Shake Roof Buyer’s Guide

As far back as settlers in Colonial times, cedar shakes have been used on homes. Through the generations, an abundance of trees made it easy to have cedar shake shingles on a roof. However, in today’s world, we lack the same great quantities and qualities of wood. Over time we’ve discovered there are definite pros to having cedar shakes for roofing, but there are also some challenges to consider … and some options.

Pros of a Real Cedar Shake Shingle

People who lean toward true cedar shake shingles enjoy the look of real wood. More than that, they enjoy watching the process over the years as the natural cedar patinas with age. Cedar shakes can turn into beautiful, silvery colors over time.

Another benefit is the energy efficiency of real cedar. The natural insulation of cedar can help keep energy costs down in a home. And, many people have a good feeling about using a natural product like shake shingles. Over time, it adds depth to the look of a roof. Finally, when the lifespan is complete on a real cedar shake roof, it can be ground down and recycled for other use.

Cons of a Natural Cedar Shake Roof

DaVinci composite shake roof

Oftentimes, before the patina on a real cedar shake roof turns that perfect color, problems generally start to occur. Splitting, cracking and curling are just some of those troubles. Insect infestations, algae growth, and mold can be others.

In today’s world, one of the biggest concerns with real cedar shake roofs is that they can tend to dry out over time. This makes them a fire hazard. Even if treated regularly (which is costly and a maintenance hassle), real cedar roofs are subject to catching on fire. A spark from a wildfire a mile away can travel on the wind, land on a real cedar roof, and cause it to ignite. Or, closer to home, a spark from an evening around the fire pit or a neighbor’s barbecue can have the same dangerous results.

The spread of wildfires is a worry for homeowners throughout the country. Once found only on the West Coast, unruly wildfires have expanded to many states. Because of that major concern, real cedar shake shingles have been outlawed in some areas. Before even considering real cedar shake roofing, homeowners should check with their local building codes to determine any restrictions in their geographic area.

How Long Does a Shake Roof Last?

Decades ago, when long-life trees were abundant, cedar shake shingles could be found everywhere. The quality was good and the lifespan might go 25 years or beyond. Not so in today’s marketplace.

With the thinning out of older trees, smaller fast-growing trees are being harvested. This reduces the ability to get true-quality shakes from a tree. And, because tree availability is less than in the past, shake shingles have increased in price.

Shake Shingle Roof Maintenance


While cedar shakes are a natural product, they require an almost unnatural amount of work to maintain them. As they’re installed, cedar shake shingles should be treated to resist everything from termites to fungal decay. There’s also mold, rot, and rodent considerations with real wood shakes. And, they should also be treated to resist water, severe sun exposure, and fire spread.

In order to maximize the life of real cedar shakes, there’s regular treating and cleaning required. The key is to select the treatments that keep the wood attractive while helping to protect it from what Mother Nature brings its way.

An extra consideration is that oftentimes when real cedar shake shingles must be replaced (due to leaking, rot, or cracking), it’s hard to find a good replacement. Sure, there are other cedar shakes available. But none of those have aged exactly like the ones on your roof. So, you may end up with a patchwork look of old and new shingles over time that looks less than attractive.

How Much Does a Shake Shingle Roof Cost?

A Shake Roof Buyer’s Guide would not be complete without tackling the questions of cost. Due to the reduced amount of available quality wood, the price of cedar roofing has been on the rise in recent years.

The Roofing Calculator offers some good insights into the costs of real cedar shakes.

“In the roofing industry, an 18-inch wood shingle is referred to as ‘Perfection’ and 24-inch-wide shingles are known as ‘Royal.’ A wood shake is a premium product, costing around $3.75 to $4.50 per square foot versus $2.50 and $3.00 per square foot for wood shingles.

“The most expensive option for shingling a roof is wood shakes — between $10.50 to $18.50 per square foot (100 square feet), installed.

“Wood shingles are slightly less pricey at $9.50 to $15.50 per square. For a typical, 2,200 square foot roof on medium-sized home, your total cost for a new cedar shingles roof could range between $20,900 and $34,100.”

According to the Home Remodeling Costs Guide, for cedar shingles “the price can be up to $1,050 to $1,500 per square or $10.50 to $15.50 per square foot installed.”

Do Your Shake Roof Research

Consider the type of look you want now on your roof. If you believe you’d be frustrated by waiting years for cedar shake shingles to reach the perfect patina, then consider composite shake shingles. You can get the weathered color you love immediately and keep it for the lifetime of the roof.

Black Oak ResidentialComposite cedar shake shingles also make life easier for you. There’s minimal maintenance. They resist impact and fire, plus insects and algae growth. Research your composite shake shingle roof options before you jump into a real cedar roof.

Start by gaining an understanding of the differences between real shake roofing and composite shake shingles. You can view a comparison page that reviews the beauty, performance, and savings of real shake roofs versus composite shake shingles.

