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Wood Shake Roofing Cost Guide

A wood shake roof is often considered a throwback because of its widespread availability in the past. The wood shake roof was once a popular choice due to a very limited number of roofing options in past decades. Today, the wood shake roof is a premium, luxury product that adds vintage beauty and natural appeal to houses. Building contractors and architects favor wood shake roofing because it beautifully complements a housing structure's landscaping. Asphalt shingle roofing is a cheaper and more popular alternative in today's age of efficiency and minimalism. However, any architectural design enthusiast will appreciate the appeal of the wood shake roof.


  • Average minimum cost $5 per square foot

  • Average maximum cost $8 per square foot

Before choosing a wood shake finish for a home, one must consider the cost. Obviously, asphalt shake is a much cheaper alternative. However, it is hard to ignore the aesthetic appeal of an all-wood finish. Despite the higher entry cost of installing wood shake roofing, the decision should be considered an investment because of wood shake's protection from wind damage and hail. In the long run, protection from wind and hail may eventually offset the overall cost of installing the wood shake roofing. Additionally, one must consider that wood shake roofing is susceptible to rotting, warping and splitting, and proper maintenance is necessary in order to prevent unnecessary repairs. After calculating the long-term cost for maintenance and weighing it against the benefits, one can fully understand the true cost of installing wood shake roofing.

The overall cost of installing a wood shake roof will depend on the individual contractor and the neighborhood the home is in. Construction costs are directly proportional to property values. Additionally, renovating a roof is much different than building a roof from scratch. Constructing a wood shake roof as part of a new home is significantly more expensive than simply renovating an existing roof. However, paying for an asphalt roof in the beginning and later changing to a wood shake roof is ultimately more expensive, so it is important to be decisive and firm with any home-building decisions. The cost of building a wood shake roof usually ranges between $8,000 and $12,000. Before choosing a contractor, it is important to do research and compare prices. No company has a monopoly on the roofing industry, so it is important to exercise capitalistic privileges and shop around.


Wood shake roofing is manufactured primarily from cypress, Western red cedar, pine and redwood trees. The manufacturers take wooden logs and split the shake for commercial use. The logs are split to give it a signature textured effect. Treatment with fire retardants and chemical preservatives are common practice among contractors to prevent rotting and weather-induced decay. Pine shakes are taper-sawn and manufactured from Southern yellow pine.

Preservation is a very important factor when purchasing a wood shake roof. Naturally, wood shake roofing is susceptible to damage from mold, insects and fungi. Several chemical solutions are available to deter rot and decay. The roof's current condition will ultimately determine the effectiveness of wood preservatives. Newly-renovated rooftops provide the best opportunity to chemically treat wood shakes. After years of non-treatment, wood preservatives begin to lose their effectiveness, and replacing the roof may be the only feasible option. When applying preservatives, the coating should be applied as uniformly as possible. Drips and runs look sloppy and unprofessional. Applying several coats and employing experts is infinitely better than rushing and ruining the finishing on an expensive rooftop. Applying wood preservative can be done with either a roller or spraying. Sprayers are ideal for irregular and uneven surfaces; however, it is important to make sure wind conditions are suitable for using a spray applicator. Conversely, brushes are useful for reaching hard-to-reach spots. After completely understanding the nature of wood shake roofing, maintenance is easy. The effort put into maintenance is always well worth it. Housing and do-it-yourself enthusiasts will appreciate the visual appeal of a professionally installed wood shake rooftop.

Pros and Cons

One of the most obvious advantages of wood shake roofing is the aesthetic appeal. Contractors and architects often recommend wood roofing because it is easy to install and is very visually appealing if maintained properly. The vintage, log cabin look is very popular. New homeowners will always appreciate a beautiful, wooden finish. Environmentalists adamantly argue that the roofing industry has been the primary cause of deforestation and global warming. However, recent efforts made by the Forest Stewardship Council and the National Roofing Contractors Association, or NRCA, have made wood shake roofing an environmentally responsible decision. More wood is being recycled after disposal as opposed to being stockpiled in a landfill. Detractors of wood shake roofing also argue that the longevity is another disadvantage.

As stated earlier, wood shake roofing is vulnerable to insects, mold, fungi and weather conditions. Without the proper protection, wood shake roofing can quickly lose its beauty and become an unpleasant distraction. Additionally, the cost of replacing rotting wood is very expensive, and hiring a professional for repairs can put a dent in anybody's pocketbook. Fire damage is another important factor when consider a wood shake roof. Insurance companies usually charge higher deductibles for houses with wooden finishes simply because of its susceptibility to fire. Another overlooked advantage is the popularity of wood shake roofing. Wood shake roofing isn't as popular as it was in past decades. The nostalgic, all-American look is growing in popularity and has a niche following among home builders. After factoring all these aspects, making a decision on roofing should be easy.

Overall, the advantages of wood shake roofing should be weighed against its disadvantages. If aesthetic appeal seems more important than practicability, a wood shake roof is the perfect option. If weather conditions and long-term cost is a major issue, it may be more practical to opt for asphalt shake roofing. Asphalt roofing is significantly cheaper than its wooden counterpart and doesn't require as much upkeep. Additionally, lower insurance deductibles and money saved on wood preservatives may tempt home builders to go against wood shake. Despite these advantages, a beautifully polished wood shake roof is unparalleled in terms of beauty and majestic appeal.

Last updated on Jul 1, 2014

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