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Community and Q&A

Charred wood siding in Seattle?

RER515Seattle | Posted in General Questions on

Hello, I hope this is not too weird of a question to ask. Does anyone own or know of any homes or buildings located in the Seattle area that have horizontal panels of charred wood siding (Shou Sugi Ban) on most/all of the exterior that I could visit in person?

Here’s the background: The current wood painted siding on the home I bought last year is rotting and needs replacing. I want to redo the siding using charred wood – I’m thinking horizontal panels of medium-dark char. The catch it that my parents, while they like the basic idea of it, have some reservations about what it would look like. Since they helped me buy the house, are helping financially with renovations, and I respect and value their input, I would like to find a good real-life example similar to what I’m picturing.  I sent them to a DADU in north Seattle with vertical semi light-char siding, but it wasn’t a very helpful example of what I want to do. It would be great if we could find some better examples of what I have in mind to actually go visit in person.


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  1. Robert Opaluch | | #1

    Finding addresses to visit in person might not be easy, but an Internet search leads to examples such as:

  2. user-2310254 | | #2

    While I love the look of shou sugi ban, I think you could accept a similar look for easily with pine tar paint. (

  3. GBA Editor
    Brian Pontolilo | | #3

    Hi Rebecca.

    I love the look of shou sugi ban siding too.

    I can't help you with examples in Seattle, but I will suggest that you either find a carpenter with experience with shou sugi ban to do the work or buy one of the few manufactured shou sugi ban products that are available. I have seen a few installations that changed dramatically in appearance very quickly after installation, lightening. I don't know too much about the method, but I wonder, if the "char" does not last on the surface, do the weather- and insect-resistant characteristics? Anything that is uncommon is a good case for finding an experienced professional or a proven product.

    Below are a couple of blog posts from one of our guest bloggers who made and installed shou sugi ban siding on his house. You might consider reaching out to him for insights. Good luck and we'd love to see photos when you get it done.

    Shou Sugi Ban blogs from Eric Whetzel
    Shou Sugi Ban Process
    Shou Sugi Ban Install

  4. Expert Member


    Shou Sugi Ban will only keep the initial dark appearance if protected by a coating - which sort of defeats the whole purpose of the technique.

    I also think there is a good chance that the current fashion for black siding will pass quite quickly, and having a material whose appearance can not be easily changed will over time become a problem.

    1. ERIC WHETZEL | | #6

      The black siding is definitely an extreme, high-contrast look, which is part of the reason it appealed to us so much. We love how it looks regardless of the season, but we especially enjoy the black-box-in-snow look during the winter.

      We also considered going with a dark blue or green for our cladding, which would've given us most of the look we were going for while being slightly less stark.

      We're always surprised by the many new construction projects around us that choose to stay in the beige-brown family of tones for exterior finishes, but it's obviously a case of 'to each his own'.

      I also think the darker-toned exteriors look better when sprinkled in amongst lighter-toned homes. We would not welcome all of our neighbors copying our black for their homes :)

      1. Expert Member
        MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #7


        I've had two recent projects go with black cladding. They are both on rural lots where the colour contrasts beautifully with the green backdrop. In particular I enjoy how they look in the evening when the interior lights up revealing the white drywall and wood.

        My suggestion that a cladding which can have the colour changed easily came from a project I revisited after twenty years. It originally had grey siding to blend in with its neighbours. A family friend of the owners who is an interior designer convinced them to re-paint it a mustard yellow - something I would never have suggested. The whole house has come alive in an almost startling way - and maybe in another couple of decades it will have another similar reinvigoration.

  5. ERIC WHETZEL | | #5

    Hi Rebecca,

    As Brian points out, although we love the look of our charred cedar siding, we've had our issues with it. I try to cover all of the details in the blog posts Brian links to.

    I'm glad Steve brought up the pine tar since it was a GBA blog ( that helped us come up with a solution for the deterioration of our original finish.

    In fact, if I had it to do over, after charring we would apply a coat of the black pine tar (we purchased our Auson black pine tar here: instead of the tung oil we originally used. Like a semi-transparent stain, the pine tar soaks into the wood with the addition of black pigment, all without hiding the grain (or char in our case) the way a paint would.

    The advantage of the charred wood plus pine tar finish has over just the pine tar is the texture of the char itself. By combining them together you end up with the best of both worlds: unique texture with a durable finish. For what it's worth: the areas of our siding with the least amount of char experienced the most fading in the first year.

    For interior decorative elements (e.g. barn doors, bench, light fixture, floating vanities) the char with tung oil has held up fine, looking like it did the day we finished it. Even on the exterior, the overhangs specifically, areas where the sun and rain can't easily reach, our original char-tung oil combination has held up just fine.

    Although historically the shou sugi ban tends to have wide variation in its look as it ages, the reality is most people pursue the finish because of the black color (I assume), so if it fades to gray or bare wood it would be a disappointment or even unacceptable to most homeowners. For instance, on our north side the fading was almost exclusively around knots that turned gray, which I liked, but my wife much preferred a more consistently opaque black.

    You can reach out to these manufacturers of charred wood to see if they have any clients in your area that you could visit:

    Ideally, they can give you examples of projects that have been in place for at least five years (with current photos and client contact info) so you get a better sense of what to expect as the finish ages. I would also insist on using a ventilated rainscreen behind the siding. If not with 1x furring strips, then at least a product like this:

    A good compromise might be something like this project: where they have used a limited amount of charred wood on the exterior while also utilzing it indoors as part of the interior design. If the charred wood became an issue (for any reason), it would be much easier to deal with.

    None of this is intended to completely discourage your use of shou sugi ban (we still love the look), but I do think it's important to have realistic expectations regarding the durability of the original finish, which will largely depend on the level of char, how the wood is finished or treated, and its exposure to sun and rain.

  6. RER515Seattle | | #8

    Hello all,

    Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I do want to note that I am interested in Shou Sugi Ban not just for the aesthetic, but for the functionality of the method as well. I have a few companies that I've gotten bids from, I do plan to get pre-charred product that has a coating. I'm also planning on redoing my entire building envelope (thanks for the note about the rainscreen, I just started looking into those and was wondering), plus the insulation of the home. I'm going to look for a company with experience in green building to do the work, but that's the next step.

    I had initially dismissed the pine tar idea, as I saw folks suggesting as a cheaper way and cost, while a factor, isn't the only consideration, but that's an interesting idea combining it with the char. The products I'm looking at I think use linseed or the Seal Once nano finish. I'll keep that pine tar idea in mind though.

    I appreciate the suggestion of reaching out to companies and asking about clients they've had. I did think about that, and after reaching out here, I think that might be a good next step.

    Thank you!

    1. Trevor_Lambert | | #9

      On the topic of the functionality, I have to wonder if the properties of the finished product are a little overblown. The rot and fire resistance is only on the surface layer. The surface layer, unless covered by a durable finish, is not very physically robust. I feel the product benefits a lot from the perception as an ancient, exotic, almost lost secret from the far east. You might want to compare this to acetylated wood (Accoya) and heat treated wood (e.g. Thermory). Both of these have the same level of protection all the way through the wood. Thermory makes a product that mimics Shou Sugi Ban. I don't know what the price point is on these, but I'd be surprised if they were as high as true Shou Sugi Ban. I got a quote on Shou Sugi Ban back in 2017 when I was building my house, and it was going to be about 1/3 of cost of the entire finished house.

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