Shading and Solar Control with Timber

Benefits of External Shading

Sliding timber shutters are a popular and architectural design choice for exterior building shading. The timber panels can be designed to suit the project and are possible for both internal and external use.

What are the advantages of external shading for building projects?

Shading and protection from overheating is an important part of any building design project. Architects and specifiers are often looking for the most effective way to do this which fits into the intent of their design.

When it comes to shading, both internal and external shading techniques can be used however, it is widely accepted that external shading techniques are the most effective at protecting internal soaces from overheating, reducing the need for cooling systems and ensuring that internal spaces are comfortable.

How does external shading work?

External shading systems sit on the outside of a building. They stop or reduce the solar radiation from the sun before it even touches the glass of the windows or the external building structure in and effort to maintain cooler temperatures inside.

The benefit of external shading is that the sun’s rays are reflected away from the building before they have the chance to pass through the glazing into the space. Conventional blinds and internal shading techniques that are fitted to the internal side of glass trap the heat between the blind and the glass and therefore still impacts the internal temperature.

This type of external shading is the most effective shading solution and can be adapted to suit your building décor and furnishings.

External shading also optimises light control by reducing the intensity of light able to seep into a room and blocking those annoying glares that seek out your line of sight or computer screen. This further helps to protect furnishings from fading and cracking, especially paintings and brightly coloured leather sofas.

External Shading as part of Approved Document O

All new build dwellings in England had to adhere to Approved Document O which attempts to provide a key set of rules to ensure that buildings are designed to minimise overheating. With the climate increasing, ensuring that these structures have adequate shading is important.

External shading is one of the prescribed ways that Building Regulations say you can adhere to Approved Document O. External louvres, external shading structures, brise soleil and similar external shading techniques are all suitable for adherence with Approved Document O.

External Shading for a passive design strategy

A well-designed external system should improve the internal environment of any building to provide greater comfort for occupants, while reducing cooling loads and minimizing energy costs with the added benefit of contributing to the building’s architectural appearance.

However, different facades require different external shading. By analysing the sun angles, we can design project specific sun shading applications that protect windows from unwanted heat gain in summer, maximize natural light and allow for heat gain in winter.

This is a key part of a passive design strategy which ensures that the building itself is designed for the environment without intervention or action by the occupants. This style of energy strategy for buildings are beginning to become more important and preferred for buildings with greater eco credentials.

Design Options for External Shading

When you are looking for an external shading solution, there are various methods that are possible and all have their own advantages and designs.

Fixed external timber battens are a simple yet effective solution that provides external shading to large elevations. When designed and considered as part of the building from an early stage, the batten shading can be fully integrated into the building timber cladding design.

For more control over the shading levels throughout the day, movable external shading might be the best solution.

Horizontal timber louvres can be designed on a racking system that sits on the outside of a window or glass wall. These louvres can be fixed but most often are designed as moving which allows the user or the building management system (BMS) to change the level of shading when needed.

The horizontal louvres are available in a range of sizes and designs, offering louvre shading systems that can be designed to suit many different types of projects. The other advantages of these types of external shading systems is that they can be designed to suit any size and shape of window, including circular or odd shapes.

External timber shutters can also be used for exterior shading. These are useful for large format glass doors or walls where you want to bring shading and privacy over the glass façade. Due to the sliding nature of the external shading system, these are only suitable for square or rectangular openings however irregular shapes are possible as long as they have at least two parallel sides.

A range of timber is possible for these external shading sliders is wide. And the designs can be created bespoke to suit the requirements and design of the building itself.

External louvre structures that protrude from the face of a building are also suitable for external shading. The advantage of these shading systems is that they do not sit over glass faces, and instead hang above them. This can be useful for glass elevations where you want to maintain the view through the glass doors or windows.

The cantilevered louvre structures can be connected to the building or designed to sit on legs for larger spans. Using timber for these structures works well for designs where timber is a key aspect of the exterior design or for designs that want to use more natural materials as part of the building.

The louvres within the structure can be designed in conjunction with the path of the sun to ensure that the most optimum level of shading can be achieved.

What to Consider when specifying External Shading

When choosing the type of external shading for a project, there are many aspects of the build and required performance that should be considered.

  1. The buildings’ location and orientation in accordance with the sun is important to consider. The angle that the sun will hit the building and reflected glare from other buildings or water features are also important to look at.
  1. The wind load of the project is also important. In areas of high wind load, the external shading will need to be designed to withstand these heavy winds.
  1. The design you are looking to achieve for the building will be important when selecting the type of external shading you are looking for.
  1. Do you want the external shading to be fixed or openable? Some external shading systems are available in both whilst some only in fixed or opening options.
  2. The size of the shading that is required. Larger external shading structures might require additional supports in the form of steel or metal.

The team at Avino can assist with selecting the best external timber shading system based on the requirements of the project.