When it comes to roofing materials, the debate between natural cedar shake and synthetic cedar
shake has been ongoing for years. Both options offer unique benefits and have their own set of
drawbacks. In this guide, we’ll delve deep into the world of cedar shake roofing, comparing the
natural and synthetic versions on various fronts. Our aim is to provide you with a clear
understanding, enabling you to make an informed decision for your home.
Understanding Natural Cedar Shake
Natural cedar shake roofs are crafted from genuine cedar wood, primarily sourced from the vast
forests of the Northwest United States or Southwest Canada. These shingles are derived from
large cedar trees, which are either hand-split or sawed into tapered sections, known as tapersawn.
The hand-split method offers a rugged appearance, while tapersawn provides a smoother finish.
Cedar shake shingles are available in three primary grades:
Common (basic quality)
Selects (an 80/20 split)
100% Straight Grain (premium quality)
For homeowners seeking longevity and aesthetic appeal, we at Enterprise Roofing recommend
the 100% straight grain variant.
Delving into Synthetic Cedar Shake
Synthetic cedar shake, often referred to as composite roofing, is manufactured using recycled
materials or engineered polymers. These shingles are designed to replicate the appearance of
natural cedar shake, complete with authentic grain patterns and deep grooves.
One of the standout features of synthetic cedar shake is the variety of color options and styles
available. This versatility ensures that there’s a perfect match for every home’s architectural style.
While professionals in the roofing industry might discern between natural and synthetic at close
quarters, the average onlooker or neighbor would be hard-pressed to spot the difference.
Comparing Lifespan: Natural vs. Synthetic
The longevity of a roofing material is a crucial factor for homeowners. Both natural and
synthetic cedar shakes boast impressive lifespans, but synthetic variants tend to outlast their
A well-installed synthetic cedar shake roof can last between 40-50 years. In contrast, a natural
cedar shake roof, with proper installation and maintenance, typically lasts around 30 years.
However, in ideal conditions, the lifespan of natural cedar shake can extend up to 50 years.
The superior durability of synthetic cedar shake can be attributed to its high impact rating, which
offers resistance against external elements like hail and strong winds.
Wear and Tear: How They Fare
All roofing materials undergo wear and tear over time. Natural cedar shake tends to display more
evident signs of aging, such as rotting, cracking, and curling. Synthetic cedar shake, on the other
hand, remains resilient against these issues, especially when installed correctly.
Moreover, synthetic shingles retain their vibrant color over the years, whereas natural cedar
shake transitions from a fresh cedar hue to a more muted, aged tone. Regardless of this color
shift, both types enhance a home’s curb appeal.
When investing in a new roof, homeowners receive two types of warranties: one for
workmanship and another for the roofing materials. The workmanship warranty duration varies
based on the roofing contractor. However, the material warranty differs significantly between
natural and synthetic cedar shake.
Natural cedar shake, being an organic material, doesn’t come with a manufacturer warranty.
Synthetic cedar shake, conversely, often includes a material warranty, the duration of which
depends on the manufacturer.
Both natural and synthetic cedar shake roofs are premium options, representing significant
investments. Generally, synthetic cedar shake is more cost-effective than its natural counterpart.
While exact prices can vary, synthetic cedar shake typically ranges from $14.00-$18.00 per
square foot, whereas natural cedar shake can cost between $25.00-$30.00 per square foot.
Making the Right Choice
Having explored the intricacies of both natural and synthetic cedar shake, you’re now equipped
to make an informed decision. If you’re located in St Augustine FL and are considering a roofing
upgrade, Enterprise Roofing is here to assist. As one of the leading St Augustine roofing
contractors, we pride ourselves on delivering top-notch services tailored to your needs.