Everything You Need to Know About Wood Charring
Charred wood is a strikingly bold, blackened timber look that stands the test of time. Besides creating an aesthetically pleasing tone, it also increases the timber’s durability. Find out all you need to know about wood charring here and how you could use it in your next project.
What is Charred Wood?
Wood charring, also known as Shou sugi bun, refers to the method of timber colouring and preservation, which is conducted through applying flames to the surface of the timber planks & boards. The flame lightly chars the exterior of the timber planks, creating a visually appealing, natural look, which can be tailored to look slightly grey charred to deep black in appearance.
What is Shou Sugi Ban?
Shou Sugi Ban (焼杉板), originating from Japan, is a centuries old technique of timber charring. The final product of the timber charring process, referred to as yakisugi (‘yaki’ meaning to heat with fire and ‘sugi’ referring to cypress), provides a finish that not only looks great, but practically, gives longevity to the timber by resisting fungal attack.
Is Charred Wood Water Resistant?
Once the timber is thoroughly charred, it is a wrapped in a layer of carbon that is formed within the burning process. This layer helps the timber become highly resistant to water compared to the raw timber and essentially renders the charred timber as waterproof.
Does Charred Wood Repel Rot?
Yes! Rot and borer attack is encouraged by providing lignin food to bacterial and invasive parasite. Charring the timber naturally removes the lignin making it less desirable to parasitic decay.
Does Burning Wood Make it Stronger?
When timber is heated within the flames of a fire, the grains of the timber are fused even tighter together, resulting in a stronger, more durable board. If the timber is left within the fire for too long however, this will begin to deteriorate the condition of the timber, resulting in burning, scorches and cracks.
What Wood is Best for Wood Charring / Shou Sugi Ban?
Any hardwood with a durability class 1 rating is suitable for charring/shou sugi ban, but Western Red Cedar is also a suitable option as it is easier to perform the charring process on this specie without it burning or getting scorched. Wood charring also works well on Spotted Gum, American White Oak and Hemlock Timber.
How Long Does Charred Wood Last?
Charred timber can last for over 50 years if treated properly, due to its durable and strong nature formed from heating the timber in flames.
How is Wood Charred?
There are many and varied methods for charring timber, the most common modern methods being to use either a brick oven with gas burners, or to use a basic hand held propane torch to burn the surface of each board. The traditional Japanese method was to bind 3 boards together with theirs fronts facing the centre, to create a triangular ‘tunnel’, then start a fire within the tunnel. Once the surface has been charred, the boards are doused with water to extinguish any flames, then left to dry.
Should I Oil / Seal My Charred Wood?
To prevent the removal of the charring by rubbing and abrasion, Coach House Timbers has developed a sealer coating process that maintains its natural look. No worries about charcoal stains to your hands or clothes!
Got any questions regarding charred wood? Ready to get your next project underway? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Coach House Timbers team today for a free quote.