Is a Cedar Shake Roof Right for Your Home?

Leah Lopez Cardenas
Updated January 18, 2022
A dormer house with a cedar shake roof
photo: steverts / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Cedar shakes are wooden planks commonly used as an alternative to shingles.

  • While cedar shake roofs are more expensive than many other types of roofs, they’re known for their beauty and durability.

  • Other benefits include eco-friendliness, and they work better on steep roofs.

  • Cedar shake roofs take some effort to maintain, but they last up to 60 years with proper maintenance.

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Travel through neighborhoods in any city across the country and you’ll probably come across a show-stopping cedar shake roof on one of the homes. If that’s a look you’ve been manifesting for your dream home, you don’t have to settle for less. Here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know about cedar shake roofs before you make a decision on which type of roof will work best for your house.

What Is a Cedar Shake Roof?

Cedar shakes are square or rectangular wooden planks that make a popular roofing alternative to shingles. They come in a variety of colors, and many homeowners prefer a cedar shake roof for its beauty and durability.

How Much Does a Cedar Shake Roof Cost?

Cedar shake roofing costs more than traditional shingles. While the cost to install a shingle roof typically ranges from about $3.50 to $5.50 per square foot, a cedar shake roof costs nearly double that amount at about $6 to $9.50 per square foot. Most of the higher cost is because wood is a pricier material to build with than asphalt. 

If you are looking to cut down your energy expenses, however, a cedar roof is a great choice in the long run. Cedar is a natural insulator and can reduce your heating and cooling costs.

What Is the Difference Between Cedar Shake and Shingle Roofing?

The main differentiators between cedar shakes and cedar or other wooden shingles are the thickness and appearance. Shingles are typically manufactured, which means they look more uniform, while shakes are often handmade, giving them a more rustic appearance. Choosing one or the other might come down to your home’s style and your preferences.

Cedar Shake Roof Pros and Cons

A newly installed roof with cedar shake shingles
Photo: Solidago / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

When deciding on the best type of roof for your home, there’s a lot more to think about besides the price and the way it looks. Here are some other important factors to consider:

Benefits of Cedar Shake Roofs

Cedar shake roofs are durable and last for a long time, up to 60 years, if properly installed and maintained, assuming there are no severe weather damages throughout their lifespan.

Cedar shake tiles are more eco-friendly than several other types of shingles because wood is an organic material that’s generally recyclable. These tiles also work better on steeper roofs than asphalt shingles if your home’s roof has a more challenging shape.

Wood is another eco-friendly option, though, as it’s derived from natural sources and is generally recyclable.

They're reliable in any climate, but they're ideal for hot and sunny areas because they resist UV damage. They can withstand harsh weather conditions, so they're great for people who live in regions with strong thunderstorms or hurricanes.

Disadvantages of Cedar Shake Roofs

The primary disadvantage of this type of roofing is the high cost. Wood shakes are also typically handmade, which means they are not always uniform and may look a little more rustic (which could technically be an advantage if you’re a homeowner who prefers a more rustic-style home).

Unfortunately, cedar shakes are a more significant fire hazard as wood is more flammable than asphalt or other types of roofing like clay, asphalt, or metal. However, several manufacturers of cedar shingles also apply a fire-resistant coating for extra safety.

Do you have a pest problem? Pests like termites, carpenter ants, and carpenter bees can spell disaster anytime, especially for homes with wooden roofs.

How to Maintain a Cedar Shake Roof

To maintain your cedar shake roof and keep it lasting for decades to come, you should plan on scheduling a regular roof inspection one to two times every year and deep cleaning it every five to seven years. You can hire a local roof cleaning service near you to ensure the job is done correctly without damaging the cedar shakes.

Cedar roofs are difficult to install. Whether you’re having a new roof put on your house or looking to have someone perform repairs and maintenance on your roof, hire an established local roofing company. Look for a pro with related experience, manufacturer’s warranties, roofing credentials, and multiple recent, five-star reviews before hiring.

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