Choosing a Shou Sugi Ban Surface for Your Project

A popular question we receive is “what are the different species of wood you use for each of your products?” While it’s a good question, especially since our different shou sugi ban surface options have such a wide variety of textures and colors, the answer might surprise you. They’re all the same species of wood – Japanese cypress, or Cryptomeria japonica, commonly known as “sugi cypress”, “Japanese cedar”, “sugi cedar” or just sugi in Japan.

Suyaki®: The Original Shou Sugi Ban Surface

All of our traditional shou sugi ban surfaces start off as our unburned sugi product line. When sugi is heat treated to achieve a thick, black soot layer, they transform into our Suyaki product line. Charred sugi has been used in Japan for centuries and can still be found in historic districts around the country. Suyaki is best suited for projects that want to incorporate traditional, sustainable materials; either as an accent to modern design or as a focal point, and embrace the unique beauty of the patina that will develop over time. Suyaki is only available in black, and can be used in exterior or interior applications.

Gendai®: Brushed Once

Once we burn the wood to create Suyaki, it can be brushed once to remove the outermost soot layer and leave a smoother surface. This is traditionally called arai meaning washed, and we call it our Gendai product line. Gendai is a silky and smooth brown color, with charred grain details throughout. It is possible to augment the color using an oil prefinish to create various shades of black, gray and brown. This makes it a more flexible choice for some projects than Suyaki. Gendai in Black has been our most popular product since we can remember simply because it fits the vision and needs of most projects wanting the black shou sugi ban siding look, but is more nuanced and less exotic than Suyaki.

Pika-Pika®: Brushed Twice

Brushing the residual soot layer off of our Gendai surface creates our final shou sugi ban product line, Pika-Pika. The process removes nearly all of the original soot layer. This leaves a raised, charred, black and brown grain that is deeply contrasted by the lighter color of the wood. Due to this, Pika-Pika has a lighter natural wood tone that allows it to be stained freely with the widest range of color options.

When ordering shou sugi ban for a project, the first step is to select a surface option. Each surface may come with additional color options, but that’s step 2 and we’ll cover that next time! We hope that by providing a little more insight into each of the different surface product lines available at Nakamoto Forestry, we can make your decision a little bit easier. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our sales team for more information. We’re happy to help!

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