News & Editorials

Worsening Fire Risk in the Western United States

The increased risk that wildfire poses to property, forests, and human life in the Western United States is all too apparent in the aftermath of the 2020 fire season, considered to be the worst fire season on-record. According to the national large incident reports from the GACC, over 13 million acres were burned through the course of the fire season, with over 18,000 structures destroyed and over $3 billion spent in suppression costs alone. 

While wildfire has historically had a regular presence in the American West, an ever-increasing population has led to increased building and human presence in previously remote areas. Combined with worsening climate conditions west of the Rockies in recent years, this expansion of settlement into wild areas has resulted in increased devastation during wildfire events.

Fire Risk Maps - June through November 2020

June 2020

July 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

November 2020

According to maps from the USGS Fire Danger website, throughout the 2020 fire season, every state in the Western United States experienced an increased fire risk. Traditionally drier states, such as those in the South West and parts of California, experienced heavy fire potentiality in the early-to-mid summer months. Heavily forested areas of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest experienced increased fire risk in late-summer and into early Fall, leading to excessively dry conditions in forests which normally do not pose a dire threat. 

These conditions hit close to home for Hewn on Labor Day Weekend, when an excessively strong windstorm combined with exceedingly dry conditions to create the perfect conditions for combustion. Wildfires caused by lightning strikes and prohibited campfires led to the Portland metropolitan area being engulfed in a thick layer of smoke, much of which lingered for weeks. Demand for air purifiers skyrocketed as the smoke settled in the Willamette Valley, and many residents left town for cleaner air.

Portland, Oregon's historic waterfront on September 13th, 2020
View of Downtown Portland, Oregon on September 9th, 2020

Recent years have seen an increase in legislations, guidelines, and restrictions concerning structures located in high fire-risk areas. Despite this, many homeowners are encountering the most friction from their insurance providers. In an effort to minimize losses posed by wildfire risk, home insurance providers are increasingly terminating coverage to customers located in high-risk areas, with some applicants having to apply to multiple insurance providers in hope of receiving coverage. 

In some instances, insurance providers may allow coverage if foliage and other high-risk items are removed from a certain “defensible space” perimeter surrounding structures on the property. Insurers may also take into consideration the types of materials used in the structure’s roof, eaves, and siding, providing coverage in otherwise uninsurable areas if enough conditions are met. While many structures may be grandfathered in to prior building codes that did not require certain fire-safe materials, the growing pressure from insurance companies makes retrofitting existing structures a potential cost-and-life-saving measure in the long run.

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Near Hewn's manufacturing facility in Tualatin, Oregon on September 10th, 2020

Hewn is dedicated to bringing new California Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) compliant and Class A fire rated real-wood siding to the market in the first half of 2021.

After witnessing the devastating destruction in California these past many fire seasons, as well as our own catastrophic fires in the Pacific Northwest, Hewn has allocated an unprecedented amount of resources towards creating new solutions to age-old fire protection problems. These products are designed to meet state and international guidelines on fire protection, without sacrificing the ultimate ideal of having genuine wood siding on nature-adjacent structures.

Hewn’s fire-conscious offerings are on target to be the first-of-their-kind on the market, continuing Hewn’s trend of industry-disrupting innovation to meet the needs of architects, designers, builders, and the public at large.

Masterpiece in the Columbia River Gorge

A pristine property highlights some of Hewn’s best real-wood offerings.

Located roughly an hour’s drive east of Portland, Oregon through the historic Columbia River Gorge, this newly-built property combines the modern appeal of an open concept floor plan with the rustic charm of real-wood flooring, ceilings, and accent pieces. Hewn’s timeless White Oak Flooring, in our catalog Buff color and Standard finish, fills nearly every interior square foot of this custom-built space. The ceilings are similarly adorned with Hewn’s TruRustic Sun Bleached, brightening up the space with a lighter natural look. 

The various barn doors throughout the property also feature this same Hewn material, creating a cohesive look and feel that can be difficult to perfect when sourcing from multiple suppliers. And the exterior of the structure is adorned with Hewn’s Exterior Cedar Siding, in a custom grey color, which complements the surrounding landscape and is sealed for protection against the elements.

Introducing Shipwreck

The latest addition to our Hewn texture line-up, unlike anything else on the market.


Our woodworkers and skilled artists here at Hewn constantly push the limits of what is possible to create out of new, sustainably sourced wood material. Our latest textural product offering, Shipwreck, continues this legacy by combining our fine attention to detail with our unmatched ability to craft exquisite lightweight box beams that look like solid timbers from any distance. Shipwreck is the most textured finish option that we have ever offered. This texture combines the cracks and nail holes of our Distressed texture option, with a heavy Hand Hewn look that goes beyond what we have previously offered on any wood species. The depth of this texture is unmatched as well, featuring not just notch marks, but actual dimensional variance on the outside surface of the wood.


