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3-Part Blog

Part 1- Roofing with Wood Shakes : The Wood Shake – How is It Different from a Shingle?

By April 17, 2015May 25th, 2015No Comments

It’s easy to assume wood shakes and shingles are the same because they are almost always discussed in the same breath. But while they are two entirely different things, wood shakes and shingles are also quite similar in that they are manufactured from the same types of wood, particularly cedar.

How is a wood shake different from a shingle then?

The two are differentiated by the way they are made, with wood shakes typically crafted by hand while shingles are churned out by a machine. The differing method results in physical characteristics that make it easy to tell wood shakes and shingles apart.

More specifically, here’s how wood shakes and shingles are different from each other:


  • Using a froe and a mallet or a hydraulic press, they are split from a log at either one or both sides and formed into a block
  • In terms of appearance, wood shakes tend to be thicker, with a more uneven look despite following the wood’s grain closely
  • Cedar shakes need to have roofing felt in between the layers


  • They are cut using a circular saw from a wooden block, forming a tapered cut with every pass of the saw, where the butt (end of the cut) is thinner than a wood shake. A different saw is used to trim the edges on each side of a shingle
  • Shingles have a generally smoother appearance, with some cross graining
  • When installing cedar shingles, the lower ends must be attached to wood strips and placed over a layer of roofing felt to facilitate drying time when the weather is wet

Did you know?

The International Residential Code defers to the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau for grading rules on wood shakes and shingles. The CSSB is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the use of cedar shakes and shingles in roofs and sidewalls since 1915. To be given a grade, wood shakes and shingles undergo various performance tests.

Now you know the difference between a wood shake and shingle. Find out what it can do for you by learning more about its advantages in the next part.

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