Wood Shingles VS Wood Shakes

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Wood Shingles VS Wood Shakes

Wood Shingles VS Wood Shakes

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Are you planning on installing a wooden roof for your home?

There are two types of wood roofing materials – wood shakes and wooden shingles, each with its own unique features.

Wood roofing is great for its longevity and the fact it is derived from renewable materials. Between the two, which is better for your home?

Keep reading! We hope to answer all your questions on wooden roofs in this brief article.

What are Wood Shingles?

Wood shingles have a tailored appearance – tapered for a trim, and sawn smoothly on both sides. They are packaged at four bundles per 100 sq. ft.

Traditional manufacturing saws off singular cedar shingles from one block of wood. This always results in an uniform shingle cedar.

Nowadays, cedar shingles are manufactured by machines. Sawing and smoothing are only used to enhance its consistent appearance. This quality also helps to ease in installation.

Thicknesses and Lengths

There are three available thicknesses and lengths for shingles. Wood shingles either come as 1/4″ thick by 16″ long; 3/8″ by 18″ and 1/2″ by 24″. The least likely to warp is the wider shingle. Wood shingles with thicker butts are more durable too.


Wood shingles are commonly sawn from cedar, redwood, and cypress, each with its own grades and grains. The higher the grade, the more stable.

No. 1

This one is the top-grade wood shingle. The premium of wood shingles. It is 100% clear, free of knots, taken from edge grain heartwood.

Edge grain is when the wood is cut perpendicular to the rings of the tree. You would most likely pay more for these products because an edge cut gives it more long-lasting durability.

No. 2

No. 2 grade is a flat grain with limited sapwood, with knots and defects above the part of the shingles that will show once it’s installed.

Flat grain is a log cut parallel to the tree’s rings. Over time, it becomes less stable and is likely to split. It’s used for re-roofing, walls, and as a starter course.

No. 3

This grade can also include sapwood and flat grain for shingles. Wood shingles with this grade also have limited knots and defects allowed above the clear portion. It is commonly used for garden sheds, walls of outbuildings, and gazebos.

wood shingles


Because shingles are smoothly sawn on both sides, it allows for a sleek design with increased fire protection.

Wood shingles as a roofing material can be stacked on top of another too. This helps avoid cold leaks to your home during the colder climates. Most cottages and cabins take advantage of shingles to keep their interior warm.

Shingles also complement the scenic and natural beauty of your home. It gives depth and dimension to your exterior facade, with many styles to choose from.

What are Wood Shakes?

42 year old wood shingles

Wood shakes are traditionally crafted into shape by hand, giving it a rougher texture and finish. Its appearance is more rustic and lacks uniformity.

Cedar shakes as a roofing material are thicker, giving it a much different appearance. Shakes are packaged at five bundles per 100 sq. ft.

Modern wood shakes are made using contemporary technology. One side will have a hand-split texture, while the opposite will be smooth.

Types and Thicknesses

There are two main types of cedar shakes: hand split and resawn, and tapersawn. All wood shakes are cut from clear heartwood with no defects.

Hand split and Resawn

These hand split and resawn shakes have the back sawn, but the front split, showing off its natural wood. This type of cedar shake has the most rugged surface and rustic face. This is also the heaviest type of wood shake. Available thicknesses for these are 3/4″, 7/8″, 1″ and 1 1/4″+.


Tapersawn cedar shakes are sawn on both sides. It has the naturally tailored look of a shingle, but with a strong shadowline of a shake because of its thicker butt. They are available in thicknesses of 5/8″, 7/8″ and 1″.


Wood shakes give every home a rich character. Its rustic qualities give off a traditional and Victorian-era vibe for your exterior.

Shakes also require extensive manufacturing and installation, ensuring your house is well protected from all elements.

Wood Shingles VS Wood Shakes


Long ago, a wood roof shingle was sawn from a block of wood, while a wood shake roof was split off with a sharp blade or mallet. Today, shingles are now machine-made and shakes made by hand with power equipment.


Shingles exhibit cross grain from the cutting and sawing process. Shakes, being split, follow the grain more closely.

Wood shakes have a more rugged appearance, each looking different than the other. Wood roof shingles are more uniform, smooth, and flat in appearance.


Wood roofing in general is long-lasting. But the most durable type of wood roofing material would be the heavy hand-split cedar shakes.

These cedar shakes are the strongest because they are the thickest. They protect against hail, UV sunlight, heavy rain, and wind.


Grade, grain, thickness, and type of wood are common factors that involve pricing. A wood shake is generally more expensive because they are thicker and are harder to install.

Having said, the hand-split wood shake as a roofing material would then be the most expensive.

Wood shingles cost between $400 to $700 per square installed. Shakes run between $600 to $900.

Also, consider maintenance costs. Wood roofs require periodic treatments to maintain their appearance.

What is Best for your Home?

The first thing to consider is the existing architecture of your home to determine whether a wooden shake roof or wood shingles would best suit. Wood shakes are ideal for matching natural scenery.

Shingles complement cabins or cottages and enhance residential homes.

The second consideration would be the lifespan you want to get out of your wood shakes or shingles.

A wood shake being thicker, would be more stable and could even last you up to 80 years for a teak shake, 60 years for Wallaba shake, and 30 years for cedar shake.

Also, we must insist that you use an installer who is certified by the Cedar Bureau.

Are you now familiar with the difference between a wooden shingle and shake?

Whether it is price, aesthetic, and durability you are considering, we hope the information provided in this article will result in a sound decision as you choose the wood roof material to invest in.

For queries, leave us a message in the comments section below.

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