There are a multitude of factors that go into the weight bearing capabilities of slatwall paneling. Many questions about the type of slatwall to use can only be answered by the consumer; because it is only the user that intimately knows the makeup of the items sold in the store; how much the items weight; how heavily the panels are merchandised using what hardware; and the amount of traffic the store receives.
What are the ten most common questions I am asked about slatwall weight capabilities? My responses are going to be based on the products I am most familiar with; although I can make general comments about other products as well.
1. How much weight does slatwall support?
Unsupported slatwall is a panel having no insert; as well as plastic channel, ColorGroove or a laminate strip in the groove. For slatwall manufactured out of MDF, panels will support 10-15 pounds per bracket. Reinforced slatwall with metal inserts supports 50-60 pounds per bracket. Omniwall is Spacewall’s trade name for a T-metal insert in the groove. J-Metal is our trade name for a J-metal insert in the groove. J-metal is generally glued into the panel for the strongest fit. For more information on J-metal, go to our J-metal page. If certain parts of your store encounter heavier customer contact, or more frequently changed displays, consider using reinforced slatwall.
2. My slatwall is installed and I didn’t order metal inserts. I think I need them. Can I add them now?
Spacewall’s metal inserts are installed at the time of manufacturing. We make a deeper cut into the board to accommodate the thickness of the metal insert. Some slatwall manufacturers have metal inserts that are narrow enough to fit the shape of a typical T slot. They can be added after panels are on the wall, provided there is an opening large enough on one side for the inserts to be slid in. Keep in mind that these inserts are not as flexible as the full T metal insert that is put in at the time of manufacturing. These inserts have very limited capabilities as to the type of hardware that work with them, because the slat opening is much smaller. As a general rule, no wire or plastic slatwall accessories will work with these inserts. If you only need hooks and metal accessories, these inserts may work for you, but I’d suggest checking the fit before going with this option.
3. How much weight can a slatwall shelf hold and how many brackets per shelf do I need if I don’t have metal inserts.
An article on a shelf that is 12″ deep will have a load center 6″ out from the wall, or at the center of the shelf. Hardware should be no greater than 12″ from the wall and should be spaced every 12″ apart. A four foot shelf should have brackets on both ends, and two brackets in the middle for a total of four brackets.
4. What is a downslanted faceout and why is using this a problem if I don’t have metal inserts?
Faceouts that slant down, also called waterfall brackets, have all of the weight at the end of the waterfall, and that puts more stress on the upper lip of the groove. Take care to use a minimal amount of merchandise on waterfalls.
5. Can I use hangrail without metal inserts?
Unreinforced slatwall is not suitable for hangrail applications, regardless of the weight on the hangrail.
6. How much weight does plastic channel hold?
Slatwall manufacturers have different thicknesses of plastic channel, so this answer only applies to Spacewall products. Our plastic channel is aesthetic only; and does not add any strength to the panel. We have had many customers tell us that using the plastic channel when frequently changing out displays does help to protect the upper and lower lips of the slatwall for chipping; but it doesn’t add strength to the groove itself.
7. Which is a stronger panel, a low pressure laminate (lpl) or high pressure laminate (hpl).
Both the lpl and hpl go on the face of the panel, and don’t affect the strength of the board to any great degree. You need to be concerned with what goes in the groove, not is what is on the face to determine the strength of the panel.
8. I think I may need metal inserts, but they are out of my budget. What do I do?
Consider using a wider slot spacing between the grooves, such as 6″ oc rather than 3″ oc. Fewer metal inserts converts to a lower price point.
9. Why am I having breakout? I have two panels stacked on top of one another and display primarily at the 4′ point.
The weakest parts of every panel are the 4′ and 8′ edges. Do not overload a single groove, and if you don’t have metal inserts in the grooves, try not to load the groove where the two panels come together because it is a weaker area.
10. Can you make certain grooves with metal inserts and others without?
We can, but unless you have a large volume of panels needed, it isn’t recommended. Manufacturing a portion of the grooves with metal inserts will require a special machine set up. Also, you should make certain that no one in your store will be changing out displays and putting heavier items on grooves without the metal inserts.
Sometimes, breakout just happens. You have done all you can to insure that your slatwall isn’t overloaded; but someone’s purse or backpack strap gets caught in a peghook; someone leans against a display or bumps it and more pressure is applied to the panel. No one can control every aspect of the customer experience, but you can help that process by selecting the best slatwall for your store needs.
Sue Waller loves to share her extensive experience in the retail store fixture industry, primarily with slatwall paneling, with marketing managers and business owners.