, the region the tree comes from, the thickness of the material, it’s natural oil and resin content and the percentage of clear heartwood in each piece. Nothing has a more immediate impact on durability than grain orientation. Put simply, the more edge grain (aka Vertical Grain) the better.
Regardless of the color the label, vertical grain content is an easy identifier to determine the relative quality of cedar shake and shingle roofing.
Vertical Grain vs Horizontal Grain
Vertical grain is also called “edge grain” or “vertical sawn” and often carries the designation of Premium on the manufacturers label. To be characterized as Premium, each bundle of cedar shakes must contain 100% vertical grain. Horizontal grain is also called “flat sawn” or “flat grain”. #1 Grade are certified to have no more than 20% horizontal grain. In short, Premiums are 100% veritcal grain and #1 Grade are 80% vertical grain. The more vertical grain the better. If you can afford 100% vertical grain, it is worth the investment.
*Thanks to our friends at Kuhl Contracting, in Minnesota, for the great pictures and content.