What Is Cedar Shake Siding?

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Cedar has a rich, attractive color and tight, impervious wood grain.
Cedar has a rich, attractive color and tight, impervious wood grain. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Cedar shake siding provides a beautiful and natural looking material to finish a home's exterior. Cedar shakes are slim, hand cut pieces of wood that give the outside of the house a rustic look. The effect is somewhat old-fashioned and traditional and blends in nicely in woodsy or rural settings. Cedar shakes are very durable and long lasting but they are also very expensive. The siding may be worth it if you want a low maintenance, natural product instead of a vinyl or aluminum siding.

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Cedar Siding

There are many ways to side your home. Sheeting utilizes larger boards to cover the surface area, while shakes and shingles are comprised of smaller cut pieces. Cedar is nearly pitch and resin free, which means it accepts stains and coatings evenly and deeply. Cedar has a natural preservative that makes it resistance to decay, insects and moisture. The compounds responsible for these benefits are thujaplicans and water soluble phenolics. Cedar can be used without treatment even in the harshest climates.

Cedar Shake Siding

Shake siding is comprised of individual boards that overlap to create a completely covered surface with complex texture. They are installed in the same manner as roof shingles. Shingles are similar to shakes but they are a machine cut product that has a smooth edge which gives the siding a more elegant finish. Shakes are hand split, re-sawed or sawed on both sides. They are found on homes that blend into the environment such as vacation cabins and mountain retreats. The serenity and natural beauty of these locations is accented by the cedar shakes. Cedar shakes have a very rough, heavily grooved feature.

Expense

The cost of siding varies with supply and demand and the export market for cedar. In 2011, cedar shake siding for a 1,150 square foot home cost $5,000 to $6,946 for the material alone, while installation was $725 to $1,092. This makes the average total cost per square foot from $5.30 to $6.63. This cost reflects a very standard and uncomplicated installation. For homes with more complex layouts, you can add another 4 to 12 percent for the total siding job. The more angles and jut-outs the building contains, the more difficult the installation.

Dimensions

Shakes can be found in a variety of sizes. Most of them are 18 to 24 inches long and laid in an overlapping pattern starting at the bottom of the home and working upward. This makes a surface that provides sheeting action from rain. Shakes have a thin end and a fatter "butt" end. They may be 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide on average at the butt end. Shakes are usually installed with nails and are made from the heartwood of cedar, which is the strongest wood in the cedar tree.

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