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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long will shou sugi ban last?
    Shou sugi ban will improve naturally durable timber cladding. As to how long depends on the timber type, and local weather patterns. The charred finish is designed to slowly erode away, but you can expect the charred surface to last many years. Subtle visible erosion is expected around 4-5 years but 20 years is our estimated lifetime of the char subject to local conditions. In addition your timber is improved through surface hardening and burnt off carbohydrates. This is because we only use species that are recognized as meeting the New Zealand Natural durability standards (Minimum durability of 3) as our feed stock. By charring the timber we improve the durability of those timbers further. The service life of the timber cladding will differ based on the durability rating of the timber species and the correct installation of the building. The carbon layer of the burnt timber slowly erodes outdoors under the influence of wind, rain and hail. In terms of expected years in service for charred timber, the proof is found in the 1000s of old buildings clad in Shou Sugi Ban all over Japan. Many examples can be seen that have over 40 year old charred timber cladding and are still strong and weather tight. You can read detailed information on this in case studies on the Nakamoto forestry website, one of the oldest Japanese Timber and Shou Sugi Ban producers in Japan, and now the US.
  • How does charred timber cladding have lower maintenance
    The charred timber cladding arrives to your project with a 4 side factory oil coating. After installation, you will need to apply a second coat of oil and this can be the last time you oil stain you cladding. But we advise a reapplication every 5 years for full char and every 3-5 years for charred and brushed. Aside from the beauty of shou sugi ban, its real purpose is function. It has been used for 100s of years in Japan due to its improved durability and stability attributes. The charred timber becomes more bug resistant, hydrophobic and is given UV protection. Low Maintenance should not be confused with stain colour fading. With our brushed finished colour fade will happen due to UV breaking down the colour pigments in the Oil stain. To be maintenance free in New Zealand is difficult as the timber manufactures require maintenance for their warranty. When using a traditional full charred finish, you must embrace an admirable cultural thinking of the Japanese, where they embrace the evolutionary changes of nature. In a word, Wabisabi. This is the Japanese acceptance of the changes of nature and the love of its impermanence and imperfections. Read more on Wabisabi here.
  • Can you offer Shou sugi ban in light colours other than black?
    Yes. Our double brushed finish was developed specifically for this purpose. It is a highly finished product that has been double brushed to remove all the char from only the softer early growth while leaving the black on the hard late growth. This finish leaves a distressed look to the timber and shows the beauty of the textured undulating surface but additionally the stunning contrast of the black late growth rings against the light colour of your choosing.
  • Is your shou sugi ban made in New Zealand?
    Yes it is! We are located in Rotorua and now Putaruru. All our charred timber cladding is produced from our local factory. In addition, all our feed stock is supplied from local New Zealand timber mills, and importers. Our timber oil is made by a local New Zealand manufacturer and tested to meet the harsh demands of our climate.
  • If I get the traditional full char Suyaki, will I have black char washing off the house every time it rains?"
    No you will not. Very little char comes away from the timber due to the factory oil coat we provide. The first couple of rainy days will wash any residual loose char from the installation process away. The timber char will have some parts loosened from transportation and installation. After a short time, mainly denoted by the amount of rainfall, this will stop as the loose char is washed away. We apply a factory 4 side oil coat to strengthen the char and lock in the small particles. It is important to note that Char or charcoal does not stain most surfaces, it's a natural product that is used in a wide range of health products. It simply washes away. Some more porous surfaces may hold the char, but should be able to washed clean. (We recommend testing surfaces if your uncertain, we can send a bag of char dust) The charred timber cladding will over time slowly erode away revealing the timber grain below. The carbon layer of the burnt timber will erode outdoors over years under the influence of wind, rain and hail. You can read more on this here.
  • Which timber is best for charred timber cladding in New Zealand?
    The Blackwood Project has 3 top timbers for a traditional full char, each has its own char pattern and each will appeal to different people. Based on the look and longevity of the char we prefer Thermally Modified timber, Siberian Larch and imported Japanese cedar. The main species we think are great for brushed shou sugi ban are and Siberian larch, Japanese Cedar, NZ thermally modified pine, NZ grown Redwood and Lawson Cypress. Some species are better suited as full char only, but the choice will really come down to what you like the look of best. We only char timber that is suitable for this process, if you have something different we are happy to test char this for you to see the results.
  • What are the documents required for council consent when using Shou Sugi Ban?
    When you are supplied timber from one of The Blackwood Project's Mills we supply you with their Producer Statement. This is a warranty document verifying the timber species and weatherboard profile as suitable for timber cladding and durable for New Zealand conditions. Your installation guide is for the weatherboard profile and timber species not the shou sugi ban finish. It is important to note that councils consider Shou Sugi Ban as a finish to your weatherboard like an oil stain. It is the feed stock or timber cladding that the council is concerned with.
  • Do you have an installation guide for Charred timber cladding?
    Yes we can provide you with the appropriate weatherboard installation guide for your project. The installation of charred timber cladding does not actually require an installation guide, but the timber profile and the timber species are what the installation guide are needed for. These will soon be added to the website for downloading.
  • What weatherboard profiles are available as charred timber cladding?
    In short, all of them. Shiplap is the most popular weatherboard profile in today's market followed closely by Bevelback and Rusticated. There are few profiles we do not char, please ask us about this.
  • I like the full traditional Japanese charred look but, is it possible to get this done as a light char?"
    Yes. However, a light charred board is possible but we do not recommend this for an exterior use as the char will fade very quickly. As the knots are a much higher density than the timber they will remain a light or almost uncharred in look. You also do not get the full protective characteristics of the shou sugi ban process when the char layer is less than 2mm.
  • How long does it take to process my charred timber cladding order?
    The charring process time varies from 2-4 weeks. However, the acquisition of the timber from either you, the timber merchant or the timber mill will be the main factor in the timeframe needed to get your charred timber cladding. At the time of writing this (April 2021) our timber mills offer 6- 8 weeks with New Zealand grown Redwood being 20 weeks. Its best to inquire directly with us for accurate timeframes.
  • Do you supply timber, or can I send you my timber for charring?"
    Yes we char timber supplied by our customers. No we dont supply timber. But we do work with 3 long-standing timber mills who do. We will make this process very easy and liaise with them and you to help arrange your timber. When your timber cladding order is arranged with the mill, you will pay tem directly for your timber cladding.
  • Can I get samples of your shou sugi ban finishes?
    Yes. We have a shou sugi ban order form on the website in which you can receive samples of all the charred timber finishes.
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