White Cedar Shingles vs. Red Cedar Shingles

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White cedar shingles have long been a popular choice for roofing. They have a distinctly attractive natural silvery-gray color when not stained or painted. The shingles are produced from softwood, coniferous evergreen trees. Red cedar shingles are another option for roofing purposes.

Many homeowners like the red cedar for roofing because of the rich color and charm it lends to the home. The shingles are produced from the Western red cedar, one of the oldest tree species in temperate forests. The pros and cons of the two cedar shingles are given below.

White Cedar Shingles Pros

White cedar contains natural preservatives which give the shingles a high resistance to decay and insects. These two factors are common causes of deterioration of wooden installations in buildings. You enjoy more flexibility in color choice with white cedar roofing compared to red cedar. When left unfinished, the shingles develop a beautiful silvery-gray color. However, if you prefer, you can stain or paint them according to your color preference.

The shingles have an excellent absorption capacity and catch paint well due to their neutral color. When stained or painted, it helps to protect them from damage caused by exposure to the elements. White cedar shingles have excellent insulation properties, which helps to reduce your heating costs. They also make a good choice if you have environmental concerns as they are produced from a fully renewable forest resource.


wood shingle roof

Although white cedar shingles have natural weather and rot resistant properties, they have lower durability than red cedar shingles. This is because they have a brittle, fibrous quality which makes them more likely to split or crack, especially during installation. This necessitates more maintenance work than red cedar roofs. You have to clean and treat your roof periodically to guard against rapid deterioration.

Red Cedar Shingles Pros

These shingles have a much higher durability than the white variety. Once installed, they can last several lifetimes. They have high weather resistance properties and a high resistance to moisture. This makes them ideal for roofing in areas of high humidity. Red cedar contains tannic acid, a natural preservative which helps to extend the longevity of the shingles. The high water repellency ensures your shingles do not warp.

Red cedar shingles give your roof excellent dimensional stability. This is because the wood has a low density and low shrinkage factor. They also have a unique cellular composition which captures tiny pockets of air and improves the insulation capacity of the shingles. You can enjoy a cooler house during the summer and more warmth indoors in the winter. This makes red cedar shingles a good choice if you want to enhance energy efficiency in your home.


house with shingle siding

The tannic acid in red cedar causes the shingles to eventually darken and become blotchy. Unlike the white shingles, you cannot paint red cedar shingles. They have a poor absorption capacity and do not readily catch stain or paint. If painted, you get streaks and blotches on your cedar roof. The shingles also cost more than the white shingles which may hamper installation. Unfortunately, the regeneration rate of the Western red cedar is much slower than that of the white cedar. Use of red cedar shingles may contribute towards the depletion of a historical tree species.