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The Ultimate Guide to Cedar Shake Siding: Pros, Cons, and Where to Find It

cedar shake siding

Cedar shake siding has a rich, rustic “woodsy” appearance and because it’s so durable, it’s a popular choice for folks who want to turn their house into a cozy home.

I’m covering everything you need to know about cedar shake siding, from its pros and cons to installation, maintenance, and cost considerations so you can make the right choice for your home. 

What is Cedar Shake Siding?

cedar shake siding on home

Cedar shake siding refers to both the wood and the style of siding panels that you’d put on an exterior wall. 

These shingles can be done in a minimalist style, with even-butts and a contemporary joint (for a modern look), or a staggered butt-line and classic key wave joints for a classic, rustic look. This is part of the magic that turns a house in the forest into a cabin your family remembers forever. 

Cedar is a very functional wood because it’s naturally antimicrobial, which means that it doesn’t rot easily. And cedar also is quite resistant to “cupping” and warping. So while it tends to be pricier initially, you know what you’re getting and it’s going to last a long time. 

Some folks choose to side their entire home with cedar shake, but you can also use it as just an accent to highlight certain architectural features. 

It’s a highly textured look that adds a charming “woodsy” character that you just can’t get with other materials. 

The natural beauty of cedar, combined with the variety of ways you can install it (vertical, horizontal, or even diagonal), ensures your home is going to stand out.

3 Benefits of Cedar Shake Siding

cabin with cedar shake

1. Rot-Resistant

Made from premium-grade Western Red Cedar, our cedar shake sidings naturally resist rot, insects, and decay, thanks to their high oil content. 

When properly installed and maintained, they can last 50 years or more, giving you value long after you’ve put the finishing touches on.

2. One-of-a-kind Style

I mentioned the inherent beauty and style of cedar shake paneling already, but the benefits go far beyond the natural color and distinct grain pattern. 

Cedar shake is versatile (both in how it’s joined and how it layers) and offers multiple installation methods to fit whatever look you’re going for.

Whether you're going for a clean, modern look with straight lines and minimal texture or something more organic and charming, cedar shake shingles can be attached in various ways to get you exactly what you want.

Unlike other woods, cedar doesn’t need to be stained for exterior use. The wood shingles will naturally age while still resisting damage, creating a stunning aged cottage look that many homes simply can't achieve with other siding materials like vinyl or aluminum.

That said, staining cedar does help extend the life and it’s recommended. But you don’t have to if you love that natural look (and I don’t blame you). 

3. Durability and Maintenance

cedar shake panels

Cedar is one of the most durable wood species available for home construction. 

It's incredibly strong and resistant to cupping, warping, and shrinking. Western red cedar (which is what we offer), is known for its fire resistance too, so if you live in a fire-prone area, having the right siding can actually save your home.

Cedar is also famous for its naturally occurring preservatives, which act like a built-in defense system against termites, moisture, and decay. 

This inherent protection means that any structure with cedar siding will be resilient for years after its initial construction.

Like any material, cedar shake paneling requires regular maintenance to make sure it lasts for generations and you’re passing on something that represents your legacy. That said, cedar shake needs minimal effort to maintain its quality and integrity, so it’s really an easy wood to use.

Cedar's natural antibacterial and antifungal properties mean the wood can be left untreated without worrying about warping or rot. If you do choose to stain and treat your cedar shingles, cedar is incredibly porous and holds seals and stains really well. While re-staining may be necessary, how often you choose to do that is based more on aesthetic preference than need.

When it comes to repairs, cedar shingles are easier to replace than other materials like vinyl siding. Because cedar shake paneling consists of individual shingles, you can replace them separately, unlike other siding materials that may require larger sections to be replaced, even for minimal damage, so that’s a big positive. 

2 Downsides of Cedar Shake Siding

1. Moss

If the wall or accent you’re planning is in the shade in a moist area, you should be aware that moss on cedar is common.

Moss loves cedar like squirrels love bird-feeders. It’s tough to keep ‘em away. 

Of course, it’s not like a moss problem crops up overnight. Moss itself isn’t detrimental to the wood. But if you don’t like the green textured look on your siding, you should plan on pressure washing the panels about once a year or two. 

Moss is easy to combat, but because of the properties of cedar, it’s a great place to hang out for moss. 

2. Expense

Cedar shake panels and shingles cost more than most other natural wood siding options.

There’s a few ways of looking at this issue. Yes, the up-front cost will be more, but you’re basically buying yourself time in the future that you save on maintenance. 

