How Much Does a Cedar Shake Roof Cost?
$16,000 - $27,000
$16,000 - $27,000
Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.
Updated September 20, 2022Reviewed by Robert Tschudi, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor.
The average price range to install a 3,000-square-foot shake roof is between $18,000 and $25,000, or about $600 to $830 per square. Low cost for installation is around $14,000 and high cost is about $40,000.
A shake is a wooden shingle that is split on one side and sawed on the other.
There are three grades of cedar shakes, but only two different qualities. Common grade cedar shingles are the least expensive but have the shortest lifespan. They're essentially the off-cuts and the discarded shakes, or the ones that didn't make the cut for the straight grain. These shakes may cost up 30% less in material prices than other options, but they'll warp and curl faster and need more maintenance.
Select-grade cedar shakes contain 20% common grade and 80% straight grain. This mixture is a popular option because it provides a good compromise between affordability and quality. With just 20% common grade singles in the mix, the roof should hold out well, with minimal warping and curling. However, because of the inclusion of the common shakes, more maintenance is still necessary compared to 100% straight grain.
Straight grain is the most costly option, but it includes 100% straight grain shakes. Each one is hand-selected for straight grain and quality. Because the grain is straight, these shakes lay flat and aren't prone to warping or curling. They're more durable and so have a longer lifespan than the other grades, and require less maintenance.
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Cedar shakes cost around $240 per bundle or $725 per square. This particular wood is desirable because it is attractive, long-lasting and has a fine texture that makes it easy to seal against the elements. It's resistant to pests. It also provides better insulation than many other varieties. This helps control heating and cooling costs in the home.
“But cedar, like any wood, can rot if it gets wet,” says Bob Tschudi, Expert Review Board member and Raleigh, NC-based GC. “So be sure to ask your installer to include the necessary underlayments in their quote.”
Non-cedar wood shakes can be made from a variety of different species, including cypress, redwood, or pine. They cost about $175 per bundle and $525 per square. This material can vary in quality and appearance, with some having a rougher grain and less refined appearance when compared to cedar. Pine, when properly maintained, can last around 20 years. Other types may last 30 years.
This human-made material costs around $120 per bundle or $365 per square, and prices go up from there depending on quality and brand. This material is popular because it's durable and requires less maintenance than real wood. It is not vulnerable to rot, and is far less susceptible to mildew and mold.
Professional installation costs about $60 per hour, but can vary depending on the job's specifics. Factors like square footage and pitch of the roof, complexity, type of material, and your home's geographic location can affect the hourly rate.
Pros will likely charge materials like underlayment, flashing, and caulk separately; homeowners who get bids for shake installation should go over each one carefully to ensure they include these prices. If the price isn't listed, ask the contractor if this amount is included. Either way, the answer should be noted in the final contract.
“For roofs, especially cedar roofs, everything must be specified down to the type and length of nail,” says Bob Tschudi. “This will not only help ensure that the roof is watertight, but that the shakes will not blow off in a storm.”
Getting a roof inspection prior to replacement can help the homeowner decide whether a new roof is necessary. The inspection may also reveal other details, such as the best materials to replace the roof and problem areas that might come up during the job. Those who decide to remove their own shakes before having new ones installed should follow the proper procedures by removing the ridge cap and then rolling the underlayment up horizontally.
Typically, roof replacement isn’t required until the shakes have become weathered and deteriorated. Homeowners may notice cracks, missing shakes or leaks in their home. In those cases, repairs may be necessary and a more cost-effective solution. The cost to repair a roof varies depending on the extent of the damage.
Just like the cost of installing cedar shake siding, the price of your cedar roof doesn't stop at installation; anticipate ongoing maintenance costs to this type of roof in good condition to avoid rot, mildew, and leaks. Remember, ice dams need removing right away to avoid rot setting in. You'll also need to cover the cost of regular roof cleaning to allow the roof to breathe efficiently. This will set you back around $0.40 per square foot.
Although cedar is robust and durable, it's still a natural material and will need ongoing help to maintain its integrity, so make sure you budget for the cost of yearly roof coatings, which will run you around $0.50 per square foot.
A wood or composite shake roof can last around 30 years (except pine, which lasts around 20). 100% straight grain cedar shakes can last up to 50 years with proper care. Climate can affect its life expectancy. In harsh weather, where freeze-thaw cycles are common, or in wetter climates, they may not last as long. Even with proper maintenance, they may deteriorate faster if regularly exposed to temperature extremes and constant moisture. Most often, they fail prematurely due to lack of proper maintenance.
Often, people use the terms shakes and shingles interchangeably. However, they are two different types of roofing material.
Cedar shingles are less costly, at $4.50 to $9 per square foot.
The more expensive cedar shakes will run you $5.50 to $13.50 per square foot, including installation.
Unlike shakes, shingles are machine-made, so they're even and precise in height, width, and thickness. They're finer in appearance and, and are evenly tapered toward one end, for a flatter finish when installed.
Shakes are hand-split or sawed, offering a more rustic appearance. Because they're handmade, they're more costly, but each shake is unique. Their appeal is in their lack of uniformity and the deeper, heavily textured nature that produces a rustic, old-school roof finish.
Shake roofing is a costly product that requires expertise to install. Installing your own roofing can lead to mistakes like water leaks and structural damage. In addition, DIY installations can damage the shakes and invalidate the product warranty. The best way to add them to your home is to hire a licensed contractor to do the work.
When looking for a contractor, read reviews, check the license and insurance, contact references, and ask about their previous experience. Remember that the most common type of roofing in most areas is asphalt shingling. Finding a contractor with the proper wood shake experience may take some research. Talk to at least three local professionals before making you hire a roofer.
Contact contractors to look at your home and bid on your project. If possible, meet with them on-site so you can ask each roofer questions and learn more about their process. Remember that the lowest bid may not be the best bid when making your selection. Professionals who underbid other contractors may do so by cutting corners like hiring inexperienced workers or using a cheap product.
Shakes and asphalt shingles are like apples and oranges; they're very different. Shakes are made from wood and have natural, rustic beauty that appeals to many homeowners. However, they will need regular resealing, or they may develop premature leaks.
Asphalt has a more modern appearance and can vary in color to complement the house. Asphalt shingles are durable and easy to maintain. They have a relatively low price; asphalt shingles cost around $150 per square, and last around 20 years. Asphalt shingles vary in price depending on the quality and type.
By contrast, shakes are costlier, $600 per square, and depending on the type of wood used, may last somewhat longer (30 years).
You can buy roofing shakes from roofing supply merchants who carry wood roofing materials. You may, however, get a better price if you let your roofing contractor procure the shakes for you, as they can often get them at trade prices. Still, be sure to shop around to see if you can find a better deal. Just remember to check the grade of the shakes so that you don't end up with common grade when you wanted straight grain.
Cedar shakes roofs can last up to 50 years if they’re 100% straight grain shakes and properly installed and maintained. However, after 30 to 50 years, you'll need to have them replaced. Signs you may need to replace your shake roof also include:
Yes, you can wash cedar shakes and shingles with a power washer. You can use pressure washers, too, along with appropriate detergents. Power washing gets rid of algae, mold, and general dirt and detritus. It helps to bring the color back to your cedar roof, blasting away the grime and bringing your cedar roof back to its original look.