A shake is typically described as a wooden shingle that is made from split logs. When these are used for covering the top of a house, the result is a shake roof. Natural wood roof shakes can be very expensive, are naturally flammable, and require a lot of upkeep over their lifetime in order to provide long-lasting protection. Statewide roofing recommend a treated shake roof which is treated to resist fire. 


To most passersby, the difference between a shake and shingle roof is difficult to distinguish. But to the trained eye, the differences are noticeable and dramatic.

Shingles always have a smooth and uniform look, not just across each plate but over an entire roof. This is due to the traditional manufacturing method of sawing off singular cedar shingles from one block of wood.

Wood shakes, on the other hand, are traditionally hand split, which leads to a rougher texture and finish. An appearance like this manifests as a lack of uniformity across each shake and covering for the entirety of the roof.

Today, shingles are no longer sawn but rather manufactured by machines — meaning their uniform nature is only enhanced. When you hold a single tile in your hands, you’ll notice that both sides are smooth and consistent, and the overall piece tapers for ease in installation. Modern wood shakes are also made using contemporary technology. One side will deliver the hand split texture that some homeowners love, but the opposite side is typically smooth and sawn. Shakes are also much thicker than shingles, which leads to a much different appearance after installation.

Different Types Of Grains In Cedar Shakes And Shingles

Another important factor to consider when choosing between a roof covered in shakes or shingles is the grain. You have three options to choose from, depending on the appearance and performance of each style:

  • Edge Grain: When the wood of a shingle or shake is cut perpendicular to the tree’s rings, it’s called an edge grain. This is the highest quality cut you can get due to its stability — meaning that with an edge cut, your roofing tiles are unlikely to distort over time. You’ll also generally pay more for a product that’s cut with an edge grain, due to its long-term durability and strength.
  • Flat Grain: Flat grain shakes and shingles are opposite of edge grain because they’re cut parallel to the tree’s rings. An issue with a flat grain wood shake is that it becomes less stable and therefore is much more likely to split over time.
  • Slash Grain: Slash grain is when the roofing piece is cut at an angle to the tree’s rings. This is the least desirable cut due to its overall appearance and durability.