Wood Shakes Roofing: Buyer’s Guide

Unlock the charm and durability of Wood Shakes & Shingles Roofing. Learn about costs, aesthetics, and eco-friendly roofing in this comprehensive guide.
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Reviewed by JC Sanjuan — General and roofing contractor with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial construction. He specializes in project management, quality workmanship, client satisfaction, and solving roofing challenges.

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A classic choice regarding roofing options has stood the test of time – wood shakes and shingles roofing. This comprehensive guide will take you through everything you need to know about this distinctive roofing material.

Whether you’re a homeowner considering a roof replacement or a roofing professional like myself, understanding the ins and outs of wood shakes and shingles roofing can be invaluable.

Wood roofing has a unique charm and character that sets it apart from other materials. It’s not just about aesthetics; this roofing type offers a range of benefits, and it’s important to weigh its pros and cons to make an informed decision. 

Throughout this article, we’ll explore why wood shakes and shingles roofing has remained popular, its advantages, installation requirements, and even its average costs in the United States.

So, if you’re curious about the beauty and practicality of wood roofing, read on. We’ll guide you through the nuances of wood shakes and shingles roofing, helping you make an informed choice for your home or project.

What are Wood Shakes and Shingles roofing?

Wood Shakes and shingles roofing Explained

So, what exactly are wood shakes and shingles roofing? It’s simpler than it may sound. Essentially, it’s a type of roof made from—you guessed it—wood.

Differences Between Wood Shingles & Wood Shakes | Custom Shingles

Wood Shingles

These are thin, flat pieces of wood, typically sawn to precise dimensions. They have a uniform appearance and are often used to create a neat, orderly look on a roof.

Installing Cedar Shakes - Fine Homebuilding

Wood Shakes

In contrast, shakes are thicker and have a more rustic, textured appearance. They’re usually split by hand or sawn on one side to give that classic, uneven look. Shakes bring a touch of the natural world to your roof.

Both shakes and shingles are from various types of wood, including cedar, redwood, and pine. The choice of wood can affect your roof’s appearance, durability, and cost.

Now that you know the basics, let’s dig deeper into why wood shakes and shingles roofing is a popular choice.

Why Wood Shakes and Shingles Roofing is Still Going Strong

Wood shakes and shingles roofing have been around for centuries, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. But what makes it so enduringly popular?

1. Aesthetic Appeal

One big reason is the timeless beauty it brings to a home. The natural warmth and texture of wood have a way of making any house look cozy and inviting. It can suit various architectural styles, from rustic cabins to traditional suburban homes.

2. Durability

When properly maintained, wood roofs can last for decades. The natural oils in woods like cedar and redwood help them resist decay and insect damage. Plus, they’re tough enough to handle harsh weather conditions, making them a reliable choice.

3. Eco-Friendly

For those with a green conscience, wood is a renewable resource. Using wood shakes or shingles often means supporting sustainable forestry practices. Plus, the wood can be recycled or left to decompose naturally when the roof’s lifespan ends.

4. Insulation

Wood provides natural insulation, helping regulate your home’s temperature and saving you money on heating and cooling bills.

5. Unique Character

Each wood roof is different. The natural variations in wood grain and color mean your roof will have its distinct personality.

In terms of usage, wood shakes, and shingles roofing is a common choice in regions with moderate to cool climates. It’s trendy in areas where the traditional look of wood complements the surroundings, such as wooded landscapes or near the coast.

In the following sections, we’ll explore this classic roofing material’s benefits, pros, and cons.

Benefits of Wood Shakes and Shingles Roofing

The Good Side of Choosing Wood

So, what’s in it for you if you decide to go with wood shakes and shingles roofing? Let’s break down the benefits:

1. Natural Beauty

Wood roofs have an undeniable charm. Their warm, earthy tones and textured surfaces can enhance the curb appeal of any home.

2. Longevity

With proper care, wood roofs can last 30 years or more. They can handle rain, wind, and sun while maintaining their integrity.

3. Insulation

Wood is a natural insulator, helping to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. This can lead to energy savings.

4. Eco-Friendly

Choosing wood supports sustainable forestry practices. It’s a renewable resource with a lower environmental impact than other roofing materials.

5. Unique Appearance

Again, each wood roof looks different. The natural variations in wood grain and color give your home a one-of-a-kind character.

6. Resistant to Wind

Wood shakes and shingles, when properly installed, can resist strong winds, making them suitable for storm-prone areas.

