Cedar Wood Shingles vs. Wood Shakes
Wood roofing comes in two main styles: wood shingles and wood shakes. The only difference is the appearance of your cedar roof once installed. Cedar shingles are machine cut and tapered off for a crisp and clean appearance, while cedar shakes are hand split giving them a more rustic appeal.
Functionally, the most important difference between cedar shakes and shingles is that shingles are milled more precisely than shakes. Cedar shakes are more irregular, and do not lay as flat when installed. This creates gaps which can be penetrated by wind blown precipitation so professional installation is a must. It can become a little more costly than other popular roofing shingles.
If you have a traditional or historical style-home, a cedar roof will increase its aesthetic appeal, creating a more natural look that weathers to a beautiful silver-gray.
Due to fire risks, cedar roofing has declined in popularity. However, newer cedar shingles and cedar shakes are now treated with fire retardant, making them a safer option. Cedar shingle roofs are also a great option for high wind areas and for roofs with a steep pitch.
How Much Do Cedar Shingles and Shakes Cost?
On average as of 2022, cedar shingles cost between $4.10 to $7.50 per square foot installed, while cedar shakes are usually more expensive at an average of $6 to $9.50 per square foot. For a 3,000 square foot roof, it would cost about $12,380 to $22,360 for cedar shingles and $18,000 to $28,500 for cedar shakes. Note that this total average cost includes both the cost of materials and professional installation/labor.
It is important to note that these average costs do not include demolition and removal of an existing roof if a roof replacement is needed.
Use our Roof Cost Calculator to get an estimate of total installation costs before speaking to a contractor.
How Long do Cedar Shingle Roofs Last?
The lifespan of your cedar shingle roof is highly variable depending on your local climate, the type of wood used, and the thickness of the cut. However, if well maintained you can expect to get at least 20 to 25 years out of your cedar wood roof.
Beyond its unique aesthetic appeal, one of the primary benefits of a cedar shingle roof is its relatively low weight compared to other roofing materials. Compared to clay tile roofs or slate tile roofing, cedar shingles weigh very little, yet still offer adequate strength and moisture protection. This light weight allows them to be installed on standard roof framing, with no need to add extra strength and support to the structure.
Energy Efficient Wood Roofs
Cedar shingles are made from natural, renewable materials that are biodegradable. They offers some energy benefits, too. They help to insulate the attic, and allow the house to breathe, circulating air through the small openings under the felt rows on which cedar shingles are laid. This creates a more energy efficient home saving costs on your heating and cooling bills. We suggest talking to local roof installers who will be able to give you an idea on what to expect in energy savings from a new roof.
Wooden Roof Maintenance
Cedar shingles and shakes require periodic treatments with cedar roof preservatives and fungicides in order to keep the cedar roofing from drying out, warping, cracking and being attacked by mildew, insects, and fungus.
Additionally, spray-on fire retardants do not last more than a few years, so anticipate regularly recoating your roof to prevent your risk of fire. Overhanging branches will also need to be removed if they become too close to the cedar roofing in order to avoid damage from moisture and shade.
Having the roof properly cleaned regularly will also give your cedar roof a longer life expectancy and aesthetic appeal. Cedar roofing need to be able to breathe in order to perform at their best, free from moisture, moss, fungi, and other damaging elements.
Cons of Cedar Shingles
While the traditional look of cedar is very popular, cedar shingles do require regular maintenance, can be vulnerable to fire, and even with proper maintenance only last about 20 years. If you are worried about the lifecycle of cedar shingles, you may want to explore synthetic shingles that resemble cedar but require less maintenance, and are more weather-resistant, longer-lasting and fire resistant.
If you live in California, Colorado, or Texas cedar wood roofing may be banned in your municipality due to fire concerns. There may be exceptions if they are made out of pressure treated lumber which is more fire resistant. Check with your local town or state agency.