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What Is a Synthetic Cedar Shake Roof?

Cedar shake roofs are some of the most beautiful with their wood tones and grain patterns. They are harder to maintain than other roofs and tend to cost a bit more. Though natural cedar shake roofs have long been used in residential structures, synthetic cedar is now more readily available than ever and offers a number of key benefits.

What’s the difference between synthetic cedar shake shingles and natural cedar shake shingles?

Synthetic cedar shake shingles are made of a composite material, which is made up of recycled materials. They look much like natural products but are manmade. They are versatile, with various colors and pattern options to allow for more of a customized look to the roof. Although up close, you can see and feel the difference, your neighbors are not likely to know the difference between synthetic and natural wood products. 

Natural cedar shake shingles are made of natural cedar wood. Most of this wood comes from Southwest Canada or the northwestern portion of the U.S. There are several grades or quality types, including common, selects, and straight grain, the last being the highest in quality because it is made of 100% cedar straight grain. Any of these products can bring a beautiful, natural, and rugged look to a roof. 

Which shingle is better for your Minneapolis roof?

It’s hard to say one is better than the other because it depends on what’s important to you and your budget. Here are a few key considerations when trying to make a decision. 

Lifespan of the synthetic roof shingles

Synthetic cedar shake shingles last longer than natural wood, providing up to 50 years of lifespan if they are installed professionally and properly and then maintained. Since this is a significant investment, it’s a very good thing that they last this long. 

If well maintained, it’s possible to get 30 or more years out of your natural cedar shake shingles as well. In environments that are very dry, natural cedar will dry out more, leading to a shorter lifespan. 

Warranties for synthetic roof shingles

Most roofing products have warranties, but what they cover and how long they last differ between manufacturers. In most situations, roofers will provide both a workmanship warranty and a material-related warranty from the manufacturer. 

With natural cedar shake materials, there’s no real manufacturing involved because this is a natural product. It is less likely to find a material warranty on these products. With synthetic cedar, there is a manufacturer’s warranty because they were made, not just created from a tree. There are some manufacturers that offer lifetime warranties while others are shorter. The warranty is a good indication of the quality of the product when going with synthetic. 

Wear and tear for Minneapolis roofs with synthetic roof shingles

All roofing systems experience wear and tear, and that’s normal even with maintenance. Yet, some products can handle it better than others. Natural cedar is wood. If you left pieces of wood outdoors to weather, they would change in color, warp, and even become brittle if conditions are too dry. As a result, cedar shake shingles have the same type of complication. As they get older and go through seasons, you’ll notice they will weather faster. This could include some areas of rotting, curling, and cracking. The color will gray in most cases, too. 

Synthetic cedar shake shingles do not do this because they are designed from composite, often plastic, materials. They will still become discolored and may fall off over time, but these are maintenance tasks that are generally easy to fix. They do not crack and weather the same way that natural wood does. 

As a result, synthetic cedar shakes are easier to maintain than natural products. With natural products, you will need to put more time into inspecting them, repairing them, and often sealing areas. That’s not unexpected for a roof, but natural cedar just requires more investment over its lifetime than what you can expect from well-installed synthetic systems.

Adding value to your home

Both types of cedar shakes are a great investment in the home. They are beautiful and often considered one of the most attractive types of roofing products you can add to your home. Even as they get older, they maintain their beauty.

As a result, both products tend to add curb appeal and value to the home. If well-maintained, both can be an asset when selling your home, especially if they look fantastic. 

Cost of replacing your roof with synthetic roof shingles

When it comes to choosing between natural and synthetic products, the cost is a big factor. Both of these materials are considered premium or higher-end products compared to metal roofs or asphalt shingles. You will pay more for them than those other products. 

Most of the type, synthetic products will cost less than natural cedar. You may expect that to be the other way around, but wood costs are typically high, and since cedar needs to be sourced from a specific region, that’s more expensive, and product quantities are typically limited. Natural cedar can cost up to $30 a square foot, while synthetic products can reach $18 a square foot (depending on location and material options). 

Impact resistance, fire, and wind strength of these roof shingles

When it comes to wear and tear, one key thing to consider is the impact resistance of your roof. That is,  things like falling tree branches and hail can create damage to the roof structure. Both products are durable and typically can handle typical weather conditions. You will find, however, that synthetic products are more durable and less likely to split or crack when something hits them.

They are also more fireproof and less likely to create a fire risk in your home. Most can also do a great job of withstanding strong winds if you live in an area of tropical storms or other high-wind events.

If you plan to purchase either natural or synthetic cedar shake shingles, do some research on the brands. Be sure you are also turning to a highly experienced roofing technician to install them. Small details can make a big difference when it comes to getting the most out of these roofing structures. The good news is both of these materials can add significant value to your home and create an attractive appearance. 

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