With wet and windy weather fast approaching, British homeowners who own those attractive fence panels held in place with slotted concrete posts will probably start to notice them rattling in the wind. In fact those expensive slatted panels cope better with high winds than solid panels do – the open construction with gaps lets the wind pass through, unlike solid so-called feather-edge board, but fence panel rattling is a perennial problem especially at night time: the sound can be as bad as a long train rumbling in the distance, and it can keep you and your neighbours awake!
There hasn’t been a simple but reliable way of dealing with this nuisance until now. Various DIY remedies include trying to bash wedges into the top, but that won’t secure them at the bottom, or somehow screwing fence panels into the concrete posts. That’s a hit and miss affair as they are probably pre-stressed concrete posts having at least two iron cores. You don’t want to be drilling them in case they crack or you hit the iron cores inside, though I have got away with drilling smaller holes in the centre for Rawlplugs to enable small hooks to be screwed to them.
Eventually I found the best answer to stop fence panels rattling is to use a special spring clip specially designed for the job. They are made of stainless steel wire and marketed exclusively by Fence Panel Grips Ltd, a small startup firm based in Redditch (not surprising as Redditch is the home of spring clip manufacturing in Britain).
Fitting these fencing clips is easy – simply press them flat and slide them into the gap. They will expand again to take up the gap between the fence panel and concrete post. As I found, larger panels really do need six clips each, to prevent the panel from being buffeted and the spring clips working themselves out. So use three clips down each side. Another benefit is that they can be fitted from your side of the fence, without needing to access your neighbour's property.
In practice, I fitted clips to some fifteen 1800mm panels during Winter 2015 to see how well they worked. There have been several storms and generally I found the clips held up well. The problem of fence panel rattling had been cured. I did however find that one or two clips loosened a little after severe storms, but it was simple to slide them back in again.
It's a shame that the clips can’t be screwed down to the panels or maybe stapled in, which would stop them creeping sideways and coming out. But that’s nit-picking as there is nothing else like these clips on the market and I’ve been glad to install them. They can only help with security, too. Overall, if fence panel rattling is a problem then this is the best solution to date, but I recommend checking them every few weeks.
The only alternative I’ve seen are some cheaper screw-down brackets that clamp the panels to the concrete posts, but these may or may not be suitable depending on dimensions, and if your posts are an 'offset slot' style you might only be able to do it from your neighbour's side.