What are the Different Types of Fence Slats?

Dan Cavallari

Fence slats can be made from a variety of materials and serve several different purposes, depending on the type of fence on which they will be used. Chain link fences, for example, can be made more private by closing off the gaps between the links using fence slats made from plastic or vinyl. Such fence slats come in many different colors to enhance the visual appeal of a fence or simply to block views from the outside. Other fence slats are pieces of wood that comprise the fence itself; an example of such slats is those used in constructing a picket fence.

Fence slats can be positioned close together to offer more privacy.
Fence slats can be positioned close together to offer more privacy.

Wood and vinyl fences are often constructed from fence slats. These are thin, straight pieces of wood that are placed vertically and nailed securely to horizontal supports. Slats are usually used to construct fence panels, which are lengths of slats secured together in 8 foot (approximately 2.4 meters) sections. This is done to make fence construction easier, and these panels come prefabricated for purchase at lumber yards or hardware stores. Vinyl fence slats can be used in a similar fashion, though vinyl can also be molded into solid panels made to look like slats instead.

A house with a picket fence.
A house with a picket fence.

Trellis fencing uses fence slats as well in a decorative fashion. The slats overlap each other to create a specific design — often a grid or diagonal weave — to enhance the aesthetics of an existing fence or to act as a privacy fence for a garden or patio. Trellis fencing is often used in gardens because plants with vines can creep up the trellis, or taller plants can be secured to the trellis so they do not fall over when flowering. Trellis slats can also be made from wood or from vinyl, and less often, they might be made from certain metals like steel or iron.

Chain link fence slats are woven into the chain links. They are made from plastic, vinyl, or certain metals such as steel or aluminum. They are flexible enough to be woven through the chain links, yet solid enough to stay in place once positioned. Some lower quality slats tend to snap or shatter after continued exposure to the sun and other elements; these are usually made from cheaper plastics rather than more durable metals or vinyl, so one should be careful when shopping for such slats. Spending a bit of extra money up front can save headaches years or months after installation.

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