Cedar Shakes vs Asphalt Shingles. What Should I Choose?

Of the many roofing materials you can choose for your home, two will receive the most attention – cedar shakes and asphalt shingles. The choice is very wide, because in the United States, there are dozens of manufacturers competing. In this article, we’ll explain to you what’s the difference between cedar shakes and asphalt shingles, and give you a hint on which you should opt for.

Benefits And Features Of Cedar Shakes

Wood cedar shakes have been known to mankind for centuries – cedar wood is mentioned in the Bible, and we can also confidently say that there were attempts to make roofs out of wood back in the day, although other species were probably used for this purpose. If the technology was flawed, it certainly wouldn’t have survived until 2024, despite the presence of metal roofing glenview, synthetic shakes and tiles and even asphalt shingles.

Natural Charm

cedar shakes vs asphalt shingles

In many cases, wood shakes are still handcrafted from larger pieces of wood. This is often cedar, but cypress, fir, spruce, pine and even oak are also found. While each species has its own unique characteristics and distinctive features, in general, natural woods offer a unique charm and no synthetic alternatives have yet been produced that look better.


When Is It Necessary To Replace a Cedar Roof?

Contrary to popular belief, cedar shakes can last many years on your roof, but it requires the right approach and sticking to a few important rules.

First of all, you will avoid rapid replacement and costly repairs if you regularly order a service of cedar roof treatment winnetka, you will clearly delay the process of decay and fading of the wood. The lifespan will also be noticeably extended if you take care to regularly clean the roof of moss. Moss and rotting tree leaves are extremely dangerous for shakes, as they prevent water evaporation or greatly slow down the process, which creates the perfect conditions for mold and other parasites to grow.

Provided proper care is taken, cedar shakes can serve 20-30 years and still provide good insulation performance. Of course, wood will always undergo gradual wear and tear, but the use of appropriate chemicals can improve its lifespan by up to three times.


As cedar ages its maintenance needs to become of utmost importance
As cedar ages its maintenance needs to become of utmost importance

It may be a controversial view, but in our opinion, cedar shakes age exceptionally nicely. From golden-brown, they become silver-gray, creating a subdued, noble-looking composition. Every day, your roof will change a little bit, while still remaining stunningly beautiful. Unlike other materials, wood shakes retain their charm even when they are old.

Benefits And Features Of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are, of course, a much newer roofing technology – our industry has known them for about 100 years. Over that time, however, they have managed to gain huge popularity, as about 75% of homes in our country have a roof made of this material. Homeowners have fallen in love with shingles because of several features that are becoming more prominent as the technology develops.


asphalt shingles vs cedar shakes

First of all, asphalt shingles are available in virtually every construction store, and because of the easy manufacturing, storage and transportation process, this material is extremely widespread. Shingles do not require the maintenance of constant moisture, they do not rot, they are manufactured very quickly (and with the help of machinery), and, in addition, they are much flatter, so they require a smaller car for transportation. All these factors have a big impact on the price of the roof installation service.


Recent years have brought us many models of asphalt shingles covered by extremely long warranty protection, for up to 50 years. This is a factor that certainly builds consumer confidence, convincing them to choose a more secure solution. Cedar shakes are often produced by small companies that are not able to offer as much protection to their customers. However, it is worth noting that a large proportion of roofs covered with asphalt shingles are replaced before the warranty expires!

Ease Of Installation

asphalt shingles vs cedar shakes

While the installation of cedar shakes involves layering pieces of wood and requires the appropriate knowledge, asphalt shingles are delivered in the form of ready-made sheets that are nailed with a special device. The whole process takes much less time, which translates into lower costs. Admittedly, the installation of shingles should not be handled by an amateur without any experience, because in extreme cases it can even damage the roof truss, but nevertheless, the risk is much lower. From the beginning, the technology of making asphalt roofs was designed in such a way that it is possible to quickly finish large, not very complicated houses. For small houses, roof replacement can take one day!

Low Initial Cost

Asphalt shingles are also a very inexpensive material – 1 square foot of medium grade shingles costs about $1.5 (labor and other material costs excluded). This is clearly less than the price you will pay for synthetic or natural cedar shakes and slate tiles, not even mentioning copper and aluminum.

Are Cedar Shakes Better Than Asphalt Shingles?

No. This is due to the fact that the two materials cannot be directly compared. Although both wooden shakes and asphalt can be used on roofs with not-so-strong construction, they are not completely substitutable, which is due at least to their resistance to climatic factors, insulation parameters and roof angles.

For houses whose roofs are characterized by a very low slope ratio, asphalt shingles will perform better because of the smoother flow of water over the surface and the lower risk of mold formation due to masses of rotting leaves and other debris. The relationship is not reversed, that is, cedar shakes will not necessarily perform better on steep roofs, but for such houses, the operation of the wood will be less problematic.

Cedar shakes, on the other hand, will be perfect for homes whose owners are particularly concerned about aesthetics. It is difficult to deny the beauty of the shakes, which both right after installation and even after many years look very attractive, changing their shade every day.

To our surprise, the Internet very rarely mentions a detail that should be taken into account for many years of roof use, namely the ease of repair. With shakes, the vast majority of problems can be solved by replacing individual pieces of wood. Although at first, there is a noticeable difference in the shade of the various parts of the roof, after just a short time, the entire surface becomes virtually uniform. Asphalt shingles are sold in sheet form and a perfect fit of the new piece is also possible, but the joints may not be as tight.

Natural cedar is also potentially a better choice if you live in an area prone to hail. Wood shakes, unlike shingles, are relatively soft, making falling chunks of ice cause relatively harmless surface damage that mainly affects aesthetics. A roof covered with asphalt absorbs impacts much less well. This translates into a greater susceptibility to the development of leaks. Let us point out, however, that older shakes that have already undergone gradual decay may tend to fall apart. In such situations, a complete roof replacement may be necessary.

Let’s also mention the price, which is clearly higher for cedar shakes. The cost of wooden roof replacement depends on a number of factors, but in general, it is practically always several times higher than for asphalt shingles. This is due to the amount of time that needs to be spent on such a repair, the qualification of the roofers, the much more expensive material and the higher cost of assembly. In sum, replacing a wooden roof will be at least 50% more than replacing a roof made of asphalt.