A shake is made of wood usually cedar. A shingle is usually a
composite material which can be made of ashpalt and fiberglass.
(1) Shakes are a short lived material. Most of the shakes are made out
of mixed grain wood which does not have the stability or rot
resistance of those fine old vertical grained shakes which were cut
from the hart-wood of giant old growth trees.
(2) Current codes and standards require us to install shakes on top of
tar paper. (Old shakes worked fine without tar paper, and the more
common steeper roofs, new shakes would leak if we didn't underline
This practice reducing the rate at which the shakes dry out, and adds
to the rotting process.
(3) Shakes require more maintenance and repair than any other type of
(4) Untreated shakes are not fireproof.
(5) Most shakes are not covered by a warranty, and some shake
warranties are worthless.
The term shingle is currently used for products made of a variety of
materials, including asphalt composite, metal, and wood, while a shake
pretty much refers to a wood product. As to the difference between a
wood shake and a wood shingle, here is an excerpt from
What is the difference between a shake and a shingle?
Generally, a shingle is sawn on both sides and is thinner at the
butt than a shake. A shake is typically split on one or both
sides. There are important exceptions to this, (tapersawn shakes shakes sawn on both sides) depending on the specific manufacturing
method and the dimensions of a specific product. Shakes are still
manufactured by hand, but most are now made using powered
It amazes me how many new homes here in Oregon are still putting on
They're a fire hazard; they don't last as long; they require constant
and expensive maintenance. You can't easily walk on them, especially
if wet or for fear you'll create a leak, and it's a much more
expensive roof to boot! I had two houses with shakes, which I had
replaced with comp. The new comps are so much better in every way.
I think you guys are being to hard on cedar shakes. First of all, for
them that like the look, there is nothing comparable. If you are
happy with a fake shake, by all means get it. But some of us can see
the difference a mile away. Constant and expensive maintenance? I
lived in an old mining camp in the Cascades in WA and there were shake
roofs there that were 70 years old. Yes, they need replacing, but you
just show me the roofing product that can last 70 years. It ain't out
there, except maybe standing seam steel. Yes they are a fire hazard
in areas prone to forest fires, but they aren't much worse than
asphalt shingles. No they aren't for every climate and every
Well shakes don't last 70 years on a house in the NW, never did.
Nowadays you're lucky to get 20, and that's with it being treated
every 2-5 years. Matter of fact, a neighborhood here in Portland that
was built in the late 80s early 90's of about 30 houses with shake
roofs, almost all have new roofs in the last 5 years. To say they're
not much worse than asphalt shingles for a fire hazard is just plain
The only reason to put a shake roof on a house is that you have to
because of stupid association rules that think it makes their
neighborhood look more upscale. I personally think the architectural
comp roofs look much cleaner and better than a shake roof. Especially
after about 3 years.
Comp roofs have come a long ways in the last 20 years in not only
durability but also style. There are only disadvantages to shake
roofs. Like I said before, I had two houses with shakes and replaced
them both with architectural comp. Not because of money, since it was
a wash, after having to lay done plywood, but because it is just a
better, safer, longer lasting and easier to maintain roof. Now you can
even get algae resistent shingles, that makes them even easier to take
care of, especially in the NW.
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