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Timber shingles and shakes have established a reputation in North America and Europe as a beautiful and practical form of timber cladding for both roofs and walls.

Shingles and shakes are made in different ways and each has its own distinct appearance.

Shingles are taper sawn from blocks of timber and have a relatively smooth face and back.

On the other hand, shakes are split by hand or machine along the natural grain of the wood and have a strongly textured surface. Some shakes are re-sawn to give a split face and a sawn back.

Most shingles and shakes used in Australia are made from western red cedar and are imported from Canada. Some are also produced locally from species such as rose sheoak and hardwoods. They can be applied to exterior roofs and walls on any type of building where a solid nailing base is provided.

Sizes and Grades

North American producers have set standard sizes for western red cedar shingles and shakes, and these sizes have been generally adopted by Australian producers.

Shingles and shakes are mostly supplied in random widths and only length and butt thickness is specified. Table 3 sets out standard lengths and thicknesses for Western red cedar shingles.

Preservative Treatment

Although the timber species chosen for shingles are well known for their natural resistance to decay, vacuum/pressure impregnation with CCA preservative in accordance with AS 1604,and the requirements of statutory authorities in NSW and QLD will significantly increase the service life of timber exposed to extreme conditions.

Such treatment will be effective in resisting decay and discouraging the growth of fungi, moulds, and other surface vegetation.

Australian experience has shown that under certain circumstances the treatment of all types of timber shingles with a long lasting water repellent preservative prior to installation will improve their overall performance and increase life expectancy.

Australian Local Government regulations may restrict the use of shingles and shakes on the roofs and walls of commercial buildings even when treated with fire retardant chemical. Intending users should check with their local building authority or local Timber Advisory Service before specifying.

Specifiers requiring pre-treatment with preservative or fire retardant chemical are referred to their shingle supplier. The use of such treatments may affect the suitability of "roof water" for drinking.


Manufacturers specifications give full details of the fixing procedures. It is essential that these procedures be carefully followed.

Shingles should be stored on-site prior to fixing under cover clear of the ground.If outside storage is unavoidable, shingles and shakes should be covered with waterproof materials to prevent staining.


The most common use of timber shakes and shingles is as a roof cladding. Although they are usually applied in straight single courses, their application may be varied to achieve other decorative effects. Whatever the style chosen, there are certain basic details that must be followed to achieve a weatherproof and durable result. Detailed information about the construction of shingle clad roofs is available from all shingle and shake suppliers.

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