How to Paint Shou Sugi Ban

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Introduction: How to Paint Shou Sugi Ban

About: I enjoy repurposing and restoring old furniture and making woodwork projects that are not seen every day. I make most of my projects using wood that is either, recycled,reclaimed and love to repurpose and rest…

A few months ago, I made this wall hanging and the feedback was amazing. It is one of my most popular projects and everyone wanted to know what I used to add the colours. In this post, I will share how I coloured the Shou sugi ban and what products I used.

When I posted the Shou sugi ban wall hanging, I did mention the products I used but there is more to the story. The process is not as simple as adding a particular colour paint. A few factors affect the final colour results eg, how it is applied, how the wood is prepped and sealed. I am no expert on how to colour the Shou sugi ban but I am happy to share with you what products I used how I used them.

Step 1: How to Prepare the Wood

I am starting this step after the wood has already been burnt and sanded, here is the tutorial if you missed it. The image below is how your wood should look after you have burnt and sanded it. The deeper you sand into the wood the lighter the wood will become and the more vibrant the colour will be. I like to have a mixture of both light and dark wood in my wall hangings because the results are more dramatic.

Step 2: How Not to Apply Colour

On my first test, I just poured some Unicorn spit onto the surface and spread it around with a foam brush. Big Mistake!

The wood absorbed the pigment even though I spread it straight away, the initial application stayed behind. This ruined the look and I had to go back and burn and sand the wood again.

Step 3: Add Water

The best way I found was to wet the surface first. I used water in a spray bottle and soak the surface first. Leave the water on the surface until you have added the colour.

I found less is more when adding the colour. I added a small amount of paint to the sponge and moved the sponge over the surface. The idea is not to add paint to the entire surface leave some areas plain. The water will allow the colour pigment to spread around the surface. I left the paint to sit for 3 to 5 minutes before wiping it off with a dry cloth.

How you wipe it off the paint also affects the colour, in some areas you can rub really hard to remove more colour. This will give you a bigger variety of colours.

Step 4: ​What Products I Used

I did some test runs using a few different products to see what the results would be. All the colours were applied to the Shou sugi ban, in the same way using the water as mentioned above. I have combined a few products per photo in order of left to right.

Alcohol inks
Alcohol inks are a great product to use. I diluted a small amount into a tub with some water and applied it with a foam brush. The sponge was pulled across the surface and the excess was wiped off. I found the inks simple to use and the colours were all very vibrant.

Acrylic Paint

I was really surprised at the results of this cheap acrylic paint, the colours were just as bold as the alcohol ink.

Unicorn Spit stain and glaze

Next, I tried unicorn spit stain and glaze which I really loved. The colour range is very vibrant and easy to use. The only downfall is unicorn spit dries with a light powdery finish. So you do not get a true representation of the colour until the wood is sealed. To seal the wood you must use oil-based polyurethane or furniture oil to make the colours pop. It was one of the top products that I used in the end.

Unicorn spit and mica powder

Unicorn spit has a sparkling version of their product which I tried to replicate by adding mica powder. This effect was really pretty it does not show up very well in the photo but the surface has a shimmer effect on the surface. This colour was really beautiful once sealed.

Step 5: Products Used

Metallic acrylic paints

The metallic acrylic paints were a real surprise because the colours turned out nothing like the colour in the bottle. The final colour on the wood looked like the colour had separated into two different colours.

Pigment powder

I added half a teaspoon of pigment powder to a small amount of water and applied it to the wood was the sponge brush. I believe the results will differ depending on the amount of pigment that you add. The colour was really bold.

Poster paint

Poster paint is great if you don’t want a deep colour. I added two coats and the colour still stayed very light compared to the other products I tried.

Alcohol ink and mica powder

This combination worked well but I think the wood used will also affect the colour you get.

Step 6: Stain

The first image below is what you will get if you want the plain look. While this piece of wood looks really boring, this picture frame I made turned out stunning. For the next two, I used regular wood stains.

The colours did look a bit boring, but once I added the polyurethane the colours came to life.

Step 7: ​Combining Colours

Another method that I tried was combing colours on one piece of wood. I added a drop of the colours on the sponge and dragged it along the wood.

