Wood Shakes and Shingles

Wood shakes give a very natural aesthetic to a roof, an appeal that many homeowners crave. The term shakes encompasses both wood shakes and wood shingles. Wood shingles are sawed uniformly while shakes are split, which cause them to vary in size and give a more natural and unique look. Wood shakes are also typically thicker than wood shingles and may last longer as well.

Wood roofs have the added risk for their lack of fire resistance; however shakes are available pressure treated with fire retardant chemicals. Some communities even require the use of pressure treated shakes for homeowners to use them due to their risk to surrounding homes.

These materials also require higher maintenance in order to extend its lifespan. Sealants usually need applied every 5 to 8 years, and it is necessary to keep debris off the roof to prevent moisture buildup. With good installation and proper maintenance a wood shake roof can last from 30 to 50 years. However a lackluster installation and poor maintenance can reduce this to a short 15 year lifespan.

Despite these setbacks, wood shakes offer several other benefits beyond its natural look. The wood is naturally insulating, and its rigidity makes it a good defense against high winds and hail. Also wood shakes are usually made out of Western Red Cedar, which is primarily taken from designated forest regeneration areas, so their environmental impact is much less than that of asphalt shingles.


Wood Shakes/Shingles Pros: Natural appeal, properly maintained can last up to 50 years, naturally insulating, rigid, good against wind and hail, less environmental impact.

Wood Shakes/Shingles Cons: Relatively high maintenance, lose their original color quickly, more risk of fire without pressure treatment of material, more difficult to repair.

Replacing wood shakes or shingles? Take a look at our article 11 suggestions for re-using wood shingles to help re-purpose the materials.

(Wood Shakes Image from Silva Timber Products)