As is often the case in architecture, we can look to the past to help inspire the future.

This is currently the case with regards to timber cladding as charred Yakisugi cladding is currently having a moment, but with natural wood still the go-to for many, how do we improve on what nature has already gifted us, and why should we?

Yakisugi, also known as Shou Sugi Ban, is the process of charring the surface of timber without burning the entire board. It traces its origins to 18th century Japan, where it was developed to protect Japanese timber from the region’s changeable environmental elements. The name “Yakisugi” itself encapsulates the process: “Yaki” meaning “to burn” and “Sugi” meaning “Japanese cedar.” This technique renders the wood resistant to weather, pests, and decay.

The Yakisugi process is a meticulous craft, involving the careful selection of high-quality timber, followed by controlled charring, cooling, and in some cases brushing to unveil a textured surface. IRO Timber, produced by BSW Timber, has adapted this Japanese tradition by using high quality UK Larch and enhancing it with a palette of Rubio Monocoat wood creams to imbue the wood with enhanced durability and contemporary aesthetics.

The benefits of using charred timber cladding are huge. The first benefit is its enhanced durability, courtesy of the layer formed during the charring process and wood cream, which can ensure protection against rot, insects, and the harsh British weather. Secondly, its distinctive aesthetic appeal turns heads and adds a natural charm to any project. Moreover, charred timber cladding can align with an individual’s environmental and sustainability goals. As timber is a renewable resource, choosing this over plastic or render reduces the carbon footprint of a project and, by introducing the charring process to the timber, this further enhances its longevity, meaning the sequestered carbon that is captured in the wood can be kept locked away for longer.

When producing IRO Timber, each piece undergoes a meticulous five-step processing cycle to strike the perfect balance between the aesthetics and functionality of the wood. This encompasses state-of-the-art sawmilling kiln drying, in addition to heat enhancement, brushing, and the application of a protective wood cream. The cream produced by Rubio Monocoat is available in a range of monochromatic tones, allowing architects and homeowners to explore the different finishes, and help bring their creative visions to life. Charred timber can be used for more than just traditional architectural applications, as utilising charred timber cladding holds exciting possibilities for transforming all manner of outdoor spaces. From inviting entranceways and artistic fencing to feature garden walls, outdoor rooms, vertical gardens, and unique raised planters, the versatility of charred timber cladding knows no bounds. Wherever you would use standard timber, you can incorporate charred timber into garden designs. By doing so it’s easy to create a harmonious on-trend Japandi connection between the home and nature, elevating outdoor spaces into zen-like havens of style and serenity.

Robin Millard, Head of Independent Sales at BSW Timber, said: “It’s amazing to see how things come full circle. What was once an ancient art is now no longer just confined to the history books. Charred products like IRO are starting to make real waves in the both architectural and domestic markets, with homeowners looking to give their gardens and new garden buildings a really unique modern look.

“The team at IRO are really bridging the gap between the tradition and modernity which are both offered by natural timber, providing a glimpse into a vibrant, sustainable, and aesthetically captivating future for architectural design.”


Ben Walton