Cedar Shake Siding: Pros, Cons, and a Better Alternative

  • Product Knowledge

Cedar shake siding is a gorgeous exterior that continues to be highly sought-after. Cedar shake siding can be picture-perfect, but with the heavy maintenance required for upkeep, the practicality of this beautiful style is not anywhere near ideal. Rather than dismiss this siding style, it’s best to switch to a smarter material that recreates all the charm of traditional cedar shake siding.

Cedar shake siding that is made from fiber cement is just as capable of featuring authentic-looking wood grain in rich, warm colors. There’s no tradeoff! Fiber cement cedar-style shake has all the pros of traditional cedar shake siding, and none of the cons.

Let’s take a look at this breakdown of all the pros and cons of traditional cedar shake siding. Once you realize the endless benefits of switching to fiber cement, the choice becomes easy! By choosing Allura fiber cement shake, homeowners can get the gorgeous aesthetic of traditional cedar shake siding without all the work.

7 Key Issues with Cedar Shake Siding and a Better Alternative

Pros and Cons of Cedar Shake Siding

There’s no reason to ignore the red flags involved with real wood siding. When you assess the positive attributes and performance of cedar shake siding objectively, it becomes clear why so many homeowners are switching to the stronger alternative that offers the same charm.

4 Pros of Cedar Shake Siding

1. Creates Character

Cedar shake siding is among one of the most idyllic exterior designs for cottages, cabins, and chalets. This siding style brings instant character to any home, regardless of the architectural style.

2. More Versatile than Previous Generations

Unlike previous generations that saw certain architectural styles limited to specific areas, builders are seeing much more diversity among city planning designs. This means that there are many more opportunities for cedar shake siding to fit in with today’s market!

Cedar shake siding is no longer limited to rural areas or small, cabin-style structures. It can be seen in cities, suburbs, and small towns alike, making it a versatile choice with more opportunities.

3. Enhances Visual Texture

Another pro of cedar shake siding is that it brings great visual texture to a home’s exterior. This is particularly desirable in some structures with simple building plans. Adding visual texture can enliven the curb appeal, which is exactly what cedar shake siding does.

4. Color Experimentation is Becoming More Popular

There are now more colors possible with cedar shake siding, as well. Originally, most homes had cedar shingles that were a natural red cedar color. Today, more homeowners are experimenting with modern paint colors and stains that expand the possibilities of cedar shake siding.

Cedar Shake Siding

7 Key Issues With Cedar Shake Siding

To maintain the original appearance of cedar shake siding, homeowners will need to commit to a lot of targeted maintenance. The hard work can pay off in some cases, but there are many challenges that come with wood shake siding upkeep. The more familiar that homeowners are with the common problems of real wood siding, the more likely they’ll be ready to put in the work that needs to be done in order to keep their cedar shake siding looking its best.

Here are seven of the most common issues that occur with wood shake siding. If you’re not up to the challenge of dealing with these frequent problems, it may be time to consider a smart alternative to wood shake siding.

1. Rotting

Natural wood and excess moisture can be a recipe for disaster. Whether it’s a pileup of snow that lingers all winter long, heavy spring storms, or simply a geographical location that experiences higher humidity (like coastal towns or humid southern states), prolonged moisture can wreck wood shake siding by causing it to rot. Rotten shake siding is very weak, causing it to compromise the exterior and sometimes create dangerous gaps in certain areas, like near the home’s edges, soffit, or foundation.

Warping Issue With Cedar Shake Siding

2. Warping

Warped paneling can be another sign of water damage that commonly occurs when cedar shake siding retains moisture after a storm or humid season. Warped shake siding tends to cause the corners of individual panels to curl and flare upwards, turning a smooth, regulated layout of shake siding into a sloppy mess of crooked shake.

3. Color Fading

Wood shake siding is particularly vulnerable to sun exposure, too, which can cause the color to fade significantly. Uniform fading is unlikely, and when the exterior of the home has certain spots that experience more sun exposure than others, color fading can become extremely noticeable, creating splotchy areas that are quite unsightly.

