Buying Guide: How to Choose California Cedar Shakes

California Cedar Shakes

Cedar shake roofs have been popular in North America since the late 1800s for two reasons:

  • Cedar trees (until recently) were readily available and the shakes were relatively inexpensive to produce, especially in California, and
  • Cedar shakes make a beautiful roof covering.
Buying Guide: How to Choose California Cedar Shakes

When you consider that the roof protects your home from the elements and also creates curb appeal, cedar shake is a great choice. As functional as cedar shakes were in California, they ran into many issues, not the least of which were:

  • The danger of catching fire
  • Prone to holding moisture, becoming a place for mold to grow
  • Considered a danger by many insurance companies who refused to write coverage for homes with wood shingles
  • Difficult to install and expensive to replace

However, cedar shake was (and is) extremely popular, and many manufacturer’s started looking for a way to keep the look of natural cedar shakes while at the same time improving the negative traits of the product.

How Are Cedar Shakes Produced?

Wood has been used as a roofing material since the invention of the saw and axe. The earliest styles were thin and planed smooth for ease of installation and better coverage, but eventually the rough textured, heavy-grained wood shake developed from split logs gained acceptance. Part of the cedar shake’s allure was that no two shakes were alike. Each piece was hand cut by skilled craftsmen that considered their trade an art. The appeal of the rustic look of the shake was immediate and they found their way onto roofs from New England to across the country, all the way to California.

How Are Cedar Shakes Produced?

With their rise in popularity, cedar shake started to be manufactured with modern techniques in order to meet the demand. Even though they were machine cut now, they kept the rough textured surface but the bottom was planed flat to allow for a more water-tight fit during installation.

Cedar Shakes Encounter Problems In California

California is known for its raging wildfires, and in 1991 the Oakland firestorm killed 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes. This led to the eventual ban of all wood roofing products that weren’t fire-treated. However, starting in 2001, California enforced even stricter requirements on the use of wood shingles and required that all wood shingles be fire retardant and pass a natural weathering test.

The state further mandated that all wood roofs that weren’t fire-treated be replaced by 2012. Even though Title 24 will allow fire-treated wood shingles to be used on California homes, some insurance companies may not offer coverage, or if they do, may require special underlayments to reduce the chance of fire damage.

Currently, the California State Building Code requires that no wood roofing materials are to be sold in the state on or after January 1, 2001, unless the product has passed at least 5 of the 10-year natural weathering tests. In addition, under Title 24, wood shake roofing has to be treated with fire-retardant chemicals, among many other requirements.

Cedar Shakes Encounter Problems In California

Due to the hazards posed by cedar shake shingles in California, the state strictly enforced these codes, requiring all homes to replace their wood roofs with more fire-retardant roofing by August 2012.

Synthetic Cedar Shakes Outperform Natural Wood

People living in California understand why the strict regulations were placed on all wood shingle products. In 2020 alone, there were over 9,000 fires in the state that destroyed over 4 million acres - a record number. Fortunately, there is a safer way to have the beauty of cedar shakes without the risk of starting a fire - composite or synthetic shakes.

Synthetic roofing tiles are manufactured from 100%-recycled materials and have Class A fire ratings, and higher impact ratings than natural wood shingles. They closely mimic the look of real cedar shakes and require minimal maintenance.

It’s a win-win.

Brava Roof Tile Has The Best California Cedar Shake Design

Our synthetic cedar shake is the perfect solution to California’s cedar shake dilemma. Brava has developed a shake that is Class A fire resistant and meets Title 24, part 6 “cool roof” requirements with the colors Woodland and Driftwood. This is especially important if you are replacing more than 50% of your existing roof or putting a new roof on. Either of these conditions (and a few others) will trigger the Title 24, part 6 requirements for a “cool roof” and Brava’s cedar shake meets the challenge.

Brava Roof Tile Has The Best California Cedar Shake Design

Title 24 may seem burdensome, however, it is intended to help reduce heat buildup, save on AC equipment repairs and extend the life of the system, while reducing the load on the power grid in the state.

Brava’s Cedar Shake also provides additional benefits that aren’t found with every synthetic roofing product:

  • 50-year limited lifetime warranty
  • Class 4 impact rating
  • Made from 100%-recycled material and can also be recycled
  • 3 widths and varying thickness to give the look of real wood
  • Available in 2 “cool roof” Title 24 colors, plus an almost unlimited assortment of regular colors
  • Doesn’t require special installers or regular maintenance

We are proud of our industry-leading synthetic roofing products and we are committed to your satisfaction. Our website provides installation videos and written pdfs to help ensure that your cedar shakes are installed correctly, and we also have a professional customer service staff that can answer your questions. Contact us today for your free samples and see for yourself why Brava is a leader in the synthetic roofing tile industry.