What is Shou Sugi Ban?
Why does Shou Sugi Ban work?
Does Shou Sugi Ban work on pine or other species?
The short answer is no. Cedar and cypress are related trees that have unique properties that help them respond favorably to a hot, fast surface burn. Accoya, a chemically treated form of pine, also burns well. In Europe, Siberian larch is occasionally used for Shou Sugi Ban. Other species will turn into a splinter-y mess and won’t give you the beautiful texture you’re looking for. Trust us, we tried several other options ourselves—creating some spectacular duds--before settling on using cedar exclusively.
Shou sugi ban vs Yakisugi: what word is correct?
As we mentioned above, the term “Shou Sugi Ban” is the name used in North America for this product. It’s actually a mistranslation of the original Japanese term for this product, “yakisugi”. So why don’t we use the word Yakisugi? The fact is that while we are inspired by the traditional process, we deviate from it in our method (we use a blowtorch rather than an open flame) and in our materials (we use North American variants of cedar instead of Japanese cypress).
We also deviate in our prescribed purpose: we burn and brush the wood because it's beautiful, not for the increased protection from insects and weather damage. As such, it did not feel accurate for us to use the name that refers to the traditional product. But you should know that in Japan, the word Yakisugi is the correct word. If you say "Shou Sugi Ban" in Japan, no one will know what you're talking about!
So there are some of the most common Shou Sugi Ban questions, answered. If you want to know more about this process, let us know in the comments!