7. Easy to Repair

If a section of your wood roof is damaged, replacing just the affected area is often easy, keeping repair costs lower.

Now, let’s flip the coin and look at the downsides in the next section, where we discuss the pros and cons.

Pros and Cons

The Upsides and Downsides of Wood Shakes and Shingles Roofing

Wood shakes and shingles roofing has its fair share of pros and cons, as with any roofing material. Let’s explore both sides:


  • Aesthetic Appeal: The natural beauty of wood is a significant draw. It adds a timeless charm to your home.
  • Durability: Properly maintaining wood roofs can last for decades, proving their resilience.
  • Insulation: Wood naturally insulates your home, potentially saving on energy costs.
  • Sustainability: Wood is a renewable resource, making it an eco-friendly choice.
  • Unique Look: Your wood roof will have its character due to the wood grain and color variations.


  • Cost: Wood roofing can be more expensive upfront than other materials.
  • Maintenance: Regular upkeep is essential to prevent issues like rot and mold.
  • Fire Risk: Wood is flammable, and fire codes may restrict its use in some regions.
  • Installation Complexity: Proper installation is crucial and can be more intricate than other roofing types.
  • Lifespan Variability: The lifespan of wood roofs can vary based on wood type, climate, and maintenance.

Understanding these pros and cons will help you decide whether wood shakes and shingles roofing fit your home or project. 

Next, we’ll compare it to other roofing options to give you a broader perspective.

Comparison with Other Roof Types

How Wood Shakes and Shingles Roofing Stacks Up

Considering your options is essential when it comes to roofing. Let’s see how wood shakes and shingles roofing compares to some other popular choices:

Asphalt Shingles:

  • Pros: Affordable, easy to install, and widely available.
  • Cons: Shorter lifespan compared to wood, less eco-friendly.

Metal Roofing:

  • Pros: Durable, energy-efficient, and low maintenance.
  • Cons: Higher upfront costs may only suit some architectural styles.

Tile Roofing:

  • Pros: Long-lasting, fire-resistant, and stylish.
  • Cons: Heavy, requiring a solid roof structure, and expensive.

Slate Roofing:

  • Pros: Extremely durable, elegant appearance, and fire-resistant.
  • Cons: Very heavy, costly to install and repair.

Wood Shakes and Shingles Roofing:

  • Pros: Natural beauty, sound insulation, and renewable resources.
  • Cons: Higher initial cost, requires maintenance, and fire risk.

Each roofing material has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Wood shakes and shingles offer a unique blend of aesthetics and sustainability, but weighing them against your specific needs and budget is essential.

Now, let’s discuss the nitty-gritty of installing wood shakes and shingles roofing.

Installation Requirements

Putting Up Wood Shakes and Shingles Roofing

Installing wood shakes and shingles roofing isn’t your run-of-the-mill roofing job. It requires attention to detail and the right conditions:

1. Roof Deck Preparation

Ensure the roof deck is solid and in good condition. Any weaknesses or reinforcements should be addressed before installation.

2. Underlayment

Install a weather-resistant underlayment to protect against moisture. This layer is crucial for preventing leaks.

3. Ventilation

Proper attic ventilation is critical. It helps regulate temperature and moisture, extending the life of your wood roof.

4. Material Selection

Choose high-quality wood shakes or shingles, and ensure they meet local building codes.

5. Installation Technique

Proper installation is key. This includes nailing, overlapping, and ensuring uniform spacing.

6. Treatment and Maintenance

 Wood roofs need periodic treatments to maintain their appearance and durability. This includes staining or sealing to protect against rot and UV damage.

7. Fire Protection

Consider fire-resistant treatments in areas prone to wildfires and follow local fire codes. Due to the intricacies of installation and maintenance, it’s often a good idea to hire experienced professionals for wood shakes and shingles roofing projects.

Next, we’ll explore the house style types that pair well with this roofing option.

Suitable House Styles

Matching Wood Shakes and Shingles Roofing with Your Home

The charm of wood shakes and shingles roofing can complement various house styles. Here are some that pair exceptionally well:

Cape Cod Style

The classic, simple lines of Cape Cod homes harmonize beautifully with the rustic elegance of wood shakes or shingles.

Craftsman Style

Craftsman homes often feature exposed wooden elements, making wood roofing a natural fit.

Tudor Style

The texture and character of wood roofs enhance the intricate detailing of Tudor architecture.

