Introduction to Slatwall Displays

Slatwall Displays Used in Retail Stores

Posted on 15, December, 2015

Last Modified on 17, December, 2015

Outfitting your store with the proper fixtures and layout can be overwhelming. You want something sturdy and high quality that won’t damage easily and always looks professional. But, it also needs to adjust to ever-changing inventory and layout updates.

Merchandisers across the world have found the solution to their display woes: slatwall. From large department stores to neighborhood boutiques, slatwall systems take the stress out of organizing and designing retail layouts.

The Basics - What is Slatwall?

Slatwall is a building material characterized by horizontal grooves - also known as slats - that come in a variety of forms, ranging from wall panels to freestanding fixtures. They are used in conjunction with attachments like bins and shelves that hook snugly into the slats. That means you can update your slatwall displays in minutes without any tools.

So why is slatwall one of the most popular store fixtures and displays used by retailers worldwide?

  • Durable - This building material has an impressive life expectancy, is difficult to damage, and can hold heavier merchandise than other fixtures, especially when metal accessory rails are inserted into the channels.
  • Affordable - With its variety of uses and versatility, slatwall is a great bang for your buck. The basic, no frills slatwall panels are priced fairly low. Higher rated boards with custom finishes will fetch a higher price tag, however.
  • Custom Looks - Between the assortment of finishes, sizes, shapes, and types of attachments, you can create a retail display unique to your business and its needs.
  • Versatile - There is no single right way to use slatwall. They can be used to display clothing, candy, brochures, body care products, and much more.
  • User-Friendly - You won’t need your toolbox with slatwall displays. Once you’ve assembled your fixtures and panels, all you have to do is hook on your attachments to start merchandising.

Choosing Your Slatwall

With only a handful of exceptions, there are two things that all slatwall boards have in common: they are made of fiberboard and they have grooved slats. From there, the slatwall family has an endless variety of characteristics and differences.

slatwall panel for wall displays

Material

Most slatwall is made of medium density fiberboard (MDF), known for its economical price and impressive strength to weight ratio. Some manufacturers create MDF hybrid boards or use other materials like PVC for their boards. Stick with MDF if you’re on a budget and/or don’t have any specific display needs, like waterproof panels or higher weight capacities.

Finishes

The available selection of finishes and laminates for slatwall has grown exponentially over the years, providing you with ample options to find a display that fits your store’s personality and budget.

  • Unfinished/Paint Grade: These raw, fiberboard panels can be displayed as is or painted to match your store’s decor. Price: low.
  • Melamine: Also known as low pressure laminate (LPL), this finish offers a high-end look for a lower price. No painting or finishing required. Available in solid colors or wood grain. Pricing: midpoint.
  • Real Wood Veneer: These boards can be sold unfinished or coated with varnish, lacquer, or a stain. The most common styles are birch, cherry, mahogany, and oak. Pricing: varies.
  • High Pressure Laminate: This finish is the most heavy duty and resilient available. Unlike other finishes, high pressure laminate (HPL) is produced in a large variety of colors and is recommended for those requiring a color-specific look. Pricing: high end.

Groove Spacing

A key characteristic of slatwall is its grooving. Groove spacing is measured from the center of one groove to center of the next groove. Smaller groove spacing allows for more usable grooves and display space while larger grooves offer more strength. Typically, the size of the groove themselves one standard size.

The standard slat spacing is 3 inches, commonly denoted as 3” OC. This spacing provides the most number of usable grooves without compromising strength. Other common spacing sizes are 6” OC and sometimes 12” OC, though some manufacturers offer more unique sizing for custom orders.

Wall Panels & Freestanding Fixtures

Slatwall units are primarily found in two different forms: wall panels and freestanding fixtures. They all help you create an effective display system, but choosing the right fixtures depends on your unique needs and space.

Wall Panels

slatwall panel for wall mounting Though they are a bit more labor intensive to install than their freestanding counterparts, wall panels are worth the time and energy. They help free up precious floor space and move products to eye level for easier browsing.

  • Available in varying sizes (ex. 4' x 2' and 4' x 8' panels are most common).
  • Can be mounted as a single unit or in multi-panel configurations (ex. vertical columns, horizontal strips, etc.)
  • Moves merchandise to eye level for easy browsing.
  • Allows you to display vertically, opening of floor space and creating a multi-level display.
  • Great for stores with limited floor space.
  • Utilize corners of retail store without inhibiting visibility.
  • More permanent fixture than freestanding.

You can hang your wall panel system on your own or hire a licensed professional. If you plan to use your wall panels to hold heavy and larger items, we recommend having a professional handle the installation.

