Natural Roofing Materials [What You Need to Know]

When it comes to roofing materials, there is a wide range of options available to suit every budget, style, and situation. While asphalt and metal are commonly used, there are also premium choices like cedar shake and slate. However, before deciding on natural roofing materials, it is essential to understand the unique considerations involved compared to manufactured materials. In this article, we will explore five crucial factors you need to know before choosing a natural roofing material: availability, installation requirements, aesthetics, material warranty, and pricing.

Table of Contents

– 1. Availability of Natural Roofing Materials

– 2. Installation Requirements for Natural Roofing Materials

– 3. Aesthetics of Natural Roofing Materials

– 4. Material Warranty for Natural Roofing Materials

– 5. Pricing

– Exploring Other Roofing Options

– Conclusion

1. Availability of Natural Roofing Materials


cedar shake natural roofing materials
Up-close look at natural cedar shake


Unlike manufactured materials, natural roofing materials such as cedar shake and slate are not readily available everywhere. These materials are typically made to order, which means they might not be readily available in your area. Additionally, the location of production also plays a role. 


Cedar shake shingles are sourced from the Northwest United States or Southwest Canada, while slate tiles are usually mined in Italy. This means that these materials not only have to be made to order but also shipped from their respective locations, resulting in longer waiting times of weeks or even months before the materials arrive.


2. Installation Requirements for Natural Roofing Materials


contractor installs slate roof
Contractor after carefully installing a slate roof

The installation of natural roofing materials, particularly cedar shake and slate, requires a high level of experience and skill. While installing any type of roofing material demands expertise, natural materials pose additional challenges due to their unique properties and installation process. Cedar shake and slate tiles are installed individually, which is a time-consuming process that requires patience and precision. 


Moreover, slate tiles are fragile and can easily break if mishandled during installation or maintenance. Additionally, slate tiles are heavy, and it is crucial to ensure that your home’s structure can support the weight. Retrofitting may be necessary if your home cannot handle the load, which can be an expensive endeavor. Therefore, it is essential to hire a roofing contractor with specific experience in installing the chosen natural material.


3. Aesthetics of Natural Roofing Materials


cedar shake roof over time
Above you can see the natural transformation of a cedar shake roof over time

Natural roofing materials, such as slate and cedar shake, are known for their exceptional aesthetic appeal. However, it is important to note that these materials develop aesthetic issues as they age. While slate roofs may experience wear and tear, this section focuses primarily on cedar shake roofs. 


Over time, natural cedar shake shingles can rot, crack, and curl. The color of the shakes also transitions from a fresh cedar hue to a weathered appearance. While some homeowners embrace this aged look, others may not have anticipated this change in aesthetics. It is crucial to consider this aspect before investing in a cedar shake roof for its initial curb appeal.


4. Material Warranty for Natural Roofing Materials


warranty certificate
Warranties are set in place for peace of mind, and to protect your new roof investment

When investing in a new roof, warranties play a significant role in protecting your investment. Typically, a new roof comes with two types of warranties: one for the contractor’s workmanship and one for the roofing materials themselves. However, there is a notable difference between natural roofing materials and other types of materials concerning the material warranty. 


As cedar shake shingles and slate tiles are naturally occurring materials, there is no manufacturer material warranty available. Therefore, any material-related issues would need to be addressed through the roofing contractor’s workmanship warranty. If a material warranty is a crucial consideration, it may be worth exploring synthetic alternatives that mimic the look of natural materials while offering a material warranty.


5. Pricing


slate natural roofing materialsStunning natural slate roofing tiles

Natural roofing materials are considered premium roof systems, and as such, they come with a higher price tag. The cost of cedar shake or slate roofs can vary based on numerous factors. However, it is important to note that these materials are not readily available, and the labor involved in their installation is extensive. This combination of limited availability and high labor costs contributes to the overall higher price of natural roofing materials. 


For example, a natural slate roof can start at around $15 per square foot and can go up to $30 or more per square foot. Retrofitting a home to accommodate the weight of the slate roof can further increase the cost. Similarly, a natural cedar shake roof can cost between $25 to $30 per square foot, with additional expenses for complex roof designs or higher quality cedar shakes.


Exploring Other Roofing Options


DaVinci Composite RoofingElite Exteriors recently completed this roof replacement using DaVinci Roofscapes composite roofing materials

While natural roofing materials offer unique appeal and characteristics, their availability, installation requirements, aesthetics, lack of material warranty, and higher pricing may make them less feasible for many homeowners. Fortunately, there are alternative options available that can provide similar aesthetics and performance while offering additional benefits. 


Synthetic shingles, for instance, are designed to mimic the look of natural materials like cedar shake or slate while providing the peace of mind that comes with a material warranty. Brands such as Davinci Roofscapes offer synthetic shingles with a limited lifetime material warranty, providing customers with the best of both worlds.




lovely home with cedar shake roofPictured above is a gorgeous home with a newly installed cedar shake roof

Choosing the right roofing material is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. Natural roofing materials like cedar shake and slate offer unique aesthetics and charm; however, they also come with considerations such as availability, installation requirements, aesthetic changes over time, lack of material warranty, and higher pricing. 


It is essential to weigh these factors against your specific needs, budget, and preferences. If natural materials are not feasible, exploring synthetic alternatives that replicate the desired look while offering additional benefits may be a suitable alternative.



Elite Exteriors is the Southeast’s premier residential and commercial resource for unparalleled service, superior craftsmanship, and incomparable quality – all backed by an unprecedented lifetime labor and materials warranty! If you’re in the market for roof repairs, a roof replacement, or solar panel installation, give Elite Exteriors a call today at 470-350-3024 for a FREE initial consultation and inspection, or fill out our online form for more information.



Elite Exteriors is the Southeast’s premier residential and commercial roofing resource for unparalleled service, superior craftsmanship and incomparable quality. And it’s all backed by an unprecedented lifetime labor and materials warranty!

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