Tag Archives: timber fences

Timber and steel horizontal Slat fences, The Modern front fence

The current growing trend in modern house design in Australia is very square and rigid buildings and angles and therefore modern fences are being built to match.
Traditionally a premium front fence would be a picket fence with some kind of feature such as a wave or step feature. In recent years however horizontal slat fences have increased in popularity compared to the traditional picket fence.
Horizontal slat fences (also called post and rail fences or privacy screens by some) come in a variety of materials including treated pine, (which is usually dressed treated pine, primed and ready to paint) premium hardwoods such as iron bark, merbau etc, or steel/aluminium.
Each type of material has its advantages and disadvantages when utilized for horizontal slat fence construction.
Dressed treated pine is strong and durable but should be painted when complete as the slats come pre primed (undercoated) ready to be painted and looks unfinished if left unpainted. Painting the timber will help seal the timber and prevent warping thereby increasing the life of the timber. Painting the fence however, can be costly and tedious.
The hardwood timber used for horizontal slat fencing is generally the same timber used for most timber decking however the timber is cut differently so that both sides are smooth where as with decking the underside is cut with grooves. Being the same material as decking means when hardwood is used for slats fences, it has the same maintenance requirements that decking has. The timber needs to be oiled or stained regularly otherwise it will dry out and turn brittle.
Another trait of hardwood is that after a couple of weeks in the sun, the next rain or hose down with will result in the hardwood leaching tannin. This is a reddish brown natural substance that leaks from the timber almost like its bleeding and will stain concrete or tile surfaces underneath. Property owners should be careful about where they position a hardwood horizontal slat fence as this leaching will undoubtedly occur more than once and therefore may cause problems.
There is relatively recent product now in the market called mod wood or eco timber which is made from 100% recycled materials, mostly plastic from plastic bottles. This product looks similar to timber, especially hardwoods but has none of the maintenance requirements required of hardwood making it a very appealing material. The downside however is that it costs over double the price of the cheapest hardwoods and despite the effort to make it look like timber, it still looks and feels like plastic up close.
Aluminium slats are the premium horizontal slat material and come in most widths and spacing requested. The slats come powder coated (similar to painting) in any of the popular colorbond colours and therefore require no maintenance and looks great with most modern houses. The only downside of aluminium slats is the price as they are approx 3 times more expensive per square metre than other slat fences.