Wood shakes and shingles are a beautiful solution when it comes to roofing. Some people don’t know the different between shingles and shakes, but it is this: shingles are sawn on both sides and are thinner than shakes. Shakes have a pleasingly irregular surface, are often split by hand and are longer lasting than shingles.

Wood shakes and shingles are most often made from red cedar, which has a straight grain that makes the wood strong. The grain of the wood also makes them excellent at shedding snow and water, and the wood itself keeps the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Because these shakes and shingles aren’t fireproof, some municipalities require that they either be pressure treated or have a plywood underlayment that resists fire. They also benefit from having a preservative applied every five years or so.

These shakes and shingles are available in three grades. Grade 1 comes from the heartwood of the tree, resists rotting and is free of knots. Grade 2 has some sapwood, and grade 3 is knotty and made largely of sapwood, which is the young, vascular wood just beneath the bark. Grade 3 shakes and shingles should only be used on the roofs of outbuildings. Shakes and shingles come in widths of 3 to 9 inches and should only be installed on roofs with fairly steep slopes.