Our inspiration for Shipwreck comes from the finely crafted wood sailing vessels of yesteryear, many of which have met their demise in the deep depths on bottom of the ocean. While salvage operations may be out of reach, Shipwreck allows you to tap into this seafaring legacy for your own home or commercial space. Whether your design is nautical in nature, or modern with a hint of rustic charm, our Shipwreck box beams can be incorporated into your space with ease, and fully customized to fit your needs. Contact us today to learn more about Shipwreck, order material samples, and to begin your individualized design and ordering process.


The Residences at Rolling Hills Country Club

Premium quality meets high-end design in crafting beams for a stunning luxury development

Rolling Hills Estates, a city quietly hiding in the southwest corner of Los Angeles County, is the picturesque setting for a series of model homes that Hewn was asked to provide high-end custom box beams for. These homes, part of The Residences at Rolling Hills County Club, were developed by The Chadmar Group, and feature designs by Objekt Designs. The sprawling beam assemblies in these homes were crafted to look as though they are are an essential structural part of these houses, while in actuality, they all consist of the signature hollow real-wood box beams that Hewn has become famous for creating.

Hewn was selected early on in the process, with expert coordination provided by Fabrice Spies of SoCal Building Solutions, one of our premiere salespeople. Fabrice Spies specializes in luxury living, catering to high-end projects and clients in the Southern California region. His expertise in understanding the desires and needs of this project’s clientele helped secure Hewn as a critical supplier for these model homes, providing a timeless look and feel in these modern spaces. For one of the homes, Hewn provided Rustic Reclaimed box beams, with deep browns and golden hues imparting a Western look. For another home, Hewn created a custom color with grey overtones, intended to be a lighter version of our Corral option with a slightly different personality. 

Both of these design choices came about after a thorough sample approval process, part of our standard operating procedure for any of our clients and design partners. In addition to the custom and stock options that we provided, we also contributed a set of quality paint-grade beams for one of the model homes. While typical paint-grade elements are often basic by their very nature, the paint-grade beams that Hewn provided utilized a thick, high-grade primer with multiple coats and an eye towards eliminating imperfections. 

When the final product is intended for such a pristine space, Hewn believes it is worth it to go the extra mile to ensure the on-site painter has little-to-no prep work required. Hewn has continued to provide beams for new builds in this development, in addition to numerous high-end projects in the region.

True Food Kitchen & Bar


Location: Ceasar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Designer: Aria Group
General Contractor: Jet Construction Services
Product Type: American White Oak, Hit & Miss Texture, Circle Sawn Texture, FlameStop II, Custom Color


Health food meets the Vegas Strip, as a revolutionary restaurant concept opens at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Hotel

Dr. Andrew Weil’s concept for a restaurant was simple: He wanted to serve great food, that happened to be good for you. What started out as a relatively simple idea in 2008 has now expanded into a nationwide chain with plans to have approximately 40 restaurants open by the end of 2020. With a newsworthy investment from Oprah Winfrey in 2018, True Foods Kitchen has
grown from its original Phoenix, Arizona location into a lifestyle powerhouse, all centered around serving unique and innovative anti-inflammatory dishes.


One of the newest True Foods Kitchen restaurants just opened this year at the Forum Shops at Caesars, the high-end retail shopping experience attached to Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino. The Forum Shops, first opened in 1992 and undergoing major expansions through the early 2000’s, is modeled to fit a fantasized version of what life in Roman times might have been like for the rich and famous. Per-square-foot, it is also considered the highest grossing shopping mall in the nation, housing luxury brands from all over the world.

One of the highlights of the Forum Shops are the spiral escalators at the main entrance, sitting atop a reflecting pool. As of Spring 2020, this reflecting pool houses the first ever True Bar, seemingly floating atop the waters of the pool in this new prime location. The bar features the same ethos of the main restaurant, with non-alcoholic detox offerings presented alongside traditional and upscale alcoholic options. Between the prime location and the uniquely health-centered drink menu, True Bar is the perfect fit for a Las Vegas currently in the midst of a major innovative shift.

To help bring this vision to life, Hewn Elements provided over 2,800 linear feet of white oak box beams, in addition to over 1,800 linear feet of flat-stock material for the project. Hewn Elements’ contributions include much of the finished wood product on display, in both the True Bar and True Foods Kitchen locations in the Forums at Caesars Palace.

