What is Latticework?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Latticework is a piece of material made by crossing lathes over and under each other to create a gridlike pattern. Traditionally, latticework is made with wooden lathes, but it can also be made with plastic, iron, plaster, and other materials. Lattice is used in many cultures for a variety of decorative and functional uses. Many home supply stores carry sheets of latticework which people can use in construction projects, and can order specialty products by request if people need something in particular for a project.

Wooden latticework is common in the Middle East.
Wooden latticework is common in the Middle East.

One common use of latticework is in a privacy screen. The openings in the lattice allow light and air through, which can be critical in a climate where full enclosure would be stifling. The network of lathes prevents people from seeing inside the lattice, allowing for privacy in the area surrounded by the latticework. Latticework can be seen surrounding compounds and yards, and it is also used for things like window inserts so that people can enjoy fresh air while still feeling relatively private.

A lattice also happens to make a great trellis. People training climbing plants may install a lattice so that the plant has something to grow on. When lattice is being used for privacy, training plants on it can increase privacy, as the plants will cover the lattice to prevent people from seeing in while still allowing air through. Plants can also make a privacy lattice more aesthetically pleasing, as people may not enjoy looking at the raw lattice material.

Classically, latticework is available in a diagonally crossing pattern. Pieces of lattice can be fitted together to create a continuous pattern, or oriented in different directions to create more visual interest. It is also possible to find checkerboard lattice, which uses a vertical and horizontal pattern of lathes. There may be some settings in which checkerboard latticework is more aesthetically appropriate, depending on personal taste.

Highly ornamental carvings may also be referred to as latticework. In this case, instead of making a pattern with lathes or strips, a pattern is pierced or cut into a solid sheet or wood or metal. The pattern may depict a scene, or take an abstract geometric form. In the Middle East, floral privacy lattice is very common, and similar styles are also seen in India. Some very fine designs done in this style can be seen on display in museums which celebrate Middle Eastern and Asian art.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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