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Installing a 3,000-square-foot cedar shake roof costs an average of $18,000 to $25,000, or $5.50 to $13.50 per square foot, including professional installation.* Cedar shake is a popular alternative to manufactured cedar shingles. Our guide breaks down key cost factors to consider when installing a cedar shake roof and provides tips for finding a reputable roofer.
*Article cost data via Home Advisor and Angi.
What Is a Cedar Shake Roof?
Cedar shakes are hand-split or sawed square or rectangular wooden planks with a more rustic appearance than shingles. Because of this, shakes are often more expensive than shingle roofing. Cedar shakes are common throughout the country, especially in traditional and colonial-style New England architecture. Shakes are generally thicker than shingles and made from premium wood.
Cedar Shake Roof Major Cost Factors
Several factors affect the cost of a cedar shake roof, such as the roof’s size and shape, the shake’s grade and quality, and labor. We’ll go over these factors in more detail below.
Roof Size and Shape
Large, complex roofs require more materials to cover the roof’s surface area, and also additional installation time. A professional roofer will measure your roof to calculate its square footage. Your roof size determines how many shakes you need and how long installation could take. Costs range from $5.50 to $13.50 per square foot for materials and labor.
Cost by Roof Size and Shape
Here is a chart showing the average cost by roof size, including materials and labor.
|Roof Size in Square Feet||Cost Range|
Cedar Shake Quality
Cedar shakes come in three grades, each which vary in quality and price.
- Common grade: These are the off-cuts and discarded shakes. Common grade has the shortest life span and costs 30% less than other options. Common grade requires more maintenance than other grades and is prone to warping and curling.
- Select grade: These are 20% common grade and 80% straight grain, giving homeowners a higher-quality product than the common grade at a midrange price. They require more maintenance than straight grain and have minimal warping and curling.
- Straight grain: Straight grain is hand-selected and isn’t as susceptible to warping and curling. This grade is more durable, has a longer life span, and requires less maintenance, but it’s the most expensive.
About 60% of your total project price will go toward labor. Installation costs can range from $1.50 to $3 per square foot, depending on your home’s condition, local labor rates, and the product you’re installing. These prices also include removing the old roof. Most contractors charge an average of $60 per hour.
Professional vs. DIY Cedar Shake Roof Installation
We recommend hiring a professional roofing company specializing in cedar roof installation. Do-it-yourself (DIY) cedar roof installation is dangerous and could compromise your cedar roof’s longevity.
Professional Cedar Shake Roof Installation
Cedar shake roof installation requires a pro’s knowledge and expertise. A roofing contractor knows what kinds of fasteners and grain to use and how to avoid expensive roof repairs or serious injury. A pro is also the best choice for cedar shake roof repairs. Most contractors work with asphalt shingle roofs, so ensure you find a roofer with cedar shake experience.
A professional will first inspect your home to give you a quote. When work begins, roofers will prepare the area, remove your old roof down to the decking, and inspect it for any damage or structural issues. They’ll then prepare the surface and install a drip edge to prevent rain from getting underneath roofing components. The pros will lay down a new underlayment and install the cedar shakes, finishing with a sealant. If you only need a repair, a pro can help you find shakes that match your existing roof’s size, shape, and color.
Hiring a professional company comes with the following benefits:
- The necessary training, tools, and safety equipment for roof installation.
- Knowledge of the required building permits.
- Ability to identify underlying issues that may not be obvious to the average homeowner.
- A crew and the equipment to complete the installation quickly.
- Manufacturers’ warranties on roofing materials and work guarantees.
- Licenses, bonds, and insurance to protect you financially.
DIY Cedar Shake Roof Installation
We don’t advise DIY cedar shake roof installation unless you have professional roofing experience. DIY installation can lead to water leaks, voided warranties, and damage to your roof and shakes.
Additional Factors Affecting Cedar Shake Roof Cost
The following factors can also impact your cedar shake roof cost, depending on your project’s specifics.
Complex roofs with several levels, slopes, peaks, or chimneys require more labor—and thus higher costs—than simple roofs with a low pitch and fewer obstacles. A complex roof may require more materials and time to complete the job, and there may be additional safety fees.
Labor and material costs can vary depending on where you live. Some regions may have higher demand or supply of cedar shakes. There are also fees to consider at the state and city level.
You can opt for special finishing treatments for your new cedar shake roof, such as preservatives, sealants, stains, or fire retardants. These treatments can enhance your roof’s appearance and performance but also add to the cost. Finishing treatments require annual coatings, costing 50 cents per square foot.
