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The Complete Guide to Shou Sugi Ban

Charred wood

Charred Wood is the process of lightly applying an open flame to a wood plank to char the surface of the board. The charred exterior not only helps to weatherproof the siding and act as a deterrent to insects, but it also looks extremely stunning! Shou Sugi Ban is a commonly used variation of the Japanese word Yakisugi. In Japanese, Yaki means to heat with fire, and Sugi means Japanese Cedar. Ban translates to a plank, and in this case, a wood plank. 

Shou Sugi Ban was first seen used in 18th century Japan as a technique for charring the outer layer of a wooden plank (usually cedar) to help protect the façade against weather and insects. In recent years, the visual appeal of this technique has been adopted by architects and designers around the world.  Commonly referred to as Charred Wood or Burnt Wood, this technique can be applied to a range of wood siding panels.

The Beauty and Function of Charred Wood Siding

Lifespan of Charred Wood

If properly created, a charred wood siding that uses optimal materials and techniques can last over 50 years. However, if poor materials are chosen, the technique is rushed or completed by an inexperienced craftsman, or steps in the charring or sealing processes are skipped, the lifespan of charred wood may drop dramatically. Additionally, when used in an exterior application, environmental conditions will also play a large part in the lifespan of the product.

Cost of Charred Wood

The cost of charred wood can vary from region to region, but often tends to range from around $5-10 per square foot. However, please keep in mind that the construction material market is extremely volatile, so expect pricing to vary from place to place.

When choosing a contractor or craftsman to create a charred effect, be cautious to select those with experience in the technique. Shou Sugi Ban can be a beautiful appearance when done correctly by experienced craftsman, but can quickly turn into a over-budget disaster when done incorrectly.

Image courtesy of J. Tobias

Alternatives to Charred Wood Finish: Metal Siding

New techniques that replicate the appearance of charred wood have been applied to alternative materials. Using a single pass process with a textured roll, Bridger Steel has created a metal siding version of the product. This finish combines the aesthetic appeal of charred wood, with the durability, consistency, and longevity of metal siding. This makes metal siding an excellent alternative for designers and builders looking to replicate Shou Sugi Ban in a residential or commercial project with an unbelievably tough material.

Due to the structural stability and high performing characteristics of metal panel systems, this alternative version to burned wood siding provides equivalent lifespans to charred wood created by experts and used in ideal environments. By switching to metal siding as an alternative, it allows for a consistent application of the finish, and can be applied in a wide range of environmental regions.


Charred Wood (Shou Sugi Ban) offers a unique and stunning aesthetic for both residential and commercial projects. Whether you choose the traditional method or opt for modern alternatives like metal siding, this finish provides both beauty and durability. Explore the possibilities and bring the timeless charm of charred wood to your next project.

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