Roofing Shingles Better Alternatives to Cedar & Asphalt Enviroshake

Roofing Shingles Better Alternatives to Cedar & Asphalt Enviroshake

Enviroshake Composite Shingle Roof

Roofing currently ranks sixth in the list of most popular construction projects in North America, surpassed only by interior remodeling, repainting, flooring, windows, doors, and landscaping.  Worth $15 billion annually in material cost alone, the US roofing market is growing. the demand in US is expected to rise 3.5% annually to 268 million squares in 2017.

Popularity among two conventional roofing materials – cedar and asphalt – is decreasing, and for good reason: cedar has disappointed, as it is non-sustainable and very costly to maintain, while asphalt’s lifespan continues to decrease, leading to diminished aesthetics and the requirement for multiple re-roofs over the life of a home.

Whats wrong with Cedar or Asphalt?


Before: Aged Cedar Roof

While the most conventional roofing choice, natural cedar shingles are going out of style, fast. And there’s good reason for that.

Traditional cedar shingles are made from old-growth western cedar. Although it is very easy to produce cedar shingles, harvesting of old-growth cedar is neither simple, nor sustainable in the long run. Cedar is very expensive to replace, and old-growth cedar is no longer commercially available due to cutting restrictions.

Cedar is naturally combustible; it cannot be used in areas with a high risk of brush or forest fires. To improve its fire resistance, cedar shingles are pre-treated with chemical agents. In fact, regular treatments are necessary to reduce rotting, warping, moisture absorption and moss growth. Regular maintenance costs for a cedar shingles can run up to $3,400 per year for a typical roof. While life expectancy of a natural cedar roof is around 15-20 years, it actually starts to lose its aesthetic appeal after 5-10 years.


After: Composite Polymer Roof

Because of the low cost and ease of installation, asphalt shingles have largely replaced cedar and currently dominate the residential market at 57%. Use of asphalt shingles initially skyrocketed in late 70s – early 80s, when fibreglass-based shingles were introduced instead of existing asbestos paper based asphalt. Today, nearly 97% of all asphalt shingles used in North America are fiber-glass based.

Although cost effective, asphalt roofs have many issues associated with them. By replacing a cedar shake roof with asphalt, the home value automatically decreases. Asphalt roofs do not provide the same aesthetic of cedar, which has become a status symbol over the years. Asphalt roofs do not withstand winds well, and have many issues with cupping, curling, cracking, and granule loss as they age. Additionally, when exposed to high winds, asphalt shingles can be torn right off of a roof. The lifespan of asphalt shingles has also become significantly reduced since the change to fiber-glass based shingles. Most asphalt shingles will need to be replaced after 10-15 years, making them quite costly over the life of a home.

It is also worth mentioning that fiberglass used in asphalt shingles is bonded with urea-formaldehyde resin, a highly adhesive but toxic material that emits formaldehyde into the air, which can cause respiratory irritation and more serious effects on health (especially after prolonged exposures and high air concentrations in excess of 3.0-5.0 ppm).

Are There Alternatives?

Enviroshake Composite Roof

Industry professionals continue to seek out new environmentally friendly and sustainable roofing products in order to meet mandates, qualify for government incentives, benefit from green programs such as LEED. be eligible for possible home insurance discounts, as well as to meet the growing consumer demand for environmentally-responsible products.

Several types of roofing products have been introduced as alternatives to cedar and asphalt roofs. but few are truly eco-friendly, sustainable, durable and cost-effective in the end.

Plastic and Synthetics:

Plastic (synthetic polymer) is a polymer that has no fibre reinforcement. There are many plastic roofing products on the market designed to look like cedar and slate. Use of plastic roofing has been on the rise, most likely due to lower product costs than traditional cedar and slate and the offer of maintenance free lifetime products. Plastic roofing shingles are lightweight, and easier to install than traditional cedar and slate. However, most plastic shingles do not look authentic, and can have a shiny finish to them. Plastic shingles are relatively thin, and with average widths of 6”-8”, they do not come close to replicating the look or the size of real cedar shake.

Durability of plastic and synthetic polymer roofs and roofing shingles varies greatly. Polypropylene, a highly fragile material found in many types of plastic shingles, has a Tg of only 0 Celcius, and is highly prone to cracking and breakage during the winter. Tg, or Glass Transition Temperature, describes mechanical behavior of polymer as it changes from rigid and brittle to tough and leathery. This lack of resistance to cold makes the product unsuitable in continental climate regions.


