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Asphalt Shingle Roof vs. Cedar Shake Roof: Which is Right for You?

December 25th, 2020 | 8 min. read

Asphalt Shingle Roof vs. Cedar Shake Roof: Which is Right for You?

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Are you ready for a new roof? Are you trying to decide between an asphalt roof and a cedar shake roof? 

If so, I understand it can be a struggle to determine which one is right for your replacement. But there are some things to know that can help make that decision easier. Luckily, we’re here to break it down for you. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been replacing roofs in Nashville and surrounding areas since 1990. Our high-quality workmanship ensures you get the most out of your roof investment. That’s why we’re proud to offer you a lifetime warranty. 

So, should you get an asphalt roof or a cedar shake roof? Always looking to help you make the best decision that’s right for you, I’m going to compare the two types of roofs on important factors.

What is an asphalt roof?

An asphalt shingle roof is the most common type of roof you see on homes today. It’s a roof system made primarily out of asphalt shingles and other asphalt roofing components. 

There are three types of asphalt shingles to choose from: 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury. 

3-tab asphalt shingles lay flat and get their name from the 3 tabs on each shingle strip.

3 tab asphalt shingles

Dimensional shingles give you a good looking random pattern or simulate the look of a wood shake roof.

dimensional asphalt shingles

Luxury or premium shingles are actually larger than the other asphalt shingles and are made to look like slate.

luxury asphalt shingles

While 3-tab used to dominate the market, dimensional shingles are the most common type installed on roofs today. Luxury style shingles are just as heavily marketed as dimensional but are almost double the price. 

Because of its popularity, we’ll be using a dimensional asphalt shingle roof as an example for the rest of this article.  

What is a cedar shake roof?

A cedar shake roof is a premium roof system made of natural wood (cedar) materials. While it serves the same functions as an asphalt or metal roof, it’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing roof’s you’ll see. That’s what sets a cedar shake roof apart from the more common roof types.  

cedar shake roof

There are 3 grades (types) of cedar shake shingles: common, selects, and 100% straight grain. The shingles are made out of cedar trees that come from the Northwest United States or Southwest Canada. 

Be aware, the manufacturers of cedar shakes don’t keep stockpiles of the shingles. They’re made to order, which means they don’t split or saw them until an order is placed. Because of this, it could take 3 to 8 weeks to get the materials for your cedar shake roof. 

Asphalt roof vs. cedar shake roof

Now that you know a little bit about both types of roofs, you’re ready to learn how they match up on important factors. Factors like cost, lifespan, and more help you decide which roofing material is right for your new roof. 

Remember, we’ll be comparing a dimensional asphalt shingle roof to a cedar shake roof for this article. 

Asphalt roof cost vs. cedar shake roof cost

Your roof replacement is always going to be an investment. With that in mind, the difference in price between the two roofs is going to be drastic. 

A cedar shake roof is a premium roof system, so it comes at a premium price. Because of its premium price, a cedar shake roof is going to cost more than a dimensional asphalt roof. 

You can actually expect to pay more than 5 times more for a cedar shake roof than the cost of an asphalt roof. For example, a two-story house, with a little complexity, good accessibility, and using dimensional asphalt shingles is going to cost $5.86 per square foot. 

You can expect a cedar shake roof to be 5 times more per square foot.

Which roof is better on cost?

Between a dimensional asphalt roof and a cedar shake roof, the difference in the size of your replacement investment is going to be drastic. If you’re on a tight budget or looking for affordability, then an asphalt roof is the right one for you. 

However, if you have the budget and want a look that’ll stand out, a cedar shake roof is a great option. To learn more about what affects the cost of your new roof, read this article on the 9 factors that impact the cost of your new roof

Does an asphalt roof or cedar shake roof last longer?

The life of your roof is how many years you can expect to get out of it. Under normal conditions, both roofs live around the same number of years, but a cedar shake roof could last longer under the right conditions

A dimensional asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan is around 30 years. A cedar shake roof’s lifespan is also 30 years, but you could possibly get up to 50 years if you invest in quality materials and live in an area with the right conditions.  

