Your New Roof: Authentic vs Composite Shake?

Category: All, Blog Post, Product Highlights

If you’re considering a new cedar shake roof for your home, congratulations! The look of cedar shake is hard to match. 

It’s no coincidence that cedar shake shingles has been such a fan favorite. The wood offers a stunning countryside appearance that adds a rich dimension to the home’s curb appeal. 

Fortunately, unlike in the ‘70s and ‘80s when natural cedar shake shingles were the only option for most homeowners, today there are a number of durable and eco-friendly composite shake shingles that are a great alternative to natural cedar shake. Here, we compare natural and composite shingles.

Natural Shake vs. Synthetic Shake


A cedar wood roof offers a natural feel to your home, which can enhance its curb appeal. As they age, the color of the shingles may turn grayish or brownish. While some owners find this appealing, there are others who’d prefer to keep the original color. It’s also difficult to match the tiles after some have changed color. Synthetic shake is manufactured in a wide variety of standard and custom colors, giving them the appearance and color of traditional wood shake. In addition, they’re colorfast and they weather, rather than fade.

Durability and Maintenance

As an organic material, cedarwood is susceptible to mold, algae, mildew, insects, rotting, warping, and fungal growth. To extend their lifetime, cedar shake roofs thus require regular maintenance and chemical treatment, which can be costly. Composite shake roofs are mold and mildew resistant and require little to no maintenance. As an added bonus, it’s safe to walk on a synthetic roof, should you find yourself needing to rescue an errant drone or Frisbee. 


Weather and Fire

Old-growth cedar shingles have high density and thickness, making them durable and resistant to corrosive elements such as rain, wind, and excessive sunlight. Wood is also resilient to hurricanes, snow, and hail storms. Unfortunately, as with many natural resources, the once readily available old-growth wood has become scarce and its new-growth replacement just doesn’t offer the same density. Cedarwood shakes pose a potential fire hazard, and some city and state governments have actually prohibited their use. Some insurance companies are reluctant to insure homes with real wood shingles. A major benefit of composite shake tiles is that they provide superior durability and protection from the most extreme elements such as wind, hail, driving rain, heavy snow and fire.

Energy and The Environment

Natural cedar is a poor conductor of heat and therefore provides natural insulation against heat loss from the interior of your home. This can lower the energy costs needed to heat and maintain a suitable temperature at home. Synthetic shake tiles also offer protection from extreme temperature changes and UV sunlight. 

Typically, real wood shake roofs are manufactured from harvested trees. Most of these trees came from old-growth cedars that had grown for over 100 years in the forest. However, this aged cedar is no longer commercially available, and the government has protected the small quantities remaining from being harvested for environmental conservation purposes. In contrast, synthetic shake tiles are manufactured from anywhere between 25% and 80% post-industrial recycled rubber and plastics, making them environmentally friendly.

If you’d like more information on the benefits of installing a composite shake roof on your home, please visit our product page, download a fact sheet, or contact us here to find out whether synthetic shake is the right choice for you.



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