This was the result that I got, I found it interesting and a great way to get more variety in the colours. The next test was to try alcohol ink on pallet wood. I burnt the wood in the same way and the results were very dramatic, I loved it. The last one in this image was another cheap acrylic paint.

Step 8: ​Interior Wall Paint

And for the grand final, I saved the best for last. I was making a wall hanging for my sister and she wanted some of the paint colour in the hanging that she used on the walls. Instead of trying to match the colour, I tried this paint and the result was awesome.

This wall hanging was made up of a few different types of wood. It was mainly pine, knotty pine wall panelling, pallet wood and a few others I could not identify. I added the same colour to each piece in the same way and got all these different colours. I hope I have covered everything in this tutorial. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Step 9: More DIY Project Ideas

Step 10:

Outdoor Christmas sign

You can find more unique projects on my website Unique Creations By Anita

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    17 Comments

    0
    E4PVNVNCTYM87PT239HYF9
    E4PVNVNCTYM87PT239HYF9

    Question 2 months ago

    Hi, great idea, looks awesome. Some of the colors gives an almost cartoon affect. Can you tell me what you sealed then with? I was also wandering if pigment color can be added to a sealant like a clear polyurethane?

    0
    AnitaH25
    AnitaH25

    Answer 2 months ago

    I originally sealed mine with out door polyurethane because mine was going outside. But a few years later I have noticed that the polyurethane has turned yellow which has dulled the colours. I would use a clear polyurethane after you have added the colours and keep it out of direct sunlight and weather. You can't add pigment after the wood is seal because the pigment will not go into the sealed wood.

    0
    Klelu
    Klelu

    Question 4 months ago on Step 8

    I love Shou Sugi Ban and have an idea I'm dying to try. Do you need to wait until the wood is completely cool from the burn before you wire brush it down? I didn't wait and it looks smudged

    0
    AnitaH25
    AnitaH25

    Answer 4 months ago

    I never wait until cool. What do you mean by smudged. Can I see a picture?

    0
    Klelu
    Klelu

    Reply 3 months ago

    I think I just didn't work the wood enough after burning. I did another board and used a wire brush attachment on my drill to get the char off and it turned out way better

    0
    AnitaH25
    AnitaH25

    Reply 3 months ago

    Good to hear it all worked out.

    0
    NikkiB1
    NikkiB1

    5 months ago on Step 4

    Great Tutorial!! I absolutely LOVE this it's so beautiful, a unique way of bringing out the natural beauty of the wood grain. Great job! Thank you for sharing your art and the process.

    1
    GeraldD2
    GeraldD2

    8 months ago on Introduction

    I just wanted to Thank You for sharing, hardly wait to try this

    0
    attosa
    attosa

    1 year ago

    Stunning results!

    0
    agentwickkit
    agentwickkit

    1 year ago

    We have similar methods of testing this idea, I spent last winter doing pretty much the same thing. My funding is limited so I tried a few different ideas and am just now getting to experiment with unicorn spit. One thing I did that I don't believe you mentioned was coloring my stain itself to eliminate the extra step. I burn and sand twice, using the nyalox bristle drill bits and then stain with a light color stain that I've added pigment to. I've used Easter egg dye tablets and oil and acrylic paints. I've had brilliant and bright results from combinations of all 3 but the best medium I found is the oil paint and I add the cheaper acrylic metallic paint for the shimmer effect. I save everything too, if I painted something with the glittery or metallic paints, I'll save the water I rinse my brush off with and reuse it when coloring my shou sugi ban protects.

    0
    AnitaH25
    AnitaH25

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing your results. I would love to see some of your shou sugi ban projects.

    0
    JanH3
    JanH3

    1 year ago on Step 5

    Love this! Could not open the instructions for the wood burning part. Can you send a different link?

    0
    PeacefulHappyLife

    I love this project. Super cute! Thank you for posting:)

    0
    AnitaH25
    AnitaH25

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much!

    0
    Creative Mom CZ
    Creative Mom CZ

    1 year ago

    This is beautiful and original!

    0
    AnitaH25
    AnitaH25

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much, the photos dont do them justice.