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.
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:
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.
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:
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.