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Podcast: Are the Alternatives to Cedar Shake Worth the Risk?

Posted August 27, 2018 by Jerry Becker
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In this episode, we talk to Jerry about alternatives to cedar shakes/shingles. Cedar is the most popular roofing material in the Pacific Northwest, but with current prices where they are, it can also be the most expensive. Jerry talks about alternatives to a cedar shake roof, and the benefits might surprise you.


Podcast Transcription: RoofLifeB036-227

Shayla: You are listening to the Roof Life of Oregon podcast and I’m talking with Jerry today. Jerry, if someone’s getting a new roof on their home, and they’re looking for something that’s not asphalt, you mentioned shake alternative. What is that and what are benefits and options there?

Jerry: Yeah, you bet. One of the things I’m hearing, I’m going into these neighborhoods and they all have shake roofs. We’re predominantly heavy shake roof area in Portland. All these new developments, and when I say new developments, I mean anywhere from the 20-25 year old homes, they all had shake roofs put on their house, and all of those roofs are now done. They need to be replaced.

And I’m heading to these homes, I’m starting to hear people ask me about alternative roofs that are not wood, but that are not composition either, because they don’t want their roof to look like their neighbors roof, but right now wood is really expensive, really expensive. There’s a lot of factors that go into play with it to get the wood down here, so it’s just not as available as it used to be in the past, but people here in Oregon, they still really want to see that wood look on their house, they want that texture, that feel. So there are a couple different alternatives that you can use. It’s called synthetic shake. There’s a couple versions out there.

There are some versions we will not recommend, because we have seen them fail in the past. We have a unique perspective on the market. We have been maintaining all these roofs in Portland, around 11,000 of them, for the last 35 years, so we have seen what fails and what does not fail. And we have found a couple of new synthetic roofs out there that have been around for about 20-25 years, that give you that shake look and that shake feel.

Here are the benefits of it: the biggest benefit is you don’t have to maintain it. There is zero moss treatment for either one of these material. You still have to blow the roof off from debris, you have to keep the dust off and stuff like that, but that’s normal. You’ll never escape that, no matter what roof you buy. But it is going to last, they call it a true fifty-year roof, which means it will go the full length of its time at fifty years. So there are some big benefits to it. Does it cost more than an asphalt roof? Yes. It is going to cost more, but you are going to have lower maintenance, going to be a lower cost-per-day roof. It does cost a little bit less than an actual shake roof. Cost is all relative, but, yeah, it is going to cost a little bit less than a shake roof. The nice thing about a shake roof, is it’s going to give your house that unique look that you’re looking for. It’s not going to look like your neighbors. It’s going to be your home.

And the cool thing about this fake shake or synthetic shake, if you wan to call it, is you can pick your colors. So you can color coordinate your shake roof with the paint on your house.

So the ventilation on the synthetic shakes, you still have to be very careful and do it exactly the way the manufacturer tells us. It’s the same way that you’re supposed to vent an asphalt roof. There’s no difference between the two. There is one difference, I guess I should say. There is one difference between the ventilation of an asphalt versus a synthetic. The synthetic shake will not get as hot as an asphalt roof. So one of the things that you want to think about when you’re putting your roof on your home, especially if you live in a two-story home, is think about to the hottest day that you’ve had in your house, and you go upstairs and that you have this heat that you’re feeling. And if you have air conditioning in your house, more than likely it’s super cold downstairs and boiling hot upstairs, and have a shake roof currently. When you take that shake off and you put down and asphalt, you are going to raise the temperature of the upstairs, even with the best ventilation in the world. With synthetic shake, you are going to raise just a little bit, but not near the amount as you would with an asphalt. So you do have to vent them 100% like any other roof. You cannot skimp on that.

Synthetic shake is a great way to go. It gives you a unique look for your house. It’s going to give you longevity, so if you plan on staying in your house for a long time, this is a roof that’s going to serve you and your family at the lowest cost per day of any roof out there.

Shayla: If you have any questions about synthetic shake, reach out to the team at Roof Life of Oregon. Thanks, Jerry.

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