Modern Trellis / Brise Soleil

April 2, 2012 — 12 Comments

This is the subject for today – a modern trellis, although more accurately described as a brise-soleil … a permanent vertical or horizontal sun shading device. This is a very simple one although it is deceivingly so.


Modern Trellis elevation

I am going to walk you through this shading device from its beginnings to a mostly finished product using the pictures I have taken from the many site trips I have taken on this project. Most images will be fairly self-explanatory but I will point out the items of interest.


Steel supports at bridge

Early on, you can see the tube steel that is in place to hold up the floor of the bridge component – but you can see that some of the tube steel extends through the exterior wall. These will ultimately be used as connection points for welding and will support the remaining trellis.


steel supports penetrating zinc siding

In this picture, the black zinc siding has been installed but it still has the protective wrap on the surface. The tube steel patiently waits …


bracket in zinc

Another consideration for assembling the trellis in this manner is that it allows us to hold the trellis off the face of the metal paneling and reduce the number of penetrations … it took a bit of work to flash this penetration properly (that means to keep water from getting inside) .


steel bracket in zinc siding

Another look at the flashing collar surrounding the tube steel penetration.


metal framework for modern trellis

Here you can see that the bracket for the trellis (or brise-soleil) has been completed. There is a ipé wood deck that is underneath the bridge and during the construction of the project, it was decided to extend this deck all the way out to the edge of the property. While this trellis will provide some protection from the sun, its main function is to help define the space to be used.


ipe wood for vertical louvers

This is actually a stack of ipé wood that will be used on the deck – but I’ve included a picture here because the ipé wood will also be used on the trellis in an effort to tie the materials of the space together. The deck boards are 1″ x 6″ but the members used in the trellis are actually 2″x6″.


Modern Trellis plan view

Here I am standing on the roof of the bridge looking down the zinc siding at the top of the trellis. You can see that there is a gap between the siding and the black metal channel that holds the wood trellis members. This channel is what was welded to the tube steel components that we took a look at earlier.


Modern Trellis plan view

This is a look down at the corner condition of the trellis and how it is not connected to the side of the building.


Modern Trellis elevation

Now you can get an image of the mostly completed trellis – hopefully the simplicity of the design is what comes through. Designing anything down to its fewest essential parts is one of the hallmarks of modern design. As simple as the trellis is, it’s about to get even simpler …


Modern Trellis detail

A close-up look at the wood ipé boards and how they “sit” within a painted steel channel (a structural member that is shaped like the letter “C”). In between each 2″x6″ trellis board is a smaller 2″x6″ board that helps hold the trellis boards in the steel channel. Part of how they achieve this is simply by pressure. The other way?…


Trellis attachment supplies

Liquid nail and hidden finish nails! The liquid nail is used to hold the smaller board in place until the trellis 2″x6″ is slid into place adjacent – then a finish nail is screwed through the 2″x6″ trellis board into the smaller board … you won’t ever see it once the next smaller board gets put into place.

Seems complicated until you learn one or two tricks.


Modern Trellis Detail Drawing


This is one of the construction details created for this trellis / brise-soleil – if you read drawings, you should be able to confirm what the pictures have shown along the way.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, maybe even learned a thing or two along the way.


ps: if you would like to see how this trellis fits in aesthetically with the fence, here is the post on how the fence looks and how it was detailed and built (here)



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  • Mark Bellingan

    Everytime I see more of this house I am intrigued!
    This is an awesome detail (which will definitely be reused in one of my projects!
    Thanks for sharing Bob.

  • Julie

    Detail de raccord SUPER CLEAN!!!! Bravo! et merci de l’avoir partagé!!!

  • architectrunnerguy

    Very nice work!

    Hope everything is ok after the big storms. And I’m not refering to the trellis!!


  • Ollie Burton

    Smart as they come. Very tidy.

  • Looks great. 

    • Thanks Ben – I appreciate you taking the time to tell me you like it.


  • Ashlanddesign

    Fantastic detailing throughout. I’m impressed that the trellis tube steel could be welded to those stubs of tube steel protruding from the bridge walls without completely scorching the zinc siding. Nice work

    • Don’t be too impressed – they simply taped up protection boards to the siding before they started welding. If memory serves me correctly, it might even have been cardboard.

      Thanks for commenting

  • David Stutzman

    Nice article about constructing the brise soliel. Only one comment to make.  Did you consider using a domestic species such as Black Locust instead of tropical rain forest species Ipe? Black Locust is a naturally decay resistant species just as Ipe is without the stigma of rain forest destruction.

    For a discussion about Black Locust as an option for exterior wood, see

    • HI David,

      Thanks for sharing the information on Black Locust, I’ll look into that and have a conversation with the landscape architect to get their opinion about black locust vs. ipe.


  • Jim McDonald


    This is a very clean, and fairly simple, trellis detail.  Nice job!

    What direction do thr trellis boards run in relation to the sun?

    • Thanks Jim.

      The boards are oriented NE by SW (roughly 45 degrees off of North-South).