Lessons on shou-sugi-ban

After a month in Thailand, we are back at the construction and blogging on house-related things. The outside of our house has been mostly finished since mid November. The roof is all sealed up and trim finished. The shou-sugi-ban siding is all up (minus the front of the house). Kyle even made a makeshift door to keep the snow and wind out and a little warmth inside while he works through the winter.

Thought we’d give an update to the fading of our shou sugi ban siding that I mentioned in the Siding and trim blog. The sweet tiger stripes that comes with burning the cedar boards faded significantly once the cedar siding was installed on the house and exposed to the sun. After a few months of being all up, it’s starting to blend and the fading lines aren’t so obvious.

Without a lot more experimentation, we’re not sure how to make the burned look not fade. If you’re wanting to use shou-sugi-ban, maybe try a stronger seal. There are some places on the back of the house that need to be re-stained/sealed. When we are completely done, we will likely re-stain and seal most of it. We’re not counting on that brining back the nice shou sugi ban contrast, but at least it will ensure it is protected.

Here are some progression pics of the fading process.  After 3 months of exposure, the contrasting lines have almost completely faded.


Siding and trim

Fall has officially arrived here in Kansas, brining many beautiful days to be working outside! While the roof was plodding along (check out that project here), we’ve also been putting up siding.  It’s been exciting to see projects moving forward, the outside getting closer to completion, and work beginning on the inside.

Here are a a few pictures of the siding going up over the last few weeks. What do you think of the shou-sugi-ban siding? (In case you missed it, here’s a link to our post on burning the siding.)

Trim: While friends have been focused on hanging siding and Kyle has been working on other small projects and started some inside work, I’ve been focusing on getting the exterior window and corner trim and fascia boards painted. Got that finished up this weekend.  As of today (Oct 12), the only thing that remains to be done on the outside is finishing up the siding on the lofts, building a front door and window for the front loft, and trimming a few trim pieces on the roof.


The goals is to be completely done on the outside and the walls insulated by winter so we can continue working inside. In the last two weeks or so, this has started to look like a reality!

Shou-sugi-ban siding

Some tiny house builders have significant time they can totally dedicate to the project and knock out their home in just a few months. For us, however, life has not stopped. We both have full time jobs so house work happens on weekends (when we’re not busy) and evenings (when we’re not tired). Summer has proved to be busy, keeping us both, but more significantly Kyle, away from house work.

We were excited to have Kyle’s sister and her boyfriend join us for a work day to re-jumpstart the progress mid-August. The project: shou-sugi-ban!  This is an ancient Japanese technique of burning wood in order to make it more rot and bug resistant. Apparently, it’s starting to make its way, slowly but surely, back into modern building design. It took a few months for Kyle to convince me of the idea of BURNING our siding, but in the end, I absolutely love the look!

The project included burning each board with a propane torch, brushing off excess char and sealing it with a stain/sealer.  Derek headed up the burning, Amy and I partnered up in staining the wood, and Kyle worked on cutting the siding just perfect to fit around the wheel wells and other odd jobs.

Here’s some pics of the process.

Since we had trouble finding good info on how to do this on the internet, we made a tutorial video that walks through the process of how we did it. You can view it here.

If you’re thinking about shou-sugi-ban siding for your house or other diy project, it’s a fun, but long and dirty process. We were really grateful for two extra hands! At the end of the day, we had all the siding burned, half of it stained, and three rows installed on the house. The rest will come on a future weekend and final product debuted on a future blog. 🙂


Self-drilling screws, insulation, and shou-sugi-ban experiments

This weekend turned out to be fairly productive on the house-raising, even though it started out with a few hiccups. Kyle ordered self-drilling screws online but there was some delay in the shipping. We weren’t expecting them this weekend, but they ended up arriving Friday afternoon. After a day of shopping, Kyle got to work on cutting the cedar rim joists that go around the perimeter of the trailer.

Saturday, he did some experimenting with shou-sugi-ban (an ancient Japanese method of burning wood in order to preserve it from moisture and insects). Most people recommend using a weed burner to burn the boards, but we haven’t been able to round one up yet, so he burned the boards over our little fire pit in the backyard. After an hour and a half, we had 6, unevenly burned boards. Conclusion: We like the light burned look, but we need to find a weed burner for the siding! Burning the wood over a fire pit was time consuming and produced an inconsistent look. It will serve its purpose this time, but we’ll something a little nicer for the cedar siding.

Next, Kyle attached the boards to the metal frame of the trailer, using the stainless steel self-drilling screws. (For those who don’t know anything about these screws (like me), they have a little drill bit on the end of the screw, making it so that they can drill through metal.) However, the drill tips on the screws kept breaking off and would not drill through the metal as intended. Why, we don’t know. So he and our friend Zac ended up pre-drilling holes for the screws, thus defeating the purpose of “self-drilling.” They worked out a system though, and it worked fine. We’re hoping the zinc self-drilling screws Kyle got for the sub floor work better than the stainless steel.

With Zac’s help, Kyle also got all the insulation for the floor cut and installed (and later covered with plastic because it was threatening to rain). They layered 3 1-inch rigid foam boards with an R value of 6.5 per inch.

One step at a time…



The foundation (trailer) has arrived!

The trailer is here!!! That means construction can officially begin! We ended up getting a Tumbleweed trailer, which was custom built for tiny houses so we wouldn’t have to do any modifying to accommodate a house.  Kyle is a builder kind of guy and has been dreaming about building this for a long time. We’ve read somewhere that it takes around 500 working hours to build a tiny house. So with Kyle having 2 days a week he can fully commit to working on it, we would love to be moved in by the end of the year, but realistically, probably not till Spring.

The foundation arrived!

The foundation arrived!

We also have windows! Picked those up a few weeks ago.

Tiny windows for a tiny house

Tiny windows for a tiny house

Friends have asked where we will park it. We don’t have a place yet, but are open to suggestions! All we’d need is some electrcity and a water faucet and a yard for our dog! We’d love to live in the country again, so we’re thinking an abandoned farmyard might work well…. Anyone know of a place around Hillsboro? This is still 8+ months away so we have a while to think about it.

Below is the house that inspired the floor plan. The outside will look similar to this one – minus the purple and plus shoo sugi ban style siding. Shou sugi ban is an ancient Japanese technique of burning wood to make it more weather and insect resistant. The char is a natural bug repellent and rot protector. On cedar it creates a sweet silver shimmer. We’ve never done this before, so it will take some experimenting to get it to look how we want it to look.

This is the house we have in mind, with a few modifications.

This is the house we have in mind, with a few modifications.

Sho-sugi-ban siding. Who knew you could burn wood to weather it....

Example of shou-sugi-ban siding. Who knew you could burn wood to weather it….

Now all we need is more lumber and walls will start to go up in the next week or two!! We’re starting to see some progress to our dream!