High Flammability Issue of Cedar Shake Siding

4. High Flammability

Many of the common threats to shake siding result in aesthetic problems, but the spread of fire also poses a significant threat to wood siding that can compromise the overall safety of the home. Fire can spread extremely quickly with shake siding that is made from real wood. Since real wood shake siding is highly flammable, it is a serious concern to consider — especially in remote areas where local fire departments are miles away, and areas out west where uncontrolled wildfires are on the rise.

5. Insect Damage

The natural quality of authentic wood shake siding also tends to attract a variety of insects. Termites, carpenter ants, and other insects can essentially turn wood shake siding into dust when building a nest. Not only does this add up to a lot of damage on the shake siding, but infestations can also be very tricky to eliminate, and they often require the assistance of a professional exterminator — which can come with a high price tag, depending on the extent of the insect problem.

6. Limited Selection of Styles

Another common problem that homeowners run into when installing cedar shake siding is a limitation in available styles. Unlike other materials that can be produced in bulk with identical qualities, the cut, color, and grain patterns of natural wood shake siding really depend on what the wood mill turns out each year. This limits the entire design process for homeowners, who may have to modify exterior design plans based on what shake siding is currently available.

Wood shake siding

7. Staining

Cedar shake siding can create a beautiful appearance, however, it requires a lot of hard work to keep the exterior looking good. In addition to painting or staining the shake siding every five or six years, homeowners will need to apply an additional clear-coat every other year if they want to experience full protection from the elements. It isn’t always necessary, but it’s usually recommended for homeowners who want to maintain the pristine look of their shake siding.

8. Intensive Routine Maintenance

Unfortunately, traditional cedar shake siding has a bad reputation of being one of the most labor-intensive siding styles. It looks great at the beginning, but traditional cedar shake siding requires seasonal maintenance, like caulking, staining, and sanding, in order to maintain its charm. With just a little bit of negligence, cedar shake siding can start to look disheveled and crummy.

9. Sustainable Logging Practices

Another thing to worry about with traditional cedar shake siding is how and where it’s sourced. Sustainable logging practices are essential when purchasing any building material made from real wood. Homeowners should be sure to do their homework to be fully confident that the cedar shake siding products aren’t having a detrimental effect on the environment.

A Smart Alternative: Fiber Cement Shake Siding

Some homeowners don’t mind all the hassle that comes with repairing and maintaining wood shake siding, but for those who prefer a smart alternative, fiber cement shake siding is the way to go. Impenetrable to insects and unaffected by moisture and UV rays, fiber cement eliminates the need for intensive siding maintenance. Unlike real wood, fiber cement is fire-resistant, too, providing peace of mind for homeowners.


Due to its durable design, fiber cement shake siding is extremely low-maintenance and requires just an occasional rinse with a garden hose to keep its aesthetic allure. It’s also water-resistant, and since it’s not made from soft wood, it’s not attractive to insects and rodents. Allura fiber cement siding has a Class A Fire Rating, meaning it provides exceptional protection against the spread of open flames. Plus, it’s available in a huge spectrum of attractive, long-lasting colors, including natural-looking wood grain patterning.

Fiber cement outperforms real wood since it is a much more durable material for shake siding. In addition to all of the practical advantages of fiber cement shake siding, it delivers on the aesthetics, too. Innovative companies like Allura have developed a wide range of fiber cement shake siding designs so that homeowners aren’t constrained by the color and pattern limitations common with real-wood shake siding. Many of the fiber cement siding options look identical to real wood, giving homeowners the ability to design their home’s exterior without compromising on the aesthetics.

Fiber cement shake siding is available in a vast selection of styles and has a stronger composition that avoids the common issues facing wood shake siding. Opting for fiber cement shake siding can be a low-maintenance solution for homeowners who value long-term style and performance.

Contact the fiber cement experts at Allura today for more information on smart shake siding.

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