400 square feet for the first line item.
There is a holistic series of millwork steps to get good heat treatment and dimensional stability that are different from American millwork–it is not just burning lumber until it looks right or copying techniques from videos online. We have been milling yakisugi “shou sugi ban” for several decades and use logs from our own forests–so in any case there is little chance you will be able to DIY it for less cost than we sell retail for the same grade of wood. However, if you’re dead set on doing it yourself here are the rules: use cypress only, face the outside of the log to the outside of the resawn moulder blank, do shiplap or square edge (not T&G), use planks about 1/2″ thick, air-dry the wood completely, use the traditional triangular flue method (weed burners do not work well at all) and burn it way beyond your comfort level to where you think you’ve ruined the plank. Then, if desired, use a wire brush to knock down the soot and apply an oil finish.
Yakisugi is time-tested in Japan, a long skinny country with climates ranging semi-tropical to Siberian, and almost all abrasive coastal marine. Yakisugi will probably outlast any other softwood in any climate, but just make sure to install it over screen walls and with face nails to prevent rot and minimize movement.
Yakisugi, just like any natural wood siding, will patina over time. Color change can be slowed down by applying oil finishes, and the original color can be brought back in the future with a maintenance coat of oil. However, the heat treatment is originally designed to negate the need for an oil finish, and therefore the traditional aesthetic embraces a gradual patina. Unbrushed Suyaki will stay black until the soot layer erodes off in about 50 years, and then will start to change color. Gendai and Pika-Pika products will weather in color similar to any natural wood siding. All products can be re-oiled any time in future to freshen up the color and sheen as desired. There are no fast rules for how wood weathers in color since every site has different conditions. However, in general over time siding tends to mellow reddish brown on south-facing elevations and bleach to a gray tone on north-facing elevations.
We are actually able to offer a lower price point apples to apples since we control the entire manufacturing and distribution process, and production is to economies of scale. In terms of shipping cost and carbon footprint, 99% of the trip between our coastal mills in Japan and Portland distribution facility is by efficient ocean freight–then intermodal direct to your jobsite.
Due to the traditional through and through resaw pattern optimized for wood longevity and dimensional stability, as well as the nature of how wood dries, there is often cupping of approximately 1/16″ over the board widths. Therefore we spec two face nails every 16″OC to keep a flat plane. Note samples cup more than final product due to short lengths and low moisture content. Also keep in mind this is non-standard millwork and form follows function with yakisugi. Slight cupping is all you have to give up to achieve maximum wood longevity and dimensional stability in all other dimensions over decades of exposure without maintenance.
Absolutely. There are also more stain, topcoat, and fire retardant options for interior applications.
The Japanese heat treatment process is never used for flooring or furniture since cypress is too soft for flooring, and yakisugi planks are too thin for most furniture applications. Yakisugi is for wall and ceiling cladding only. Burning flooring or furniture or counters is a fun design thing we’ve seen but it is not Japanese yakisugi (shou sugi ban) heat treatment.
In Japan standard thickness is 3/8” (10mm), but we stock 9/16” (15mm) since that is as thick we can heat treat with good yield. Trying to heat treat a plank thickness over 9/16″ (example 3/4″) by the Japanese process doesn’t work since interior moisture content will stay around 12% while the surface goes down to 0%–which results in crooking, warping, twisting, or checking. Siding and panelling needs to be straight and flat, and this is heat treatment not a cosmetic surface finish.
T&G will wick water and rot on an exterior unless covered by a roof. Exterior wood cladding cannot be blind nailed since it will always move over time and the fasteners must be accessible to tighten the wall plane back to flat. Plus you can’t burn a thin T&G profile deeply enough to heat treat. We only stock profiles that can be used for interior and exterior, and we specialize in products that have best possible longevity.
We have premium select clears in our Portland stock. Our focus is to supply at a low price point and ship quickly, therefore we do not mill custom profiles or lengths.
Yes, yakisugi is just like any wood in terms of installation and onsite oil finishes.
There are three reasons we apply oil finishes to our products: oil finishes bond in the soot, achieve the desired color, and make the color last longer. Some people embrace the traditional “sabi” patina aesthetic, and look forward to the organic, colorful weathering. With yakisugi, maintenance is optional. Re-oiling can be done as a periodic maintenance, or the patina can be enjoyed as it develops over the decades.
Yes, please inquire on your project’s specific requirements.
For exterior we recommend headed, ring- or screw-shank stainless nails at least 2” long. Since unavailable elsewhere in a high grade, we custom order and stock black factory painted stainless nails. Other nail colors such as brite, brown, white, or gray are available through your local fastener supplier. We are currently evaluating potential screw options for efficiency and appearance. For interior applications construction adhesive and finish nails work well.
There are many many options, same as any siding or paneling, and it really is a design decision. Since we often get asked about how to do penetration, corner, screen, or other details, we developed these drawings as detail suggestions.
Most yakisugi “shou sugi ban” has an oil finish applied during manufacture that bonds soot into the wood surface so that it does not come off when touched. After installation wipe walls down with a sopping wet rag or hose them down to clean off any soot residue.
Note that since cypress has tannin content, on an exterior application there is always a chance the tannins can bleed out from weather exposure. This can stain a light-colored underpinning below the wood siding, but after a year or so the stains will wash off (see pics below).
Please keep in mind that yakisugi “shou sugi ban” is a unique and organic wood product, with different characteristics and specifications from standard millwork. Form follows function with our product, and we have to follow rigid millwork and drying protocols for the planks to stay straight through the high temperature treatment process. You can learn more about what it is and how it’s made here. While our grading and millwork produces the most consistent yakisugi (shou sugi ban) product available in the world, it is still somewhat foreign, sooty, and will weather over time. Additionally, since we are often applying a dark oil to a light wood surface or a light oil to a dark wood surface, there can be a lot of variation in color tone board to board and sample to order. Make sure you are completely comfortable with the product before specifying it for your project. In the end what really matters is that you select beautiful, sustainably harvested, and natural wood siding–and not chemically treated wood or cement board.