The Shou Sugi Ban Charred Wood Technique

Shou Sugi Ban is a Japanese wood charring technique done to weatherproof wood. It involves charring the wood to have a deep black surface. It may seem odd or counterintuitive to burn wood purposely. Your entire life, people probably told you that wood is flammable and it should stay away from fire. While that is true, the technique is a controlled flame on the wood’s surface. What this creates is a wood that is waterproof and fireproof. Furniture makers can then use it to make furniture that is more sturdy and resistant to the elements.



Charred wood extension cladding

Process of Charring


Softwoods such as cedar and cypress are the best wood to use when performing the technique. Unlike in 18th century Japan, technology now allows for better and easier charring techniques. It is now primarily performed with a propane-powered blowtorch. If you have ever had a fireplace, you will notice that logs placed within will get black and start to separate. The process is the same for Japanese wood charring. A blowtorch is taken to the surface of the wood until it turns a deep black and starts to separate slightly. The torch is moved evenly, giving a few seconds of charring for each area. The process is done when the surface of the wood is covered in dark black soot. Afterward, a wire brush is used on the table to get rid of the black surface.


Why is it so Popular?


The process is popular because it creates a more durable wood with better insulation. In addition, the wood that has been charred is more resistant to outside elements such as moisture and insects. This increased resistance means that the furniture produced is of better quality and requires much less maintenance. As a result, many contemporary architects and artists use the technique to create longer-lasting works of art. The difference in durability that wood charring adds to a wood’s surface is quite significant. Furniture that lasts longer is also less wasted as it is used for quite a while without being thrown out. As a result, the technique is more sustainable than other methods of strengthening wood surfaces. The sustainability of the process mainly comes from the fact that it is natural and does not release any harmful substances into the air. Furthermore, it does not use much material other than fire and wood.



Charred wood ceiling beams


Cost of the Technique


Japanese wood charring can be performed yourself if you have the equipment for it. All you would need is the wood, a torch, and a wire brush. There are many videos online to teach you how to do it, but it is understandable if you want a professional to perform it for you. It would typically cost around £50 per square meter of wood. Installation depends on the contractor you choose, so it is best to ask for a quotation.


How Long Does It Last?


Many factors affect how long the wood charring lasts, such as the material, finish, and technique. Experts say that the Japanese charring technique lasts for a minimum of five years. However, there have been Japanese examples of it that have lasted for more than 50 years, which indicates its long lifespan. Nevertheless, the durability added by the charred wood technique makes it last longer.




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