As you consider the option of synthetic shake roofing, look for three key things: the thickness, widths, and colors of the composite shake shingles. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how closely they resemble real cedar shake shingles.

  • Thickness: Look for a composite shake that has the thickest, most realistic-looking profiles. This will provide more authenticity to the shake roof appearance, more shadow lines and edges that look genuine from almost any viewing angle.
  • Multiple Widths: Just as no two pieces of natural cedar shakes are the same, you should look for synthetic shakes that offer a variety of widths … or the simulated appearance of several widths. This creates a distinctive and varied pattern when installed, which is the look you normally get with natural shake roofing. Seek out a manufacturer that creates their molds from natural cedar shake shingles.
  • Natural Colors: With real cedar shakes, it’s all about the color … and waiting for the color to patina over the years. Not so with composite shake tiles. Many manufacturers offer composite shakes in a variety of standard colors. You can see different color palettes online, to determine which roofing product would work best for your home.

Online Research Tools

Selecting a product and color of composite shake shingles gets easier when using online tools provided by manufacturers. One free tool, a color visualizer, allows you to upload a photo of your home. Then you can “try on” different cedar shake roofing on your very own home. Swap out colors and products to choose the best option for your home’s style. To receive even more assistance with selecting your shake shingles, ask for a free consultation with a color expert!

Why Consider a Cedar Shake Roof Alternative?

Fire. Hail. Strong winds. Mother Nature can really beat up cedar shake shingles. However, if you’re using composite shake shingles, those worries disappear. Aged Cedar Residential

Several manufacturers have created faux cedar shake tiles that have Class A fire ratings and Class 4 impact ratings. They can even stand up to 110 mph gusts of wind. So, when Mother Nature comes knocking, the composite shake shingles are ready for her. This can give incredible peace of mind if you live in a location prone to severe weather or wildfire conditions. And, if you check with your homeowner insurance company, you may discover they offer a hefty discount when you install a composite cedar shake roof that meets all these high ratings.

Another reason to consider a synthetic shake roof is maintenance. There virtually isn’t any. With real cedar shakes, you must have them treated regularly. There’s also the consideration of splitting, curling, and cracking. These worries are completely taken away with a synthetic shake roof.

How can a man-made composite shake shingle truly perform better than a real wood cedar shake shingle? Made of virgin resins, UV and thermal stabilizers, as well as a highly-specialized fire retardant, the synthetic shake tiles from DaVinci Roofscapes are made to last. Backed by a Lifetime Limited Material Warranty, these composite shakes come in dozens of color options. They make your home’s beauty shine out while giving you long-lasting performance and peace of mind.

What Are Homeowners Saying?

During the past two decades, homeowners who love the look of real cedar shake roofs have discovered options for when it comes time to replace their cedar shakes. Here’s what a few of them have to say about saying farewell to natural cedar shake shingles, and then saying hello to composite shake roofing.

“It’s really a shame that, just about the time when real cedar shakes weather to a rich-looking color, they start to fail in their job of protecting the home. We really liked the look of the cedar shakes on the house. But, our weather conditions truly took their toll on the real wood shakes.”

Maurice O’Meara – Colorado Homeowner

“We need a roof we can count on to handle future storms. However, we also want to keep the same cedar shake look that was original to our almost 70-year-old home. The durability and natural appearance of the Select Shake roof allows us to do that.”

Samuel Baker – Missouri Homeowner

“I researched DaVinci products online. I’m glad Bulldog Contractors recommended them. I’m looking forward to having a maintenance-free roof with a realistic wood shake appearance.”

Kristina Merta – Minnesota Homeowner

“This DaVinci roof definitely gives me peace of mind. It not only looks beautiful, but it’s virtually hail proof. It’s already been tested by hailstorms and is blemish-free. And, the lifetime limited warranty gives me confidence that this roof will take care of us for decades to come.”

Ron Flock – Nebraska Homeowner

“My new DaVinci Shake roof is just incredible. I love the realistic look of the composite shakes. And, I’m so excited not to have to deal with rodents, insects and real shakes any longer. I’m definitely a happy camper!””

Judy Caminiti – Illinois Homeowner

“We decided on the Select Shake product because it checked off all our boxes. It has great street appeal. The quality is there for long-term use. It helps add to the future resale value of the home. And, we’ll be getting a savings each year on our homeowner insurance premiums.”

Joy Klepacki – Kansas Homeowner

“Above all, we wanted a roof that realistically looked like wood shake but wasn’t wood or tile. DaVinci Roofscapes came up on that search. It was important that we choose a roofing product to do the home justice. Our roof sets the tone for our home’s curb appeal. That’s why the selection of both the synthetic shake tile and color are so important to us.”

Marianne Accornero – California Homeowner