Burn Baby, Burn

If you haven’t already heard of this wood finishing technique I’m pleased to fill you in!!

“Shou Sugi Ban” is an ancient Japanese technique where wood is charred to get its look. Traditionally, Yakusugi wood was used (more commonly known as Japanese Cedar) which was from the island Yakushima. Since the wood was only on one island, it isn’t practical to use anymore. Now designers and architects are using Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Pine, and Oak on their projects to achieve this look.

Shou Sugi - Dezeen
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Ya, ya, ya… it looks super cool – but really, what’s the point other than aesthetics?

Charring the wood actually PRESERVES it!!! It is resistant to fire (oddly enough), rot, and insects, so you can say “Peace out, termites!”.  Shou Sugi Ban can even last up to 80 years, which makes this a great option for siding.

Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?!

So how is this done?  It actually seems quite easy, with minimal steps, but before you decide to take a torch to your siding (‘cuz I don’t want you to burn your house down, or set fire to yourself..) make sure you are confident in your skills. Check to make sure you have enough open space, and aren’t in an area that is getting any wind – if you’re doing this outside.

Shou Sugi - phaidonatlas.com
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1. Burn It, Baby!

Traditionally this is done over a controlled fire, but using a propane torch will do the trick. If you use a torch, hold  around 2 – 4″ away from the wood. You want the torch to have a blue flame but turn orange and disperse when it comes in contact with the wood. Success! You’re charrin’ it up!! However, you are only trying to mark up the top layer of the wood evenly. Burning it right through will ruin the wood and create an uneven look.

2. Brush It, Baby!

Now you want to brush the wood with a wire brush and water. This will soften and even out the look. The longer you do this the lighter the overall appearance will be, depending how deep you have charred.

3. Soak It, Baby! (damnit I couldn’t think of anything more clever..)

Wash away all of the debris and any dust from the wood, and let it fully dry.

4. Finish It, Baby! 

You’re so close to being done! Finish the wood with a Tung or Penofil Oil to keep it lasting long! This step isn’t necessary, however why not go the extra mile when you’ve come this far.

Helpful Hint # 1  – You only need to charr areas of the wood that will be exposed to the weather.

Helpful Hint # 2 – If you are doing this.. 2 words – FIRE. EXTINGUISHER.

Shou Sugi - designboom
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Shou Sugi - Dwell
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shou sugi - dwell 2
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Shou Sugi - dezeen 2
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Absolutely stunning, right?!?!  Just because Shou Sugi Ban makes wood resistant to weather DOESN’T mean it has to stay out there, so let’s bring it inside!!

Liiiiiiike around a fireplace..

shou sugi - archilovers
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Shou Sugi - archilovers 2
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to the inside of a sauna…

shou sugi - pintererst
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even a serving tray

shou sugi - etsy
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and a beautiful credenza..

shou sugi - amuneal
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and a stunning clock…

shou sugi - pinterest 2
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I’m totally into this look. I love that it is actually a practical solution as well!! Just promise me you will be careful if you think you got what it takes to scorch up some wood!!!

Thanks for reading guys!!

I want to know what you guys think, give me a shout in the comments!

-Darcy Alexa


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