Cedar Shake Shingles vs Asphalt Shingles - Which Are Better for Your House?

Wood Shingles vs Asphalt
Cedar Shake Shingles vs Asphalt Shingles - Which Are Better for Your House?

The roof makes up a significant portion of your home, and its appearance greatly affects the resale value of your home. A beautiful roof adds value and curb appeal to your property and when properly installed ensures that your occupants stay dry and comfortable under any weather conditions. Cedar or asphalt can accomplish those goals. So, what is the difference between cedar shakes and asphalt shingles? Is one better than the other. What are the pros and cons of the two? When everything is considered, is there a better alternative? Among the most popular materials used on roofs today are asphalt and cedar shake shingles, and even though people have grown accustomed to seeing asphalt shingles on most homes, cedar shakes are a great alternative that warrants your consideration. Both are strong, and readily available, and both have been proven effective through decades of continuous use. But which is better — a cedar roof or an asphalt roof?

The Difference Between Asphalt Shingles & Cedar Shakes

Cedar shakes and asphalt shingles are composed of entirely different materials, but they each maintain a distinctive look that is characterized by the method of manufacture and the raw materials used. Cedar shakes are cut from real wood and asphalt shingles are made from fiberglass, asphalt and other organic materials. Cedar shakes give a roof a rugged, natural, woodsy appeal because the shingles are different widths and thicknesses and age in a way that adds to their attractiveness. Asphalt shingles tend to lay on the roof like a blanket, presenting a smoother, modern aesthetic that some people fiend more appealing.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt or composition shingles are constructed on a fiberglass mat that is coated with an asphalt-based filler material that has been heated to 400 degrees and poured over the mat to make the base. Special rock is crushed to a specific size and then coated with a ceramic material to give the shingle its unique color and provide a weather-resistant surface. Finally, a small layer of sand is applied and the mat is sent through a process that embeds everything together before being cut to size and delivered to stores for sale. Asphalt shingles are manufactured in a variety of colors, blends, and shapes, which has gained them increased popularity among homeowners. The most popular design is architectural and they are intended to give the roof a built-up look as though it were a wooden shingle roof. Other designs mimic slate patterns and metal roof shingles.

Cedar Shakes

When considering the cedar roof vs. asphalt roof question, the most obvious difference is their presentation. Cedar shakes are individually cut and shaped, giving the roof a one-of-a-kind look that cannot be equalled with an asphalt shingle roof. Cedar shakes have a centuries-long history of being utilized on houses of prestige, which makes them a classic recognized by everyone.

Cedar shakes are split from logs and are purchased in that same, rough-hewn condition. The shakes that are used on roofs have a thick butt-end that measures one inch or more and the widths vary depending upon the grain of the tree they are cut from. Some shakes have been re-sawn to provide a smooth or uniform back side that helps the shake to lay flat on the roof, but many prefer the rugged, all natural look of a heavy-textured cedar shake.

Pros and Cons of Cedar Shakes vs. Asphalt Shingles

Pros and Cons of Cedar Shakes vs. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Shingles


Asphalt shingles have become dominant in the marketplace because they provide many of the basics that the builder and homeowner desire.

  • They have a reasonable life expectancy (limited lifetime for many brands).
  • They offer a large variety of colors and patterns.
  • They provide a DIY option.
  • They are reasonably priced.
  • They are versatile and can be installed on most roofs.
  • They are energy efficient.
  • Many carry an impact rating for hail and other objects.
  • Some have a strong wind rating.
  • There are brands that offer a Class A fire rating.


While there are many positive points, there are some drawbacks:

  • Not as durable as other types of roofing materials.
  • Mildew can be an issue if not maintained properly.
  • They can crack and allow leaks.
  • In areas of heavy rain and winds, there can be substantial granule loss.
  • Many asphalt shingles look like they need replacing after 20 years.
  • Best to be installed in warmer temperatures to ensure a good seal.
  • Though attractive, they don’t offer a classic or elegant look.
asphalt shingles vs cedar shake roof

Cedar Shakes


In addition to their classic style and almost universal appeal:

  • They can easily last up to 30 years if properly maintained
  • They are highly resistant to insects
  • They are impact and wind resistant.
  • They allow better airflow on the roof inhibiting moisture buildup.
  • They provide increased curb appeal and can increase your home’s value.
  • They are naturally insulating — almost twice the value of asphalt.
  • They can help save on heating and cooling bills.


  • Moisture can be a problem.
  • They are more susceptible to fire, unless treated.
  • Every 2 to 4 years, a cedar roof needs to be cleaned of moss and other fungi that can retain moisture and damage the shakes.
  • The expense is more than asphalt shingles
  • It is not a DIY option.

Cedar Shake Roof vs. Asphalt Shingles Cost

According to industry statistics, a cedar shake roof is substantially more expensive to install than an asphalt shingle roof, Of course, you need to weigh the pros and cons of owning a beautiful, all-natural, cedar wood roof against the less expensive asphalt shingle option before making a decision.

An average price for a cedar shake roof can run between $8.00 and $15.00 a square foot. Compare that with $3.50 to $5.50 a square foot for a typical asphalt shingle roof installation. Another factor to consider in the comparison between cedar shingles vs asphalt is: “Can I do it myself?”

Installing asphalt shingles has long been known as a DIY project. Though they are extremely heavy to handle, they are more forgiving than natural cedar shakes when it comes to installation.

Why Synthetic Cedar Shakes Are the Better Alternative

Why Synthetic Cedar Shakes Are the Better Alternative

After comparing the pros and cons of both cedar shakes and asphalt shingles, you may decide that you want the look of natural cedar on your roof and all the benefits that go with it. But is natural cedar your only option? Today’s synthetic shingle market offers all the beauty of natural cedar with the added advantages of:

  1. Selection — Available in multiple widths, like all natural cedar.
  2. Colors — 11 incredible colors to answer any aesthetic calling.
  3. Warranty — 50-year limited warranty.
  4. Easier installation — Doesn’t require special equipment and can be walked on without fear of breaking the shingles.
  5. Class A Fire rating.
  6. Class 4 impact rating — highest in the industry.
  7. Eco-friendly composite construction.

Try cedar shakes on your home with our visualizer!

cedar shake roof vs. asphalt

Where to Buy the Best Composite Cedar Shakes

When you are ready to purchase your composite cedar shakes, you’ll want to purchase from a leader in the industry. Brava Roof Tile is an innovator in the marketplace! We have 11 standard colors in our synthetic cedar shake line and can create any custom color you desire. Our synthetic cedar roof tiles have been installed across the USA and in Europe and can be shipped almost anywhere in the world. We offer a number of valuable resources like free roof tile samples, CAD drawings of our products, and installation videos to instruct you on the proper way to install our roofing. Compare our product to other composite options and see the advantages our solutions offer, as well as the awards we have won. You can be confident that you have made a wise decision when you choose beautiful Brava roof tiles.

We're happy to offer quotes, help you to find a contractor, and will even send a free sample for you to inspect. Order a complimentary lookbook or upload your home's image to our visualizer and see how it would look with our tiles!

Contact us today to see how we can update and upgrade your roof with modern and sustainable roof tiles, carrying the aesthetic of tradition.

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