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What Is the Difference Between Wood Shingles & Shakes?

To most passersby, the difference between a shake and shingle roof is difficult to distinguish. But to the trained eye, the differences are obvious and dramatic.

Shingles always have a smooth and uniform look, not just across each individual shingle, but across an entire shingle roof. This is due to the traditional manufacturing method of sawing off individual cedar shingles from a single block of wood.

Shakes, on the other hand, are traditionally hand split, which leads to a rougher texture and finish that manifests as a lack of uniformity across each individual shake and across the entirety of a shake roof.

Today, shingles are no longer sawn but rather manufactured by machines, which means their uniform nature is only enhanced. When you hold a single shingle in your hands, you’ll notice both sides are smooth and uniform, and the shingle itself is tapered for ease in installation.

Modern shakes are also made using contemporary technology. One side of a shake will deliver the hand split texture that some homeowners love, but the opposite side is typically smooth and sawn. Shakes are also much thicker than shingles, which leads to a much different appearance after installation.

Different Types of Cedar Shake and Shingle Grain

Another important factor to consider when choosing shakes vs. shingles is the grain. You have three options:

  • Edge Grain: When the shingle or shake is cut perpendicular to the tree's rings, it’s called edge grain. This is the highest quality cut you can get due to its stability. That is, edge cut shakes and shingles are unlikely to distort over time. You're likely to pay more for product that is edge grain, due to its longer-term durability and strength.

  • Flat Grain: Flat grain shakes and shingles are cut parallel to the tree's rings, which is far less stable and much more likely to split over time.

  • Slash Grain: Slash grain is when the shake or shingle is cut at an angle to the tree's rings. This is the least desirable cut.

Different Shake Roof Styles

Shakes can be split or sawn in different ways, each of which leads to a different look and feel. You can choose heavy split and resawn shakes, where the back is sawn, but the front is split to show the natural wood. This is perhaps the most rugged look you can find in shakes. Medium split and resawn shakes are not as thick and heavy, though they also have the rugged and rustic texture. Tapersawn shakes are close to shingles in appearance, providing the least rugged or rustic appearance among the three styles.


Which Is Best for My Home?

How do you choose between wood shakes and wood shingles for your home, either roofing or siding? Always start by looking at your home’s existing architecture. Then determine which you think is the better fit. Shingles are typically better fits for classic, traditional homes in residential areas, such as Victorian-style homes, ranch homes and colonial homes. Given their more rustic and textured appearance, shakes are often a better fit at cabins or cottages.

The Cost of a Shake Roof vs. Shingle Roof

Cost is always an important factor when making decisions for your home. So, what is the cost difference between shakes and shingles? Expect to pay more for shakes than for shingles. This is obvious when you think about it given how much more intensive the manufacturing and installation of shakes are than shingles. But how much more you can expect to pay for shakes over shingles? A good rule of thumb is that you’ll pay a 50 percent premium, though sometimes shakes are twice as much as shingles.

Get More Information on Our Wood Shakes and Shingles

You can’t choose just any roofing provider when you’re investing in wood shakes or shingles. You need a source of experience and knowledge, a provider that works with natural wood roofing solutions every day. That’s exactly who we are at Custom Shingles. We specialize in natural wood roofing and siding solutions — both their manufacture and their installation.

When you want the best for your home, we deliver the best of both shakes and siding. We’re here to answer your questions, deliver information or even to provide a quote on the installation or wood shakes or shingles for your home.

Call today at (877) 323-3553 or contact us for pricing on shakes and shingles.

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