What Is a Shake Roof? Pros & Cons of Cedar Shake

Cedar Shake Roof Pros And Cons

Cedar shakes and shingles make truly beautiful roofing options. Depending on the type and style of cedar roofing you choose, you can give your home that rustic, elegant look and feel. Today’s homeowners have plenty of shake roof options from which to choose.

But what is a shake roof? Our roofing experts at Nelson Contracting in Lincoln and Omaha, NE, will help you better understand this roofing material that keeps growing in popularity. If you’re ready to start your new cedar shake roof installation or need assistance, call us today at (402) 464-2418.

What Is a Shake Roof?

A shake roof is a premium roof system made of natural wood (typically cedar or California redwood) materials. A shake refers to the individual wooden shingle applied to create a roof. The old version of shake roofing was made by hand-splitting a block of wood.

Shake roofing was particularly popular during the colonial period because the shingles were lightweight, made with simple tools, and easy to install.

Modern shake-style roofing shingles replicate the visual appeal of wood shakes while offering the wind and high fire resistance of asphalt shingles. They also provide more resistance to ice, snow, and wind than asphalt shingles, hence their growing popularity.

You will need to consider the three grades of cedar shake shingles available:

  • Common
  • Selects
  • 100% straight grain

Common grains remain the cheapest and most inferior. Selects consist of a mix of two other types of grades (80% straight grain and 20% commons). And, as its name reveals, 100% straight grain is pure.

Although often mimicked, true cedar shake roofs stand out for their authentic look. When deciding whether cedar shake roofing makes sense for your home, consider the following pros and cons.

Cedar Shake Pros

Shake Roof Pros

Beautiful Appearance

As mentioned above, many people regard cedar shake roofing as one of the most attractive types of roofing. In addition to enhancing your home’s curb appeal, it will also improve its value. Cedar shakes or shingles will add sophistication and beauty to any home.


Cedar shingles provide strength and durability. These roofs will typically last about 20-30 years with proper maintenance and the right climate. If you invest in quality materials and live in an area with the ideal conditions, your cedar shake roof could give you up to 50 years of use.

They’re also energy efficient—you can recycle them into mulch and chips.

Excellent Thermal Insulation

Installing a cedar shake roof can significantly reduce your energy costs. Cedar acts as a natural insulator, allowing you to lower your heating and cooling costs and save on your utility bills.

Storm and Weather Resistant

Cedar shingles and shakes resist strong winds, snowstorms, hail, heavy rain, and other severe weather. With a properly installed shake roof, you will need fewer repairs. You can also have your cedar roof installed at any time of the year, as they don’t typically rely on sealants to keep them in place.

Cedar Shake Cons

Cedar Shake Roof Maintenance


Even with their high price, homeowners value wooden shakes for their aesthetics and durability. Compared to other types of roofing, the superior performance they offer makes them a worthy investment in your home.

Need Regular Maintenance

While all types of roofs require regular maintenance to ensure their longevity, cedar shakes involve high maintenance. They tend to show wear and tear easily. Without proper and routine care, they can curl, split, and undermine the structural integrity of your entire roofing system.

Fire Risk

Unlike a fire-resistant metal roof, wooden shakes can be a fire hazard. If you live in a high fire-risk area, expect to pay a lot to insure your roof because of fire risk.

Roofing Installation You Can Trust

Now you can answer the question, “what is a shake roof?” If you’ve decided to install a shake roof, call Nelson Contracting for professional roofing installation. We’re proud to serve Lincoln, Omaha and the surrounding area. We also offer roofing repair and replacement services.

Don’t hesitate to call us at (402) 464-2418 for a free estimate.

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