Wood shingles are thin, tapered pieces of wood primarily used to cover roofs and walls of buildings to protect them from the weather.
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Historically shingles were split from straight grained, knot free bolts of wood. Today shingles are mostly made by being cut which distinguishes them from shakes which are made by being split out of a bolt.
Wooden shingle roofing were common in the North American colonies (for example in the Cape-Cod-style house), while in central and southern Europe at the same time, thatch, slate and tiles were the prevalent roofing materials.
In rural Scandinavia, wood shingle roofs were a common roofing material until the 1950s. Wood shingles are susceptible to fire and cost more than other types of shingle so they are not as common today as in the past.
Typical shingle patterns exist in different regions created by the size, shape, and method of use. Special treatments such as swept valleys, combed ridges, decorative butt ends, and decorative patterns impart a special character to each building.
The simplest form of wood shingle is a rectangle about 16 inches (41 cm) long. The sides and butt of a shingle are often irregular; the sides may taper and the butt may not be square with the sides.
Shingles that have been processed so that the butt is square to the sides are called rebutted and re-squared or rebutted and re-jointed shingles, often abbreviated R&R.
Shingles and shakes may be tapered, straight, split or sawn and any combination of these except straight-tapered.
Different species and quality of wood are used as are different lengths and installation methods.
Shakes and shingles may also be treated with wood preservatives and fire retardants before or after installation.