Of the available roofing choices, clay is one of the few options that are both natural and renewable. Individual tiles and shingles are manufactured from clay and water, and are fired at high temperatures. Clay shingles are fairly durable: they will not curl, fade, flake or produce white salt deposits.

Although top of the line clay shingles have minimal water absorption and high resistance to thermal shock and cracking, their inability to withstand freeze-thaw makes them an illogical choice for geographies where cold weather conditions are prevalent. Additionally, most clay tile manufacturers do not recommend walking on them as damage to the tiles can occur. The benefit to clay tiles, is that if properly maintained, they can last a lifetime.

Precision during the firing process is essential for maintaining product performance: improperly fired clay will absorb moisture, which will destroy shingles beyond any possibility of repair.


Backflow of Material Across Rubber Roof

Rubber roofing shingles consist of up to 95% recycled materials, the primary ingredient being rubber from recycled tires. Steel, nylon, aramid fiber, rayon, fibreglass and polyester, as well any number of reinforcing chemicals, adhesives, curatives, oils and anti-degrading agents are also found in rubber shingles.

Roofing Shingles Better Alternatives to Cedar & Asphalt Enviroshake

Used shingles can be melted and recycled into a new product. In other words, while definitely not natural, rubber is nevertheless one of the more sustainable roofing options available today.

While rubber shingles are generally resistant to rotting, cracking, mold, discoloration and moisture absorption, they do have one major disadvantage: most new rubber roofs have a rather strong odour, which can take a long time to disappear. A minor nuisance to most, this can be quite problematic for people with certain conditions, sensitivities or allergies.

Additionally, rubber requires substantial UV additives, as they naturally break down easily with exposure with UV. Due to its lack of rigidity, rubber roofing also has a very low wind uplift rating.

In terms of aesthetics, rubber shingles can hardly compare to cedar or clay. Made in a mold, rubber retains a black flow of materials on the shingle surface, which multiplies and remains visible across the entire rubber roof.

Composite Polymer (Enviroshake®):

Enviroshake® — Calabash Resort, Granada

A composite is a polymer reinforced with fibre and resins to significantly heighten resistance to cracking and thermal shock. A composite shingle is made from 95% recycled and reclaimed materials, including cellulosic fibres (natural wood fibres) that allow to replicate authentic wood texture and appearance. Moreover, 3D images of real cedar shakes are used during the manufacturing process to ensure that the resulting composite shingle almost exactly replicates the look of authentic #1 grade cedar.

Composite cedar shingles are highly resistant to thermal shock, wind, and moisture, and are not likely to rot, blister, peel or crack. They are also resistant to mold, mildew and insects. Use of UV inhibitor technology allow composite shingles to block up to 99% of UV radiation, which prevents composite roof from discoloration over time.

Unlike cedar, where runoff water is not safe for drinking, the runoff water from an Enviroshake® roof is completely non-toxic, potable, and safe to drink.

Due to Enviroshake®’s rigidity, all products have a category 5 wind rating, meaning they can withstand wind speeds up to 180 MPH / 290 KM/h.

Unlike clay tiles, cedar, and asphalt, Enviroshake® also has a level 4 (UL 2218) impact test rating, meaning it can withstand hail storms, walking, and flying debris.

Enviroshake® has a class C fire rating, and can be installed as a class A system when using a Class A underlayment.


Of all the available roofing products, composite polymer is the more environmentally responsible, durable, and reasonably priced alternative to cedar and asphalt. Cheaper to install than real old-growth cedar, composite shake has all the benefits of authentic wood – including the look and feel – without the limitations. Due to a transferable 50 year warranty, high wind resistance (passed Miami Dade to withstand winds over 180mph) and virtually non-existent maintenance costs, composite shingles can actually increase the value of a home. State Farm and several other companies even offer home insurance discounts for homes with certain types of composite shingles.

Enviroshake Incs original Enviroshingle™ composite roof shingle replicates the look of authentic old-growth cedar. Made from 95% post-industrial recycled materials, Enviroshingle™ is a sustainable choice and a perfect solution for those who want the look the look of cedar without the hassle and the cost associated with maintaining it. Learn more about Enviroshake and Enviroshingle or download a product brochure.

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