Difference Between a Wood Shake and Wood Shingle

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Wood as a roofing material, either wood shingles or wood shakes, can be a visually pleasing view when used on homes. They have a unique and attractive appearance. To many people who are not in the roofing industry, telling the difference between a wood shake and a wood shingle is near impossible. However, for experts, the differences are conspicuous and easy to spot. We guess that’s why they are experts.

You know, installing a wood shingle or wood shake gives your building an outstanding look. This is one of the most convincing qualities of these wood materials. Additionally, they are long-lasting. Despite the similarities of these wood roofing materials, they have differences that you can’t ignore. And this is where many homeowners have it tough. 

So, in this article, we will discuss each material and highlight their differences, pros, and cons. This knowledge should save you from losing sleep over making the best decision for your roofing project.

What Are Wood Shingles?

Types of wood shingles

Wood shingles are a type of wood roofing material. Made from logs sawn on both sides, they have flat surfaces that are smooth at the top and bottom. They are usually uniform in appearance because manufacturers design them using machines. However, the type of wood used in manufacturing wood shingles determines the shingle colors, creating various color options.

Pros and Cons of Wood Shingles


  • Are made with machines, causing them to have uniform shapes and sizes
  • More affordable than wood shakes
  • Give roofs a consistent appearance due to their uniform dimensions
  • Resistant to heavy rain, wind, and hail
  • Recyclable
  • Installation and repairs are easy


  • Not as durable as wood shakes
  • Compared to roofing materials like synthetic roofing, they are at greater risk of catching fire
  • Affected by building codes limitation
  • Requires regular maintenance

What Are Wood Shakes?

Wood shake

This is another type of wood roofing material, and it shares a lot of similarities with wood shingles. However, wood shakes lack the smooth, uniform look that wood shingles have. Manufacturers usually produce them by sawing with hands on one side rather than by using machines. This causes them to have smooth and rough sides that face the roof and upward, respectively.   

In the production of wood shakes, the manufacturers sometimes saw the wood on both sides, with the rough side facing up. In other production styles, they saw the side that faces down, making the surface of the shake rough.

Pros and Cons of Wood Shakes


  • Durable and resistant to inclement weather
  • Recyclable 
  • Gives an original and raw detail to your roof design
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Each shake stands out


  • Are at risk of catching fire
  • Limited by some building codes
  • Demands maintenance be regular
  • The use of different wood types affects the uniformity of the shakes’ quality
  • Overlapping of the following set of tiles can be challenging due to their rough surface

Wood Shake vs. Wood Shingle: Which One Is Better?


The only similarity between these wood materials is that they are wedge-shaped. Their shape makes installing them separately easy for roofing contractors. Wood shakes are hand-split on one side of the log and sawn on the other using handheld powered tools, while manufacturers saw shingles with machines on the two sides. This explains why wood shakes have a prominent, thicker appearance. The difference in manufacturing processes is responsible for the textured look of wood shakes and the smooth appearance of wood shingles. 


The durability of a roofing material is one of the most important traits to look out for when choosing a roofing material. This is because a roofing material needs to fulfill its primary function of protecting your property from the elements, and a material that is not durable can’t do that effectively. 

When properly taken care of, wood as a roofing material can last as long as 50 years without needing replacement. Suppose your property is in a location where the weather is volatile. In that case, we advise using heavy hand-split cedar shakes, which are the most suitable for such areas. Heavy cedar shakes are the thickest wood roofing material on the market. They offer the most durability and provide optimum protection against UV sunlight, hail, high wind, and heavy rain.

Curb Appeal

Both wood shingles and wood shakes are aesthetically appealing. However, wood shingles are flat and have a smooth and uniform surface. For this reason, homeowners who want a traditional look go for it. They are also a prevalent option for homes with loud colors. 

Wood shakes, on the other hand, have a rugged and rustic appearance with thick butt ends. Using a wood shake for your property gives it a rustic and remarkable aesthetic. People who want unusual aesthetics opt for this option.

Now, the question is, which one is better for you? It’s simple. If you want rustic aesthetics for your home, your go-to should be wood shakes. But if you want something more modern and traditional that can go with any home style, you should go for wood shingles.


When it comes to pricing, wood shakes are usually more expensive. The simple reason for the higher cost of wood shakes is that they are thicker than wood shingles. Additionally, because of their installation complexity, roofing contractors charge more for installation. So, if you are on a tight budget, wood shingles are a better option. However, we advise that before going ahead to purchase a wood shingle or wood shake for your roof, ensure that you speak with a roofing professional to get a cost estimate and guidance.

What Are the Different Types of Wood Grains?

There are three different types of grains to choose from for your roof style. The look and functionality of each type will influence your decision, as this is another crucial factor to take into consideration.

Types of Wood Grains

  1. Slash Grain: When you cut the wood at an angle facing the tree’s ring, you form a slash grain. Because of this grain’s durability and overall look, not many people desire it.
  2. Edge Grain: When you cut the wood at an angle perpendicular to the tree’s ring, you form an edge grain. An edge grain is very stable; the chances of your roofing tile coming apart over time are extremely low. Because of its stability, this grain type is rated as having the best quality.
  3. Flat Grain: Unlike edge grain, flat grains are formed by cutting the wood at an angle parallel to the tree’s ring. This type of cut causes the shingle or shake to be unstable and distort over time. It is the exact opposite of edge grain.

Types of Wood Shake Roof Designs

You can split wood shakes in different ways to get a distinctive look. The options include heavy splits and resawn, medium splits and resawn, and tapersawn shakes. A heavy split and resawn shake design has a sawn back and split front, with the split displaying the natural wood. This one has the most rustic and rugged appearance of the three designs. 

On the other hand, medium splits and resawn shakes, which are also rustic and rugged in appearance, are less heavy and dense than heavy splits. Finally, the third of the three designs, taper-sawn shakes, has the least rugged characteristic. Hence, they look more like shingles.


Wood shakes and shingles are interesting choices for any home. They are not only attractive, but they also offer reliable durability. You’ve read it all and are now equipped with the necessary information to make your decision.

So, regardless of what you choose for your home, you can rest assured of a functional and aesthetically pleasing roof. However, to be safe, we recommend hiring a skilled roofing contractor with enough experience for the best result.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is wood shingle or wood shake best for my home?

It depends on your preference and what you want your home to look like in terms of aesthetics. If you want something to blend with your home’s natural scenery, wood shakes would be a perfect fit. However, shingles are better for cottages or cabins, even though they work well for residential buildings.

Which wood roofing material is the most durable?

You should get a teak shake if you want a home with a wood roof that will stand the test of time. A teak shake has a lifespan of about 80 years. The next most durable would be wallaba, which has an average lifespan of 50 years and can last for up to 60 years.

Which is better, shakes or shingles?

Shakes are better. They are better because they are more textured and thicker than shingles. Their thickness and rugged appearance make them last longer and look more natural and unique. 

Can you place a roof over wood shakes?

Yes, you can do that. Although we do not advise installing another roofing material, such as asphalt shingles, on your wood shakes, it is possible. Some people do this because it is cheaper and faster. However, it comes with a lot of disadvantages.

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