Because cedar is so resistant to rot and decay, you likely won’t need to replace the siding ever again in your lifetime. 

Plus, because cedar shake shingles are relatively small compared to vinyl or other wood side panels, if there’s damage to the wall, it’s quite easy to replace individual shingles. 

So for example, if a branch falls and hits your wall and creates damage, with a cedar shake side, you may only have to replace 3-4 individual panels, which is very inexpensive. 

If you have vinyl, you’ll have to replace the whole thing.

So in that way, you’re basically paying for fewer headaches in the future. 

How Long Does Cedar Shake Siding Last?

cedar shake as accent

When well cared for, cedar shake siding can easily last around 50 years, and sometimes even longer. This impressive lifespan makes it a great option for homeowners looking for a long-term investment in their home’s exterior.

Of course, there are several factors that should be considered when you’re thinking about how long your cedar panels might last:

  1. Climate: Cedar shake siding performs best in temperate climates. Extreme weather conditions, such as tons of moisture or intense heat and dryness, can affect its longevity. That said, regular maintenance can offset some of this.
  2. Maintenance: Regular maintenance is crucial to ensuring the long life of cedar shake siding. This includes cleaning, staining, and sealing the wood to protect it from the elements. 
  3. Exposure to Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause cedar shakes to dry out and become brittle, sort of like what happens to all your backyard patio furniture. Using a UV-resistant finish can help protect the wood and extend its life.

Now if you compare this to vinyl: you’ll get 20-25 years of life from a vinyl siding. And you’re missing out on the natural beauty and character of real wood. So while it’s more affordable, you’ll never get the same look, feel, and experience of the real thing.

Can Cedar Shake Siding Be Replaced?

This is one the best reasons to choose cedar shake siding. Like I mentioned earlier, if there’s exterior damage to your home, you only need to replace the shingles that were affected. 

So if a branch falls and hits your home, you don’t need to rip out the entire side like you would with vinyl. And other wood siding options often come in long strips, so replacing 3 or 4 panels is a lot more square footage. 

But with cedar, you may only need a few square feet to replace any damaged shingles, making the repair drastically cheaper and easier. 

How to Clean and Care for Cedar Shake Siding

Spring is an ideal time for a thorough cleaning, and it’s a good idea to do this about once a year.

Start by rinsing the siding with a garden hose to remove loose dirt. Mix an oxygen bleach cleaner with water in a pump sprayer and apply it generously.

This type of cleaner is gentle on plants and the siding. Use a soft-bristle brush to scrub the siding, focusing on mildew or heavy dirt buildup. After scrubbing, rinse thoroughly to remove all residue.

Give it a few days, then apply a high-quality, UV-stable, mildew-resistant stain. Avoid custom blends and opt for manufactured colors like Natural, Cedar, Teak, Redwood, Mahogany, or Silver Gray. 

If spraying the stain, back brush in small sections for even coverage.

Every once in a while, give your cedar siding a check for any damage, mildew, or discoloration so you can catch any issues early, which keeps maintenance as a small task and not a massive chore. 

Keep plants and bushes trimmed away from the siding to reduce moisture against the wall, and ensure proper drainage around the foundation.

You can re-stain the siding every 3-5 years to maintain its protective layer and aesthetic appeal. Replace any damaged or warped shingles ASAP; cedar shingles can be replaced individually, making repairs easier and more cost-effective.

Vinyl Cedar Shake Siding: An Alternative?

Some folks choose vinyl panels that are designed to mimic real cedar shake siding. This is a good choice if you want to feel like you live inside a Chuck-E-Cheese. 

Vinyl does have some benefits: it’s often cheaper, and pests don’t try to eat at it. But with any sort of exposure to the elements, vinyl degrades really quickly. 

So while it might seem “less expensive” at the start, you’ll be replacing your vinyl siding every 20 years, compared to the 50+ years to get with a natural wood like cedar. 

And that’s just the cost aspect. I stayed in a beach-house a few weeks ago that used vinyl cedar shake and it just didn’t deliver the same feeling or beauty as real wood. 

In my opinion, if you must go vinyl, don’t try and have the vinyl imitate a wood-effect. 

Ready for Your New Cedar Shake Wall?

If you’re ready to make your cedar shake cottage come to life, we are here to help. Our experts can help with the layout, design, and installation of your cedar shake siding.

Still have questions? Maybe you still aren’t sure if cedar shake paneling is right for you? Call us, we are happy to walk you through your options so you can take the next step to making your log home a reality.

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