About Yakisugi

The Ancient Craft of Yakisugi or Charred Japanese Cedar

Traditional Yakisugi (or Shou Sugi ban) is the Japanese process of charring the surface layer of the native cedar (Cryptomeria Japonica) also known as cypress, redwood or sugi.

Japanese cedar grows abundantly in well managed plantation forests across the country and has been sustainably managed for centuries.

Our Japanese cedar comes from trees hand-selected for harvesting before being individually graded ready for export to New Zealand. It’s a time intensive process that ensures only the most suitable timber is selected for the charring process.

Not all wood is created equal

True Yakisugi can only be created from Japanese Cedar as it has the ideal qualities that charring requires including a pronounced late-wood growth ring which when burnt leaves a substantial longer lasting soot layer and a beautiful and unique finish.

Sugi is a straight grained, fast drying softwood rich in tannin and it is strong. Its these attributes that make it the ideal cladding substrate.

A centuries old practice

Yakisugi was perfected by the Japanese in the 16th century. The words Yaki Sugi derives from the words “Yake” meaning burnt and “Sugi” meaning the species of the timber. Yakisugi can be seen across Japan in buildings and temples as old as 300 years particularly in rural areas.

Why it works

The structure of Japanese cedar is made up of a lattice of material called Lignin with a soft cellulose material inside. Lignin is a natural polymer which is resistant to rot and indigestible to insects while the cellulose inside is a sugar, both digestible for bugs and susceptible to rotting.

When the timber is subjected to the intense heat the soft cellulose matter is burned away, leaving behind the hard lignin exposed to the surface. It’s this hard layer that creates a superior wear surface less prone to deterioration from fungal attack and is not so tasty for wood loving insects.

The intense heat treatment also makes the planks more dimensionally stable, with the soot layer improving fire retardancy, while also adding a layer of hydrophobic protection against the weather.

Maintenance Optional

Yakisugi is traditionally a maintenance optional exterior cladding that can be re-oiled periodically to maintain the original colour and slow down the weathering process.

Without re-oiling the soot layer wears away after 40-50 years depending on environmental factors but the heat treated timber will continue to weather for well over 100 years with examples dating over 300 years.

In Japan, the patina that develops on Yakisugi over the years is valued for its beauty.

Our Dento finish is a low to no maintenance option while the Makkuro and Wabi Sabi finish will require periodic maintenance as per product guidelines.

Finishes Available

A highly durable and low maintenance cladding, our range of Yakisugi is available in 3 finishes and a range of architecturally designed profiles.

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