What’s The Difference Between Panels & Slats?
Fence panels are sections of fencing that arrive to your home pre-built. Rather than constructing the fence yourself, all you need to do is install the pre-built sections in the arrangement you need. Fence panels are best suited to flat uniform gardens as you’ll need to work with the panels available, which may not fit well in unusual spaces or on sloping ground. Because you’re not able to select the individual elements of a fence panel yourself, make sure that you’re shopping with a reputable timber supplier to ensure quality materials are used in the construction of the panels as poorly-made panels are unlikely to be cost-effective and may not be built to last.
If you’re short on time and are keen to install your own fence (though it’s not a job to undertake alone - the panels are very heavy and help is a must) rather than outsourcing the labour to a contractor, fence panels are an excellent option.
Alternatively, slatted fences are built from scratch with your garden in mind, considering the gradient of the ground and the angles and edges of your space. Constructed using slats (or boards), posts and rails to create a flush finish custom-built for your needs. For extra privacy and strength, consider using feather edge timber so each slat effectively lays on top of the one next to it, removing any potential gaps.
Installing a fence using slats and rails can be a time-consuming job, and many find bringing in professionals to do the work is the best way to get a neat and stable fence that will last for years to come. However, once your fence is erected, beyond standard timber maintenance, there’s very little to do, and repairs can usually be done yourself as it’s often the case of replacing a single slat or rail, rather than an entire section of fence.
If you’re planning to install a trellis topper or decorative accents to your fence, panels may be the way to go. These fixtures can add real personality to your garden and if you’re in an area with reliably mild weather where storm damage is of little concern, they’re a great addition to your garden fence.
For a uniform, high-privacy fence that can be easily customised to your garden’s shape (including any sloping ground), a feather edge fence constructed from slats and rails is preferable. You’ll also find the flat surface of a slatted fence makes for a quick and easy paint or stain job.
Maintenance & Upkeep
Small-scale repairs are easy to carry out on slatted fences – a replacement slat should set you back less than £5. It’s important to keep on top of the condition of your fence, although maintenance is often simple. Regular treatments should be applied as needed to help keep rot and decay to a minimum. However, providing your slats, rails and posts are maintained, your fence should last you in excess of 10 years with no problems.
If fence panels become damaged, there’s unfortunately little choice but to replace the entire panel. This can be costly, and as panels are often heavy and cumbersome, installation is likely to require at least two people. Fence panels are an excellent short-term fencing solution but may begin to show signs of damage and decay before the fence is 10 years old.
Strength & Reliability
Because feather edge fencing slats are attached to the fence rails individually, their strength is reinforced. Fence posts are secured into the ground with Postcrete, and each individual element helps to bolster the strength of the fence as a whole. When using fence panels, consider fixing them to secured fence posts to increase their reliability.
You may think that pre-built fence panels are the quickest and most convenient way to install a garden fence quickly, but if you’re looking for longevity, value for money and easy future repairs, you should consider opting for a slat and rail (or feather edge) fence system instead.