Want a beautiful house? Burn it: Why charred wood siding is trending

Matthew Grocoff

January 20, 2015

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: SidingGreen Living

charred wood siding

Shou Sugi Ban is an old Japanese method of preserving wood by burning it. The technique simultaneously makes the wood beautiful, mold resistant, pest resistant and, ironically, fire resistant. Thanks to its stunning beauty and durability, Shou Sugi Ban is making a comeback. One might say that this hip yet traditional method is 'catching fire.'

Check out this VIDEO from Japan showing how the process works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xoBjpXOlyM#t=35

charred wood for siding

Burning the wood means that it requires no painting after it's installed. It can last upwards of 80-100 years with little maintenance. Termites and other insects hate it (I saw one carpenter ant complaining to his buddy that someone burned dinner). Chemical preservatives, stains, and retardants are unnecessary. It's one of the few completely non-toxic and natural ways to preserve wood.

Traditionally, Shou Sugi Ban was made with cedar. However, almost any type of wood can be used, making this a great way to use reclaimed lumber.

fireplace made with charred wood

The real reason for all the excitement over charred wood siding is that it is simply beautiful. There's an ethereal quality to the charcoaled wood. Its silvery surface transforms with the changing light.

It does take quite a bit of work to get the wood to a desired color or texture. The learning curve is steep. So this is not a DIY project for most folks. However, there are several craft manufacturers popping up around the country that are offering a variety of charred wood options.

Here's some resources for charred wood:

6 Steps to making charred wood siding: http://www.dwell.com/how-they-make-it/article/6-steps-how-make-charred-cedar-cladding

Where to buy pre-charred wood: http://www.deltamillworks.com/shou-sugi-ban/

The Traditional Art of Charred Wood: http://shousugiban.com/

Photos via www.PioneerMillworks.com and http://shousugiban.com/


  • Ronald Swanson says: 09 February 2015 at 8:14 am
    This is an absolutely beautiful finish to the wood, that really gives the home an earthy feel. I've been wanting to add siding to my house for a long time now, I've just kept putting it off because of the ensuing work that is sure to come. I had no idea that burning the wood makes it extremely bug and stain resultant. The best part of this entire thing is I don't have to paint it, and that it requires little to no upkeep in the future. http://www.beaumart.ca/index.php/products-home-renovation/
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