DIY acoustic panels are becoming a thing, and you can easily make them for a fraction of the price of store-bought varieties.
Acoustic panels are effective in trapping acoustic energy so that it does not reflect off your walls and other surfaces.
These panels are perfects if you want to reduce reverberations in your space.
Below we highlight some of the materials that you need to make acoustic panels.
We will also go over the building steps and how to hang your panels once you have made them.
What Fabric Should I Use For Acoustic Panels?
Fabric is used to cover acoustic panels to prevent the insulation fibers from escaping.
Some of the factors to keep in mind when selecting fabric for acoustic material include:
The material you choose should allow sound to penetrate through it while keeping the fibers in place.
You also want to check on tear strength to ensure that you get a material that will last. Some materials even come with a fire-retardant finish which is great if you live in a fire-prone area.
A 100% polyester faux linen is excellent for the job. The material is lightweight, breathable, and durable.
Other materials that stand out include natural fabrics like linen, wool, and cotton canvas.
The material’s breathability will have a significant effect on how your acoustic panels perform. The fabric should come with no backing and breathable enough to allow sound waves to pass through it easily.
A good test is to put the material on your face. If you breathe through it, even with little resistance, the material is not suitable.
Who says that acoustic panels have to be boring? With the right material, you can transform them into beautiful art pieces.
First, you have to think about the above two features before you can narrow your search down to visual appeal. However, for the color and pattern, you are free to select the ones that match the rest of your décor.
If you are artsy, be bold and go for colors that represent your personality. You can also mix plain and patterned materials and decoratively arrange the panels.
Where Do You Put Acoustic Panels?
You put acoustic panels in mixing studios, home theatres, and recording drum practice rooms.
These panels reduce the echoes and reverbs, so you enjoy better quality in these rooms.
If you do a lot of singing or recording in your home, setting something like a soundproof booth to do this is a great idea.
Install acoustic panels in this room to improve the sound quality.
Acoustic panels are also fitted in libraries, living rooms, and bars. They do a great job of decreasing the chatter and noises often associated with these spaces.
Acoustic panels work great for walls and ceilings. For the floors, a heavy rug is all you need over the tiles.
Steps on How to Build DIY Acoustic Panels
If you opt not to purchase acoustic panels and want to make some nicer on your own, then below guide will help get started.
Plan Your Project
You need to make a proper plan to determine the materials you will need to complete the project. What size do you plan to cover?
Take measurements of the wall’s length and height.
If you plan to install panels on all walls, add the numbers to see how much of each material is required.
Choose A Sound Absorbing Core Material
There is a wide range of sound-absorbing materials in the market, so choosing one can be confusing.
Foam is common and preferred by many because it is easy to work with.
Dense fibreglass or mineral fibre insulation also works great. Just ensure that you do not choose the loose batt material.
The density of the material you choose will determine how effective it will be in improving the acoustics in your home.
You may have to pay more for the thicker sound-absorbing materials, but the investment is well worth it.
The material must meet the following requirements:
- 2” thickness
- 3lb to 8lb cubic foot density however 6-8pcf is ideal
The acceptable materials that I would highly recommend include:
- ROCKWOOL/ROXUL Rockboard 80, 8lb pcf, 2″ thick
- Owens Corning 705 Rigid Fiberglass Board
- Johns Manville Inusul-Shield 600 2″ UNfaced 6lb pcf, 2″ thick
Mineral wool and fiberglass insulation are known irritants, it’s important you wear protective gear including gloves, masks, and glasses when dealing with the insulation.
Build A Wooden Frame Around Each Acoustic Panel
You will need to build a wooden frame around each panel.
In my case, I used a 1”x2” strip which is readily available at my local lumber supplier.
Inspect every strip to ensure that it’s straight and not missing any significant pieces of wood.
- Cut the acoustic panels to snugly fit the wooden frame.
Once done, apply a heavy dose of acoustic sealant or spray adhesive to the edges of perimeter insulation (don’t apply to the front face) the glue will hold the acoustic insulation in place within the wooden frame.
Use wood glue or screws to ensure that wooden frame sticks are strongly held together.
