ISSUE 30  |  Global Color

Playing with Fire: Shou Sugi Ban Torched Lumber in Bright Colors

July 30, 2015 3:00 PM

BY Margot Guralnick

Now surfacing: shou sugi ban–Japanese-style charred wood–in eye-opening shades. Torched first, the planks are then stained to create a combination that accentuates the pattern of the grain while introducing a dose of color. The new palette is being offered by two shou sugi ban specialists, Delta Millworks of Austin, Texas, and reSawn Timber Co. of Telford, Pennsylvania, and has interior and exterior applications. Take a look at some samples, and start picturing the possibilities.

Delta Millworks

Above: Shou sugi ban was initially devised as a way to make timber resistant to fire, rot, and insects: Read about it in our post Dark Wood. Of late, applying flame to wood has become popular as a decorative finish–and a technique to tackle among DIYers (see a DIY Shou Sugi Ban Tabletop). Partially burned and then sanded wood–a pattern Delta Millworks calls Tiger–takes well to color stains. Most of Delta’s shou sugi ban is made using Southern cypress, but not all–this example is redwood. 

Above: Shou sugi ban specialists since 2008, Delta Millworks has been offering custom colorways for the last three years. Aspen Green is shown here

Above: Turquoise cypress.

Above: Red Wash cypress.

Delta Millworks makes all of its products to order and can match any color; prices available on request. Go to Delta Millworks to see the company’s full shou sugi ban palette.

reSawn Timber Co.

Above: Specialists in traditional shou sugi ban, reSawn Timber has just debuted a collection of 18 new cypress oil finishes in a spectrum of colors. Shown here, Yasai.

Above: Mitsuto.

The company explained its multi-step process to us: “The wood is first milled to spec (with either square edges, tongue and groove, standard shiplap, or custom shiplap with reveal). The next step is to carefully char the cypress, douse it with water, allow it to cool, and then brush it to remove dust and loose debris. The color comes from the oil finish that is then hand applied–it both colors the wood and acts as a sealer. For interior applications, we typically apply the oil finish to the face only; for exterior, we recommend applying the finish to all four sides of the wood to further seal and protect it.”

Above: Jinzu is for interiors only, but most of the company’s charred colors have an exterior grade oil that further protects against the elements.

Above: PinkureSawn Timber Co.‘s prices start at $8/square foot. 

Read our Shou Sugi Ban Primer, and on Gardenista, take a look at Before and After: A Charred Wood Cottage on a $45K Budget and A Teahouse, Burned and Blackened (On Purpose).

Like the look of bright wood? Go to Trend Alert: 10 Rooms with Color-Washed Wood and Color-Stained Furniture, the Next Big Thing?