Shake Siding: A Deep Dive on Cedar, Vinyl, & More

Siding is one of the most important aspects of a home’s exterior — and shake siding is one of our favorite options. It is durable and has a unique appearance that can enhance the overall look of a home. In this post, we take a closer look at this cladding material, its pros and cons, and more. 

Whether your home’s exterior is covered in shake, stucco, or another siding material, brick&batten is here to help you visualize its potential. Our designers will create a digital rendering of your home with paint color options, accessories, and more.  Learn more about our virtual design services.

A cottage with light-colored shake siding

What Is Shake Siding?

When it first arrived on the scene in the U.S. in the 1880s, shake siding was made from shakes, or pieces of wood split from a log. But thanks to advances in building materials, companies now make shakes from other materials, too, such as fiber cement and vinyl. (We cover some of these alternative materials later in this post). 

A historic-style split-level home with shake siding and all sorts of interesting architectural & exterior design features

Shake siding can be found throughout the country and on a wide variety of home styles, from Cape Cods to Craftsman houses. It’s also a popular choice for coastal dwellings, such as the one above, because of its rustic charm. It looks lovely covering the entire home or when used in conjunction with other siding materials. 

A multi-level home featuring shake siding

Shake vs. Shingle Siding

Some people use the terms “shake siding” and “shingle siding” interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. Shakes are actually a specific type of shingle siding. 

As we mentioned earlier, shake siding is split from a wood block, whereas traditional shingle siding is sawn. Shake siding has a more rough, rustic appearance, while shingle siding is smoother and clean cut. Shakes can have some natural variations in shape and size, but shingles are uniform. Shakes are often referred to as “rough shingles” because of their rugged appearance.

For more information on various siding types, as well as a slew of other design elements, check out our exterior design dictionary.

A home featuring cedar shake siding

Cedar Shake Siding

Cedar shake siding is timeless and adds character to a home. While the use of cedar can majorly improve a home’s curb appeal, there are some downsides, too. Cedar shakes require regular cleaning and treatment to protect them from things like moisture, insects, and fire.

A home with various siding types

Vinyl Shake Siding

Vinyl is a more cost-effective, lower-maintenance option than cedar. Nowadays, you can easily find the vinyl version of cedar shake siding that is nearly impossible to distinguish from real wood. Vinyl shakes also come in a wide variety of colors.

Fiber Cement Siding

Another low-maintenance alternative that still looks beautiful and authentic is fiber cement siding. We recommend Hardie® Shingle Siding all the time in our designs, including in the one above. The fiber cement material used in this siding is durable and doesn’t crack or expand in extreme weather. Additionally, it’s available in a diverse range of colors and styles, so there’s truly something for everyone.

The Finishing Touches

There are various finishes you can opt for with shake siding. Some homeowners prefer to keep things natural. In the design above, the natural shake siding pairs perfectly with the home’s red brick and trim. Our designers kept the columns the same color as the siding, creating a cohesive look for the home.

A home featuring painted shake siding

Just as plenty of homeowners like the look of painted brick vs. natural, many of our clients request a design featuring shake siding that’s painted or stained. In the rendering above, the siding is painted with Benjamin Moore’s Boothbay Gray.

A modern mountain home


The amount of work required to maintain your shake siding depends on the material you choose. As we discussed earlier, cedar requires a bit more maintenance than vinyl. Synthetic options are often moisture-resistant, which means they won’t split, rot, or warp when exposed to rain or moisture.

Shakes can last decades if properly maintained, but hot, humid climates can wear them down quicker. Fortunately, replacing a few damaged shakes — cedar or otherwise — is typically an easy process.

Virtual exterior design of a cedar shake home with trim painted in Simply White

The Bottom Line on Shake Siding

From its versatility and timelessness to its durability, there are plenty of reasons to love shake siding. Cedar oozes charm and character, vinyl offers less upkeep and more affordability, and fiber cement shake siding is the most durable.

Whether you want to incorporate shake siding into your new build or update your current home, we’re here to help. Our expert team of designers can help you visualize your dream home’s exterior before you start making any costly changes. Get started today.