Align the panels to the wooden frame making sure that the frame sits securely around the insulation and allow up to 24 hours for the spray adhesive and glue to dry.
Cut material/wrap the panels
Cut the material you will use to cover the panels.
The size of the material will be dependent on the size of the panels.
Ensure that the material is about 6 inches wider or longer than the panels so you can easily wrap it around the edges.
Once all pieces are cut, place the panel on the material face down.
Take one side of the material, wrap it around the edge, and staple it in place.
You can as well apply spray adhesive like MITREAPEL Super CA Glue to firmly hold the fabric to the panels.
Once one is secure, pull the material as tight as possible and staple the other side. You do this to ensure that your panels have a clean/neat finish.
Mount Your Panels
Now that your panels are all well covered in good-quality fabric, you just need to install them on the desired surface.
Your installation method will depend on where you are hanging them.
For example, picture hooks and D-rings work great for the ceiling, while double tape may be better suited for the walls.
The goal is to attach the panels to the surface without causing much damage to it. Check out YouTube for inspiration and guidance on acoustic panel mounting.
To make your panels movable, you can mount the panels on cardboard.
All you have to do at this point is cut the cardboard to the size of the panels and glue two parts together.
You can also frame the panels using wood. The resulting product will be not only effective in minimizing echoes but also easily movable.
Since the cover material can be any color or pattern you want, framing works great if you want to convert your acoustic panels into art pieces.
Is Felt Fabric Good For Acoustic Panels?
Polyester felt is one of the fabrics recommended when making acoustic panels.
This material, sometimes made using recycled pet plastic, offers outstanding acoustic abilities.
Felt does a good job of absorbing ambient noise.
Hanging it in a high-reflection area can bring a tremendous difference to your space.
The material is also lightweight and durable.
This, combined with the material’s low melting point, makes this a premium soundproofing solution.
Working with felt fabric is easy since the material is easy to cut.
Felt is also available in various colors, so it is easy to find one that matches your décor.
Can I Paint Acoustic Panels?
Yes, you can paint on acoustic panels. I’d recommend you use acoustic paint, such as Acousti Coat – Sound Deadening Paint.
While it is possible to paint over your panels, this is not advisable.
The paint can interfere with the acoustic performance of your panel, rendering your efforts useless.
When you paint over a surface, the paint creates a film over the surface.
Since acoustic materials trap sound through their open-celled structure, painting over them will prevent them from functioning effectively.
Even if you only apply the paint on the material covering the panel, it will eventually sip into the soundproofing material and block the pores.
If you have to paint over your acoustic panels, avoid acrylic and latex paints. Instead, go for spray paints that can be applied from a distance.
It is possible to only spray a very thin layer of this paint to ensure that only a tiny amount gets through the cover material and alter the soundproofing layer.
Also, when you spray too much of this paint, it takes the properties of liquid paint.
How To Hang DIY Acoustic Panels
Once you finish making your panels, you have to hang them in the areas you have identified. The method to be used while hanging will depend on several factors, including:
- Where to install. Acoustic panels can be installed on walls and ceilings
- Whether you want to create permanent marks on the walls or leave it as it is
- Movable or fixed acoustic panels
If mounting the panels on walls, you can hang them the same way you do heavy artwork. Use double-sided tape, adhesive squares, or command strips.
All these methods work great in rentals since they are not damaging to the walls.
If your acoustic panels are mounted, it even becomes easier for you to carry them with you when you move and change their locations in your current home.
You can also screw some D-rings to hold the panels in position, especially when installing the panels on the ceiling.
With the entire process, use your discretion and judgement to determine how much you need to do to keep the panels secure.
Final thoughts on DIY Acoustic Panels
If you are looking to make DIY acoustic panels, you will find the above information helpful. We have gone over the materials you need, the process of making the panels, and how to hang your panels.
The information also contains some tips on what to avoid to ensure that your acoustic panels remain functional.
We hope that you get most of your questions on DIY panels answered.
For more detailed how-to-guide, check out videos on YouTube.
As for the best place to buy the materials, Amazon stands out because it is easy to find whatever you are looking for, compare prices, and delivery is done to your doorstep.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.