Build Your Own Acoustic Panel

How an Acoustic Panel is Made?

There are many ways to build your own acoustic panel. In this article, we will discuss the various methods and how you can make your own in about 30 minutes!

The acoustic panel we attempt to make in this guide will be a fabric-cladded acoustic panel with a fibreglass wool substrate. The 1-inch fibreglass wool provides sound absorption of NRC = 0.75 and should be effective enough to bring down the echoes for most home or office rooms.

In this guide, we will start by teaching you how to make an acoustic panel the traditional way with wood battens and a back board. After that, we will take about how to build an acoustic panel with fabric system.

Method 1: Traditional Way

Most of the acoustic panels you see in cinemas, auditorium, lecture halls, or class rooms that were built before 1990s or even in 2010s are likely to be made with the traditional method of building an acoustic panel.

The traditional method simply takes a base board such as 12mm plywood, and securing a piece of sound absorbing substrate to it, wrapping it with a piece of fabric and stapling the back to secure the fabric. The general steps can be described as follow:

  1. Cutting a piece of base board to the size you want. For example, 1200mm x 600mm. We recommend using a piece of 9 or 12mm plywood for the base board.
  2. Secure 4 pieces of 1″ x 1″ or 2″ x 1″ wood battens around the edge of the base board.  Use 1″ screws to secure the battens. Make sure the height of the batten is the 1″ part. You may purchase these battens from your local hardware shop at usually 20 cents per foot.
  3. Cut and Secure a piece of sound absorbing substrate onto the base board within the wood battens with 1/2″ screws. You do not have to put too many screws. About 1 screw every 300mm apart.  You may use 1-inch polyurethane foam or rigid fibreglass wool. We do not recommend using Rockwool in this case as it is too soft and may disintegrate during installation.
  4. After the substrate is installed, wrap a piece of acoustically transparent fabric over the substrate and baseboard. Leave about 1″ spacing of fabric at the back so that you may staple the fabric to the base board.
  5. To determine the if your fabric is acoustically transparent, you may read this article about testing your fabric to see if it is acoustically transparent.
  6. Lastly, staple the fabric taut to the back of your baseboard, with each staple roughly 1-inch away from another.
  7. To hook it on a wall, install a picture wire frame to the base board and place it onto a nail or hook screwed into the wall.

This method of making an acoustic panel has its benefits and disadvantages. It is good for the everyday lay-man or carpenter as no special tools or products are required. The disadvantage of this method is that the fabric is a permanent part of the structure, and if the fabric gets dirty, it is not possible to change the fabric without laboriously removing all the staples and rewrapping. Also, the back of the panel will look like it is done by an amateur as it reveals all the staples.

Method 2: Fabric System

A slightly more clever way to make an acoustic panel is with something called a fabric system. Essentially a fabric system is the framing that you use to secure the fabric on it, hence the name fabric system.

By using a fabric system to build an acoustic panel, we solve 2 problems that the traditional way of building would cause. First, the fabric system tracks act as the frame, so we do not need to use a wooden batten for the framing. Second, the fabric system itself has a loading mechanism that allows the fabric to be secured. This removes the additional step to use staples to secure the fabric. Also, the fabric system’s mechanism allows the fabric to be installed tightly without using grip stretch to stretch the fabric tautly.

Let us look at the steps required to build an acoustic panel with fabric system:

  1. Cut your baseboard to a size you want. We recommend 1200 x 600mm. You may use 9mm plywood or MDF for the baseboard.
  2. Secure the 4 pieces of fabric system to the edge of the panel with 1/2″ screws. We recommend using the Fabrix SS27S profile as it allows the fabric to be installed to the side of the panel as well.
  3. Put your choice of insulation onto the baseboard and secure it with 1″ screws.
  4. Choose your acoustically transparent fabric and install it into the fabric system Fabrix SS 27S by clipping it into place.
  5. To hook it on a wall, install a picture wire frame to the base board and place it onto a nail or hook screwed into the wall. That’s it! A total of 5 steps compared to the traditional method that has 7 steps!

Choosing the Right Fabric

Now for the icing on the cake! The fabric of the panel is what adds to the aesthetics of the room, but there is much more to choosing the right fabric. Firstly, sound needs to be able to pass through the fabric easily to be absorbed by the substrate inside the panel – this type of fabric is acoustically transparent. To test if your chosen fabric is acoustically transparent, you can be read this guide.

We recommend fabrics made in the US from Guildford of Maine, FR701 range, or fabrics made in UK from the Camira, Cara or Lucia range.

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