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Cedar Shakes vs Shingles: Understanding the Differences in Roofing Materials

Cedar Shakes vs Shingles


When considering the installation of a new roof or siding, homeowners have a variety of options to choose from. Two popular options are cedar shakes and cedar shingles, both of which provide a rustic and natural look. However, there are distinct differences between the two materials that should be taken into consideration when making a decision. In this article, we will explore the differences between cedar shakes and shingles, as well as their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Cedar Shake Roof

Cedar shakes are a traditional roofing material that has been used for centuries. They are typically made from split logs, which are then sawn on one or both sides to create a tapered, wedge-shaped piece of wood. The resulting shake is thicker at the butt end and thinner at the tip. Cedar shakes are often used to create a rustic and natural look, and they are commonly found in homes with cottage or cabin-style architecture.

Cedar Shingle Roof

Cedar shingles, on the other hand, are manufactured by sawing cedar logs into thin, rectangular pieces of wood. Unlike cedar shakes, cedar shingles are not tapered, and they are of a consistent thickness throughout. Cedar shingles are often used to create a more refined and elegant look, and they are commonly found in homes with traditional or colonial-style architecture.

Difference between Cedar Shakes and Shingles

While cedar shakes and shingles share many similarities, there are several key differences that should be considered when choosing a roofing material. The most notable differences between the two are their thickness and manufacturing process.

Thickness: Cedar shakes are thicker than shingles, with a typical thickness of 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch at the butt end. This thickness provides a more substantial and durable roofing material, making cedar shakes an ideal choice for homes in areas with high winds or heavy snowfall. Cedar shingles, on the other hand, are typically 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch thick, and they are best suited for areas with milder weather conditions.

Manufacturing Process: Cedar shakes are made by splitting logs, while cedar shingles are sawn from logs. This difference in the manufacturing process gives cedar shakes a more rustic, handcrafted look, while cedar shingles have a more uniform and refined appearance.


In addition to roofing, both cedar shakes and shingles can be used as siding material. When used as siding, cedar shakes, and shingles provide a natural and beautiful look that complements many different architectural styles.

Wood Shingle Siding

Wood shingle siding is typically made from cedar or other types of wood, and it is available in both shakes and shingles. Like roofing, cedar shakes are thicker than shingles, which makes them a more durable and long-lasting siding option. Wood shingle siding is often used to create a classic, timeless look, and it is commonly found in homes with traditional or cottage-style architecture.

Asphalt Shingle Siding

Asphalt shingle siding is a more modern alternative to wood shingle siding. It is made from a mixture of asphalt and fiberglass, and it is available in a variety of colors and styles. While asphalt shingle siding is less expensive than wood shingle siding, it does not provide the same natural and rustic look.

Cedar Shakes vs Shingles: Pros and Cons

When considering cedar shakes vs shingles, it is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

Cedar Shake Roof Pros:

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Provides a rustic and natural look
  • Offers good insulation properties
  • Resistant to insect damage and rot

Cedar Shake Roof Cons:

  • More expensive than asphalt roofing
  • Heavier than asphalt roofing
  • Requires more maintenance than asphalt roofing
  • Not suitable for all architectural styles

Cedar Shingle Roof Pros:

  • Less expensive than cedar shakes
  • Lighter in weight than cedar shakes
  • Provides a refined and elegant look
  • Requires less maintenance than cedar shakes
  • Suitable for a wide range of architectural styles

Cedar Shingle Roof Cons:

  • Not as durable as cedar shakes
  • Not as insulating as cedar shakes
  • May not be suitable for areas with high winds or heavy snowfall
  • May be more prone to cracking or splitting than cedar shakes

Choosing between Cedar Shakes and Cedar Shingles

When considering cedar shakes vs shingles, it is important to take into account a number of factors, including the climate in your area, the architectural style of your home, and your budget. If you live in an area with high winds or heavy snowfall, cedar shakes may be the better option for you, as they provide greater durability and insulation. If you are looking for a more refined and elegant look, or if your home has traditional or colonial-style architecture, cedar shingles may be the better option.

It is also important to consider the cost of each material. While cedar shakes are more expensive than cedar shingles, they may provide a better long-term investment due to their durability and longevity. However, if you are on a tight budget, cedar shingles may be the more practical option.


When it comes to choosing a roofing or siding material, cedar shakes and shingles are both excellent options. Each material has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, and the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference and practical considerations. By taking into account factors such as climate, architectural style, and budget, homeowners can make an informed decision about which material is right for their home. Whether you choose cedar shakes or shingles, you can be confident that you are selecting a high-quality, natural material that will provide both beauty and functionality for many years to come.

Cedar Shake Roof Cleaning in Des Moines Iowa
Cedar Shake Roof before & after cleaning

Meet Bruce

50 Years of Experience &
Over 2,000 Shake Roofs Cleaned

Bruce Sullivan has over 50 years of experience in maintaining, cleaning, and restoring cedar shake roofs. Making him one of the top authorities on cedar shake roofs in the US.

Watch the Cedar Shakes Cleaning Process in Action in this video

Play Video about Roof Cleaning How to Remove Moss, Lichen, Fungi from a Cedar Roof Sullivan Roof


What can I say? Bruce and Keith provided an exceptional service, and they are really nice guys too. Found out at the last minute they were in Minneapolis, and they fit me in for a cedar shake roof cleaning the next evening after their regular job was done. Even cleaned up my gutters, small fence, and small deck at no charge. The place looks outstanding! Highly recommended.

Mike Richards

I highly recommend this business. Due to the work performed we are going to get another 10-14 years out of our cedar shake roof. We were told by some roofing companies that the roof should be replaced in 2 years. I lucked out and found Sullivan Roof Cleaning while researching companies that perform this service, and was pleased to learn that the company does work outside of Iowa. If you need your cedar shakes cleaned, go with Sullivan Roof Cleaning.

Eric Oelrich, 
St Cloud, MN

Bruce did a great job cleaning the whole exterior of my house. The roof has new life! It looks practically brand new. All the mold and moss on the roof, on the gutters, under the eaves, completely gone. He exceeded all our expectations. When he tells you what he can do for your house, you can believe and trust him. Great guy, great service.

Stuart Malone
Kansas City, MO


Cedar shakes are organic. Though a resilient material. Being organic they need to be maintained. Over time, like any organic material that are subjected to weather elements, they reach a stage of deterioration. Like UV exposure, moisture and seasonal changes. Which results in moss, mold, mildew, lichen and brown rot fungi. These infestations need to be removed to further preserve the integrity of the cedar shake.
The proper way to clean a cedar shake roof is from a ladder. By spraying a special formulated solution onto the shakes and then rinsed with a garden hose pressure. Best done by a professional cedar shake roof cleaner. Not DIY recommended.
No. Pressure washer will require walking on the shakes, which will harm them, and even at its lowest setting will also damage the shakes.
On average, cedar shakes should be cleaned every 10 ten years. Subjective to the grade of the shakes and the amount of surrounding tree cover.
Avoiding walking on a cedar shake roof, other than for repairs.
Never seal a cedar shake roof. Cedar shakes need to breathe. They expand and contract in rain conditions. Seal will shorten the lifespan, to the point of premature replacement.
Staining has no real preserve value and can also harm the integrity of shakes, as stated, they need to be able to breathe. Also, if the shakes are not properly cleaned staining can seal the deteriorating infestation within the shakes.
Depending on the grade of the shakes and installation, and if maintained properly, 40 to 60 years.


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