Art&Craft - Deco&Design - Manufacture of wooden houses

Shingle roofing for the house

Alongside reed roofThe shingle is part of a universal heritage. It is a type of roofing found on old houses in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Finland, England, Canada and the USA. Where wood was not hard to find, skilful craftsmen found a way to process it to cover houses easily, whatever the shape of the roof. Our country was no exception. Wooden churches and the traditional Maramures gatesThe old houses in Bukovina, which also have their exterior walls covered with "wooden scales", the old houses in Gorizia or Siberia with shingle roofs are all evidence of the use of wood to cover houses.

shingle coverings
church in Leleasca

The very pleasing traditional look, as well as the return to wood and naturalness that we feel more and more strongly in recent years, has led to a revival in this area. As a result, in addition to traditional shingle producers, there are also industrial producers. There are differences in appearance between the two types, as there always are between hand-made and machine-made items, but the method of assembly and protection remains the same. Let's look at the advantages of wood cladding, which species are used, what needs to be done to make it as durable as possible and what the regulations say about it.

Wooden cladding

There are many different kinds of wooden cladding. Besides shingle, șițăor draniță, the houses were covered with uluc shingles, Finnish shingles (longer than ordinary shingles) or long shingles (wooden boards wider than shingles). The most commonly used, however, is shingle. The term comes from the German - schindel - like many other terms adopted by carpenters and joiners from German craftsmen.

Shingles are pieces of wood of a certain size cut along the grain. The difference between shingles, shingles and shakes is given by size and sometimes shape. Officially, in the standards, shingle is the longest and dross the shortest. However, during the documentation I have seen that some people consider dranița, specifically from Maramures, to be longer. The difference between them is also due to the way the visible part is finished. They are straight, round, wavy or cut so that they can create certain patterns on the roof.

Advantages of wooden cladding

Shingles have a rustic, traditional look and are particularly recommended for covering houses in the village. It can also be used to cover kiosks or terraces, churches or restaurants with a specific character, in which case the recommendations are more permissive.

Shingle cladding isn't just used for its great looks. They also come with a number of advantages:

  • low weight. Shingles are lighter than any other type of cladding. This saves on the house's structural strength, which makes it 'softer', an advantage even when located in areas at high seismic risk;
  • is a good thermal and sound insulator. However, for maximum comfort, it is recommended to fit insulation between the rafters;
  • is not temperature dependent. Remains flexible at low temperatures and has no dimensional variations at high temperatures;
  • is resistant regardless of where the house is located - mountain, sea, village, town;
  • in case of malfunctions local repairs can be made;
  • is natural.
What kind of wood is used

Since it is a flattened object on the outside, totally unprotected, the wood chosen must be as strong as possible. Availability also played an important role in the choice of wood for shingle carving. In our country, traditional craftsmen made and continue to use mainly spruce wood. It can also be used oak treebut it is more expensive and harder to work with as it is tougher. Our Hungarian neighbours make shingles from acaciaa resistant wood that is abundantly available. In the Nordic countries they use pine or larchand in Canada and the USA, cedar, especially white cedar, is considered one of the hardiest outdoor species.

While there are no major restrictions on the species used, the important thing is availability and outdoor resistance, the requirements for the quality of the wood are much stricter. It must be well dried, free of knots and cracks. To increase its resistance to moisture, it can be treated with oil. However, if the slope of the house is steep enough to prevent water and snow from splashing down, the shingle will work very well unprotected.

shingle coverings
photo source:
Factors on which shingle roof durability depends

The durability of a shingle roof is typically 30 years, but can be as long as 50-60 years. Several aspects are important, not just the species used. Here are some of them:

  • orientation of the building. As with any outdoor wooden object - doors, windows, fences - it's important how wind, rain and sun beaten it is. The more it is exposed to such phenomena, the more its resistance decreases over time;
  • roof slope. If the slope is shallow and the water puddles, the resistance will decrease over time. If you think about the appearance of the wooden churches in Maramures, the ones with a slope that is almost vertical, you will understand why there are such small churches, with a functional roof, that are more than a hundred years old;
  • how it was mounted. Being a covering made of thousands of pieces of wood it is very important how they are mounted. The slightest irregularity can cause water to seep through and damage the roof;
  • wood protection. You may have noticed that mold and fungus develop on some houses over time. If the wood is first treated with oil and then maintained, its moisture will not increase and create conditions for these parasitic plants that destroy the roof over time;
  • regular maintenance. Cleaning the moss from the shingle cover should be done as soon as it appears. Broken shingles should be replaced with new ones to prevent water from getting under the shingles.
shingle coverings
sirsa photo:
How to make wooden cladding. Standards

The fitting of shingle roofs is regulated by NP069 standard - 2014. It is this standard that also differentiates between shingles and shakes. The shingle has a straight, thin and narrow end, whereas the shingle may be rounded or with concave edges at the top. Depending on the area, the shingle may have flap and ulucus shaped side edges for better jointing. Șith is 30, 35, 40, 50 or 60 cm long, 7 to 14 cm wide and 5 to 7 mm thick. Shingle is 35, 40 or 50 cm long, 5 to 13 cm wide and 3 mm thick at the flap and 15 mm thick at the tip. Dranița is shorter and wider, 10-12 cm long and 9-13 cm wide.

The slope of the house on which the shingles are mounted must be at least 50% (22.5º). Mounting is on battens or batten. The shingles on a slope must be very similar in size. A deviation of only 5% is acceptable. It is recommended to treat them with biocidal and fire retardant substances before installation.

Because they are made of several pieces nailed together, shingle cladding is considered ventilated cladding. However, it is recommended that the rafters are fitted with underlay foil (anti-condensation or waterproofing). In order to ensure a constant temperature inside, thermal insulation is recommended.

Depending on the area and requirements the shingle can be laid in one, two or 3-5 layers. The overlap can be 1/4, 1/3 or 1/2 the length of the shingle. Overlapping 1/4 and single row installation is only accepted for spaces that do not need to be sealed (sheds). Overlapping 1/2 and 2 rows gives medium tightness and overlapping 1/3 and 3 layers is used for enclosed living spaces that need maximum tightness.

shingle coverings
shingle roof in Finland
forum source:
Aesthetics play an important role

Shingles have a lot of qualities, but the main reason we choose them is the way they look, especially as it is an expensive varinate compared to others on the market. A shingle roof on an appropriately designed house in the countryside will, however, add authenticity.

Shingles are very versatile and can also be used to protect the walls of houses. In this case, depending on the design of the house, shingles can accentuate the traditional look or create an interesting, even modern look. House in the shape of a shell, presented some time ago, may be an example.

There is also a thinner shingle version that is used to make roofs like those in children's stories. The way it is fitted creates "waves" and unevenness on the house. About such houses, with a dwarf house look, but I told you on another occasion.

shingle coverings
photo source:

I hope I have caught your attention this time too. If you think it's an article that would interest others, feel free to share. And if you would like to chat, have any questions, additions or comments, please leave them in the space below. I'll be sure to reply.

About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.


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  • Hello! Does the shingle have to be dried to be put/mounted on the house? What are the risks of putting freshly made shingles on the house?

    • Hello!
      Yes, the wood must be dry, not green. Wood shrinks a lot through water loss and cracks. The risks are cracking, dragging and allowing water in.
      All the best!


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