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Cedar Shake Alternatives: Finding a Beautiful and Durable Alternative to Cedar Shake Roofing

Cedar Shake Alternatives


Cedar shake roofs have been a popular choice for homeowners for decades. With their natural beauty and long-lasting durability, cedar shakes have symbolized quality and craftsmanship in roofing. However, while cedar shakes offer many benefits, they also have some downsides, including high cost and susceptibility to rot. Fortunately, there are many cedar shake alternatives available that offer the same look and performance without the drawbacks.

Understanding Cedar Shake Roofing

Before discussing cedar shake alternatives, it’s essential to understand what makes it a popular choice for roofing. Cedar shake is a type of wooden shingle split from logs and cut by hand. The process results in a natural, rustic look that many homeowners find appealing. Cedar shake roofs also have a long lifespan, lasting up to 30 years, with proper maintenance. Additionally, cedar shakes offer excellent insulation, helping to reduce energy costs.

However, cedar shakes also have some disadvantages. First and foremost, they are expensive, costing several times more than asphalt shingles. Additionally, cedar shakes require regular maintenance to prevent rot and other damage. Finally, cedar shakes are unsuitable for every climate, as they can be susceptible to moisture damage in areas with high humidity or frequent rain.

Alternatives to Cedar Shake Roofing

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to cedar shake roofing that offer similar benefits without the drawbacks. Here are some of the most popular options:

Cedar Shingles

One alternative to cedar shake roofing is cedar shingles. Cedar shingles are cut from the same type of wood as cedar shakes, but they are sawn rather than split. This results in a smoother, more uniform appearance. Cedar shingles also tend to be less expensive than cedar shakes while still offering many of the same benefits, including durability and insulation.

Real Cedar Shake Shingles

Another alternative to cedar shake roofing is real cedar shake shingles. These shingles are made from the same type of wood as cedar shakes, but they are sawn and shaped to look like traditional shakes. This gives homeowners the rustic appearance of cedar shake roofing without the high cost or maintenance requirements.

Synthetic Shake Roofing

For homeowners who want the look of cedar shake roofing without any downsides, synthetic shake roofing is an excellent choice. Synthetic shakes are made from various materials, including plastic and rubber, and are designed to mimic the appearance of real wood. They offer excellent durability and require little maintenance, making them a popular choice for busy homeowners.

Natural Wood Shake Roofing

For homeowners who want the look of natural wood without the high cost of cedar shakes, natural wood shake roofing is an excellent alternative. While many types of wood can be used for shake roofing, some of the most popular include redwood and cypress. These woods offer the same rustic appearance as cedar shakes, while being less expensive and more rot-resistant.

Cedar Shake Siding

In addition to roofing, cedar shakes are also a popular choice for siding. However, like cedar shake roofing, siding can be expensive and require regular maintenance. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to cedar shake siding as well. These include vinyl siding with a shake look, fiber cement siding with a shake look, and natural wood siding made from other types of wood.

Choosing the Right Cedar Shake Alternative

When choosing a cedar shake alternative, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, homeowners should consider their budget. While some alternatives, such as natural wood shake roofing, can be less expensive than cedar shakes, others, such as synthetic shake roofing, can be more expensive.

Another factor to consider is the climate. While cedar shakes are not suitable for every climate, some alternatives, such as synthetic shake roofing, are designed to be more resistant to moisture and rot than real wood. Homeowners should also consider the look they are trying to achieve. Cedar shingles and real cedar shake shingles offer a more traditional, rustic appearance, while synthetic shake roofing and vinyl siding with a shake look offers a more modern, sleek appearance.

Finally, homeowners should consider the maintenance requirements of each option. While some alternatives, such as synthetic shake roofing, require very little maintenance, others, such as natural wood shake roofing, require regular sealing and upkeep to prevent rot and damage.


Cedar shakes have long been a popular choice for roofing and siding, but they have downsides. Fortunately, many cedar shake alternatives offer the same look and performance without the high cost and maintenance requirements. Whether you choose cedar shingles, real cedar shake shingles, synthetic shake roofing, or natural wood shake roofing, there is an option that will suit your budget, climate, and aesthetic preferences. With the right choice, you can enjoy the beauty and durability of shake roofing without any of the drawbacks.

Cedar Shake Roof Cleaning in Des Moines Iowa
Cedar Shake Roof before & after cleaning

Meet Bruce

50 Years of Experience &
Over 2,000 Shake Roofs Cleaned

Bruce Sullivan has over 50 years of experience in maintaining, cleaning, and restoring cedar shake roofs. Making him one of the top authorities on cedar shake roofs in the US.

Watch the Cedar Shakes Cleaning Process in Action in this video

Play Video about Roof Cleaning How to Remove Moss, Lichen, Fungi from a Cedar Roof Sullivan Roof


What can I say? Bruce and Keith provided an exceptional service, and they are really nice guys too. Found out at the last minute they were in Minneapolis, and they fit me in for a cedar shake roof cleaning the next evening after their regular job was done. Even cleaned up my gutters, small fence, and small deck at no charge. The place looks outstanding! Highly recommended.

Mike Richards

I highly recommend this business. Due to the work performed we are going to get another 10-14 years out of our cedar shake roof. We were told by some roofing companies that the roof should be replaced in 2 years. I lucked out and found Sullivan Roof Cleaning while researching companies that perform this service, and was pleased to learn that the company does work outside of Iowa. If you need your cedar shakes cleaned, go with Sullivan Roof Cleaning.

Eric Oelrich, 
St Cloud, MN

Bruce did a great job cleaning the whole exterior of my house. The roof has new life! It looks practically brand new. All the mold and moss on the roof, on the gutters, under the eaves, completely gone. He exceeded all our expectations. When he tells you what he can do for your house, you can believe and trust him. Great guy, great service.

Stuart Malone
Kansas City, MO


Cedar shakes are organic. Though a resilient material. Being organic they need to be maintained. Over time, like any organic material that are subjected to weather elements, they reach a stage of deterioration. Like UV exposure, moisture and seasonal changes. Which results in moss, mold, mildew, lichen and brown rot fungi. These infestations need to be removed to further preserve the integrity of the cedar shake.
The proper way to clean a cedar shake roof is from a ladder. By spraying a special formulated solution onto the shakes and then rinsed with a garden hose pressure. Best done by a professional cedar shake roof cleaner. Not DIY recommended.
No. Pressure washer will require walking on the shakes, which will harm them, and even at its lowest setting will also damage the shakes.
On average, cedar shakes should be cleaned every 10 ten years. Subjective to the grade of the shakes and the amount of surrounding tree cover.
Avoiding walking on a cedar shake roof, other than for repairs.
Never seal a cedar shake roof. Cedar shakes need to breathe. They expand and contract in rain conditions. Seal will shorten the lifespan, to the point of premature replacement.
Staining has no real preserve value and can also harm the integrity of shakes, as stated, they need to be able to breathe. Also, if the shakes are not properly cleaned staining can seal the deteriorating infestation within the shakes.
Depending on the grade of the shakes and installation, and if maintained properly, 40 to 60 years.


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