How Much Does a Cedar Shake Roof Cost?

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated September 9, 2021
A house with a cedar shake roof and lush gardens
Photo: tab62 / Adobe Stock

The average cost to install a cedar shake roof is between $6 and $9.50 per square foot

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While wood shakes are pricier than regular shingles, their longevity and beauty make them well worth the cost. Cedar shake roofs are especially popular, as they’re less expensive than other varieties with plenty of rustic charm to boot. Depending on labor, roofing materials, and other factors, your installation cost can vary.

How Much Does a Cedar Shake Roof Cost per Square Foot?

Cedar shakes cost between $6 to $9.50 per square foot, including labor and materials. For a 1,500-square-foot roof, you might pay anywhere from $9,000 to $14,250, or possibly more for high-end varieties. 

How Much Does It Cost to Install Cedar Shakes Yourself?

Cedar shake roofs—or any roofs for that matter—don’t make a safe DIY. In addition to the safety risks involved, mistakes could cause leaks or disastrous structural damage. You might end up needing a new roof yet again, or possibly worse.

What’s more, cedar shake shingles are expensive and can easily get damaged during a DIY installation (R.I.P. to the product warranty). Wood shakes require specialized expertise to install in order to get the most from their lifespan. Protect your roof and your investment—go with a pro instead.

Cedar Shake Roof Cost Breakdown

Your cedar shake roof will vary based on materials, labor, and other costs. Below is a breakdown of your installation expenses.

Roofing Materials

There are different varieties of cedar shakes on the market, all with varying costs. If you want your roof to last, you'll have to pay 30% to 50% more for top-grade cedar. It might be a pricier choice, but it’s less prone to cupping and curling. It also offers better insulation, which might save you on energy costs down the road.

Skilled Labor Costs

Look for roofers who focus on cedar projects. They may cost more, but they’ll know more about what kinds of fasteners and grain to use. This will increase the longevity of your cedar shake roof, so it’s worth the extra investment.

Safety and Access Factors

Depending on your roof’s setup, there may be additional fees for safety and access. For example, a job that requires roofers to work on steep inclines or use a safety harness will cost more. The same is true if they need to install around fixtures, such as vents or chimney stacks.

Local Fees and Permits

Building permits usually cost between $400 and $1,700. These typically come into play if you’re doing a major rebuild or adding additional rooms. If the latter applies, you might also need a land survey to make sure you're inside the property line. Other local fees may apply to your roofing project at the state and city level. 

What Factors Affect Your Cedar Shake Roof Cost?

There are many factors that can affect your cost to install a cedar shake roof. These include:

  • Cost of materials

  • Labor rates in your area

  • Safety and accessibility of your roof

  • Building permits and local fees (where applicable)

FAQs

Close-up of a cedar shake roof
Photo: Pantira / Adobe Stock

What are the differences between wood shakes and shingles?

Though cedar shakes (and other wood shakes) often get confused with shingles, there are a few key differences.

  • Shingles are far less durable than wood shakes

  • Cedar shakes are thicker than shingles (shingles range from about 3/8 to 1/2 inches thick, compared to 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick for shakes)

  • Wood shakes are still handmade, while shingles are usually machine-made

  • Shingles are uniform, whereas cedar shakes are more rugged, with each piece a little different from the others

  • Wood shakes work on steeper roofs than shingles do

How long does a cedar shake roof last?

When installed properly, a cedar shake roof should last up to six decades. It will have a shorter lifespan against high winds and general wear if:

  • The roofer doesn't use top-grade cedar

  • It wasn’t installed by a roofing contractor with cedar shake expertise

  • It doesn’t have the proper ventilation

  • It's secured with staples instead of nails

Keeping up with maintenance on your cedar shake roof will help ensure it stays beautiful and lasts as long as possible. It’s also a good idea to invest in the cost of roof inspections on a regular basis to help spot repairs before they become major issues. A roof inspector near you can walk you through the best plan for your roof.

What happens to fixtures and skylights during a roof install?

If a job involves tearing off old roofing, fixtures are in danger of getting pulled out of place and damaged. This can let in leaks, which may cause warping and rotting down the line. 

With that in mind, you might find that roofers have different ideas when it comes to fixtures and skylights. Some prefer to replace them, while others prefer to leave them. Much of this depends on what shape the fixtures are in, as well as their overall quality. Talk to your roofer about any concerns you have.

How can you find a quality roofing contractor?

Look for certified local roofing contractors who have plenty of experience working with cedar. There are also several important questions to ask before hiring a roofer, including whether they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Once you’ve rounded up a few good candidates, compare estimates and hire whoever gives you the best bang for your buck.

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