All About Cedar Shingle & Shake Roofing

Cedar Shingle and Shake Roofing

The cedar roofing industry has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. In the past, architectural shingles were produced from red and white cedars, requiring a great deal of effort to produce a finished product that could compete with other roofing materials in many regions. However, technological advancements have made cedar shingles and shakes faster to produce, stronger, and more competitively priced. Today’s cedar shingles and shakes are almost indistinguishable from their dimensional counterparts – only the visual appearance distinguishes them.


Shingle: A term used for both “shingles” and “shakes”. Traditionally, cedar shingles are 3″ x 5″, while shakes are thicker at 4″ x 6″. The sizes of the pieces were determined by measuring a bundle of 25 shipped from the mill. Shakes have been gaining popularity recently as more people prefer their rustic look, but for most applications, the architectural style is a good choice.


The most popular type of roof that’s used by All Seasons Roofers and common style of cedar shingle is the architectural style, and will be referred to as such in this article. Architectural shingles are typically produced from a single piece of wood that has been steamed into three “waves” or wavy lines along its length. This wavy appearance is intended to make the shingle appear more dimensional or wood-like. The wave pattern of an architectural style cedar roofing shingle ranges in depth from 5/16″ – 9/16″ with 8/16 being considered “standard”.

Difference Between Cedar Shingles and Shakes Roofing

There is no clear definition or difference between cedar shakes and cedar shingles. The only difference that may be apparent is in the manufacturing process. Shingles are cut from a log, while shakes are split like a branch of wood.

Shakes and shingles can both be used on roofs, but most people prefer to use cedar shakes for their roofs. Cedar is very soft and can be cut much easier than cedar. It is also more attractive to the eye, making it a good choice for people who want the best-looking homes possible. The main difference between these two types of shingles is how they are made.

Shingles are usually cut from a machine, while shakes are split. The machine that cuts the cedar shingles may also be able to cut other woods like pine or fir, but because of the way they are made it is harder to cut them by hand.

Splitting cedar shakes usually requires a maul and wedges. It takes more time and effort, but many people believe that the end product is much more attractive and well worth the extra trouble.

Points to consider:

  1. Shingles are cut from a log, while shakes are split like branches of wood.
  2. Shakes can be made using manual labor, but cedar shingles usually come from a machine.
  3. Shakes are more attractive than cedar shingles.
  4. Shingles can be cut more easily than shakes.
  5. Shakes cost less money than cedar shingles, but the quality is usually just as good.


On average, cedar shingles and shakes cost about $2.50 per square foot compared with the $1.25 to $2 per square foot for asphalt shingles. However, because of their thickness and complexity of installation, cedar shakes are usually more expensive than shingles by about 15% to 20%. However, they may be the better choice depending on how much you’re willing to spend because they tend to have a longer lifespan with superior durability.


Cedar shakes and shingles are composed of cedar, which has a natural resistance to decay. Most manufacturers treat the wood chips before pressing them into shape, using a water- or oil-based process that helps preserve the shakes and shingles.


Cedar shingles and shakes are available in a variety of grades, cuts, thicknesses, lengths, and widths. They can be solid or have spaces between each overlapping shingle for added insulation, depending on the manufacturer.


Cedar roofs can help keep your house warm in winter and cool in summer while increasing their resale value because they are naturally fire-resistant. However, for maximum efficiency, you will need to invest in additional insulation designed specifically for cedar roofs, especially if you are installing shakes instead of shingles.


Cedar shakes are more uniform in size than cedar shingles, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. However, this also comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the uniformity of shakes while others feel that the uniformity makes them look too flat and boring.


Cedar shakes require fewer nails than cedar shingles, which also comes down to the way they are designed. Shingles tend to overlap each other while shakes usually do not. This can reduce nailing time as well as installation costs because it’s quicker to cover less space.


The roofing options of cedar shingle and shake roofs are often preferred by homeowners because of their natural, elegant beauty. Aesthetically pleasing, cedar roofs provide a classic look that has been popular in the United States for decades. Made from western red cedar wood, they have an attractive pine scent and weathered appeal that is also naturally resistant to rot and insect infestations. Many homeowners choose cedar roofs because they are a safe option for their families and pets. Like any roof, however, cedar shingle roofs have the potential of creating fire hazards if not properly installed or maintained.


Yes. The shingles are made from untreated cedar, which naturally resists fire. Cedarwood dust is combustible so the cedar trees are not cut down to create the shingles; instead, they are rot-resistant by nature. When roofers split the wood of the cedar trees to create shingles, they use a machine called a split cutter. A high-speed steel blade cuts the wood and splits it lengthwise into thin strips. The wood is then kiln-dried to reduce the moisture content. Kiln drying is performed at very high temperatures that remove the last bit of moisture so the wood does not warp. The resulting product is a durable, lightweight, rot-resistant roofing material that is strong enough to resist wind and ice damage. Cedarwood resists fire naturally because of its high oil content, low moisture content, and tight grain structure.

About Amanda

I love to buy a lot of products for the home, and dissect them out. I split them into duds and winners, and share the findings here on my site. As a reader of my site, I'm aiming for your next purchase to be an informed and inspired one.

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