Shou Sugi Ban – Japanese Charred Wood
The term “Shou-Sugi-Ban” is Japanese and literally translates to “burnt cedar board”. The term is commonly used to describe the centuries old Japanese technique of charring “Sugi” (cedar) planks used for residential siding, fencing, and decking projects.
The practice of charring Sugi commonly referred to in the United States as Japanese Cedar has been commonplace in Japan since at least the 1700s, and likely earlier. In the last 50-100 years the practice has fallen out of favor in Japan due to the advent of modern plastic or cement based siding, decking, and fencing. Additionally, wood in Japan has been in short supply for quite a while, and most wood has to be imported, increasing its cost. These factors caused Shou Sugi Ban to become a “lost” technique.
In the early 2000′s, Shou Sugi Ban was “rediscovered,” first in Japan, but then it quickly gained the attention of architects and designers in Europe and North America, and started showing up in custom designed houses and buildings. In the last few years its use has really exploded, for all the same reasons that it was popular in Japan hundreds of years ago.
The process involves charring the wood, cooling it, cleaning it, and finishing it with a natural oil,
Charring cedar in the United States as a method of coloring, finishing and preserving siding and fencing is just catching on. Because Japanese Cedar is indigenous to Japan only, builders in North America have turned to American outdoor woods such as Western Red Cedar and Southern Cypress, and found that they work just as well, if not even better than the original Japanese Cedar.