Cedar Wood Shakes & Cedar Shingles Roofs

Wood shakes and shingles, especially cedar, have been around for more than 200 years. Their natural beauty and architectural versatility have made this material a favorite among architects, builders and homeowners.

Shingles are relatively smooth and cut to a uniform thickness, although they vary in width. Wood shakes are thicker and rougher, being split rather than sawn from the logs. Wood roofs are meant to breathe and should be laid over a substrate that allows air to circulate behind them: skip sheathing – wood strips or battens nailed directly to the roof rafters – is the traditional method of installing a wood shingle roof.

For all their great looks, shingles and shakes are more expensive to install and do require some periodic maintenance, typically in the form of washing to remove any mildew or moss, and then re-oiling with a clear wood finishing product.

A properly installed and maintained wood roof should last at least 30 to 50 years. In fact, we have seen roofs on which the shingles were still good after 25 years or so, but the galvanized nails were finally rusting, so be sure to use a high-quality stainless-steel nail!

Wood shingles 
Wood shingles are smooth and uniform, unlike wood shakes which have a rough and varied appearance. Wood shingles are generally cut from cedar or pressure-treated southern yellow pine. Due to the higher material and installation costs, they are a more expensive choice, but they should last 30 to 50 years.

Cedar shakes
Cedar shakes combine a traditional look with reliable, modern performance. Cedar shakes are a great choice for historic homes or homes in new developments with high appearance standards. Also, cedar shakes are an environmentally friendly option for consumers. The life expectancy of cedar shakes is up to 30 years, if quality materials are used. If the contractor uses commodity materials (low quality) or if the workmanship is poor, the life expectancy can drop to only 10 to 15 years. Another concern potentially associated with cedar shakes is that many communities will require you to install pressure-treated fire retardant shakes, which increases the cost of he materials. Because of variations like color, width, thickness, or cut of the wood, no two shake roofs will ever be the same.

Cedar’s cellular structure makes it an excellent insulator, keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.