Unlike wood shingles which are sawn to precise dimensions, wood shakes are usually made by hand or machine split. This manufacturing technique provides the characteristic rustic rough hewn texture and slight irregularity of a wood shake.
Cedar shakes have four main grades as defined by the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau:
Like wood shingles, wood shakes are most commonly made from red cedar due to red cedar's availability and natural resistance to rot, and other rot-resistant species including white cedar, redwood and cypress (yellow cedar). Wood shakes usually come in 18" to 24" lengths and random widths. They are thicker than wood shingles, with varying butt thickness. A shake with a weather exposure of 7-1/2" to 10" can have a butt thickness range of 1/2" to 3/4".
Proper installation of a wood shake roof includes using corrosion resistant box or casing nails such as stainless steel, aluminum, galvanized (hot-dipped) or brass. The same is true with Wood shingled roofs.
Shake roofs also require a special protective layer between shakes for a proper installation, getting a 2-layer roof installation with a 30# felt paper underlayment between every row of shakes. The felt paper underlayment helps ensure water runoff and should be installed with at least a 6" overlap on vertical joints and a 2" overlap on the horizontal runs and 4" of felt paper wrapped at all corners.
Maintenance Required: Generally more durable than wood shingles.Over time, they will also develop a patina of a soft grey. Wood shakes are easily replaced.
Life Expectancy: Cedar shakes will last between 30 to 50 years if properly maintained and not located in damp wooded areas.
Cost: Wood shakes cost more than wood shingles and can range from $400 to $500 per square (100 square feet of roof area) furnished and installed in 2017 dollars.