Shou-sugi-ban is the ancient Japanese technique of charring wood boards to create an exterior siding that is resistant to rot, insects, and fire. It lasts up to 80 years, without requiring maintenance. According to shousugiban.com, "sugi" means cyprus, and was the original type of wood used in this tradition. People are now using it in the west, and they are using woods like oak, cedar, and douglas fir, in addition to cyprus. Once it cools, it's oiled and it's good to go!
This stuff is so awesome, I want to pretend that I was born with an extensive knowledge of shou-sugi-ban. But I read about it in Dwell magazine. Aside from my embarrassment over this sad fact, I am also upset that the Japanese get to have such a rich history of practical yet aesthetically pleasing architectural traditions. Shoji screens? Tea houses? Large soaking tubs? And now I realize they have had shou-sugi-ban this whole time? Unfair. Check out this video on how it's made, also from shousugiban.com.
Luckily, there are companies in the U.S. who make this stuff. GOOD. Because I just bought a house and barn in upstate New York, and I think the charred black siding against the vibrant green leaves of the trees up there is going to rock. Here are some American companies who are making it:
Delta Millworks, TX
If you know of any other suppliers in the U.S., send me a private message; I'd like to list them! I'm especially interested in NY suppliers. ..