A shake is a basic wooden shingle that is made from split logs. Shakes have traditionally been used for roofing and siding applications around the world. Higher grade shakes are typically used for roofing purposes, while the lower grades are used for siding purposes. In either situation, properly installed shakes provide long lasting weather protection and a rustic aesthetic, though they require more maintenance than some other more modern weatherproofing systems.

Wood Shake Roofing Picture

 Wood Shake Roof Example

Wood Shake

Wood shakes and wood shingles are manufactured from western red cedar, cypress, pine and redwood trees. Shakes are split from logs and reshaped by manufacturers for commercial use. They are thicker at the butt end than shingles; generally one or both surfaces are split to obtain a textured effect.

 Cedar Shake Roof Example

Cedar Shake

Cedar shingles have been the material of choice for many roofs, especially in the northwestern US. Before the 1950s there was plenty of cedar heartwood, the part closest to the center of the tree. It is hard, can be cut straight, and has natural toxins that protect against insects and rot.

 Tapersawn Shake Roofing Example

Tapersawn Shake

Tapersawn cedar shakes are a hybrid of shingles and split shakes. Like a shingle, both faces are sawn, as are the edges, giving the tapersawn a uniform appearance.


Wood shakes offer a natural look with a lot of character.  Because of variations like color, width, thickness, or cut of the wood, no two shake roofs will ever be the same.  Wood offers some energy benefits, too: it helps to insulate the attic, and it allows the house to breathe, circulating air through the small openings under the felt rows on which wooden shingles are laid.  A wood shake roof, however demands proper maintenance and repair, or it will not last as long as other products.  Mold, rot, and insects can be a problem.  The lifecycle cost of a shake roof may be high, and old shakes can't be recycled.  Most wood shakes are unrated by fire safety codes.  Many use wipe or spray-on fire retardants which offer less protection and are only effective for a few years.  There are pressure-treated shakes, however, that are impregnated with fire retardant and meet national fire safety standards.  Pressure treating extends the life of wood shingles and provides better fire safety performance.  The best shakes come from the heartwood of large old cedar trees. Care should be taken when selecting shakes as the quality varies greatly from different shake mills.