Pros and Cons of a Cedar Shake Roof: What Homeowners Need to Know

Curious about cedar shake roofs? This article explores why homeowners choose cedar, its pros and cons, types, maintenance tips, and comparisons with other materials. Find out if a cedar shake roof fits your home’s needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Cedar shake roofs offer aesthetic appeal, energy efficiency, and durability, but require significant initial investment and regular maintenance.

  • Cedar shake shingles come in different grades (Common, Select, Premium), each varying in appearance, cost, and durability, catering to diverse budgets and preferences.

  • Despite their benefits, cedar shake roofs can be sensitive to certain weather conditions and may incur higher long-term costs due to required maintenance and potential weather-related damages.

0 Introduction

Cedar shake roofs evoke an image of classic elegance that many homeowners aspire to achieve. Yet, as with any significant home improvement, diving into the details is crucial. Once you grasp the details of cedar shake roofing, including cost, maintenance, and climate compatibility, you’ll be well-prepared to make decisions that align with your home’s needs and your personal aspirations.

We’ll delve into the intricate world of cedar shake roofs, paving the way for informed choices that resonate with your lifestyle, while exploring the roofing industry.

What is a Cedar Shake Roof?

Illustration of natural cedar shake roof

A cedar shake roof is more than just a protective covering; it’s a statement of style and a testament to natural craftsmanship. Cedar shakes, hand-split wood shingles made from natural cedar, offer a distinct aesthetic that sets them apart from the uniformity of asphalt shingles or the sleekness of synthetic roofing products. The shake roof, with its textured appearance, adds character to the slopes and gables of your abode.

Homeowners considering this roofing material should consider factors like cost, maintenance, and local climate compatibility, to ensure their vision of a natural cedar shake roof can become a long-lasting reality.

Types of Cedar Shake Shingles

Cedar shake shingles come in a range of qualities, each defined by its grade and suited to different budgets and aesthetic preferences. The three primary grades—Common, Select, and Premium—each offer a unique set of characteristics and advantages.

Whether you’re after a budget-friendly option or the finest wood shingles for your cedar roof, familiarizing yourself with these grades will aid in navigating the choices available and finding the cedar shakes that align with your vision.

Common Grade

For those on a tighter budget, common grade cedar shakes provide an economical choice. These shakes are crafted from various parts of the tree, resulting in a more rustic and less uniform appearance. While this grade is the most affordable, it’s worth noting that these shakes are prone to warping and curling over time, potentially leading to more maintenance down the line.

In terms of pricing, common grade shakes are positioned at the lower end of the spectrum, costing between $4 to $8 per square foot. Yet, the initial savings may be offset by the additional care required to keep them looking their best.

Select Grade

Select grade cedar shakes offer a harmonious balance between aesthetics and affordability. Here are some key features of select grade cedar shakes:

  • Consists of about 80% straight-grain shakes, resulting in a more consistent look

  • Provides improved stability compared to common grade shakes

  • Offers quality without breaking the bank, with prices ranging from $6 to $12 per square foot

When considering the longevity and appearance of your cedar shake roof, select grade shakes present a compelling choice.

Premium Grade

At the pinnacle of quality, premium grade cedar shakes represent the highest standard in wood shingle roofing. These top-tier shakes are:

  • Hand-selected for their straight grain, ensuring they lay flat and resist curling.

  • Come with a higher price tag—between $9 to $15.50 per square foot.

  • Reflect their superior durability and performance.

Homeowners choosing premium grade cedar shakes select a roofing material that’s not only visually stunning, but also inherently durable.

Pros of Installing a Cedar Shake Roof

Cedar shake roofs offer a suite of benefits that extend beyond their striking natural beauty. They enhance curb appeal, stand strong against the elements, and provide energy efficiency that can lead to savings on heating and cooling bills. Additionally, the eco-friendly nature of cedar shake roofing materials, when sourced locally, contributes positively to the environment. Some key benefits of cedar shake roofs include:

These perks render cedar shake roofs an attractive choice for homeowners valuing aesthetics, durability, and eco-friendliness.

