Cedar Shingles and Shakes

Canadians love the natural beauty of cedar!

Why should you choose a cedar roof?

 For the discerning home owner looking for a traditional rustic appearance, cedar roofing is hard to match. Though there are many manufacturers who produce asphalt, synthetic and steel replications of cedar shakes and shingles, none have been able to effectively duplicate the natural beauty of a newly installed cedar roof.

 Cedar roofs have proven themselves against Canada's extreme weather situations, including heavy snow and hail storms. Even hail depressions will recover without affecting the service life of the roof thanks to the natural resiliency of the wood fibers. Cedar also contains natural oils that prevent rot, making it a long lasting natural product. Under optimal conditions, cedar roofing can last from between 20 to 50 years.

Cedar shakes and shingles are also extremely resistant to high winds and have withstood wind tests in excess of 210 kilometers per hour without any damage. A cedar roof acts as a second layer of insulation on your home, helping to prevent the loss of conditioned air in the summer and heat in the winter.

Aside from being environmentally-friendly, Cedar roofing has an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio with little movement due to changes in moisture content or temperature. It is highly resistant to rain and keeps its beauty and protective qualities with just a little maintenance.

 What is the difference between a cedar shingle or shake?

The difference between cedar shakes and shingles is less clear now than it was 50 years ago. Initially, cedar shingles were sawn from a block, while cedar shakes were split using a mallet and froe. Today cedar shakes are offered hand split, using the traditional method or machine sawn.

 Cedar shingles are more precisely milled than shakes, and provide a more refined classic appearance, which is well suited to a wide range of styles. They are frequently specified for both roofing and siding installations.

Cedar shake roofing provides a more irregular, rustic appearance. They make a less sophisticated, more charming statement that works well for smaller cottage styles.

 Most cedar shakes today are made by machines, and are sawn on at least one side. Shakes are sometimes machine grooved to appear more like authentic hand split shakes. Shakes are thicker than shingles, ranging from 1/2" to 3/4" or greater at the butt end, while shingles range from about 3/8" to 1/2". The 18" "Perfections" are between 7/16" and 1/2".

 Functionally, the most important difference between cedar shakes and shingles is that shingles are milled more precisely than shakes. Cedar shakes are more irregular, and don't lay as flat when installed. This creates gaps which can be penetrated by wind blown precipitation. To eliminate this threat a layer of felt paper is required between courses for roofing installations. Interleaving felt paper helps blocks wind blown precipitation, and also allows shakes to be installed with 2 layers of shakes and one layer of felt paper, rather than 3 layers of shakes as required with shingles.

 Advantages of a Cedar Roof


 Although cedar shingles and shakes can be more expensive than other types of roofing they can be considered a bargain for the beauty and elegance they provide to a home's outer decor. A cedar roof will typically cost 3 to 4 times in price compared to a basic asphalt shingle, while a natural slate or copper shingle roof can be as much as 4 times the cost of cedar.  As with any luxury product impeccable style comes with a higher price tag.

Environmentally Friendly

Cedar roofing is no longer being harvested from old growth forests. A number of reputable companies farming cedar plant at least one tree for every one they cut down. The explicit use of young cedar is a responsible decision for our environment and will help keep the art form of traditional cedar roofing a viable option for many years to come.

Cedar roofing is an excellent insulator (18 times that of asphalt shingles) and can significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs.


 The look of cedar roofing is not bounded by the subtle differences between shakes and shingles. Shingles and shakes can be installed in staggered rows creating a textured attractive effect. There are many different cut edge profiles available for purchase or designs can be hand milled on site. These patterned shingles can be used on their own or integrated with standard shakes and shingles to provide a visual accent to your roof or siding. Shakes and shingles can also be steam bent to form practically any architectural design. This process creates a truly stunning result, although it can be extremely time consuming and as a result may be very expensive. Cedar roofing can also be stained or painted so the possibilities are almost endless.

Maintenance and Repairs

 In order to keep your cedar roof free from deficiencies, annual maintenance is a priority. Roof coverings should be cleaned of any debris and moss which can harm the cedar by keeping the presence of moisture constant and not allowing the cedar roof to breath. The roof should be inspected every year and any shingles or shakes suffering from severe splits over key lines or extreme curling should be replaced using proper techniques. This is considered by many to be the downside of cedar roofing.  

 Peaks and Plateaus Roofing offers discounted annual maintenance packages for every cedar roof we install.


 Peaks and Plateaus Roofing only installs premium or #1 grade blue label cedar roofing recommended by the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau. These products are inspected by a third party to ensure they are free from defects and contain the proper amount of edge grain.