Which roof lives longer?

No matter what kind of roof you have, if it’s properly installed, has adequate attic ventilation, and you get roof maintenance you’re going to get as close as possible to its specified lifespan. 

With that in mind, both roofs should live close to 30 years. But remember, a cedar shake roof has the possibility to live longer. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you ask your local roofing contractor if the climate in your area is a good fit for a cedar shake roof.

Be aware, the climate isn’t the only thing that affects your roof’s lifespan. To learn what else impacts the life of your new roof, read this article on how long your new roof will last

What are your warranty options for an asphalt roof and a cedar shake roof?

A warranty is in place to protect you and your roof from any future problems. The two warranties you get on a new roof is for the materials and the contractor’s workmanship. 

Be aware, the workmanship warranty will depend on the local roofing contractor you hire. However, the warranty you get on the materials of your asphalt roof and cedar shake roof is different. 

A dimensional asphalt roof comes with a 30-year warranty once you remove the shingles from the package. However, if you use all of one manufacturer’s roofing components instead of mixing and matching from other companies, you can qualify to get the enhanced warranty. 

Once you register your roof with the manufacturer, the enhanced warranty covers your roof for the next 50 years. Be aware, improper roof installation or inadequate attic ventilation will void the enhanced warranty 

On the other hand, a cedar shake roof has no manufacturer material warranty because the cedar shakes are naturally made. Because there’s no material warranty on your cedar shake shingles, you can only rely on the workmanship warranty of the roofing contractor you hire. 

To learn more about your roof warranty options, read this article on what roof warranties cover.

Which roof comes with better warranty options?

While both roofs will have a warranty on the workmanship, your dimensional asphalt roof will be the only one with a warranty on the materials. You’ll even have the chance to get the enhanced warranty to protect the materials of your asphalt roof for its lifespan. 

However, the only protection you have on a cedar shake roof is the warranty you get from your local roofing contractor. That makes hiring a great roofing contractor crucial to your roof investment. 

To help you find a great one in your area, read this article on the 4 ways to find a great local roofing contractor

Do both an asphalt roof and a cedar shake roof require maintenance?

Your car needs its oil changed to keep it maintained and running smoothly, the same goes for both an asphalt roof and a cedar shake roof. Whether it’s once or twice a year, regular roof maintenance ensures you get the most life out of an asphalt roof and a cedar shake roof. 

It will catch any problems with your wooden or dimensional asphalt shingles and prevent future leaks before they can cause damage to your home. Roof maintenance is also a chance to clear your roof and gutters of any debris. 

Wet debris sitting on your roof will shorten the lifespan of your shingles. Because of this, it’s absolutely crucial to keep your roof running smoothly throughout its life with roof maintenance. 

Which roof requires less maintenance? 

Every roof needs some form of general maintenance, and some require more than others. However, both an asphalt roof and a cedar shake roof need roof maintenance at least once a year. 

To learn more about why roof maintenance is crucial to every roof type, read this article on why regular roof maintenance is important

Is an asphalt roof or a cedar shake roof right for you?

You just learned how an asphalt roof and a cedar shake roof compare to each other on key factors. An asphalt roof is a great option for anyone because of its warranty options and affordability. 

But if budget isn’t a concern and you’re looking to go all out for a beautiful roof, a cedar shake roof might be right for you. Knowing all the above information helps you decide which type of roof is right for your replacement. 

After reading this are you still struggling to make a decision? Do you just want to reassure yourself that you're choosing the right roof? If this sounds like you, take our free quiz to help. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality roof replacements, including asphalt and cedar shake, to the residents of Nashville since 1990. We take pride in providing you an experience rare in the roofing industry with our workmanship and customer service. If you’re local to the Nashville area, don’t hesitate to contact us for your asphalt or cedar shake roof replacement today. 

To help you find the right roof for you, take this quiz on Which Roof Type is Right for You

roofing material quiz

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