Natural Beauty and Curb Appeal

Illustration of a house with a cedar shake roof

The natural beauty of a cedar shake roof is undeniable. With each shake featuring a unique texture, thickness, and color variation, cedar roofs offer a rustic elegance that can significantly enhance the curb appeal of any home. The timeless charm of these wood shingles weathers beautifully over time, providing a look that synthetic cedar shake roofing materials struggle to replicate.

For homeowners aiming to make a statement with their property, the fresh and natural allure of cedar shakes is a powerful draw.

Durability and Longevity

Illustration of durable cedar shake roof in severe weather

Cedar shake roofs are not just about looks; they’re built to last. With a lifespan that can extend up to 50 years with proper maintenance, these roofs are a testament to durability. Cedar’s resistance to severe weather conditions, including strong winds and storms, makes it a reliable choice for protecting your home.

Furthermore, the wood’s natural ability to withstand thermal expansion ensures that cedar shake roofs can gracefully handle the rigors of changing climates, offering homeowners a long-lasting and low-maintenance roofing solution.

Energy Efficiency

Illustration of energy-efficient cedar shake roof

Energy efficiency is another feather in the cap of cedar shake roofs. The natural insulation properties of cedar help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature year-round, reducing the need for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. This can translate into lower energy bills for most homeowners, making cedar shake roofs an environmentally friendly and cost-effective choice.

By choosing cedar shakes, you’re not only investing in a beautiful roof but also in a more energy-efficient home.

Cons of Cedar Shake Roofing

Despite the many benefits, cedar shake roofing is not without its drawbacks. These challenges, which include high upfront costs, ongoing maintenance requirements, and sensitivity to certain weather conditions, are crucial for homeowners to consider.

Grasping these potential disadvantages is key to making an informed decision on whether a cedar shake roof suits your home.

High Initial Cost

One of the most significant barriers to choosing a cedar shake roof is the high initial cost. Compared to more common materials like asphalt shingles, cedar shakes come with a heftier price tag. The total cost of installation is impacted by the quality of the materials, the complexity of the roof’s design, and labor costs.

For a 3,000-square-foot home, a new cedar shake roof can range from $18,000 to $25,000, making it a considerable investment that requires thoughtful consideration.

Maintenance Needs

Cedar shake roofs demand regular maintenance to prevent decay, rot, and other issues that can compromise their integrity. This includes routine cleaning to remove debris and prevent moisture retention, which can lead to wood rot. Additionally, cedar shakes may need more frequent maintenance in regions with severe weather to ensure their longevity.

These persistent maintenance costs and efforts must be considered when thinking about a cedar shake roof.

Vulnerability to Weather Conditions

Cedar shake roofs can be vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. In areas with high moisture levels or drastic temperature changes, cedar shingles may deteriorate more rapidly. Extreme heat can lead to drying and splitting, while frequent freezing and thawing cycles can cause damage.

Additionally, harsh weather conditions like heavy rain and snow can exacerbate issues such as leaks and rot. Homeowners must consider their local climate and whether a cedar shake roof is a suitable option for their environment.

Cedar Shake Roof Maintenance Tips

Maintaining a cedar shake roof ensures its beauty and longevity for years to come. Key maintenance activities include regular inspections, cleaning and treatment, and prompt repairs of damaged shakes.

Adhering to these guidelines, homeowners can safeguard their investment and appreciate the natural elegance of their cedar shake roof without unwarranted complications.

Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are the cornerstone of cedar shake roof maintenance. Annual professional assessments help identify potential issues early, preventing minor concerns from escalating into significant damage. If you’re not comfortable performing inspections yourself, enlist the help of a qualified roofing contractor to evaluate the condition of your roof and advise on any necessary repairs.

