In the United States, Canada and Europe, most of the houses use shingles for their roofs. The demand for shingles is so big that there have been manufacturers of shingles and other roofing materials for a long time. Some of them have been in the market for over 100 years.
As with all building materials, technology and research has come up with new techniques that have developed new products which tend to replace old ones. When it comes to roofing, new types of shingles are taking over the market. For example, now fiberglass shingles are the most common type of shingles used in construction. In addition, solar roof shingles have appeared, which although expensive, use state of the art technology to transform solar energy into electricity.
However, none of these materials can match the class and style of wooden shingles, and specially, of cedar shingles. Cedar shingles are perhaps the wooden shingles that are most preferred by the wealthy and people that belong to what is commonly known as dynasty families. The best proof of the quality and style of cedar shingles comes from the fact that a lot of shingles made in other materials try to resemble cedar shingles. For example, metal shingles are painted and coated with grain stone in order to get the rustic look or cedar shingles. The same applies to dimensional shingles. While dimensional shingles thickness gives them extra durability, the main reason for the extra layers is so that they can be sculpted in order to give them customized looks; cedar among them.
In fact, a lot of manufacturers use this very fact in their campaigns. They say things like only you will not know it is not the real thing or the same look as if they were cedar shingles.
Well, like anything that is good and classy just because something looks like the real thing, it does not mean it is the real thing. You might fool others, but you will never fool yourself. And besides, why buy something that looks like the real thing when you can buy the real thing? It is not like it is much more expensive and most of the cost (at least 70%)will go towards the installation.
Of course, there is more to cedar shingles than just looks. Otherwise, they would not have resisted the test of time. While being made of wood, cedar shingles are still very resistant to fire, which negates the main disadvantage of most wood shingles. Also, they are a natural repellent for insects, specially moths, which is why cedar has also been used for years in the manufacturing of house furniture.
In the end, there is no reason to buy imitations. If you like class and getting the best, get cedar shingles for your house.