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Shou Sugi Ban: How to Create a Stunning Charcoal Aesthetic

Jan 09, 2018

As we ring in the new year, we celebrate new design trends. Trends tend to typically be a reflection of the world around us in present time, but can also overlap with past years. Today we share an ancient wood preservation technique that is still so on-trend but dates back to the 18th century!

Shou Sugi Ban (焼杉板) or Yakisugi is an ancient Japanese wood preservation technique most commonly used to protect a home’s exterior. This process not only preserves the wood but it also provides extreme resistance and protection from weather, insects, rot, and even accidental fires. Even more, Shou Sugi Ban combines aesthetic and strength for a stunning charcoal look that can be used both indoors and out.


The Technique: Char, cool, clean, finish.

Wait what?! Fire and wood? That’s right! Shou Sugi Ban involves charring or burning a wood’s surface to accomplish a distinct charcoal finish without any paint or harsh chemicals. The process is so eco-friendly all you basically need is a blowtorch, water, and a brush. The wood can either be left in its natural state or can be sealed with boiled linseed oil or tung oil providing a lustrous finish with prolonged preservation.

To give you more of a visual, we met up with contractor Shawn Collard, owner of Shawn Collard Construction for an inside look at the process, [video top of page].

Note: Shawn used a 100-year-old longleaf pine wood, which is really difficult to burn. For this method, it is highly recommended to use cedar or “sugi” in Japanese.

The Trend

Aside from its durability features, Shou Sugi Ban is totally gorgeous! This technique really brings out the unique attributes that wood contains, highlighting its imperfections. It’s a natural way to give any piece of wood a makeover while conserving its integrity.



[Take a moment to admire this light fixture! Can you believe it, Shawn revamped this beam from reclaimed wood, applying the Shou Sugi Ban method and these very cool lights.]

Shou Sugi Ban is truly versatile, notice below how the wood can merely burn on the surface to fairly bring out the texture or char completely to give it a dark alligator skin complexion.


(Image via

As Shawn demonstrated, the technique can really enhance a home’s interior. However, it is not limited to a feature wall and can also be achieved on furniture or even reclaimed lumber beams such as the ones below. Shou Sugi Ban is limitless and we simply love the way it adds to a home and creates a new twist on shiplap.


That’s all for now! We’d love to know your thoughts and which application of Shou Sugi Ban is your fave.

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