Cedar shakes are used in our historic area of Palm Springs. Are cedar shingles considered a sustainable roofing system?

Asked by Reuel Young
Palm Springs, CA

For a new home to be compatible with other homes in the neighborhood, shake shingles are the most realistic. Some homes have used composite (plastic) tiles and failed; others have used concrete "shake," which is clumsy. I am also investigating metal tiles that purport to have the shingle look. The western red cedar people tout cedar as the most desirable because it is renewable. Comments?


David Lavender

Answered by David Lavender

Marine City, MI

David Lavender Architect PC

May 5, 2010

Cedar shakes are both renewable and real. The dishonesty of claims about materials runs rampant through the residential building industry. There's no comparison between a real cedar shingle and its fake counterparts.

There are two basic kinds of cedar shingles: machined and split. Machined shingles give a more refined look, split a more rustic look. Your taste governs, but your choice should match the rest of the architecture.

Installation is critical to the long-term maintenance of your investment. Make sure there's air space behind the shingles. As with all materials these days, there's an association that is a good source for detailed information. I would direct you to the webpage of the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau for more information.

No one ever regretted using real materials installed by a skilled and experienced tradesperson.

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