Why Are Roofs Made of Cedar?

Slate roofs and asphalt shingles are very common in Chicagoland. However, there are homeowners who opt for other solutions. In addition to composites and terracotta tiles, cedar wood is also available. Why such a choice? Is it worth choosing a cedar roof? In this article we will look at why Americans love the wood of this coniferous tree so much.

On What Kind of Houses Are Cedar Roofs Installed?

On What Kind of Houses Are Cedar Roofs Installed?

From our observations, cedar roofs are chosen by quite specific customers. First of all, it is not the cheapest solution, so we will meet the wood mainly on slightly more expensive properties located in the suburbs of larger cities.

Due to its light weight, installation of cedar shakes is not a major problem. This material will work well on buildings with weaker structures and on larger roofs that would not withstand the pressure of stone. In practice, cedar shakes are suitable for both buildings with siding walls and those with wooden cladding. One thing is certain, however – cedar is chosen primarily by lovers of classic construction.


On What Kind of Houses Are Cedar Roofs Installed?

To understand the popularity of cedar in Chicagoland, we need a dose of botanical knowledge. The cedar tree (Cedrus Trew) is a long-lived plant that grows in mountain forests. Due to its large size (height reaches up to 50 meters), the harvested planks can be very long, and the plant’s long growth period makes its wood extremely durable.

For several thousand years now, this species of wood has been used extensively in construction. Due to the large amount of resin this plant produces, cedar is extremely resistant to both water and insect attacks, as its essential oils repel pests.

In addition to its good mechanical properties, the hero of our article today has another advantage – it’s just a very well looking wood. The beautiful deep brown looks good both freshly after installation and after many years. Cedar roofs age with dignity and in a very predictable way.

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Low Weight

As we have already mentioned, cedar is a very light wood. Contrary to appearances, this is a very important feature, because the weight of the roofing has a huge impact on the durability of the entire house. The greater it is, the more pressure is created on the walls and foundations, which in the long run, can cause very important damage. If the building structure is made of wood, it is worth paying attention to this aspect.


Cedar wood is very aesthetically pleasing. It fits perfectly with the architecture typical of Chicago suburbs, and the natural character of this material makes it look great even after many years. Unlike plastic, wood fades in a pleasing way to the eye, and its restoration requires only a thorough cleaning and painting with a suitable impregnator. Given the presence of resin in this wood, such a treatment does not need to be done every year.

Also consider that each roof made of wood will be a tad different from the others. Since no two trees in the world are the same, each stave will be unique, which will add a lot of charm and style to your roof.


Wood has been used for centuries. In the United States, cedar roofs became widespread a very long time ago and have permanently established themselves in our landscape. In the north of our country, people have become so accustomed to this material that, despite the development of synthetic technology, we continue to look for classic solutions.

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Insulating properties

cedar roof insultation

Both shakes and shingles or tiles do not directly affect the insulation of the building. They do not adhere to the plywood (they must be gently raised to allow water to run off), but that doesn’t mean your choice of roofing material won’t affect the heating bills you’ll pay.

Wood is a relatively good insulator – it contains a lot of spaces in which air is enclosed. This means that a roof made of cedar will inhibit heat better than either metal or asphalt shingles. With today’s technologies, this is not so important, but 50 or 70 years ago, our parents and grandparents paid attention to this aspect.

Do cedar roofs have any disadvantages?

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, especially in the construction industry. When choosing a cedar roof, you have to expect a few inconveniences:

Necessity of cleaning

cedar roof cleaning

Unlike plastic, cedar rots. In a sense, this is a natural process, but it can greatly accelerate if there is water-accumulating debris on the roof. One of the biggest threats is moss, which not only traps moisture, but also damages the top layer of shakes, drastically accelerating the degeneration of the wood.

Also, leaves and needles are very dangerous. This type of debris rots (pretty fast!) and after time, also damages shakes, especially at the gutters. For this reason, it’s a good idea to regularly order gutter cleaning services. Our specialists are also happy also to take care of roof, if you ask them to.


Cedar roofs are not a budget solution. Due to slow growth, there are very few trees suitable for harvesting quality wood, and processing the raw material itself is challenging. For this reason, if you are looking for a low-cost roof, you would be better off opting for asphalt shingles, such as those from GAF.

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What about other wood species? Is cedar roof better than oak?

is cedar roof better?

Well, yes, cedar has a lot of advantages. But what about other wood species? Of course, they are also used. Within the United States, you can find roofs made of, among other things:

  • Cypress wood, which resembles some species of cedar, but is sometimes more expensive than it;
  • Oak wood, which almost matches cedar in terms of durability, but is heavier and less popular in our country;
  • Mahogany wood, which is extremely durable and very aesthetically pleasing, but also expensive and difficult to access;
  • Pine wood, which is much cheaper, but has much poorer weather resistance.

Also take into account that some species are simply not very popular, although they are distinguished by very good properties. If you are very keen on a particular type of wood, contact us – we will probably be able to make you the kind of roof you want.


We love to share our knowledge about roofs, gutters and related fields. We hope you found this article useful and helped you make a decision about choosing the right roofing material. If this is the case and you need help with roof replacement or are looking for other exterior services, we welcome you to contact us. Give us a call today!

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