If you have issues with your current roof, you may have considered the possibility of using an alternative roofing material. Asphalt, tin, and ceramic tiles each offer unique qualities. However, cedar shake roofing offers a level of beauty and elegance that no other material can match. There are good reasons to use this material, but there are also a few good reasons to avoid its use. In this article, we will examine both the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision.

What Are Cedar Shakes And Do They Differ From Shingles?

Right now, you might be scratching your head and wondering what a “shake” is. To answer that question: It’s just a rough-made shingle. Like shingles, shakes are placed on a rooftop in layers. The only difference is that shakes are not made from a uniform size.

When made by hand in the traditional way, shakes are made by splitting logs. Because logs are not square, one log will produce several boards of varying width. In the old days, this method made it easy for people living in a forested environment to create roofing tiles with relative ease.

In essence, a cedar shake is just a rough and irregular shingle. Like any wooden shingle, they need to be treated with a water-resistant substance in order to achieve decent longevity. Without proper treatment, wooden shingles will not last very long at all, but a properly-treated cedar shake roof can last for up to 30 years.

The Pros:

A cedar shake roof offers a lot in terms of beauty. The beauty and variability of natural wood will give your roof a stunning appearance and a natural beauty. If you live in a wooded area, this kind of roof will match the scenery and provide a tranquil and idyllic view. However, this kind of beauty doesn’t come cheap.

Many types of cedar also contain an aromatic oil that has a pungent yet pleasant smell. This pleasant smell is one of the reasons that many palaces of the ancient world were made with cedar roofs. From the earliest stages of civilization, a cedar roof has been a symbol of prestige. This might be due to the fact that wooden shakes and shingles have to be treated heavily with various chemicals to meet modern building standards.

Another good thing about cedar shake roofing is the fact that it is long-lived. There are buildings in Europe that have maintained their wood-shingle roofs for centuries. However, these wooden roofs have only lasted so long as a result of dedicated maintenance.

Wooden roofs also offer a lot of wind resistance. As you can see from this case study, wooden roof tiles are not as affected by the wind as most others. This is the case because wood does not bend as easily as an asphalt sheet or a piece of tin. Cedar is stiffer and heavier than both of those materials, so it’s much harder for the wind to remove your tiles.

It also helps that wood can bend a little bit to avoid breaking, which keeps it from being too brittle. Wooden tiles do not break easily like ceramic tiles. Even if the wind does blow a few of them from your roof, you will most likely be able to re-use them.

The Cons:

The biggest problem with cedar shake roofing is its high cost. As we said earlier, its beauty does not come cheap. Since they are rough-cut, shakes are less expensive than shingles, which have to be cut by a machine. However, you will need a lot of these little boards to do an entire roof, and the cost can add up very quickly. Consider this example. Here we see a bundle of shakes for $168.00, which isn’t exactly cheap. Now ask yourself how many of those bundles you would need for the entire job, and you will quickly see how expensive this little job can be.

Not only will you spend a lot more money on your cedar roof, but you will also have to spend a lot more time on maintenance. If these wooden roofs are not cleaned, they will gradually begin to grow mold, fungus, and lichens. These organisms will actively feed on the wood, and will break it down pretty quickly. Thus, it will be necessary to wash the roof with soapy water and some kind of mold-killing chemical. When a shake roof gets wet, it becomes very slick and will require extra precautions to prevent falling.

Wood-shake roofs are also generally more vulnerable to fire. When one of these roofs catch fire, they will go up like a torch and burn very quickly. As we saw with the recent fire at Notre Dame cathedral in France, wooden roofs can quickly become engulfed in flames. However, the shakes can be treated with fire-retardant chemicals to help alleviate this concern. These treatments will help the wood to resist moisture, fire, mold, and other hazards.

The Alternatives:

A lot of companies now offer artificial cedar shake roofing. Although it may not be the real thing, artificial shakes allow you to get the beautiful and traditional look without most of the downsides. The only problem? Artificial shakes are just as expensive as the real thing, and sometimes even more so. Still, they eliminate the dangers of rotting and mold entirely, while greatly reducing the risk of fire.


As many others have pointed out, a cedar shake roof is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they offer an amazing look and several practical advantages as well. On the other hand, these roofs are expensive and require quite a bit of maintenance. If you have the time and money to deal with these issues, then cedar shake roofing might be just the thing for you. If not, we recommend that you stick with the alternatives. Feel free to fill out the contact form below so that we can bring you more interesting content like this!