Shou-Sugi-Ban – Burnt Sugi Boards

Shou-sugi-ban 焼杉板, or burnt sugi board is a Japanese technique of creating timber cladding that should last over 80 years. Sugi is known as Japanese cedar, Instead of sugi, our wood species are Belinga. Old traditional Japanese houses use shou-sugi-ban for their external timber cladding, although rarely used now (replaced by manmade plastic or composite). The sugi was burnt to resist rot and fire. Supposedly it’s difficult for something already burnt to a charcoal finish to catch fire again.  - The Decking Network forum January 19th, 2011

This is a technique people have been using for many years to create a very distinct and durable look, mainly used for exterior siding and furniture. Lately I have become very interested in how we can use it on some of our projects and art pieces here at Urban Design and Construction. I first became interested in it watching friend and fellow artist Steven Tiller do experiments. He was tinkering around with the technique at the shop one day and I fell in love with what he was doing. I watched him create a few art pieces and quickly became enamored with the whole process. I mean come on FIRE!!

House Crashers Wall

We first started to play with it on an episode of House Crashers. Steven Made this beautiful Exterior wall for the show. Next I started my own experiments. Making a frame for an art piece, doing different samples of burn amounts working with different oils, basically having fun. Next came our first project, 20 out-door table tops for an up coming restaurant in our local area.

Troy Rock'n the Torch at Urban Design

Table Top after scrubbing and before Clear Coat

We are having a lot of fun experimenting with this finish technique at the shop, and I am personally having a great time coming up with many designs and  interesting applications for this process. Hopefully you will see us incorporating this into a lot of our work in the future!

Below are images I have found for different applications for Shou Sugi Ban..

Fire = :)

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17 Responses to “Shou-Sugi-Ban – Burnt Sugi Boards”
  1. Dennis says:

    great piece…

  2. Ari Signes says:

    This is amazing and very cool !! … and I bet you have fun in the process !
    I just love it !!

  3. archmcp says:

    Very interesting finish. I’ve been following other projects using this technique as well and am curious about the final finish applied (if any). This project – – applies an oil every year. This architect has multiple projects using the same technique, but I haven’t found any information about protective coatings (beside the char). What do you guys do?
    Second question – have you experimented with any other wood (is western red cedar an appropriate counter-part to japanese cedar)?
    Thanks and nice work!

  4. I see that you have found my original blog from the Decking Network, nice one.

    I am on Garden ER, a new TV show on Channel 5 – we will be creating a deck using this techique. feel free to have a look at and leave your comments or ask any questions.



    • hammnation says:

      Thank you Karl, I hope i gave you enough recognition? Blogging is pretty new too me and I don’t know if i’m alway’s following proper etiquete.

      • No problem, Thanks for the link. All positive comments are well received.

        don’t forget Garden ER next week for the burnt shou sugi ban decking



  5. Jem N' Tonic says:

    I’ve been thinking more and more about burnt wood for my sculptures and my furniture. I think that this is the way I’m going for my coffee table. Thanks for showing me more inspirational photos too.

  6. archmcp says:

    archmcp here again.
    Hammnation – do you have any thoughts about my previous inquires above? Final finish oil? Other woods? Also, I’m wondering if anyone has done a follow up on the charred cedar 5 or so years after install to see how it’s holding up.
    Thanks in advance for any insight!

  7. I am just about done building a dining room table for a client. This treatment is what I have in mind, however I to wonder what you use as a finishing sealer… Im stressing out over it because the few products I tried turned the samples black, instead of the rich brown tones u get after brushing off the ash. Thats the color I want… I need a seeler though. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. [...] Shou-Sugi-Ban – Burnt Sugi Boards « Urban NowApr 12, 2011 … The sugi was burnt to resist rot and fire. Supposedly it’s difficult for something already burnt to a charcoal finish to catch fire again. [...]

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