While cedar shake roofs are unique and beautiful, they are gradually pricing themselves out of the market. They also are sensitive to our damp Pacific Northwest climate, require constant maintenance, and are very costly to repair.
If you do choose cedar shakes, be sure to choose the CCA chemically treated ones. These treated shakes are old growth Canadian cedar with 100% vertical grain. Raw shakes are only 60-65% vertical grain and are made from younger trees. All trees are not the same.
The raw shakes will last 20 years maximum (if that) and will split and lift, resembling ski jump ramps long before treated shakes will.
Do not use a #2 or #4 starter course of cedar shake shingles. Instead use the #2, and preferably #1, CCA treated shingles as a premium starter course.
With treated shakes, the mills advise using a hot-dipped nail (NOT electro-galvanized and NOT STAPLES), with stainless steel nails preferred.Stainless steel staples also are acceptable.