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What timber can be used on brise soleil systems?

Timber brise soleil blades are often the first choice for architects but choosing the right timber is an important consideration in the early stages.

In a nutshell: 

  • Western red cedar is the most common timber for brise soleil systems
  • It is cost-effective, sustainable and low carbon
  • Siberian larch and (less common) American white oak are also used
  • Heat-treated and chemically modified timber offers a more durable option
  • Advanced powder-coatings can make aluminium look like wood?

They do have downsides... cost, fire resistance, weight and the need for specialist coatings. But there’s one thing that can trump all of these things – timber looks great.

So, what are the most common types of timber used in the brise soleil industry today?

Western red cedar

The most common wood in the UK for brise soleil (along with other façade and cladding projects). British western red cedar can be cost-effective, sustainable and low-carbon, although imported Canadian timber has fewer knots and a smoother finish. Most architects choose it for the consistent way it weathers from red to a silvery-grey colour – but if that’s not what you want, give it a miss.

Siberian Larch

A versatile softwood with impressive durability thanks to its high resin content – even when untreated. Siberian larch is a straw colour similar to pine, and should not be confused with its British counterpart, which is dark pink. Trees grow slowly, making larch wood extremely dense and strong – but that also makes it expensive, while imports are susceptible to world events.

American White Oak

A premium hardwood that comes at a price. Its high density means it is a strong and hard-wearing wood, which is just as well because it is resistant to preservative treatments. However, it can discolour in wet or humid conditions. Typically used for flooring and designer kitchens and although it will look great, may not always be best suited for brise soleil.


This might be one you haven’t heard of before. Accoya is ‘modified timber’. Sustainably sourced softwood is treated with chemicals to make it harder, more durable and more resistant to rot. It is not available in as large pieces as natural timber, so may only be suitable for smaller brise soleil blades.


Also known as heat-treated Scandinavian softwood, Thermowood is a sustainable timber material produced using chemical-free heat treatment. It’s more resistant to swelling, cracking and shrinkage (and rot and fungi), than natural wood, and has increased longevity. Not only is it environmentally friendly, it can also be recycled.


Hang on… aluminium is not a wood. True, but many brise soleil specialists recommend advanced powder-coatings that can make aluminium look like wood?

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