Freestanding Fixtures

From full-size gondolas to petite countertop spinners, freestanding slatwall fixtures come in a huge variety of styles and sizes. Unlike wall panels, these fixtures offer more flexibility and creativity for designing your store’s layout. They can be placed in the center of the sales floor, near aisles, beside queue lines, or even nestled in to tight corners.

Gondola - Also known as H-units, gondolas are a great workhorse and anchor for your retail slatwall display. The largest display in the slatwall fixture family, gondolas also offer the most bang for your buck in terms of display space. The standard-sized gondola takes up about 8 square feet of floor space but offers 48 square feet of display area.

  • 4 multi-directional panels
  • Available with casters
  • Great for larger merchandise or series showcase
  • Recommended accessories: shelves, hangrails, faceouts
slatwall gondola with maple finish

Cube - These spinning merchandisers offer a large amount of display space in proportion to their footprint. They range in height and width from countertop units to large, monolith-like floor displays, giving them a wide range of uses and functions.

  • 4 multi-directional panels
  • Commonly includes spinning base and casters
  • Great for smaller products or for showcasing one large piece
  • Recommended accessories: peg hooks, frame hooks, literature pockets, and other shallow attachments
slatwall cube display

Pinwheel - This display is one of the most compact and functional slatwall fixtures. Its pinwheel design protects your attachments and merchandise when it’s being rotated.

  • 4 multi-directional panels
  • Commonly includes spinning base and casters
  • Great for stores with limited floor space
  • Recommended accessories: peg hooks, frame hooks, faceouts, bins, and shorter shelves
slatwall fixture with pinwheel design

Tower- Also known as an I-unit, this merchandiser is a go-to space saver for many businesses. With just two sides, this unit is all about maximizing visibility and presence.

  • 2 back-to-back panels
  • Commonly includes spinning base and casters
  • Great for displaying small products and literature or showcasing an outfit
  • Recommended accessories: peg hooks, frame hooks, faceouts, shelves, bins, and literature pockets
slatwall tower available with casters

Want to learn how to design the perfect store layout with your slatwall fixtures? Check out our guide to visual merchandising here to find the best techniques and tricks.

Accessories, Attachments, & Add-ons

Slatwall fixtures are practical and flexible, but it’s the accessories and attachments that realy drive its versatility. By swapping out your accessories, you can transform your display of shampoos and conditioners into a literature stand in minutes. They can come in a variety of color (like black, silver, and white) and finishes as well as material.

slatwall hangrail for clothing
Hangrails
  • Easy to view with no obstructions
  • Holds heavier objects like coats or pants
  • Best used with hangers to display clothing
slatwall peg hook displays packaged products
Peg Hooks
  • Varying lengths, from 4" up to 12" and more
  • Lower weight capacity than other attachments
  • Great for lightweight, packaged items like candy, jewelry, batteries, etc.
slatwall frame hook for pictures
Frame Hooks
  • Perfect for hanging pictures, plaques, or single items
  • Also used in art galleries or photo studios
slatwall faceout for hanging clothing
Straight Faceouts
  • Available in varying lengths
  • Ideal for displaying similar product in different colros or sizes
slatwall waterfall faceout with hooks
Waterfall Faceouts
  • Angled faceout with either pegs or hanging hooks
  • For pegs: best used with hangers for clothing
  • For hooks: great for displaying purses, bags, or other products with straps
slatwall shelves for fixtures and wall panels
Shelving
  • Variety of sizes and materials, including melamine and acrylic
  • Great for both wall panels and freestanding fixtures
  • Comes with flat or curved lip
  • For shelves without hooks: pair with appropriate sized knife brackets
slatwall bin for bulk items
Bins & Literature Pockets
  • Made with acrylic, wire, and many other materials
  • Huge variety of styles and sizes
  • Use to display sunglasses, brochures, bulk items, and other lighter products
slatwall channel inserts for increased weight capacity

Groove Treatments - Channel inserts enhance unfinished slats and can help create a more customized and signature look. Decorate strips are usually made from plastic, PVC, or vinyl and come in a variety of colors and finishes. Other inserts made of aluminum and metal can increase the weight capacity of your panel, resulting in stronger display systems with fewer restrictions.

Conclusion

Even though there are there endless choices of retail displays out there, slatwall is still the backbone of most store displays. While other fixtures may fit a specific need, they often cannot compete with their slatwall counterparts in terms of versatility, durability, and ease of use.

Plus, merchandisers and retail stores aren’t the only groups who recognize the power of slatwall. They can also be found in residential garages, flower shops, schools, and any place seeking a smart storage or display system.

So, which type of slatwall fixture is right for you?