Wood Shake Roof & Repair

While wood shake roof are not as common as they used to be, they are still in the market. In this blog post, we’ll cover what are wood shake roof, what are pros and cons, and what to do about repairs.

What is Wood Shake?

Wood shakes or wood shingles are manufactured from western red cedar, cypress, pine, and redwood trees. Shakes are split from logs and reshaped by manufacturers for commercial use. They are thicker at the butt end than shingles; generally, one or both surfaces are split to obtain a textured effect. A split and re-sawn shake has a split face and sawn back. A taper sawn shake has a natural taper and is sawn on both sides. Wood shingles are sawn on both sides and have an even taper and uniform thickness. Wood shingle roofs are very rare due to the high cost and short life. Wood shake roofs are also rarer than they were years ago due to the high cost and local regulations.

Types of Wood Shake Roof Installations

Cedar shakes and cedar shingles are often available pressure-treated with fire retardants and chemical preservatives for increased fire resistance and to prevent premature rot and decay in some climates. Wood roof systems may be applied over continuously or closely spaced wood decking or over a spaced, sometimes referred to as “skipped,” sheathing.  When installed over a continuous deck, felt underlayment is installed underneath. When installed on skip-sheathing, felt interlayment is used and installed between the shake courses.

Shake Roof Life Expentancy

Typically a wood shake roof will last about 20 years. Some of the heavier wood shakes can last upwards of 30 years or more.  Aging and life expectancy are different for every roof and are usually determined by a mix of many factors, including but not limited to the quality of wood used, the cut of the shakes, amount of sun exposure, amount of rain, and maintenance. Natural aging of the wood occurs over time. The roof initially starts with a new reddish-tan color. Over the next year, the roof tends to fade into a grayish color.

Is there a Fire Danger?

Wood shake is not always allowed by building codes in some communities, however, most newer shake roofs are pressure-treated shakes that are treated in a fire retardant that meet national fire safety standards.


Wood naturally attracts water to its surface and every time it rains the wood will swell. When it dries the wood will shrink.  After multiple times of this happening the shakes can split. The upper edges of the shakes are much thinner and in the spaces between the shakes, called keyways, the sun will gradually burn through the shake leaving the felt underlayment or interlayment exposed. A typical wood shake repair will consist of replacing badly broken or split shakes and installing wood shims in the keyways to protect the exposed felt. Keeping debris off of the roof is very important to prevent blockage and water collection that may lead to leaks. If continually inspected, maintained, and repaired, a wood shake roof can last a long time.

Find a Wood Shake Roof & Shingle Repair Specialist

Roof MD specializes in maintaining, repairing, and extending the life of roofs including wood shake. Before you try to repair or replace your wood shake roof, contact us for a 2nd opinion. Remember we offer FREE roof inspections throughout most of Middle Tennessee, so if you need our assistance, simply fill out a few simple questions below and we be in contact right away.