Slatwall Getting Stronger and Greener
Posted: 01/14/2011 9:21AM
First adapted from retail displays, Slatwall is getting stronger and greener.
Slatwall has migrated from retailers to garage projects. Images courtesy GarageEscape System.
Slatwall, long a mainstay for retail displays, found its way into the home organizational markets several years ago, principally in garages and utility rooms.
Slatwall for garage use is available to do-it-yourselfers at various home improvement chains, as well as through garage and home organization professionals.
Resin, or plastic forms of Slatwall are sold in the garage and closet organization markets under various trade names. Resin or plastic Slatwall is typically extruded as a 12-inch high piece. Wood-based Slatwall is machined from board.
For the “Man Cave” garage, Slatwall provides a flexible organizational system. One offering is GarageEscape System, sold at major hardware chains, as well as online. (A garage kit for a small tool organizing panel sells for $85 at garageescape.com.)
Wind Mill Slatwall, which manufactures GarageEscape at its Sheboygan Falls, WI, plant, says the newest versions of garage Slatwall are made from sustainable “green quality wood,” MDF made from recycled fibers.
The latest development in the evolution of greener Slatwall is the advent of Boise Cascade Anchor core, according to Jay Hogfeldt, president and CEO of Wind Mill Slatwall Products.
“This core is specifically engineered for Slatwall, and was two years in the making,” Hogfeldt says. “Anchor core for Slatwall is 50 percent stronger than the standard MDF.” Hogfeldt says Anchor core-based Slatwall is available exclusively from Wind Mill Slatwall Products, which emphasizes its strength in retail display applications.
The stronger, greener Anchor core is also finding use in GarageEscape offerings, says Mark Hunt, marketing manager at Wind Mill. Locating GarageEscape at retailers is easy since it is available through two large home improvement chains: the Do It Best retail chain for garage and home organization, and in Menards wall coverings departments.
Menards carries the brand in 4 x 8-foot - 3" o.c. white Anchor core panels in stock, along with a variety of compatible accessories — hooks, shelf brackets, baskets and organizing accessories to fit the system.
Both retailers have special order capabilities that typically ship within a two-to-three week time frame. Wind Mill positions these GarageEscape garage organization products as an economic alternative to resin-based versions.
Demand for Slatwall spurred development of high speed production machines and diamond tooling, according to Hogfeldt. Today a wood Slatwall panel can be machined in 32 seconds. CNC machining centers produce custom Slatwall panels with aluminum and plastic inserts installed in the groove for beauty as well as strength.
Installation is usually done over existing plaster or drywall. Panel adhesive is recommended for permanent installations.
Cutting to size should always be done with the saw blade entering the Slatwall grooved side of the panel to avoid chip-out. Always check the direction of the saw blade before cutting. GarageEscape reminds users that blades on table saws and portable circular saws may spin in opposite directions. Also, mounting instruction stickers show the “fence side of the panel during the machining process.” Keeping all the “fence sides” aligned in the same direction will produce the optimum groove alignment.
Drywall screws are recommended. For strength, fasten screws through every other groove, on each stud. Drive the screws through the center of the back of the grooves. You'll want to avoid damaging the groove lips during installation.
Hogfeldt, who has tracked the history of the Slatwall niche since acquiring Wind Mill in 1981, relates its surprising background: Slatwall for the retail industry was patented in 1966 by H.E. Graham of Claremont, CA, under patent #3,235,218 and for “an article-display board for hanging salable merchandise, household articles or other items for display or utilitarian purposes,” and was described as better than pegboard, “a distinct improvement thereon.”
Graham gave up enforcing his patent since any cabinet shop, or store fixture manufacturer, could easily fabricate Slatwall with common woodworking equipment. However, this was a very arduous and time consuming process — using table saws and jigs for gluing and stapling each “slat” onto a sheet of ¼' plywood.
In the late 70’s a company called Custom Wood Interiors started a division to manufacture and market Slatwall in Tampa, FL. They got the attention of many architects and large department stores in NYC. This spin off was eventually named Spacewall.
Slatwall for retail display became very popular by the late 70’s, with the help of Spacewall™ long after the Graham’s original patent had expired.