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Natural Cedar vs. Synthetic Shake Roofs: Pros and Cons

Home » Natural Cedar vs. Synthetic Shake Roofs: Pros and Cons

Are you searching for a gorgeous natural wooden roof? Natural cedar shake roofing is a popular choice for homeowners who hope to achieve a historical, rustic look. However, you can also complete this look with synthetic shakes. What’s the best option? While the choice, in the end, is a matter of personal preference, it’s best if you can make an informed decision. This post will cover everything you need to know about natural cedar and synthetic shakes and the pros and cons of each.

What Are Natural Cedar Shakes?

Natural cedar shakes used to be a common type of roofing. Before asphalt and composite shingles appeared in the 1930s, wood was the preferred roofing material. Wood shakes are different than wooden shingles, as they come from split logs. Typically they have a rougher finish, creating an attractive, rustic look. Shakes have a thick end and a thinner end, whereas shingles are uniform in thickness.

Cedar is a popular wood choice when creating shakes, although other woods are also used such as cypress, spruce, and pine. Over time, the natural warm wooden color of cedar fades into a silvery color.


Long lasting when well-maintained

Your natural cedar shake roof may last up to 50 years if you care for it properly.

Wind resistance

Cedar shakes can take a beating from high wind and won’t be easily ripped off. Any high winds you face will be no match for your cedar shakes. In addition, they are also quite resistant to impact from hail and fallen branches.


One of the biggest draws of a natural cedar shake roof is its beauty. The roofing appears natural and can boost your curb appeal, especially if you live in a historic home.

Environmentally friendly

Most cedar shakes of today come from responsibly harvested forests. In addition, cedar shakes are great insulators for keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Furthermore, natural cedar shakes can be recycled into wood chips once they are no longer useful as roofing material.



Natural cedar shakes are not cheap. Not only that, but you’ll need to find an expert roofer who can install them correctly. However, with Tom Byer roofing on your side, finding a great roofer who can provide an expert installation shouldn’t be a problem.

High maintenance. While all roofs require some maintenance, natural cedar roofs require higher than average upkeep. You must be vigilant about removing debris and excess moisture from your roof. Any moss or mildew growing should also be promptly removed. For this reason, cedar shakes aren’t ideal for exceptionally moist climates.

What Are Synthetic Shakes?

Synthetic shakes are what they sound like they are: fabricated shakes designed to appear natural. Typically made from resins and polymers, artificial shakes vary with regards to how natural they look. Some manufacturer’s shakes appear uniform and shiny, while others strive to create more variety in size, texture, and coloring while limiting the sheen. There’s a wide variety of quality among these shakes, both in function and aesthetics.



Because they’re synthetic, these shakes last longer and can withstand moisture better than natural cedar shakes.

Low maintenance

Again, synthetic shakes can put up with moisture better than natural shakes, and you won’t have to worry as much about continually clearing the roof.


You can achieve nearly the same look with synthetic shakes as with natural wooden shakes, depending on what brand you choose.


Not natural

It’s impossible to ultimately achieve a look that’s 100% natural with a synthetic material.

Not as environmentally friendly

Although synthetic shakes may be on par concerning performance and energy efficiency, the production process for artificial shakes isn’t as environmentally friendly as it is for natural cedar shakes.


When compared to asphalt shingles, a synthetic shake roof is more expensive. However, depending on the manufacturer you go with and your roofer, they may be similar to or cheaper than natural cedar shakes.

The Bottom Line: Natural Cedar vs. Synthetic Shakes

Both natural cedar and synthetic shakes are an excellent choice that can enhance the beauty of your home.  Depending on the structure of your home and your personal preferences, either option could be perfect for your roof!

Ready to get started? Call Tom Byer Roofing today to discuss your natural cedar or synthetic shakes roof.


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