How To Preserve Wooden Outdoor Furniture Using The Shou Sugi Ban Technique

Are you thinking… What is she talking about? Shou Sugi Ban? 

If you’re an avid Fixer Upper fan, then you probably saw where Chip and Joanna shou sugi ban-ed the exterior siding of a houseboat they redid one time. We didn’t have a houseboat in need. We did however have a couple pieces of wooden furniture outside that were quickly on their way to deterioration.

The What

Shou Sugi Ban is traditional Japanese method of wood preservation. Per Wikipedia- “By slightly charring the surface of the wood without combusting the whole piece, the wood becomes water-proof through the carbonisation and is thus more durable. It also protects against insects.”

The Why

Well… in our case, to better preserve our wooden outdoor furniture.

Husband built us an outdoor bar a few years ago. He made it out of 50+ year old dock wood from my uncle’s old dock. It was time to replace his, and my cousin called to offer the wood to us. I have so many memories on that dock with my cousins- unending summer days, swimming in the river, fishing, sliding down the slide at low tide and free-falling 20 feet into the water, almost drowning (maybe not a good memory!), complete and utter carefreeness- so naturally, I told her yes. What I didn’t realize was that the dock company was going to back a dump truck into our driveway and dump literally every single piece from the dock. This included sink, slide, plumbing, etc…. You can imagine how excited Husband was when he got home, and we had to go through that pile! Anyhow, he ended up building a bar out of it. After a few years, it was grimy with algae, and some of the wood was rotting. We needed a solution if we were going to preserve my dock nostalgia. We also had a long wooden oyster table that someone had given us. Husband had to rebuild the legs, but it’s a fantastic table for oyster roasts and parties. It also needed a face lift.

The How

It’s actually so much easier than you’d think. Husband ordered a torch wand. This one to be exact >> New!! Push Button Igniter Propane Torch Wand Ice Snow Melter Weed Burner Roofing.

He didn’t even tell me he had ordered it. He was so excited. All you need is a regular propane tank to hook it up to, the proper attire (close-fitting clothing, eye protection, mouth & nose cover to avoid smoke inhalation) and off you go!

The idea is to char the wood but not burn the wood too much. Make sure you are constantly moving the wand back and forth, and don’t stay on one spot too long. When the wood looks evenly charred, you’re done. I sprayed ours down with water as soon as we were done to completely halt the burning process. We let the furniture sit and dry for about 24 hours. Then we used wire brushes to scrape off the top layers of char. Lastly, we used our lawn blower to blow off the dust and sprayed both pieces of furniture with spray polyurethane for extra protection.

You can watch a video of Husband playing with his new flame thrower toy here: Shou Sugi Ban- The Homestead Kings Instagram

The Result

Blackened outdoor furniture that will last a lifetime! We absolutely love it and get so many compliments about its unique appearance. If you don’t like the color black, then this project obviously isn’t for you. I happen to love decorating with black, so I couldn’t be more happy with the result.

You can see how the affect is different on the newer wood legs.


Disclaimer: Obviously, you are dealing with fire, and you need to take the utmost care of yourself and your surroundings. Make sure nothing flammable is anywhere near your work area. Wear the proper protection. Do not attempt within a closed area or near buildings. Do not attempt if your area is in a drought. Have a hose handy just in case. We are not responsible for any burns or fires resulting from your own attempt at Shou Sugi Ban. Really. Please be careful.


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