06 Apr Tricks of the Trade: Cedar Shake
Most roofing in present day North America is done with asphalt shingles and we have discussed this here, here, and here. We have also discussed that there are other kinds of roofs that can be installed that will drastically change the look of your home and could even lower your power bill! Our next three blogs will be part of a series on various kinds of roofing materials and the pros/cons of using different materials. This installment will focus on cedar shake. Here is a video to start off the discussion.
Roofers with the capacity to install cedar roofs will tell you that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to shake vs ashphalt shingles. They are right that cedar shingles generally look better, last longer, and are more resistant to strong winds, heavy rains, hail storms, snowstorms, and most weather events. Then they will extol the energy saving qualities of cedar shake, pointing out that cedar wood roofs provide natural insulation up to two times that of asphalt shingles (which makes sense if you think about the fact that they are generally about twice as thick as a shingle. But, the best argument for shake roofs is how environmentally friendly they are, cedar shingles can be burned in camp fires and if they are old enough can even be used in wood stoves and trees (unlike asphalt) are a fully renewable resource.
Of course, we all know that all these benefits don’t outweigh the fact that for most people, installing cedar shingles on their home is prohibitively expensive. An asphalt shingle installation will generally cost between $180 (from a fly by night company) to $300 a square for a roof depending on pitch, shingle type, and what company you go with. A cedar shingle roof can cost anywhere from $375-$984 per square depend on the type of material used and the pitch of the roof. Cedar roofing costs more for a variety of reasons.
The biggest reason is that cedar shake is harder to install than asphalt shingles. Not only are the individual cedar shingles smaller than a three tab or architectural shingles but they are also slippery. I distinctly recall slipping on cedar shake and being caught by my safety harness and avoiding an almost certain death three stories below. At Peak Roofing we do not allow our crews to do these kind of jobs without safety harnesses, but that causes our crews to slow down and means that the cost of labor increases. Another factor that increases the cost of cedar roofing are the cost of producing the individual pieces of shake as opposed to the shingles.