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Should we replace my old cedar roof with composite shakes?

66Jjfsi23W | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Our cedar roof is going and we need to replace ASAP. I’m tired of the ongoing maintenance of cedar, but my husband and I love the look.

We’re looking into composite shakes, which claim maintenance free and lifetime warranty. Anyone have any suggestions or first-hand experience with this stuff?


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    You need to provide a brand name.

    There were a rash of failures a decade ago -- failures of fiber-cement roofing shingles designed to look (from a distance) like cedar shingles or shakes. When they got wet, they turned to oatmeal. A lot of manufacturers went out of business.

    So -- what are these composite shingles made out of?

  2. 66Jjfsi23W | | #2

    We've found a few brands on line that we're interested in and to be honest, not sure what is in them. I do know they are recycled Enviroshake, for example, is made of recycled post-industrial materials. We aren't interested in a variety of colors, just the natural.

    + Lamarite
    + Enviroshake
    + Euroshield (made of rubber?)


  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    Let's see -- the Tamko Web site says that Lamarite shingles are "Made from materials that are robust, fire resistant, and enduring." THAT's not very reassuring -- they won't even tell us what the shingles are made of.

    The Enviroshake Web site does a slightly better job. They explain that "The Enviroshake composite blend is a mixture of post industrial plastic(s), recycled rubber elastomers and cellulosic fibre materials." Sounds like old milk bottles, old tires, and old newspapers.

    Euroshield Euroshakes are "products made from over 75% recycled materials, the primary ingredient being rubber from recycled tires." So 25% of its ingredients aren't mentioned all -- plus a variety of recycled materials, only one of which is identified.

  4. Riversong | | #4


    If your roof framing can handle the load, have you considered slate, tile, or concrete tile roofing?

    These are the most durable roofing products on the market and there are some concrete tiles that are made to look like shakes.

    But they are all very heavy and you'll have to have your roof evaluated for load capacity.

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    Alex Hines, a Tamko representative, just told me that Lamarite composite shingles are made from "a mineral filler -- ground-up limestone -- mixed with proprietary plastic resins and color."

    When I asked him to tell me the percentage made up of ground-up limestone, and the percentage made up of plastic resin, he said he couldn't tell me.

  6. 66Jjfsi23W | | #6

    Our roof can't handle concrete, plus the aesthetics of our home call for more of the cedar look. Heck, it's the reason we fell in love with the house!

    What should be the most important thing we look for in a composite? If the audience here were to install one, what would you look for?

    Martin, are the materials all that important if the product comes with a lifetime, maintenance free warranty?

  7. davidmeiland | | #7

    I replaced a cedar shake roof on my own house with asphalt shingles, and while it has worked out fine be aware that you may be making big changes to how your roof and/or attic breathe. A wood roof generally vents very nicely, especially when installed over skip sheathing. Our attic is hotter now with the shingles I installed, no doubt partly due to a darker color but also due to the fact that air can no longer percolate out thru the entire roof surface. There is adequate ventilation at the gables, and there are no moisture problems, but I would be aware of how any changes to the roofing might affect your building.

  8. Riversong | | #8


    If you love the cedar look (is that really hand split shakes or sawn shingles?) then you might consider using real cedar shingles/shakes treated with fire retardant and fungicide so that they will last virtually forever.

    In most cases, a "lifetime" warranty is worth little more than the paper it's written on. They cover materials and not labor.

  9. J99aAMQzYo | | #9

    Jenna - Take a look at the stone-coated steel shake panels from Decra I just saw these for the first time a few weeks ago at the national Remodeling Show and was very surprised with how good they looked. They are completely fire proof and maintenance free. They come with a 50 yr warranty and the first 20 of that is material AND labor with NO prorate. They have several colors (including Natural) to chose from.

    Unfortunately, the way their site is designed, you have to click on the literature link and then open the PDF brochure to actually see some good photos of the product, but it certainly seems like a strong option.

    The Tech rep also said that even though it is approved for use in all zones, including Miami-Dade (i.e. super wind resistant) it is still super light-weight. In most instances it can be done as a "roof-over" without any additional structural support needed. They apparently did several hundred HUD homes in one community this way and met every gov't spec thrown at them for structural and storm.

    It does take a skilled roofer to put the product on because they have some fairly specific connection and sealing details. However, they also said that each of their reps around the country will come spend an entire day on site providing training and quality control for any new roofing company that wants to do its first installation. They will also come back at completion to audit the final product as well if requested. (*Note: I was told this only applies to first time installs to get the comfort level with the product established in the market place.)

  10. ASjZpre9ew | | #10

    Hmm I'm a little late to this thread, but if anyone is still reading this post, I'd try Qarrix Building Products (depending on where you are in the country, I guess). They're a local roofing company, but they also make their own composite roof tiles and other products. We used it for our roof 3 years ago, and so far, no problems! Here's the link:

  11. CapitolSlate | | #11

    I had the same question. My last cedar shake roof lasted only 22 years in MD's humid cliamate. I could not get comfy with any of the synthetic or composites and I found the tiles and slates were too heavy for my roof sytem so I created a way to install real vermont slate in a light weight, low cost way that should be maintenance free for 75 years, Check this link for details:

    Best part is it cost about the same as cedar but will last nearly a century so no more wood shakes going to the dump every 20 some years.

  12. CapitolSlate | | #12

    Woops wrong link address for my light weight slate solution. Go to:

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