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Cedar Shakes Vs Asphalt Shingles: Choose the Best Option for Your House

Cedar Shakes Vs Asphalt Shingles Choose the Best Option for Your House


Here is a comparison of two types of roofing materials that are most common among house owners in the US. However, which one is the best choice can be decided after reading the comparison of Cedar Shakes vs Asphalt Shingles.

The roof is an essential element of your house as it protects you from rain, hail, wind and any other weather there is. The roof can also be a great source of protection from the intense sun as it keeps the house cooler in summer and warmer in the winter.

But all this is only possible if you have selected the best roof option for your house. But how to consider a roof the best roof?

The best roof is the one that is not only attractive to look at but also withstands seasonal stress and change. The roof that guarantees you durability and long-lasting protection from weather damage and decay is considered the best option for roof owners. That not only suits your pocket but also saves your money in the long run after its installation.

Table of Contents

Cedar shakes

Cedar shakes are made of natural wood material that is organic, eco-friendly and sustainable. Cedar Trees are cut to form shakes that are used for roofing purposes. These are preferred for roofing due to various reasons but the most important factor for choosing a cedar shake roofing is its weather-resistant quality that traps the heating in winter and makes the house cooler in summer. Thus, it is considered energy efficient.  

Cedar Shakes give a ruff, rugged and natural look. Sometimes, cedar shakes are shaped to give a smooth look that is also very attractive to look at. However, Cedar shakes also vary according to their quality and cost. The cheapest cedar shakes not only have maintenance issues but also damage soon decreasing the lifespan of the roof. On the other hand, the quality grade of Cedar Shakes gives 40-50 years of expected life if maintained well. 

Pros & Cons of Cedar Shakes

Cedar Shakes have various advantages such as:

  1. Cedar shakes are organic and give a natural look to the roof. 
  2. Cedar shakes have increased life expectancy with maintenance. 
  3. Cedar Shakes are made up of Cedarwood that is bugs, pests, insects and algae resistant.
  4. Cedar shakes are weather and wind-resistant.
  5. Cedar shakes are energy-efficient. 

However, Cedar Shakes have some disadvantages such as:

  1. Cedar Shakes are expensive to install as well as expensive to maintain for their durability. 
  2. Cedar shakes lack fire resistance.
  3. Cedar Shakes get damaged due to heavy rain and snow falling. 
  4. Proper cleaning and maintenance are needed after some years to avoid a build-up of algae, fungus, moss and organic debris.

Asphalt Shingles

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Asphalt Shingles are nowadays preferred for roofing due to their versatility and durability. They are available in different colors and styles that give an attractive look. These shingles are easy to install and require less maintenance. Asphalt Shingles are weather resistant as well as fire-resistant. However, the expected life of an Asphalt Shingle roof is 20-30 years if maintained properly. This is a substantial reduction on a properly maintained cedar shake roof.

When considering cedar shakes vs asphalt shingles it is worth keeping in mind that there are two types of Asphalt Shingles according to their form and matter: Organic and Fiberglass.

Organic Shingles are made up of a base mat that is comprised of recycled paper or wood and then it is coated with Asphalt material. The Shingles are coated with ceramic material, crushed stones, and sand that give it a weather-resistant surface. However, petroleum is used to coat the shingles for a weather-resistant layer. 

Fiberglass Shingles are made up of a base called fiberglass that is strong, durable, and lightweight. The process is the same for making both the shingles. The difference lies in their base mat. Fiberglass shingles are best in fire resistance as compared to organic shingles as the latter is made up of paper or wood base mat.

Pros & Cons of Asphalt Shingles

There are several advantages of Asphalt Shingles that make it up the accepted roofing material such as:

  1. Asphalt Shingles offer a variety of colours, textures and styles.
  2. Asphalt Shingles are fire-resistant.
  3. Asphalt Shingles carry a DIY option.
  4. Asphalt Shingles have a reasonable price with a low installation cost.

However, certain drawbacks are also there due to which people hesitate to install an Asphalt Shingle roof such as:

  1. Asphalt Shingles lack durability and long life as compared to a Cedar Shake Roof.
  2. Asphalt Shingles get damaged, due to leakage and cracks.
  3. Asphalt Shingles are not eco-friendly and have a lifespan shorter than 30 years. 

Cedar Shakes vs Asphalt Shingles

The difference between cedar shakes vs asphalt shingles can be seen evidently when compared with each other. Various factors have been considered while comparing both types of roofing materials. Below is the list of some factors:


Both cedar shakes and Asphalt Shingles are made up of completely different materials. Cedar shakes are made from the wood of cedar trees by cutting pieces of wood. Cedar shakes are organic.

On the other hand, Asphalt Shingles are made from a mat base coated with Asphalt material, crushed stones and sand to give it a protective layer. The stone and asphalt coating can be of various colours thus giving these shingles different designs and dimensional look.

Cedar Shakes Vs Asphalt Shingles: Choose the Best Option for Your House
Cedar Shakes Vs Asphalt Shingles: Choose the Best Option for Your House


Cedar shakes are expensive as they are cut and sawn to shape, they also come in several different grades. 

However, Asphalt Shingles cost less as their base mat is made up of recycled paper and wood pieces. They are easily available due to the average price that anyone can afford.

Installation Process

Cedar shakes require proper expertise and professionals to install the roofing material. These also need a perfect installation process to increase the lifespan of the roof.

Although Asphalt Shingles also require professionals to install and seal the roof yet a failure to install properly can lead to early damage of shingles. However, Asphalt shingles can be DIY repaired easily.

Weather Resistance
Weather resistance

Weather Resistance

Cedar Shakes are more weather resistant when there is heavy rain, wind, snow and heat.

On the contrary, Asphalt shingles are less weather-resistant and can be prone to damage in case of extreme weather. Thus decreasing the lifespan of the roof.

Damage & Deterioration

Although both the roofing materials are prone to damage, leakage and deterioration due to their organic nature yet the process of deterioration varies in both the roofing materials. 

A Cedar Shake roof can get damaged due to extreme weather, algae, pests and debris if not cleaned and maintained properly. But the damage, leakage and deterioration start after 15-20 years.  To avoid this damage a clean should be carried out every 10 years.

Damage & Deterioration
Damage & Deterioration

However, Asphalt shakes are more prone to damage due to their thin layer and get deteriorated after 10-15 years of installation. They also get debris, algae, moisture, and leakage. Although maintained properly, the shingles need to be replaced after 15 years. 

Which is the best choice?

To conclude cedar shakes vs asphalt shingles, it can rightly be said that although Asphalt Shingles are economical and have multiple styles, colours and textures yet the lifespan of Asphalt shingles is less. These age fast and thus increase the cost of maintenance and even roof replacement after some years. But the cedar Shakes are more weather resistant and durable and have a double life expectancy as compared to Asphalt shingles. A cedar shake roof is expensive to install but allows roof owners to be relaxed after the installation of the roof. Although proper maintenance is required, the burden will be less as compared to Asphalt shingles. So, cedar shakes are generally considered the better option for the long term well being of you and your house because they offer the best cost-effective and energy effective roofing solution.
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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