You’ll need regular roof maintenance to avoid rot, mildew, and leaks. This may include cleaning, inspecting, repairing, or replacing damaged or missing shakes. Maintenance costs vary depending on your roof’s quality and condition and the frequency and extent of service. The average cost for regular cleaning is about 40 cents per square foot.
What Are the Benefits of Cedar Shake Roofs?
There are several benefits to installing a cedar shake roof, including the following:
- Aesthetic appeal and customization: Cedar shakes come in many colors to match your home’s style and personal preferences.
- Durability and longevity: Cedar shakes are highly resistant to impact and wind. According to the Insurance Institute for Businesses and Home Safety (IBHS), shakes have withstood the impacts of up to 2-inch-diameter steel balls dropped from a 20-foot height and can resist winds up to 245 mph. With proper care, cedar shakes can last up to 50 years.
- Eco-friendliness and recyclability: Cedar wood shakes are more eco-friendly than other roofing materials. Wood is organic, which is generally recyclable.
- Insulation and energy efficiency: Wood is a natural insulator with an R-value of around 1.41 per inch. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, natural wood can store heat during the day and gradually release it at night under the right circumstances. Cedar is one of the best materials to minimize air leakage.
- Resistance to pests and fire: With proper treatment, a cedar shake roof can protect your home against pests and resist fire. Untreated cedar shake shingles do not meet the requirements of a fire-rated roof.
How to Maintain a Cedar Shake Roof
We recommend performing maintenance at least once per year on your cedar shake roof, or more often if needed. We suggest consulting a professional roofer with experience in cedar shake maintenance. Always use gentle cleaning methods and products to avoid damaging the wood.
Here are some additional steps to maintain your cedar shake roof:
- Clean the roof regularly to remove debris, moss, and algae.
- Inspect the roof for signs of damage, wear, or leaks.
- Repair or replace any damaged or missing shakes.
- Apply preservatives, sealants, or stains to protect the wood.
- Treat the roof for fire resistance or pest prevention.
How to Reduce Cedar Shake Roof Costs
Here are some ways to reduce costs when installing or replacing a cedar shake roof:
- Get a quote from at least three roofing contractors specializing in cedar shake roof installation.
- Schedule work during the offseason.
- Invest in higher-quality materials with a longer life span.
- Apply roof treatments once per year.
- Regularly inspect your roof and keep gutters and the roof’s surface clear of debris.
- Schedule regular roof cleanings.
How to Hire a Professional
Below are some tips to help you find a professional roofing contractor.
- Get estimates from multiple contractors before making a decision.
- Ask for references and look at the company’s previous work.
- Make sure the contractor specializes in cedar shake roof installation.
- Check out the company on the Better Business Bureau website and read reviews on websites such as Trustpilot and Google Reviews.
- Make sure your contractor is licensed, insured, and bonded.
- Get any cost estimates, guarantees, or warranties in writing.
Cedar shakes are pricier than other shingle types, but their beauty and durability makes them a worthwhile investment. We recommend hiring a roofing company specializing in cedar shake roof installation rather than attempting the project yourself. Use a high-quality grade and keep up with maintenance so your new cedar shake roof lasts as long as possible. Check our guides to metal roof pricing and tile roof costs for information on other roofing materials.
Cedar Shake Roof Cost FAQ
How long does a cedar shake roof last?
A wood or composite shake roof can last 30 years. A 100% straight-grain cedar shake roof can last up to 50 years with proper care. Harsh weather and wet climates can reduce the life expectancy.
Is a cedar shake roof worth it?
Cedar shake roofs can be a very worthwhile investment, depending on your priorities. These roofs are durable, eco-friendly, and naturally insulating. They’re more expensive than other roofing materials, but they have a longer life span and great curb appeal.
How do you clean a cedar shake roof?
How you clean your roof depends on where you live, what treatments were applied to the cedar shakes, and the roof’s age. The Cedar Bureau recommends consulting with local professionals for more information regarding cleaning and preserving cedar in your area.
What is the difference between cedar shakes and shingles?
Shingles are even and uniform in height, width, and thickness because they’re made by machines. Shingles are also evenly tapered and have a flatter finish when installed. Shakes are hand-split or sawed, making each one unique.
How do you preserve a cedar shake roof?
Cedar shake roofs require protective treatments every one to three years. Common treatments include water repellant, fire repellant, fungicide, and algaecide. What your roof needs largely depends on the climate and weather in your area. We recommend consulting a professional roofer for the best guidance about preservation.