What is the Difference Between Cedar Shake and Cedar Shingles?

Cedar is a popular choice for roofing material due to its durability, natural beauty, and pleasant aroma. When it comes to cedar roofing, there are two main options to consider: cedar shakes and cedar shingles. While they may appear similar, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, advantages, disadvantages, and applications of cedar shakes and cedar shingles to help you make an informed decision for your roofing needs.

What are Cedar Shakes?

Cedar shakes are roofing materials that are hand-split from cedar logs. This process gives them a rough and natural appearance, making them a popular choice for homeowners who want to achieve a rustic or historic look for their homes. The thickness of cedar shakes varies, with options ranging from 3/4″ to 1 1/4″ or more.

Advantages of Cedar Shakes

  • Rustic Appearance: Cedar shakes provide a unique and textured look to roofs, adding character and charm to any home.
  • Natural Insulation: Cedar has natural insulating properties, helping to regulate temperature and reduce energy costs.
  • Longevity: With proper maintenance, cedar shakes can last up to 40 years, providing a durable and long-lasting roofing solution.
  • Resistance to Insects: Cedar naturally repels insects, minimizing the risk of infestation.

Disadvantages of Cedar Shakes

  • Higher Cost: Cedar shakes tend to be more expensive than cedar shingles due to the labor-intensive process of hand-splitting the wood.
  • Maintenance: Cedar shakes require regular maintenance, including periodic cleaning, sealing, and treating to prolong their lifespan.
  • Installation Challenges: The irregular shape and thickness of cedar shakes can present challenges during installation, requiring an experienced roofing contractor.

What are Cedar Shingles?

Cedar shingles, on the other hand, are sawn smooth on both sides and have a more uniform appearance compared to shakes. They are typically thinner than shakes and are available in various lengths and thicknesses. Cedar shingles are widely used for both roofing and sidewall applications.


Advantages of Cedar Shingles

  • Uniform Appearance: Cedar shingles offer a crisp and even appearance, providing a classic and elegant look to roofs.
  • Versatility: Cedar shingles can be used for both roofing and siding applications, offering flexibility in design.
  • Ease of Installation: The uniform shape and thickness of cedar shingles make them easier to install compared to shakes.
  • Cost-Effective: Cedar shingles are generally more affordable than cedar shakes, making them a cost-effective roofing option.

Disadvantages of Cedar Shingles

  • Thinner Profile: Cedar shingles are thinner than shakes, which may affect their durability and lifespan.
  • Susceptible to Moisture Damage: If not properly maintained, cedar shingles may be prone to moisture damage, leading to rot and decay over time.
  • Regular Maintenance: Cedar shingles require regular maintenance, including cleaning, sealing, and periodic replacement of damaged shingles.

What are the Primary Differences Between Shakes and Shingles?

The primary differences between cedar shakes and cedar shingles lie in their appearance, thickness, installation, and cost.

  • Appearance: Cedar shakes have a rough and natural appearance, while cedar shingles have a more uniform and smooth look.
  • Thickness: Cedar shakes are generally thicker than shingles, providing a more robust and textured appearance.
  • Installation: Cedar shakes require an additional layer of felt paper to fill in gaps and create a flat surface, while cedar shingles can lay flat without the need for additional underlayment.
  • Cost: Cedar shakes tend to be more expensive than cedar shingles due to the labor-intensive process of hand-splitting the wood.

Compare Cedar Shakes vs Cedar Shingles

To provide a quick comparison between cedar shakes and cedar shingles, refer to the table below:


Cedar Shakes

Cedar Shingles


Rough and natural

Uniform and smooth





Requires underlayment

Can lay flat without underlayment


More expensive

More affordable


Up to 40 years

30 years


Regular cleaning, sealing, and treatment

Regular cleaning, sealing, and replacement of damaged shingles

Applications of Cedar Shakes and Cedar Shingles

Both cedar shakes and cedar shingles have a range of applications beyond roofing. Here are some common uses:

  • Cedar shakes are often used for roofing, giving homes a rustic and natural look. They can also be used for siding, exterior walls, and accents on architectural features.
  • Cedar shingles are versatile and can be used for both roofing and siding. They provide a classic and timeless appearance and are suitable for various architectural styles.


Q: Are cedar shakes more expensive than shingles?

A: Yes, cedar shakes tend to be more expensive than cedar shingles due to the additional labor involved in their production.

Q: How long will cedar shingles last?

A: With proper maintenance, cedar shingles can last up to 30 years.

Q: Which is better, shakes or shingles?

A: The choice between cedar shakes and cedar shingles depends on personal preference and the desired aesthetic for your home. Shakes offer a rustic and textured look, while shingles provide a more uniform and smooth appearance.

Q: What is the life expectancy of a cedar shake roof?

A: A well-maintained cedar shake roof can last up to 40 years.

Q: Do cedar shingles need to be sealed?

A: Yes, cedar shingles should be sealed to protect them from moisture damage and prolong their lifespan.

Q: Are cedar shingles worth it?

A: Cedar shingles are worth considering for their natural beauty, durability, and insulation properties. However, regular maintenance is required to ensure their longevity.

Q: Can you walk on a cedar shake roof?

A: Walking on a cedar shake roof should be done with caution to avoid damaging the shakes. It’s best to consult a professional roofer for any necessary maintenance or repairs.

Q: What is the best alternative to a cedar shake roof?

A: If you prefer an alternative to cedar shake roof, synthetic roofing materials such as polymer or composite shakes and shingles can provide a similar look with increased durability and reduced maintenance requirements.

Q: Should cedar shingles be power washed?

A: Power washing cedar shingles can cause damage, such as splitting or loosening. It is recommended to use a gentler cleaning method, such as soft washing, to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.

In conclusion, cedar shakes and cedar shingles each offer unique characteristics and advantages for roofing and siding applications. Consider your desired aesthetic, budget, and maintenance requirements when choosing between the two. Consulting with a professional roofing contractor can help you make an informed decision and ensure a successful installation. Embrace the natural beauty and durability of cedar for your home’s exterior and enjoy the timeless appeal it brings. For premium cedar roofing solutions, contact Above All Roofing today for a free estimate and expert advice.