Asphalt Shingles vs.

Cedar shakes in edmonton

Your roof is a crucial part of your home’s design and integrity.   Nobody wants a leaky roof, and different roofing options are available to protect your home.  Most people choose to go with asphalt shingles as they are the most common roofing option, but with this said, another popular option is the more traditional cedar shake roofing.

I was talking with a friend about the new house he is looking to build, and we discussed size, design and colour, but when we got to roofing options, we were at odds.  The question that we had was, what is the best roofing option?  Asphalt Shingles or Cedar Shakes in Edmonton, AB.

There are many factors to look at when considering the different roofing options.  First and foremost is the harsh weather conditions experienced here in Edmonton, as different roofing options are impacted differently by the cold weather.  Other factors that you need to consider are cost, maintenance, curb appeal, etc.  Let’s dive deeper to understand better what roofing options are available and what is involved with each.


Cedar Shakes/Shingles vs Asphalt Shingles

As mentioned above, there are different variables to consider when choosing your roofing materials.  Here is a simple Pros & Cons list to get a quick idea of the differences:

Asphalt Shingles:


  • Most affordable option – initial installation
  • Relatively easy to install and repair/replace
  • Available in a selection of styles and colours
  • Require less maintenance in contrast to cedar
  • Offer greater protection, specific to fire resistance


  • Susceptible to weather damage (wind, ice, hail)
  • Vulnerable to age-related damage or deterioration
  • Have the shortest lifecycle on average of all materials
  • Non-recyclable – disposal in landfills is the principal option

Cedar Shakes/Shingles:


  • Cost-effective long-term – lifespan can be up to 10+ years longer
  • Maintains dimensional stability under all weather extremes
  • Natural insulator – more energy efficient which can lower energy costs
  • Less susceptible to storm/weather damage (hail, winds, UV rays)
  • More environmentally-friendly as they are made from a renewable resource
  • Can offer greater curb appeal which can potentially increase resale value


  • Higher purchase price
  • More expensive installation costs
  • More expensive repair or replacement costs
  • Harsh Weather – though mentioned as a Pro, Cedar can also be susceptible to Edmonton’s harsh winters and wet Summers as excessive moisture can cause issues
  • Regular maintenance needed to prevent mold/mildew growth


The most obvious thing to consider between these two roofing options is the materials used to make each. Manufacturers make wood shingles or shakes from natural wood (usually cedar or redwood).  Based on their natural origin, no two shingles are the same resulting in varying thickness and length.

On the other hand, manufacturers typically make asphalt shingles using organic materials or fibreglass. With manufacturers mass-producing these shingles by machine, they have a more uniform appearance. Although offered in different colours, they don’t typically have the same beautiful look as the natural wood shake option.


The pricing for a new roof is a significant consideration when choosing between roofing options.  With cedar shakes being a natural material that involves a longer manufacturing process, this option’s cost is higher than Asphalt shingles, especially when factoring in regular maintenance to maintain a healthy cedar roof.  The deciding factor typically comes down to the ‘look’ the homeowner is attempting to achieve.


When considering the lifespan of cedar shingles vs asphalt shingles, several variables can impact this; how the roof was installed, the home’s geographical location, how well the roof is maintained and the overall quality of the materials used.

A cedar shake/shingle roof that was well-installed, well-maintained, installed with quality materials, and chemically treated can last up to 30 years without issue. This longevity depends on keeping up with required maintenance, which is recommended every 2 to 4 years.

An asphalt shingle roof that is well-installed and well-maintained can also last 30 years or more, depending on the quality of the materials. Like Cedar roofing, asphalt will also require regular maintenance to ensure longevity.


Both have their areas of strength, but you must consider the harsh Edmonton elements when choosing your roofing option.  Cedar Shakes are best for drier conditions and are very good for standing up against strong winds but are weakened when subjected to moisture which we know will be the case with our Edmonton winters.  On the other hand, asphalt shingles are strong for dealing against moisture and harsh weather but are susceptible to damage in strong winds.

How do I maintain my roof?

With Cedar shakes being made of a natural material, they require cleaning and maintenance work every 2 to 4 years to keep them functional and to prevent moisture damage/deterioration. Cedar shakes typically need chemical treatment to improve moisture resistance.

Asphalt shingles benefit from deep cleaning every couple of years.  This cleaning helps to keep your roof looking good and to ensure longevity. With Edmonton’s hot summers and harsh winters, shingles may become damaged, resulting in sections needing repair on accession.

What’s the difference between Cedar Shakes and Cedar Shingles?

Cedar shingles are thinner than wood shakes. They are sawn smooth on both sides and cut tapered, creating a tailored appearance.  Cedar shingles have a smooth, uniform look that spans the entire roof surface.

Cedar shakes have a more rugged appearance from being split off a log; because of this, each piece looks a little different.

How to tell when it’s time to replace cedar roof?

Over time, cedar roofs will change colour, which can look great; however, even after regular maintenance, it will get to a point when the roof will need replacing.  Some signs a homeowner can look for in identifying a damaged cedar roof are missing pieces, warping, leaking, splitting and cracking.  These signs may appear on specific roof areas, but after time, you may have to consider replacing the entire roof instead of just repairing areas.

Are there other factors that I should be aware of when considering Cedar shingles?

Along with cost, it will also be important to keep in mind the other factors that can impact the final purchase price of the cedar shingles. These dynamics will include:

  • Thickness of the shingles
  • The quality of the shingles
  • Roof area (square footage)
  • Roof configuration (peaks/angles)

Additional considerations before proceeding with the installation of cedar shingles could be:

  • Will there be any special building codes or permits that I need to be aware of?
  • Can my current roofing structure support the added weight?
  • How will cedar fit in with the roofs of any nearby homes (architectural controls of the neighbourhood)?

There are some great roofing options available however we recommend that you consider variables such as weather, cost, maintenance, etc. when making a final decision!  Call the experts at Dwight’s Roofing Today!