With a presence in the high-end wood finishing industry that spans back decades, the talented artisans at Hewn Elements are able to accommodate commercial requests for prefinished material at any scale.

焼杉 Yakisugi: An Origin Story

Japan is often called a land of contradictions. It is a place where technology is pushed to new limits, and where urban cityscapes can span past the horizon. Yet it is also a country and culture that intentionally honors and preserves the past.

In order to understand the modern context of Yakisugi in Japan, one must look back a few centuries to the policy of Sakoku, during the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled from roughly the year 1600 to 1868. Prior to this time period, Portuguese traders and missionaries found great success in the import and export of goods and knowledge, with the first European contact taking place in 1543. But in response to an increase in piracy and the perceived threat of external ideology, the Sakoku policies created near-total isolation for Japan on the world stage.

During this time, also called the Edo Period, the Tokugawa Shogunate moved the capital of Japan from Kyoto to Edo (now known as Tokyo). The new capital of Edo, like much of Japan, was constructed primarily of wood and paper, leading to a number of devastating fires. After a particularly destructive event in 1657, Japanese architecture began to pivot towards techniques and designs that would help mitigate the effects of fire. Thatched roofs were replaced by tiles, and stone embankments were constructed to reduce fire spread.

By the 1700s, a new technique was developed  to help slow the spread of fires, and provide a stronger and more weather-resistant coating to wood buildings. Known as Yakisugi (or Shou Sugi Ban), this technique involves charring the exterior of a wood surface until a layer of carbonization is achieved. While this carbonization can sometimes appear almost as a dark-brown stain, it can also take on a crackled pattern, depending on the intensity of the burn and the species of wood used.

Traditionally, this process was performed on Japanese Cedar (called “Sugi”), though in modern times it has been applied to more wood species. When creating Yakisugi, the wood must be burned to a precise level before the fire is quenched. For some Yakisugi finishes, the wood surface is then brushed to create a uniform color (anywhere from deep brown to pitch black). Or in the case of a crackle-style burn, the product is left as-is to achieve the maximum effect.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive to intentionally burn wood siding in a region prone to fire, the process forms a protective layer that make it naturally fire-resistant to a much higher level than untreated wood. It also prolongs the life of the wood, and helps it resist insect infestation, water, and decay. For this reason, the technique became a popular way to treat wood used on traditional Japanese townhouses, shrines, and other buildings during the Edo Period, to such an extent that the look itself is now generally associated with pre-war Japan.

The Old Capital

While Tokyo still retains the title of Japan’s current capital city, Kyoto has earned the reputation of being one of the best places in the country to witness the convergence of Japan’s past and future.

Kyoto was largely spared from the destruction of World War II by recommendation of Roosevelt and Truman’s Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson. The city itself is currently home to over 1.4 million people, and is considered the cultural hub of Japan. The city features a dense urban core, but is surrounded by less populated sprawl, much of which features older single-and-two-story buildings interspersed with newer multi-level low-rise structures, often quite narrow in width. Despite the prevalence of newer construction from recent decades, it is easy to spot at least one example of charred wood siding on nearly every city block, whether it be a preserved historical structure or an homage to the past on a new building.

To the east of the city core sits the Higashiyama Ward (meaning Eastern Hills or Mountain), which features some of the best preserved examples of Japanese pre-war architecture, much of which is clad in some capacity with Yakisugi charred siding. Visitors to Japan flock to this area in hopes of experiencing the culture of the past, including visits to tea houses, shops featuring traditional goods, and the chance to spot a Geisha on her way to or from work. In addition, the area features a multitude of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, many of which are considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are designated as National Cultural Properties.

Although Kyoto remains one of the best places to witness traditional pre-war architecture, efforts to preserve the traditional Machiya-style buildings have suffered some setbacks in recent years, with many houses in less-historical neighborhoods being demolished to be turned into apartment buildings, or remodeled to look more modern. The tourist sector is also taking a toll on the city, with visitors flocking to historical districts during daylight hours, bringing important revenue but crowding already narrow streets in the process.

Still, there have been many efforts towards preservation in recent years, including a massive restoration project on the large wooden Kiyomizu-dera Temple complex, and a push for city funding through an accommodation tax for visitors. Paradoxically, one of the best ways to visit a preserved Machiya is to visit the Starbucks Coffee location in the Higashiyama District, housed in a restored and preserved structure, complete with shoe-free tatami seating areas on the second level and several small zen gardens throughout the space.

