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Cedar Roof vs. Asphalt Roof

Kuhl’s Contracting specializes in the installation of cedar roofs and cedar roof restoration, so we know a lot of folks who own cedar roofs. When it comes time to replace the roof, it seems like we always get asked the following question: “Should I switch to an asphalt roof?? They are definitely less expensive. What are the benefits of a cedar roof?”

We are more than happy to provide them with asphalt roof pricing, but along with the prices for an asphalt roof, we also go over the following list of cedar roof benefits. Here are some things to consider prior to replacing a cedar roof with asphalt. Regardless of your decision, our hope is that this list will help to avoid the “Boy, I wish I would have known that” moment later on.

Cedar Roof Benefits: Cedar Roof vs. Asphalt Roof

1.) Cedar has higher impact (hail) rating than most asphalt shingles

According to the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau, “Certi-labelTM products have been tested to meet Class 3 and 4 impact resistance ratings.” Class 4 is as high as it gets. Asphalt roofs typically see more hail damage than cedar roofs.

2.) Cedar have a high wind resistance (wind) rating

According to the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau, the wind rating for cedar shakes and cedar shingles is as follows:

  • Certigrade® shingles withstood wind speeds of 173 MPH
  • Certi-Split® shakes withstood wind speeds of 245 MPH

Most Asphalt shingles max out around 130 MPH. Just for your reference, roofing materials are separated into classes depending on their wind resistance. Cedar is tops.

  • Class A (for winds up to 60 mph)
  • Class D (90 mph)
  • Class F (110 mph)
  • Class G (120 mph)
  • and Class H (150 mph)

3.) Cedar has a higher insulation value (R-value) than asphalt shingles.

Tests show that a cedar roof has a much higher R-value than that of an asphalt roof. In fact, tests completed by the University of Texas show that the average attic space below a cedar roof is 26-28 degrees cooler than that of an attic space below an asphalt roof. Of course, this test was conducted during the summer months. (See notes from University of Texas (Arlington) study)

4.) A Cedar roof is thicker than an asphalt roof. This often causes problems and complications when switching from a cedar roof to an asphalt roof.

Meaning if replacing a cedar roof with asphalt, some of the existing flashings, trim, and roof accessories will not fit tightly any longer. If not corrected properly, this may cause problems with water infiltration and provide unwanted habitat for animals.

5.) A home with a cedar roof can fetch a higher resale value

A newer cedar roof can increase your home’s resale value. Something to ask your realtor if you are planning to sell in the near future.

6.) A cedar roof provides for more architectural character.

Cedar roofs have a very distinct look and most homeowners find them incredibly appealing and attractive.

7.) Cedar is a “green” material, it is a NON-petroleum based product and is a renewable resource.

Cedar is a natural material. It is harvested in a sustainable manner and is renewable. Cedar is also recyclable. Because cedar is natural, no two roofs are the same.

8.) Neighborhood continuity

Most cedar roofs are not alone. They are congregated in an area. You don’t want to the have the only house in your area with an asphalt roof. When an asphalt roof is surrounded by homes with cedar roofs, the asphalt often appears compromised or cheap.

9.) Cedar roofs have (4) layers of protection between the elements and the roof deck, which means, they are better at preventing ice dams.

With cedar shingles, there are (3) layers of material and one layer of underlayment. With cedar shakes, there are (2) layers of material, (1) layer of interlaced felt and (1) layer of underlayment. With an asphalt roof, there are only ever (2) layers of materials and one underlayment layer.

10.) Cedar roofs are easier to repair and match than asphalt roofs.

You never know if you are going to get an exact match when trying to color match asphalt shingles. Batch to batch, the asphalt shingles color pallets can change and often times, repairs are quite evident, never fully blending in to the surrounding roofing material. Cedar on the other hand, is natural, and fades in color over the course of a couple years. All cedar fades to a similar color with exposure to the elements. Therefore, it is much easier to repair small areas with cedar roofs, because you know you can get a color match.

11.) Cedar roofs are not always more expensive than asphalt

There are some types of asphalt shingles that can be just as expensive as cedar if not more expensive.

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