Digital fabrication methods have changed rapidly in the last few years, bringing complex and customized designs in reach of more projects and budgets. Here at māk studio, we specialize in custom digital fabrication for architecture and interiors, including parametric design, milling, and 3D printing. We often work with architects and interior designers to create products that don’t yet exist for walls, ceilings, and furniture.
One of our signature products is the custom slat wall and ceiling, which we can design, fabricate, and install. This offers our team and clients a level of customization and control over quality and final appearance.
Because digital fabrication methods like ours are so new to many designers in the construction industry, we field a lot of questions about how to specify our products and services to get the best results. Some of the benefits of digital fabrication methods include increased efficiency and lowered cost in manufacturing of slat walls and ceilings, with nearly endless customization possibilities to bring design ideas to life or meet your budget. We’re happy to share our best practices and are always available to consult on potential projects.
Cost is always one of the first questions to address when designing a custom slat wall or ceiling. However, there are important things to consider when optimizing your design for fabrication and installation pricing. Material choice is the most significant factor that can affect overall cost, and we cover the most common material choices available below. Size (or surface area) and complexity are the next most important contributing factors, followed by installation techniques. In addition, fully custom design work can increase cost and lead times versus standard or catalog services.
Choose from a standard catalog design based on a logo or image starting at $85 per square foot. This option can be plywood, laminate, or painted MDF and comes in standard dimensions, no taller than 8’-0.” The benefit of choosing a standard design is availability and speed of production. Standard designs can be made to order quickly with readily available materials.
Our team can customize from one of the standard designs we currently offer at the slightly higher budget of $100-$125 per square foot price range. This option allows for more design flexibility - creating a new pattern, shape or logo in plywood, laminate or painted MDF as well. Customizing a standard design gives you more design flexibility while keeping within a reasonable price range. Using our technology, our design assistants can help you to incorporate a custom shape, logo or letters into your wall or ceiling.
The sky's the limit when creating a fully custom wall. Size and material options, including solid surface, metals, and hardwoods, are much broader at a $125-$200 per square foot price range. Fully custom walls and ceilings do require additional coordination time depending on complexity.
What are the other variables that can affect my project cost?
- Raw material availability- In today’s market, raw material costs can fluctuate dramatically. It’s important to note that māk proposals, as with most manufacturers, are good for 30 days because of this. We are always happy to revisit your quote at a later date, but please note the material market volatility might impact the overall price.
- Lengths & Dimensions – Using industry-standard dimensions such as 8’ slats instead of 9’ slats can reduce material waste and lead to big savings. Consider maximizing raw materials- plywoods tend to come in 4’x8’ sheets while materials like solid surface come in 30” x 10’ sheets.
- Stains and finishing options – We offer a variety of finish options, such as clear finish, standard wood stains, custom stains, or even paint. A clear finish is almost always the most cost-effective choice. Choosing from a standard available stain is your next best option, if budget is an important consideration. Adding a laminate finish to the broad face of the slat will also be relatively cost-effective. Our team can match any custom stain or paint color, but this will affect pricing. Solid surface finishing is generally more labor-intensive and will consequently increase the price. Similarly, edge-banding, hardwood finishing, and veneered slats require more labor, affecting lead times and the final cost of your product.
- Fire rating– If your project requires it, slats can easily be fabricated taking Class A requirements into consideration. A special coating will need to be applied that will affect the cost.
- Lighting- māk offers turn-key solutions for all of our wall and ceiling projects. That includes providing lighting when you have chosen to add it. We work closely with you and the General Contractor to select, coordinate and locate the correct lighting solution. This additional element will also affect price.
- Project Scale – Obviously the scale of your project will impact the quantities of raw materials needed for the work. This is often a place where value-engineering can take place without affecting your design intent dramatically.
- Freight – We’re located in Houston, Tx. Freight cost depends on the number of shipments, size and distance. Calculating freight is easy once your product specifications, scope, and job site location are known. Our proposals include an estimate based on these factors.
- Schedule- Fabrication schedules are set long in advance. While we do the best we can to accommodate construction schedule changes, sometimes schedule changes that affect the fabrication line or the schedule of the installation team can create pricing changes.
This article aims to provide an overview of the primary costs affecting a slat wall or ceiling. Cost questions of specialty pieces do not always have easy answers, as there are a number of factors that might ultimately impact cost. Hopefully, this gives you a place to start when designing for a custom slat wall or ceiling in your next project and an understanding of what decisions might ultimately affect price. We love working with architects and interior designers and are here to provide you with design assistance, samples, and proposals whenever you need.