ISSUE 42  |  Dark Shadows

Dark Wood: Shou Sugi Ban Torched Lumber

October 20, 2014 5:00 PM

BY Margot Guralnick

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Repeat after us: shou sugi ban. Devised as a way to make wood less susceptible to fire and to keep away insects and rot, this longstanding Japanese method involves torching your building materials. The results are long lived and hauntingly beautiful. And the good news is that charred wood is now widely available for domestic use.  

Above: US lumber retailers of late have begun to specialize in shou sugi ban. Shown here, a sampling of the shou sugi ban finishes offered by Delta Millworks, in Texas, which focuses solely on burned woods and works directly with private and commercial clients. Another provider is reSawn TImber Co. of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the UK, Shou-Sugi-Ban supplies, designs, and installs shou sugi ban cladding, flooring, and wall coverings in colors that it compares to “the dying embers of a log fire and the charred effects of a burnt wooden board.” 

Above: Charred cypress for use as siding, fencing, decking, and flooring. Photograph via reSawn Timber Co.

Above: Delta Millworks and reSawn Timber Co. specialize in using cypress, as well as yellow pine and vertical grain Douglass fir, all grown in the southern US and treated with variety of burned finishes. Photograph via reSawn Timber Co.

Above: Yashu, a charred cypress, for interior and exterior applications from reSawn Timber Co.

Above: ReSawn Timber Co.‘s Kujaku cypress with a subtle char.

Above: A house with shou sugi ban siding in Kajiyama, Japan, by Sakuma Studio. Photograph via Materialicious.

Above: Shou sugi ban siding and a living roof on a farmhouse in Sweden. Photograph via Basic Label Sweden.

Above: A modular studio (for use as a home office, guest room, or play space) made from shou sugi ban siding by Sett Studio of Austin, Texas. In addition to its designs, the company sells charred wood in a range of shades, including Snow White, which is pine with a whitewashed finish. Prices start at $13.99 per square foot. 

Above: The interior of Sett Studio’s modular studio.

Above: New York City architecture firm LoadingDock 5 used charred cypress from reSawn Timber Co. on the exterior of a Brooklyn residence.

For more on burned wood, see Shou Sugi Ban Wood Siding, and, on Gardenista, A Teahouse, Charred and Blackened (On Purpose) and A Stylish Swedish Outhouse.

Drawn to black facades? See 10 Modern Houses Gone to the Dark Side and 11 Traditional Houses Cloaked in Black.