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Cedar Shake Roof

The Pros and Cons of Cedar Shake Roofing

July 5th, 2023 | 6 min. read

The Pros and Cons of Cedar Shake Roofing

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Cedar shake roofing is a premium material that makes the neighbors’ heads turn as they walk by. Unfortunately, it won’t be the right roofing material for every homeowner. 

But how are you supposed to know if it is or isn’t right for you? The best way is to learn the good and bad of cedar shake roofing from an unbiased viewpoint. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has tried to prevent homeowners from experiencing buyer’s remorse when choosing a roofing material. That’s why I’ll break down the pros and cons of cedar shake roofing so you can truly determine if it’s right for you. 

This article breaks down the following pros and cons:

Pros of cedar shake roofing:

  • Curb appeal
  • Durability

Cons of cedar shake roofing:

  • Availability of products
  • Lack of material warranty
  • Wear and tear
  • Price point

The pros of cedar shake roofing

Let’s start with the positives of cedar shake roofing. The following pros are the two biggest reasons homeowners are drawn to a cedar shake roof. 

Let’s break down the pros of its curb appeal and durability. 

Cedar shake roofing has high curb appeal

The first pro of cedar shake roofing is its incredibly high curb appeal. Curb appeal is the visual attractiveness of your home from the street or sidewalk. 

A new roof is proven to increase your home’s curb appeal. However, the type of roofing material you choose determines how much it increases. 

cedar shake roof

With that in mind, cedar shake roofing has one of the highest curb appeals of any roofing material on the market. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the best-looking roofs you’ll see, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

So, just because it’s considered a beautiful roof doesn’t mean everyone likes the look of cedar shake roofing. There’s also a caveat to the look as it ages that we’ll discuss in a minute. 

Cedar shake shingles are durable

The next pro of cedar shake roofing is its durability and lifespan. As long as it’s properly installed and maintained, you can expect to get 30 years out of cedar shake roofing. 

If you invest in quality materials and live in an area with the right climate, you could possibly get up to 50 years out of it. The climate in our area of Nashville is great for a cedar shake roof, but a much more humid climate causes the cedar shake shingles to age faster. 

The lifespan of cedar shake roofing is great, but the durability and strength of the wooden material also mean it stands up well to storm damage. This means you won’t have to worry about hail damaging the function of cedar shake shingles as you do with asphalt shingles. 

The cons of cedar shake roofing

After learning the good of cedar shake roofing, you’re ready to learn the things that some homeowners see as deal breakers. This isn’t to say that they’ll be deal breakers for you, but knowing these cons is the best way to determine if cedar shake roofing is right for you. 

The availability of cedar shake shingles

The first con of cedar shake roofing is simply the availability of the shingles themselves. Cedar shake shingles are made from cedar trees in the Northwest United States or Southwest Canada. 

To make the shingles, they cut large cedar trees into 2-foot sections, then hand split them or saw them into a tapered thickness (tapersawn). Well, cedar shake manufacturers don’t keep stockpiles of shingles lying around. 

They’re made to order, which means they don’t actually split or saw them until an order is placed. Because of this, it could take 3 to 8 weeks to get cedar shake roofing material. 

Cedar shake roofing doesn’t come with a material warranty

After getting a new roof, you get warranties on the contractor’s workmanship and the materials themselves. Unfortunately, cedar shake shingles are naturally made, so there’s no manufacturer warranty on the materials. 

This lack of material warranty is a big con of cedar shake roofing. With no material warranty, you’ll only have your roof contractor’s workmanship warranty to fall back on.

That’s why it’s crucial to hire a local roofing contractor that takes pride and stands behind their work. To get the best roof possible, you should look for a contractor that offers a 10-year, 25-year, or lifetime warranty.

Wear and tear impacts the look of cedar shake roofing

You already know that the look of cedar shake roofing is a big pro, but the next con is what it looks like as the years go by. As a cedar shake roof ages, the shingles rot, crack, curl, and lose the fresh cedar look. 

comparing a freshly installed cedar shake roof to an older cedar shake roof(Left: newer cedar shake roof; right: aged cedar shake roof)

This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but some homeowners don’t like the look of the change from a fresh cedar color to a worn (or aged) color. On the other hand, some don’t think this is a big deal and even like the worn look. 

cracked and curled cedar shake shingles

So, just like the high curb appeal it offers, liking the look of an older cedar shake roof or not is subjective. Just keep in mind that you may have to replace rotten, cracked, or curled cedar shake shingles.

But as long as you invest in quality materials and workmanship, it should be mainly an aesthetic issue with no functionality problems. 

Cedar shake roofing is expensive

No matter what roofing material you choose, a new roof is a large investment. However, a cedar shake roof is a premium roof system, so you can expect to pay a premium price. 

Because of this, you can expect a cedar shake roof costs around $25.00 to $30.00 per square foot. If you have a more complex roof and invest in the best quality grade of cedar shake shingles, you’ll be on the higher end of the price range. 

This premium price point is a big con that immediately disqualifies cedar shake roofing for a lot of homeowners. In fact, cedar shake roofing is more than 4 times more expensive than the cost of an asphalt roof.

How does a cedar shake roof compare to a synthetic cedar shake roof?

You just got an unbiased look at the pros and cons of cedar shake roofing. After reading this article, you should have a good idea if it’s the right roofing material for you. 

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably have sticker shock at the price point. This is disappointing for anyone who likes the look of cedar shake roofing. 

But did you know another material actually mimics the look of a cedar shake roof without some of the cons? Synthetic cedar shake shingles are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to natural cedar shake shingles. 

Unfortunately, they’re the newcomer to the roofing industry, so homeowners don’t know much about them or how they compare to the material they mimic. That’s why I wrote another article comparing a natural cedar shake roof to a synthetic shingle roof on the exact same pros and cons we covered here. 

Check out Natural Cedar Shake vs. Synthetic Cedar Shake to learn how they match up on key decision-making factors.

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