The classic FPL publication Installation, Care, and Maintenance of Wood Shake and Shingle Siding answers many questions homeowners have about natural wooden siding.
Co-authors Jack Dwyer, Tony Bonura, Arnie Nebelsick, Sam Williams, and Christopher G. Hunt explain that wood shakes and shingles have been used for centuries as a siding material. Western redcedar, Alaska yellow-cedar (also called yellow cedar), and redwood are the most commonly used wood species for manufacturing shakes and shingles. Shakes and shingles from these species are included in the building codes for the United States and Canada. To meet these building code requirements shakes and shingles must meet specific wood quality standards.
Eastern white-cedar (also known as northern white-cedar, Thuja occidentalis) is also currently used for shingles, and grade rules are established for this species. The Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau (CSSB) has specifications for shakes and shingles. Shingles from this species are not covered under CSSB standards and their quality is not certified through third-party inspection; therefore, their use on roofs is not authorized under United States and Canadian building codes. They are approved for use on sidewalls, however. Check with local code officials for details. Other species have also been used for shakes and shingles, including white oak (Quercus alba) and southern pine (also called southern yellow pine, Pinus spp.). The quality of white oak and southern pine shakes and shingles is not assured through CSSB inspection; therefore, check with code officials in your area for acceptance of these products.
Wood shakes or shingles, if properly installed, finished, and maintained, will age gracefully and provide a long service life.