Getting a New Wooden Roof: How Much Do Cedar Shakes Cost?

So you’ve decided it’s time to put a new roof on your house. Or, maybe you’re building a new home and you’re trying to envision the perfect roof to put over the heads of your family. You’ve considered a myriad of options, and you’ve settled on a tried-and-true classic: an elegant wooden roof. Cedar shakes are some of the most stylish roofing materials you can find, and they’ve been a long standing tradition in residential construction all over the world.

Wood shakes, essentially, are simple wooden shingles fashioned out of split-in-half logs. They’re used in many countries and have been around for a long time. After all, they last a long time, and they’re very aesthetically pleasing. Their rough-cut and rustic look can give your home a beautifully quaint and old-fashioned touch, or a sophisticated modern touch. Cedar shingles and shakes that correctly installed are surprisingly good at protecting your home from rain, sun, snow, and all other manners of inclement weather. All around, a cedar shake roof is a great choice for your Indianapolis home.

Cedar Shakes: The Basics

Wood shakes can come from all kinds of North American trees, but primarily you’ll find redwood and cedar shakes on residential homes. You might see wood shakes made from pine when traveling far north or abroad, but they aren’t as common in the USA. Most often, they measure 24 inches in length for residential roofing, but you’ll also see them in 18” and 48” varieties used for other purposes.

Cedar shakes are made by taking blocks of red cedar wood and splitting them open, giving them their interesting grooved patterns. A side of them is then sawn down flat or to a slight angle.

Whether you decide that authentic or synthetic cedar shakes are the right choice for your home, you should know what kind of costs you’re facing ahead of time. Before talking with a roofing contractor in Indianapolis, take a look at these details about the price of getting a cedar shake roof.

What you Need to Know About Cedar Shakes

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We can’t overstate the natural beauty of a cedar shake roof; even the composition roof shakes have a very natural looking character to them. Cedar shakes give a house a very traditional and pastoral look. If you want a touch of history and antiquity to your home, cedar shakes will fit your style just fine.


Cedar shakes do take a bit more maintenance than other types of roofs. The material needs to be kept free and clear of any debris, like falling branches from overhanging trees. You also want to make sure you keep your rain gutters unplugged. Fortunately, unlike asphalt roofing, cedar shake roofs aren’t as susceptible to moss and algae, but if you see any forming, you’ll want to clear it away immediately.


Synthetic wood shakes, in particular, will last you several decades. However, traditional cedar shakes will vary in their lifespan depending on a variety of important considerations.

First and foremost, proper installation of quality materials will go a long way in avoiding issues throughout the life of the roof that shave years off of its overall longevity. Still, ongoing maintenance will be an important factor in getting those extra years out of your roof.

A newer house can make a difference, too; an older structure is always going to tend to have more roofing concerns than a newer, sturdier one. Plus, abrasive conditions like overhangs and regular human activity on the rooftop can significantly shorten the life of your cedar shake roof. And, of course, weather is always a consideration; a natural wooden roof will have to be weather treated, and this is another part of the routine maintenance you’ll be responsible for as the homeowner.


Natural cedar shakes can come with their share of frustrating issues; in particular, they can take a lot of abuse from heavy rainfall. Cedar shakes that are exposed to long periods of rainfall and that stay wet for extended periods of time are prone to rot and fungus. If there is organic material falling from branches hanging down over the roof, this can exacerbate any growth problems you might be having in the wooden material on your roof.

Fire Safety

Every homeowner is concerned with their wellbeing and safety, and the roof over your head plays a big role in that part of your life. Wood catches fire; everyone knows that. Fortunately, even for natural wood roofs, there are plenty of treatments that can give your roof the fire-resistant properties you want it to have. Make sure to have your roof regularly inspected and treated to ensure that it’s up to code and will keep you safe.

Synthetic Cedar Shakes

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There are also synthetic cedar shake roofing materials available today that give you, as the homeowner, significantly added benefits. Composite roofs made from synthetic roofing materials can also be made in an even more diverse range of colors and styles to make them that much more aesthetically interesting.

Synthetic cedar shakes are more durable, being able to withstand high winds and harsh weather elements much more readily than natural wooden shakes. They last a whole lot longer, too; synthetic cedar shake roofs can last 50 years or more so long as they’re properly cared for. But, they also don’t take nearly as much routine maintenance as a natural wood shake roof. And, they’re far more naturally fire resistant than natural cedar shakes.

Between their stylish good looks and their resistance to the elements, synthetic cedar shakes are great for giving a touch of character to round out the look of any residential household.

The Cost of a Cedar Shake Roof

Roofing jobs are never inexpensive, so it’s important that you get a quality roof that’ll last you a long time. Cedar shakes, depending on the size and quality of materials, tend to start at around $6 per square foot. That’s the lower end of the spectrum, however. For a higher end cedar shake roof, you’re going to be looking at more like $9 per square foot. Now, considering that square footage your roof will require can vary greatly, especially depending on the complexity of your home, there’s no simple answer to the question, “how much does a cedar shake roof cost?” But, to start, you can expect a range that looks something like $17,000 – $26,000.

Remember, these numbers are estimates, and can vary a whole lot depending on your home and your individual needs. Give us a call at Authentic Restoration to get a free estimate on your new cedar shake roof, and don’t forget to ask us about our synthetic roofing systems!