Cleaning and Treatment

To preserve the integrity of your cedar shake roof, regular cleaning and treatment are essential. This involves removing debris to prevent mold and mildew growth and applying treatments such as algaecides and fungicides. These treatments should be reapplied every one to three years to maintain the roof’s appearance and protect it from the elements.

Proper cleaning and treatment help extend the life of your cedar roof and keep it looking its best.

Repairing Damaged Shakes

Timely repairs are crucial for addressing any damage to cedar shakes. Annual maintenance should include the removal of ice dams and the replacement of cracked or rotted shakes to prevent further degradation. Additionally, proper installation techniques, such as the use of high-quality nails and flashing, can help prevent water leaks and ensure a solid hold.

With vigilance and quick issue resolution, you can help extend the lifespan of your cedar shake roof.

Comparing Cedar Shake Roofs to Other Roofing Materials

When deciding on a roofing material, it’s helpful to compare cedar shake roofs with other options on the market. Factors such as cost, durability, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal vary widely among materials like asphalt shingles, synthetic cedar shakes, and composite roofing. Understanding these differences can guide homeowners toward the roofing choice that best fits their needs and preferences.

Cedar Shake vs. Asphalt Shingles

Cedar shakes and asphalt shingles represent two very different roofing choices, each with its own set of pros and cons. While cedar shakes offer a natural, textured appearance and longer lifespan, they come at a higher cost and require more maintenance.

On the other hand, asphalt shingles are a cost-effective option with a variety of styles and colors, though they may not be as durable or visually appealing as cedar shakes. The decision between the two materials ultimately hinges on a homeowner’s budget, maintenance willingness, and desired aesthetic.

Cedar Shake vs. Synthetic Cedar Shake

Pros and Cons of a Cedar Shake Roof: What Homeowners Need to Know

For those seeking the classic look of cedar shakes without the associated maintenance, synthetic cedar shakes are an attractive alternative. These durable, low-maintenance materials mimic the appearance of natural wood but are engineered to withstand severe weather conditions and require less upkeep.

While synthetic shingles may offer cost savings and ease of care, they may not provide the same level of natural beauty and character as real cedar shakes. Homeowners must weigh the benefits and limitations of both options, including synthetic roofing product, to determine which aligns with their vision and lifestyle.

Choosing the Right Roofing Contractor

The installation of a cedar shake roof is a sophisticated process that requires the expertise of a skilled roofing contractor. The quality of the installation can significantly impact the roof’s performance and lifespan. Hence, it’s important to select a contractor with a solid reputation, a track record of quality workmanship, and the requisite experience with cedar roofing.

A reliable contractor will not only provide a free estimate but also offer a workmanship warranty to address any issues that may arise after installation.


In summary, cedar shake roofs are a blend of natural beauty, durability, and energy efficiency that can elevate any home’s appearance. However, they come with considerations such as higher initial costs, ongoing maintenance, and vulnerability to certain climates. By weighing these factors against the undeniable charm and long-term benefits of cedar shakes, homeowners can make a well-informed decision. If the allure of cedar captures your heart, and you’re prepared for its care, a cedar shake roof could be a remarkable addition to your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can I expect my cedar shake roof to last?

You can expect your cedar shake roof to last between 30 to 50 years with proper maintenance, depending on material quality and local climate conditions.

Are cedar shake roofs environmentally friendly?

Yes, cedar shake roofs are environmentally friendly as they are made from natural, renewable resources and provide excellent insulation, reducing energy usage for heating and cooling.

Can cedar shake roofs withstand severe weather?

Yes, cedar shake roofs can withstand severe weather such as wind and storms, but they require proper maintenance and installation to remain resistant to extreme heat, cold, and moisture.

Is it difficult to maintain a cedar shake roof?

Yes, maintaining a cedar shake roof can be challenging due to the need for regular cleaning, treatment, and repairs to prevent decay and ensure longevity.

How do I choose a reliable roofing contractor for my cedar shake installation?

Choose a roofing contractor with experience in cedar roofing, a good installation track record, and a solid workmanship warranty to ensure reliability and quality workmanship.