Cottage Style

Cozy cottages benefit from the inviting warmth of wood shakes and shingles.

Rustic and Log Homes

Log cabins and rustic homes are practically made for wood roofing, creating a seamless connection to nature.

Coastal Homes

In coastal settings, wood shakes and shingles can evoke the feeling of beachside cottages.

Traditional Homes

For many traditional-style homes, wood roofing provides a timeless and elegant touch.

Remember, while these styles often pair well with wood roofing, personal preference plays a significant role. Your vision for your home should guide your choice of roofing material.

Finally, let’s delve into the financial aspect by discussing the average costs of wood shakes and shingles roofing in the U.S.

Average Costs in the U.S.

What to Expect When Budgeting for Wood Shakes and Shingles Roofing

Understanding the cost of wood shakes and shingles roofing is crucial in your decision-making process. Remember that prices can vary based on factors like location and the specifics of your project. Here’s a general overview of what you can expect in the United States:


Wood shakes or shingles per square foot typically range from $4 to $8, depending on the type of wood and quality.


Installation costs can vary significantly based on location and the job’s complexity. On average, labor expenses may range from $6 to $12 per square foot.

Total Costs

When you add materials and labor together, you’re looking at an estimated total cost of $10 to $20 per square foot. An average-sized home with a 1,500-square-foot roof translates to a total cost of $15,000 to $30,000.


Remember to factor in maintenance costs. You must budget occasional treatments to preserve the wood and ensure its longevity.

Lifespan Consideration

While the initial cost of wood roofing may be higher than some alternatives, remember that its durability can make it a cost-effective choice over the long term.

Before you decide, getting quotes from local roofing contractors is a good idea. They can provide more accurate estimates based on your specific needs and location.

In conclusion, wood shakes and shingles roofing offers a unique blend of beauty, durability, and eco-friendliness. It’s a choice that’s been popular for good reasons, but it’s essential to weigh its pros and cons against your budget and requirements.

In the next section, we’ll summarize this guide by restating the key points we’ve covered.


As we conclude this guide, let’s recap what we’ve learned about wood shakes and shingles roofing:

  • What it is: wood shakes and shingles roofing is a natural and distinctive roofing option made from various wood types, offering a unique aesthetic appeal.
  • Popularity: It remains popular due to its timeless beauty, durability, and eco-friendliness. It’s commonly used in regions with moderate to cool climates.
  • Benefits: Wood roofing provides natural insulation, durability, and a one-of-a-kind appearance. It supports sustainable forestry practices.
  • Pros and Cons: It offers aesthetics and eco-friendliness but has higher upfront costs and maintenance requirements.
  • Comparison: We’ve compared it to other roofing materials, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Installation: Proper installation and maintenance are crucial for its longevity and performance.
  • House Styles: Various architectural styles can benefit from the charm of wood shakes and shingles roofing.
  • Costs: Costs can vary, but on average, you can expect to invest between $10 to $20 per square foot.

When considering wood shakes and shingles roofing for your home or project, weighing its advantages and disadvantages against your specific needs and budget is essential. This roofing option offers a timeless and eco-friendly choice that can enhance the beauty and functionality of your property.

We hope this guide has provided valuable insights to make an informed decision. If you have any further questions or need assistance with your roofing project, don’t hesitate to contact a local roofing professional from our directory.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is wood shakes and shingles roofing?  Wood shakes and shingles roofing is made from wood, like cedar, redwood, or pine. Shingles are thin and flat; shakes are thicker and textured. It’s known for its natural beauty and durability.
  2. What are the benefits of using wood shakes and shingles roofing? Advantages include its good looks, ability to keep your home cozy, longevity, and being eco-friendly. It boosts your home’s charm, saves energy, and is sustainable.
  3. Are there any downsides to using wood roofing? Drawbacks may involve higher upfront expenses, regular upkeep, and fire risk in certain areas. Yet, proper maintenance can help address these concerns.
  4. How do wood shakes and shingles roofing compare to other roofing materials in terms of cost? Wood roofing can cost more initially than materials like asphalt shingles. Still, its durability and energy efficiency can yield cost savings over time.
  5. Can I install wood shakes and shingles roofing myself, or should I hire a professional?  While skilled homeowners may handle it, it’s often better to get a pro roofing contractor. They make sure it’s done right for long-lasting use.

References: National Roofing Contractors Association. The NRCA Roofing Manual: Steep-slope Roof Systems. NRCA, 2023. https://www.nrca.net/



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