Similar to the Higashiyama Ward, the Arashiyama district in northern Kyoto is home to winding streets and old historical structures. Interspersed within these old structures, however, are renovated and newer buildings that pay homage and respect to the past, while incorporating modern styles into their overall aesthetics. Many of these homes and structures seemingly utilize Yakisugi as a way to respect their cultural past, whether it be on perimeter fencing, wall cladding, or even as accents against stark-white plaster. Much of the work that Hewn Elements accomplishes is centered around this same ideology: Preserving the past by looking towards the future.

At Hewn Elements, we create our Yakisugi/Shou Sugi Ban products on North-American-grown Western Red Cedar and Northwestern Spruce, as well as on innovative offerings from Accoya®. We constantly work towards creating new colors, finishes, and textures, incorporating traditional charring techniques not only as a protective agent, but also as an aesthetic tool to highlight certain characteristics of the wood.

Most of our catalog colors in our Interior Cedar, Exterior Cedar, Northwestern Spruce, and Ohana collections feature some degree of charring and brushing. In addition, we also offer deeper char and crackle textures in our Yakisugi/Shou Sugi Ban collection, and alternatives like Dāku Ban that mimic this darkened look.

Whether you are embracing a dark and sleek modernist look, or you simply wish to add some accent wood elements to highlight a classic style, Yakisugi/Shou Sugi Ban is a great way to achieve a finished image that will defend against the elements, and stand the test of time in both a literal and figurative sense.

Once viewed as a utilitarian necessity in order to prevent wear and destruction, Yakisugi is now an affordable luxury, acting as a bridge between the past and the future

Texas Live!

Supplying custom-finished wood materials for a world-class $250 million dining, entertainment, and hospitality district.

Texas Live! is a $250 million world-class dining, entertainment, and hospitality district, located between the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park and the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Hewn Elements, in cooperation with the owner/developers and interior designer Jeffery Beers, worked to develop the interior wood aesthetics for the various Texas Live! venues.

Hewn provided over 42 different wood finishes and textures across eight wood species to produce interior wall claddings, faux wood beams, ceiling elements, bull rings, bar fronts, and exterior trellis systems.

Prefinished product was shipped either direct to the millwork company for bar, table, and banquet construction, or to the jobsite for install. Because of Hewn Elements’ vertical integration and comprehensive offerings, we were able to help the owner realize over $400,000 in value engineering savings, without sacrificing the original vision.

Instead of having to rely on multiple suppliers, finishers, and outside consultants, Hewn Elements was able to accommodate the wide range of visual and textural styles requested by the project’s designers.

We apply our knowledge of wood and finishing to value engineer the process, staying within budget without sacrificing quality.

Through this vertical integration, Hewn Elements offers a unique experience to owners, general contractors, developers, architects, and interior designers. Our highly skilled workers are capable of handling projects of any scope and size. Whether you need material to cover a 200 ft2 accent wall, or 250,000 ft2 of material to cover a stadium, our workshop can accommodate your order.

Our offerings here at Hewn Elements are not limited to our existing product catalog. Our sales and production teams regularly work with our clients to match our finishes with existing materials, and to create new finishes to match your unique spaces.

The process starts with a sample, photo, or simple conversation to understand the design intent. We then begin the reproduction and sample process, utilizing our unique system of blending raw pigments to achieve your desired tones and sheens. Each step of
the process is documented as part of our production workflow, so we can replicate the finish for future projects with your team.

No matter the color, texture, age, or condition, our innovative craftsmen can create new material to blend with existing spaces. Even if a design specifies a seemingly impossible product, our team can accommodate your needs and give you a variety of options to choose from.

Communication is key in any project, and we strive to make sure our clients’ needs are met throughout the manufacturing process. Our team works one-on-one with every client to ensure that each project receives personalized attention. We focus on value engineering the product to meet your specific needs, staying on time and within budget.

A Modern Yoga Studio with a Los Angeles Twist


Before Dāku Ban became a staple of our Shou Sugi Ban collection, it started out life as a request for a custom finish designed to furnish the walls of Y7 Yoga’s newest Los Angeles studio. 

Located on famous Sunset Boulevard, this location would be decked out with our pitch-black Shou Sugi Ban alternative in its front entrance and lobby spaces, complementing the high-contrast look of the establishment at-large.

Y7 Yoga is no stranger to innovation and thinking outside of the box. The studio chain is famous for pumping high-energy music during its many classes, offering high-end amenities that are often overlooked at most yoga studios. And this flagship Los Angeles location takes advantage of its sunny setting, offering both indoor and outdoor changing rooms, lockers, and showers. 

With a mission statement to make yoga inclusive and accessible, and with fourteen locations across New York and Los Angeles, Y7 Yoga is raising the bar for what a modern twist on a traditional art can look like.