Cedar shake roofs have been gracing homes for centuries, providing both functionality and aesthetic appeal. With their rustic charm and natural beauty, these roofs have a unique ability to enhance the overall look of a home while offering reliable protection from the elements. But is a cedar shake roof right for your home?

In this thorough guide, we will delve into:

  • What cedar shake roofs are
  • Their pros and cons
  • The cost of installation
  • Maintenance tips
  • Their impressive lifespan

Keep reading for all the key details you need to know.

roof ridge of a cedar shake roof

What is a Cedar Shake Roof?

A cedar shake roof is a type of roofing material made from wooden shingles that are crafted from cedar logs. These shingles, commonly referred to as “shakes,” are cut by hand or machine into varying thicknesses and widths, giving them a unique, rustic appearance. Cedar shake roofs have been a popular choice for homes in North America for centuries, particularly in regions with a colder climate.

Pros of Cedar Shake Roofs

  • Aesthetic Appeal: One of the most significant advantages of cedar shake roofs is their natural beauty. They exude a warm, inviting charm that complements various architectural styles, from traditional to contemporary. Over time, the cedar shingles develop an attractive silver-gray patina that enhances the overall aesthetics of a home.
  • Durability: Cedar shake roofs are renowned for their durability. The natural oils in cedar wood make it resistant to decay and insect infestations. Properly installed and maintained cedar shake roofs can last for several decades, even in harsh weather conditions.
  • Insulation: Cedar shakes provide excellent insulation, helping to keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. This can result in energy savings and increased comfort for your living spaces.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Cedar is a sustainable and renewable resource, making it an eco-friendly roofing material choice. Additionally, the production of cedar shakes requires less energy compared to other roofing materials like asphalt shingles.
  • Unique Character: Cedar shakes add character and uniqueness to your home. Each shake is distinct, creating a one-of-a-kind roof that stands out in the neighborhood.

Cons of Cedar Shake Roofs

  • Cost: While cedar shake roofs offer many benefits, they come with a higher upfront cost compared to some other roofing materials. The cost can vary significantly based on factors such as the quality of the cedar, labor costs, and the complexity of the installation.
  • Maintenance: Cedar shake roofs require regular maintenance to prolong their lifespan and keep them looking their best. This includes periodic cleaning, treatment with preservatives, and the replacement of damaged or worn shingles.
  • Fire Risk: Cedar is a combustible material, which means cedar shake roofs can pose a fire risk. To mitigate this risk, many local building codes require the installation of fire-resistant underlayment and sprinkler systems in cedar shake roofed homes.
  • Weathering: While the weathered, silver-gray look of cedar shakes is often appreciated for its aesthetic value, it can be seen as a disadvantage by those who prefer the original, warm cedar color. Some homeowners may need to apply a stain or finish to maintain the original appearance.

Cost of Installing a Cedar Shake Roof

The cost of installing a cedar shake roof can vary widely depending on several factors:

  • Quality of Cedar Shakes: High-quality cedar shakes cost more than lower-grade options. Premium shakes are thicker, more durable, and often come with longer warranties.
  • Roof Size and Complexity: Larger roofs with complex designs, multiple angles, or intricate details will require more labor and materials, increasing the overall cost.
  • Geographic Location: Labor and material costs vary by region, so the cost of installation can be significantly different depending on where you live.
  • Labor Costs: The cost of labor for installing a cedar shake roof can vary based on the skill level of the roofing crew and the local labor market conditions.

As a rough estimate, the cost of installing a cedar shake roof can range from $600 to $900 per square (100 square feet). This includes the cost of materials and labor. Keep in mind that this is a general estimate, and the actual cost may differ based on the factors mentioned above.

How to Maintain a Cedar Shake Roof

Proper maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and beauty of your cedar shake roof. Here are some tips to help you maintain your cedar shake roof effectively:

Regular Inspections:

Conduct visual inspections of your roof at least once a year to identify any damaged or missing shingles. Promptly replace or repair any damaged shakes to prevent further issues.


Remove debris, leaves, and moss from your roof’s surface regularly. This will help prevent moisture retention, which can lead to rot and decay.


Apply a wood preservative or sealer to your cedar shake roof every few years to enhance its resistance to moisture, UV rays, and insects. This will also help maintain the cedar’s original color.


Ensure that your attic has proper ventilation to reduce moisture buildup and prevent damage to the cedar shakes. Proper ventilation will also help regulate temperature and extend the life of your roof.

Snow Removal:

In areas prone to heavy snowfall, it’s important to remove excess snow from your roof to prevent structural damage. Use a roof rake or hire a professional for this task.

Fire Protection:

Install fire-resistant underlayment and consider adding a fire sprinkler system if required by local building codes to reduce the risk of fire.

How Long Does a Cedar Shake Roof Last?

The lifespan of a cedar shake roof largely depends on various factors, including the quality of the cedar, the climate, and how well it’s maintained. On average, a well-maintained cedar shake roof can last between 30 to 50 years. However, some high-quality cedar shakes, when properly cared for, can last even longer.

Regular maintenance, including cleaning, treatment, and prompt repairs, is key to extending the life of your cedar shake roof. Neglecting maintenance can lead to premature wear and costly repairs.

Cedar Shake Roof Installation for Your Home

a cedar shake roof

Cedar shake roofs are a timeless choice for homeowners who value the natural beauty, durability, and unique character they bring to their homes. While they come with some considerations, such as cost and maintenance, the long lifespan and numerous benefits make them a popular and enduring roofing option. With proper care and attention, your cedar shake roof can protect your home and maintain its stunning appearance for decades to come.

At Montana Roofing Solutions, we offer synthetic cedar shingles that give you all of the beauty, but none of the maintenance. Contact Montana Roofing Solutions today to learn more about your cedar shake roof cost and alternative options.

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