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Differences Between Cedar Shakes and Cedar Shingles

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

A cedar shake roof in New York

As a homeowner, deciding on a roof is a huge decision. After all, a roof protects you and your family from dangers such as intense weather, moisture and heat. While a roof's main purpose is to cover your home and block out any unwanted conditions, you also want to be satisfied with its curb appeal.

One of the most important aspects of your roof's design is the material you choose. Homeowners are left with a choice when it comes to cedar wood and roofing. Should you choose cedar shakes or cedar shingles?

Wood Shakes vs. Wood Shingles

Before looking at the differences between cedar shakes and cedar shingles, it's crucial to understand that shakes and shingles are not interchangeable terms. A shake typically refers to roofing with a rugged appearance. Wooden shakes are commonly sawn on one side and left split on the opposite. Shakes are usually made by hand, and each piece is meant to look different from one another, creating a unique pattern and roof design.

Meanwhile, wooden shingles are mostly manufactured by machines so that each piece looks identical. Shingles are a much smoother-looking option to the eye and feature two sawn sides for interlocking installation. Also, wooden shingles are thinner at the ends compared to wooden shakes.

Cedar Shakes vs. Cedar Shingles

Cedar is undeniably a great material to use for your roof. As a homeowner, you'll have to decide between cedar shakes and cedar shingles. To help you make a more informed decision, we've compared the two styles in the categories of appearance, durability and price.


Cedar shakes do not lay completely flat on a roof. One side of each shake is thicker than the other, so the outward split side will give a rustic appearance to your home. These layered shakes give your roof texture and depth, which many homeowners find appealing.

On the other hand, cedar shingles lay completely flat across your roof, creating a uniform pattern. Shingles provide more of a sleek, cohesive look. Consider your home's current exterior design when deciding on which style is right for you.


The gaps between cedar shake layers can leave your roof vulnerable to weather damage, so it is a factor to consider when choosing cedar shakes. Depending on where you live, it is encouraged that installers place felt lining between the shakes to defend against wind and unwanted moisture. Felt lining accompanies each shake as a second layer of protection for your roof.

As for cedar shingles, installers do not need additional felt liners for these materials. However, shingles can be layered on top of each other for extra roof protection. Depending on where you live, cedar shingles can be layered up to three times for an effective weatherproofing system.


Typically, you can expect to see cedar shakes cost more due to the product being handmade as well as having a more difficult installation process. Shakes are also thicker than shingles which leads to a higher price point since more material is used.

Cedar shingles are cut by machine, and they easily fit into place with one another, lending to a lower price point for installation. However, regardless of the price, both cedar shingles and shakes provide lasting protection and aesthetics to your home, making them a great investment.

Benefits of Cedar Shakes and Shingles

The majority of differences between cedar shakes and shingles relate to their appearance on your home. Homeowners need to decide if they are going for the natural look of shakes or the traditional style of shingles. Regardless of your choice, you can expect the following benefits from both cedar wood roof materials:

  • Durability: Cedar wood has a natural decay resistance, which means you can feel confident your roof will hold up even in intense weather. If you also protect your cedar roof with a special coating, your roof's durability will drastically increase, making it even tougher.

  • Excellent insulation: Cedar is a natural insulator, which means you can enjoy the look of a beautiful roof that also maintains your home's ideal temperature. When your home can maintain its temperature, you can also save on heating and cooling bills.

  • Long-lasting: A cedar roof is expected to have a lifetime of at least 30 years. This lifetime can be extended with proper maintenance and care.

  • Choice of red or white cedar: Choose between two beautiful color options to bring your home's exterior design to life. As red cedar ages, it will begin to fade, turning into a stunning silver and gray shade that you may enjoy even more than your original reddish shade.

  • Increase in home value: A durable, visually appealing roof is a key way to increase your home's value. If you ever plan to sell your home, prospective buyers will be looking for a roof with low maintenance and longevity. As cedar roofs are known as one of the best and strongest roofing materials, buyers will feel confident in your home's roof.

  • Made from biodegradable materials: Cedar shakes and shingles come directly from cedar trees with no need for added chemicals or synthetic materials. This is a renewable resource as new cedar trees continue to grow. Additionally, cedar shakes and shingles are eco-friendly because they are energy efficient, minimize pollution and come from a sustainable source.

  • Repels insects: Homes with wooden exteriors typically face the threat of termites and other insects eating away at the structure. However, cedar emits natural pesticides like aromatic acids and hydrocarbons. So, homeowners with cedar roofs experience fewer termite and insect problems.

Cedar Roof Coatings for Roof Maintenance

Selecting cedar shakes or shingles will require regular maintenance for a longer-lasting roof. Luckily, Cedar Roof Coatings is here to serve Fairfield and Westchester counties.

Cedar roofs that are cared for become less expensive over time than some other options. Cedar Roof Coatings wants to help keep your cedar shakes and shingles in great condition with our maintenance services. We help extend the life of your roof with the following:

  • Complete roof inspections

  • Pressure wash treatments

  • Roof cleaning and treating

  • Preservation programs

Cedar Roof Coatings will save you money by maintaining your current roof for a whole new sense of curb appeal and level of homeowner satisfaction. If you live in Fairfield or Westchester counties, contact Cedar Roof Coatings today for a consultation.

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