Cedar Shake Siding Costs, Plus Pros & Cons: 2017 Cost Estimates

Wood siding encompasses many styles, shapes, grains and grades / quality. Here we’ll focus on the shakes and shingles for style and shape with cedar as the grain.

Cedar shakes and shingles are actually two distinct styles, even though people routinely reference them as if it were just one style. Both are shorter, vertical wood planks that are installed in an overlapping fashion. Shake is traditionally axe-cut while shingles are saw-cut. In today’s world, they are quite likely both sawn and shake is just made to resemble the appearance of an axe chipping at the surface. Shake, historically, tends to have wider butt ends than shingles.

Wood siding isn’t as popular as it once was, but cedar shake and shingles display the beauty of wood in a prominent way. It tends to be more expensive than other wood siding options, due mostly to labor, and has some advantages over other wood siding options.

Pricing Information – Part 1


Installation method for cedar shingles and shakes, is the same. Costs are virtually the same, varying only on wood quality and additional building materials. A person with carpentry skills could do the job, though a pro would handle all facets of the project far more efficiently, while also being properly-equipped and insured. There is also the warranty aspect to consider on both, product and service.

Cedar shingles and shake siding costs, on average, between $6.50 and $13.00 per sq. ft. installed. Quality of wood, size of boards, styling options and regional considerations all weigh in for why the range is what is noted. We’ll delve deeper on factors that impact costs in a bit, but you can expect to pay $15,000 to $28,000 in total costs for a typical two bedroom home.

Cost Info - Part 2

Before we get to the factors that impact costs, let’s take a look at what the actual job entails and break down its costs. This is what you might see on an estimate from a professional contractor. Please note: these are ballpark estimates based on national average information. Our section below will convey additional cost considerations that impact pricing.

White Cedar Shingle Clear Grade Siding: 2,000 sq. ft. x $8.50 = $17,000 (includes labor)
Removal of previous siding: $1,600
Garbage Rental / Disposal Charge: $900
House Wrap: $250
Additional Building Materials: (i.e. furring strips, galvanized nails, flashing) = $600
Building Permit: $250

Total Project Cost = $20,600

Factors Impacting Overall Costs

With nearly all siding jobs, the first consideration is removal of previous siding and disposal. An experienced crew can have this done in a day and will rent a huge garbage bin for disposal of materials. This could conceivably lead to necessary repairs on the home’s exterior walls which may also lead to additional cost, but this would be the best time to take care of such a problem.

The style options for the shake and shingle are primary factors impacting the cost. You’ll select between white and red cedar. For various reasons, red cedar is consider the better material option, though some of that is subjective. Red cedar is rarely, if ever painted, while white cedar is often stained and sometimes painted, thus require a bit more of ongoing maintenance. Red cedar is also considered more durable or better able to handle weathering over years. With all this said red cedar tends to be more expensive than white cedar.

After choosing the type of cedar, you’ll probably be most concerned with grade of the material. This ranges from clear to knotted, or put another way, premium to blemished. But like most things concerning style, this is a bit subjective. Some consider the natural defects of wood, such as knots, to be part of the appeal, and if you wish to save costs, this is surely one factor where you can.

Next style consideration deals with thickness of the board. Again, shake tends to be more thick than shingle. More dense often means more expense. Another option is the shape of the bottom edge, which includes straight edge, staggered edge or pieces of varying lengths, and finally rounded or wavy edges. The last tends to be a bit more expensive. Straight edge pieces tend to be uniform in shape and size and so is the least expensive option.

Additional building materials are items that may be included in the siding costs, and not separate line items. You’ll obviously need nails to fasten the material to the walls, and that along with flashing or furring strips are part of what is needed to get the job done. All this is likely less than a $1.00 per sq. ft.

Not mentioned in our example project is stains for the wood. That is an optional item, but can add rather substantially to the costs. Generally, it’s about $2.00 per sq. ft. for staining or painting wood exterior, but it depends a bit on layout of the home.

Labor is the final factor. Other wood siding options entail less labor, as boards are longer and easier to put up. Labor costs will go up if going with multiple layers or what is sometimes referenced as double-coursing. Another aspect that increases costs is waste material which working with smaller planks is more likely to occur. Yet, a professional installer if far more likely to have less waste material and will calculate this upfront based on their experience. Less experienced installers may have you buying more material due to them not accounting for wasted materials.


The Good, The Bad and The Oh So Pretty

Here we list the pros, cons and chief reason for why to consider cedar shake and shingle siding.

The Good: The beauty of wood is a big reason why anyone chooses it as a siding material. With the various options shake and shingle offers, it has a very unique appearance that tends to age well, especially if properly maintained. While it is relatively expensive compared to other wood siding options, it is still lower than say fiber cement or stone siding options and is on par with say high grade vinyl siding. Another pro is the return on investment from cedar shake and shingle. Generally wood siding averages about 77% ROI, while cedar shake and shingles surpass 80%.

The Bad: The well-known disadvantage of all wood siding is its requirement for ongoing maintenance. Less so with red cedar, but after say 30 years, it will show its age. Animals can infest wood over time, and mildew can become a detrimental factor. Plus wood not treated with fire retardants is undeniably flammable.

The Oh So Pretty: While the beauty of cedar shakes and shingles is treasured, we’d note that the insulation, or R-value, is supreme. Not that it matches a solid stone wall that has top notch R-value, but a double-coursed installation surpasses 1.0 R-Value and not many siding materials can lay claim to that. 😉 This style sheds water very well and insulates your home, which is the icing on the cake.

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