Char It Black: Everything You Need to Know About Shou Sugi Ban Siding

Leah Lopez Cardenas
Updated April 27, 2022
American home exterior
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  • Shou sugi ban siding is made by charring wood to turn it black.

  • It’s best for homeowners who want the drama of a dark-colored siding.

  • Shou sugi ban is typically more expensive than other types of dark siding.

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Shou sugi ban siding is a product of the Japanese art of yakisugi, which means “burned cedar.” This siding option is best for homeowners who want a unique wood siding in a dark, dramatic color that’s durable and long-lasting. Find out more about the shou sugi ban process and decide whether this distinctive type of siding is right for your home.

What Is Shou Sugi Ban Siding?

Shou sugi ban, also called yakisugi, is a centuries-old process of preserving wood siding by charring it (turning it a dark, often a gray or black color) and covering it in a protective oil. First developed in Japan, shou sugi ban siding is usually composed of cedar wood, but other types of softwoods have also been used.

How Does the Shou Sugi Ban Charring Process Work?

True yakisugi technique takes years to master, so it’s best to seek out a lumber distributor or siding contractor who is familiar with the Japanese wood burning process. Once a pro has sourced the right kind of wood they then char the planks using a torch. After charring the wood, they use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove the outer layer. Based on the texture you want, this process can be done sparingly for a coarse texture or a bit more intensely for a smoother texture. However, the smoother it is, the lighter the siding will appear—closer to a dark brown instead of black. Once the texture is set, they finish the wood with an oil or sealer, which helps it hold up against the elements.

Shou Sugi Ban Pros and Cons

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While shou sugi ban siding has a few benefits, it has some drawbacks. Consider these pros and cons before you commit to shou sugi ban for your home. 


Shou sugi ban was first invented as a way to protect homes from weather, mold, and pests before modern-day chemical preservatives for siding were available. This is still true today, making shou sugi ban siding a great choice for homeowners who want siding with longevity and function.

Another benefit is the uniqueness of this type of wood siding. If you’re looking for a strong siding that also stands out from the typical options out there, shou sugi ban does the trick. 


This type of siding is typically expensive to manufacture, meaning you’ll likely pay more for it than other types of siding. On average, shou sugi ban siding costs between $7,000 and $45,000 to install, or between $2 per square foot and $25 or more per square foot, according to HomeAdvisor. 

While the yakisugi process gives siding a rustic look and character, homeowners who have their heart set on a dark-colored home exterior can also purchase more affordable siding options in dark brown or black. Composite, fiber-cement board (also called Hardie board), and stained wood siding usually also come in dark colors and cost less than shou sugi ban siding.

How Is Shou Sugi Ban Siding Maintained?

To keep this siding in good condition, you need to rinse and oil (or seal) it every few years—even more often if you live in an area that gets lots of storms, or relentless sunlight. When rinsing, don’t use a power washer, as this can remove some of the charred texture from the wood. Instead, spray with a regular hose or wipe a washcloth with soapy water to remove debris. 

Homeowners can apply oil to keep the wood protected and looking new, particularly if the siding has a coarser finish. Tung oil or linseed oil are good options for oiling shou sugi ban. To apply it, use a paintbrush or other stiff-bristled brush and wipe excess oil with a washcloth or towel to avoid drips. Some homeowners instead opt to seal the wood with a polyurethane sealer if the shou sugi ban siding has a smoother texture.

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