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6 Reasons Why Yakisugi is the Hottest Trend in Architecture

New trends in architecture don’t always revolve around new ideas, but occasionally nod to the past by bringing ancient techniques back to life with improved technology. A growing trend that is a perfect example of this is Yakisugi. In the Western world, Yakisugi is known as Shou Sugi Ban, which came into being as a term because of a misreading of the Japanese word 焼杉.

The practice of Yakisugi dates back to the 18th century, although some more primitive examples of the technique have been used since at least 700AD. This centuries-old Japanese technique being used by an increasing number of architects and designers, preserving timber by torching it with fire, cooling it, cleaning off any soot or burnt debris on the surface, and finally finishing the boards with an oil to create a beautiful textured, ebony finish.

Although you may consider fire to be an enemy of wood, only causing its degradation, Yakisugi actually enhances durability and is a natural means of preserving wood without chemicals, paints and other surface treatments.

As a current trend in modern architecture you can expect Yakisugi to be seen in both exterior and interior settings, even being used on furniture and decor. However, where Yakisugi really shines is as exterior siding or interior wall accents. Despite being a very old method of treating wood, it is flexible enough to look stunning in both modern and rustic settings.

Here are 6 reasons why these beautiful dark walls will continue to be a growing trend in today’s architectural design.

Natural Durability Means Yakisugi is Appropriate for Exteriors

Originally Yakisugi was used on the exterior of Japanese buildings and it’s actively used in both exterior and interior design applications. Ironically it is the damage that is done by the fire charring that actually strengthens and makes Yakisugi a great choice for homes or buildings.

When fire is applied to wood boards, the burning process creates a thin layer of carbon on the wood surface, which is what we see as burnt wood. This carbon layer protects the interior wood in very much the same way that stains or sealants would. Yakisugi siding is very low maintenance and naturally resistant to insect as well as moisture damage. These benefits are made even more apparent when Yakisugi is used to enhance modified wood boards, which already are more dense, durable and long-lasting than many other wood types and species.

The Yakisugi process is environmentally friendly and doesn’t contribute to harmful pollution. There are no chemicals present in this siding to potentially leach into the environment and it’s entirely safe for homes with children. Yakisugi is a sustainable means of naturally protecting exterior siding and once its lifespan has been reached, can be recycled or disposed of without any concern of harming the environment, like one might have when disposing of treated wood.

Yakisugi is an Excellent Alternative to Black Stains or Paints

Going for a bold look is easily done with black or other dark-toned surface treatments, such as stains and paints. Depending on the route you go you may still be able to see some of the underlying wood grain, however many times painting or staining wood masks the beauty of the natural grain. Another downside of using these types of surface treatments is that they require maintenance, regular reapplication and may contain harmful ingredients.

The green movement is steadily growing in the world of architecture and building design, with more and more people looking for natural, safe means of achieving the same looks. Yakisugi allows you to get a beautiful dark finish for your project, without having to rely on toxic surface treatments that can be harmful to the people and environment around it.

Yakisugi is a much safer option, even when compared to low VOC treatments that are fairly popular. The overall safety and low maintenance of Shou Sugi Ban makes it ideal for both public and private spaces. Yakisugi adds a very unique visual appeal to any property, that enhances and complements a wide range of design styles.

Yakisugi Makes Complementing and Contrasting Mixed Materials Simple

Knowing what materials to mix within designs can be a challenge; it can be difficult to know what will work together and what won’t. Yakisugi wood is a material that makes this task simple, because it works with so many different building materials to help create virtually any design style.

The W Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, seen here, uses Yakisugi in combination with metal, mirror and marble to create a high-class look of luxury. Yakisugi also works incredibly well with stone and other wood of varying natural tones, to create a more charming and rustic space. Whether you want dramatic, warm, modern or traditional, Yakisugi is versatile enough to complement any style.

Yakisugi Comes in a Variety of Textures and Tones

Although charring wood may sound simple enough, there are actually many different techniques of creating Yakisugi, which results in many different textures and tones to chose from. If you’re looking for something with grit and character, something to make a bold statement, perhaps you’d prefer a Yakisugi wood with a thick char and deep black color. If instead your design calls for something a bit smoother, with a cleaner finish, a brush Yakisugi would be ideal. There are even series that lightly char and distress the wood to create a variety of tones within a single piece, while still maintaining the superior performance characteristics and durability that the burning method brings.

While there are many different Yakisugi options out there, it is important to remember that not all products are the same, because not all wood burns the same. Some species of wood that have a weaker grain pattern to begin with can look some what bland after burning, overpowered by the black char.

Yakisugi Siding is Limitless in Patterns and Designs

One of the best things about Yakisugi is that it’s real wood siding, which means the designs and patterns possible are virtually limitless. Yakisugi can be installed in a variety of different ways, making it ideal for creative siding and wall covering designs.

An excellent example of using Yakisugi in a creative way is using thin cut boards in a diagonal pattern, as seen on the exterior of this private home. Part of ancient as well as modern Japanese architecture is the use of thin cut boards, which is enhanced by the look of charred wood. The variety of tones the Yakisugi wood delivers adds a depth and maturity to the property that completes the look.

With Yakisugi you can get the look you want, be it narrow slats in a diagonal installation or wider slats in a horizontal shiplap appearance, with a unique appearance and weathering properties that will help your design last, whether it be interior or exterior.

Yakisugi Enhances the Natural Beauty of Wood

Yakisugi is ideal for applications and designs that want the character of wood, with a little more intrigue. The different charring methods work to highlight the natural grain, making it a great complement to traditional wood, as well as the perfect contrast to more modern materials like metal and glass. The deep grain, highlighted by the Yakisugi technique is a simple way to create a one of a kind look that is sure to make a lasting impression.

Whether it be used in an interior or exterior application, Yakisugi wood has superior performance characteristics that will enable your design to live longer and remain beautiful.

The beauty of these charred black walls and its natural durability is making Yakisugi more and more common in building designs across the globe.

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