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The construction of the infamous shed is underway, now that the backyard is cleared of all laurel hedges, stumps, and debris. Husband is working hard to finish the shed so we can move out of our storage unit we’ve been renting for years. I promise I will show you the finished product in due time, but first I want to dedicate a post to a fun ‘extra project’ we decided to for the shed: shou sugi ban.

Shou sugi ban is a traditional Japanese art form of charred ceder. Used as an exterior siding technique, shou sugi ban utilizes fire to burn ceder planks, preserving the wood siding and protecting it from the elements. I had never heard of this technique until Husband introduced me to the concept a few years ago.

While we were making plans for the new and improved Ozzie, Husband insisted we incorporate this siding into our house. I had no objections. I think it looks really cool. Plus the concept is great: once the siding is burned and installed, there won’t be much, if any, maintenance to it.

However, before tackling our shou sugi ban siding on the actual house, we thought it a good idea to have a sort of test run and use this technique for the shed’s siding. That way if any problems arise with the siding on the shed, we can problem solve the solution before adding it to our second story addition on Ozzie.

And so, with out further ado, here’s how we shake our shou sugi ban ban (read: a how to guide on shou sugi ban siding)

Materials Needed:

  1. Wood siding (we used Gorman, pine tongue and groove siding because it was cheaper than ceder)
  2. Propane tank
  3. Propane blow torch (the kind used to kill weeds etc)
  4. Wire bristle push broom
  5. Safety glasses

The Process:

We started by setting the siding boards up on two cinder blocks in an area that we were ok charring a bit. For us, it was a concrete walkway along the side of our house. Once the boards were set and the propane torch ready to go (of course with the proper safety equipment on) we fired that puppy up and watched the magic happen.

Husband getting his shou sugi ban on
Husband getting his shou sugi ban on
Trying not to burn off the tongue and groove
Trying not to burn off the tongue and groove
This is how I shou sugi ban
This is how I shou sugi ban

Next we needed to brush off the top layer of charred wood. We found the best results from the siding if we burned it to the point that they top layer looked like crocodile skin. Since the wood has been burned, ash inevitability is going to come off anyway, so if you aim for a crocodile skin top layer, we found that the layer you are left with is a bit darker and richer (in our opinion) in color.

Brushing the ash off the siding
Brushing the ash off the siding

We were not able to get all of the ash off of boards, but we did our best to get as much as we could off. We found that handling the boards post burn was a very dirty process. By the end of our shou sugi ban burning, both Husband and I were covered head to toe in black ash.

Staging area before we installed the siding
Staging area before we installed the siding
Burnt to a crisp
Burnt to a crisp

After that, we were basically done with shou sugi ban aspect of the project. The only thing left was to install the boards on the shed.

My attempt at drilling the boards into place
My attempt at drilling the boards into place
Husband meticulously installing that siding
Husband meticulously installing the siding

And bam! Just like that we have ourselves some high-design, fancy siding for our shed. I think it looks pretty sweet.

The only thing left to do is cover the siding in a layer of either oil or some such thing to help seal the wood. Add that to Husband’s to do list. Other than that, the siding should last us for a long time with out any upkeep. And even in raining Seattle, the siding appears to be holding up great!

Where the corners meet
Where the corners meet
Two sides complete
Two sides complete
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