A natural cedar shake roof draws the eye and the imagination for good reason. They have been used on woodland cottages, oceanfront homes and European mansions for over a century and instantly add a romantic style to any home they are installed on. Because of this, the roofing industry has struggled for decades to make a synthetic cedar shake that has all the characteristics of real wood with none of the disadvantages.
Some of the non-wood options have been:
- Fiber cement
The primary reason these materials have missed the mark is because they have not been able to produce the genuine look of real cedar with its richness of texture, dimension, and diverse patterns. In addition, they often appear too shiny, making them look cheap.
Pros And Cons of Natural Cedar Shakes
Advantages Of Cedar Shakes
- Cedar shakes are beautiful. The natural wood tones are very appealing, and cedar will fade to a brownish silver if left untreated. Many find this change in color very attractive.
- They are durable. A cedar shake roof that is properly maintained will usually last up to 10 years longer than a standard asphalt shingle roof.
- They can save on utility bills. Compared with asphalt shingles, natural wood provides up to twice the insulation value
Disadvantages Of Cedar Shakes
- Limited availability. A hundred years ago, old-growth cedar enjoyed wide availability. However, in recent years, much of the old forests have been harvested and the newer trees do not provide a shake that is dense and stable.
- High cost of installation. The roofer must be an expert in this category of roofing. Cedar shakes must be cut and placed exactly to ensure that there are no leaks.
- Can draw insects and mold. Cedar is naturally resistant to insects but when water or damp debris gets trapped beneath, mold and mildew can get a foothold. Unless the shingles have been treated to resist insect infestation, bugs that prefer softwood like carpenter ants and carpenter bees may make tunnels in your roofing.
- They can ignite and burn. Cedar shakes must be treated to obtain any type of industry-approved fire rating. In some areas of the western U.S., wood shingles cannot be used whether they have been treated or not,
- Can curl, crack and break as they age. As wood ages it naturally curls, cracks and splits. This can be more prevalent in the winter when moisture trapped inside the shake freezes and thaws repeatedly, eventually destroying it. Once they break you will have to replace them and maintenance must be done by a professional to avoid further damage when they walk on the roof.
The Better Alternative To Natural Cedar: Vinyl Cedar Shakes
Since the invention of synthetic roofing materials in the mid 1800s, vinyl or synthetic roof materials have gained immense popularity. This has been partly due to the discovery that certain materials can be blended that will produce a roof tile that looks like natural cedar but has additional benefits that real wood cannot compete with. Brava Roof Tile makes a synthetic cedar shake that will give you an authentic look with a surface texture that was molded from real cedar shakes. They are manufactured in different widths and thickness to mimic the look of real hand-cut cedar roofing shakes, and they will not crack, split, or break when you walk on them. Brava roof tiles also offer:
- Class A fire rating. Brava’s synthetic cedar shake roof tile can be obtained with a Class C or Class A fire rating, depending on your needs.
- Class 4 impact rating. To receive this rating, our roofing shingles must withstand having a 2-inch steel ball dropped multiple times from a height of 20 feet. Brava’s synthetic shakes are twice the thickness of most vinyl shakes on the market.
- 50-year limited warranty. We back our synthetic roof products with a warranty that says we have confidence in their durability.
- Unlimited Color Selection. Brava can custom color your roofing tiles and our color permeates all the way through the product. This means that weathering will not wear out the finish and leave an ugly roof that will need to be replaced before its useful life is up. If your roof design calls for more than one type of vinyl tile, we can ensure that they all will be color-matched.
- Installation is less expensive. Our synthetic roof tiles can be installed by any professional roofing company, unlike natural cedar that will require a specialist. This makes owning a home with a beautiful cedar shake roof much more affordable. In addition, if any maintenance is required, it can be handled by most roofing companies.
- Available around the world. We can ship your shingles to almost any location.
- Can meet California Title 24 “cool” shingle rating. We have 4 tiles that will meet Title 24 requirements, 2 of which are in the cedar shake category. We also offer white shingles which naturally reflect sunlight and help keep your roof cooler.
Whether you are considering a synthetic cedar shake, Old World Slate or Spanish barrel tile for your next roof project, contact our team today for samples and expert advice. We look forward to hearing from you!