How Long Does Shou Sugi Ban Last?

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How Long Does Shou Sugi Ban Last? Factors that Affect the Lifespan of Shou Sugi Ban. 

Shou sugi ban, or yakisugi (焼杉),  is a Japanese wood that is burned to prevent weathering. Untreated shou sugi ban is often said to last up to 80 years. Is this true?

There are several factors to consider when estimating the lifespan of this special type of wood.

 Shou Sugi Ban Characteristics 

shou sugi ban lifespan
Shou sugi ban is a Japanese wood siding that is durable and beautiful. Caroistda, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shou sugi ban is burned using specialized techniques. The end result is a water and bug resistant wood siding that also stands up to extreme climate changes.

This type of wood is popular in Japan and around the world because it ages slowly with little maintenance required. The upfront expense of shou sugi ban is considered by many to be worth it considering the long lifespan of this wood.

Shou sugi ban has a dark or striated appearance and is commonly used as housing siding and fencing.

Factors that Impact Shou Sugi Ban Aging

Wood needs to be properly treated and persevered after application to maximize its lifespan. Sten CC BY-SA

Shou sugi ban’s lifespan depends on human and environmental factors. People can do their part in preserving shou sugi ban by installing it properly and oiling it every 5-10 years.

Proper installation prevents moisture buildup. Oiling slows down the degradation of wood fibers by blocking UV rays and providing a water-resistance.

While the soot layer in shou sugi ban naturally maintains the wood for more than 40 years, it will eventually begin to erode. This process is sped up by corrosive winds in coastal areas and humid sub-tropical regions. Salty air is abrasive and humidity encourages rotting.

UV rays play an important role in shou sugi ban weathering as well. Wall orientation can speed up or slow down the weathering process. East and north walls wash out quickly and evenly and maintain their new appearance. South and west facing walls weather unevenly.

Luckily, discoloration due to sun rays can be prevented by oiling wood as described above.

Freezing and thawing is a factor that surprisingly does not affect shou sugi ban as much as the others. Cold or heat leads to warping, but is only a concern in areas with extreme temperatures.

Average Estimated Lifespan of Shou Sugi Ban

Shou sugi ban, or yakisugi, has been used for traditionally for centuries throughout Japan. 663highland / CC BY-SA

In light of the factors discussed above, most shou sugi ban will last longer than you do! With regular oiling, shou sugi ban will maintain its beauty for upwards of 80 years.

In Japan, where shou sugi ban is most popular, untreated wood lasts 80-150 years. If you live in Japan or a region with similar weather, you can expect the siding to last this long as well.

Because there are many variables to consider when estimating the lifespan of shou sugi ban, results may vary. Still, this wood should last for decades in a variety of environments, even without regular upkeep.

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