A panel is a sheet of material used to cover or seal off an area. Acoustic panels are designed to reduce the intensity of sound, created from such things as machinery and traffic, while still allowing ambient noise through. Acoustic panels are generally made of three materials: wood fiber (a rigid panel), vinyl (a flexible panel), or composites made with a rigid membrane and flexible filler material.
In this article we’ll explore each type, what the pros and cons are for each type, why you might want to choose one over the others, and what acoustic properties these panels offer you.
There are a number of different types of acoustic fabric that can be used for panels, but we’ll look at three in depth here:
Synthetic fiber : The most common type is made from glass or carbon fibers. There are three different types of acoustic fabric made from synthetic fiber: glass fiber, carbon fiber, and insulation material. This type has the greatest damping capacity (ability to absorb sound). It is highly resistant to moisture and temperature changes. Synthetic fiber has good resistance to both aging fatigue and ultraviolet light, making it durable material. However, synthetic fibers also have the lowest strength so they can often not withstand harsh weather conditions or heavy use.
Vinyl : Vinyl is most common in commercial buildings as it is relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Although it comes in a variety of colors, you cannot design vinyl panels to be patterned or customized the way you can with other types of acoustic fabrics.
Composites: Composite fabric is made by laminating together two layers of different materials. Some types of acoustic fabric are designed with a thin rigid membrane (a material that does not stretch or flex) on either side of a flexible filler material like glass fiber or closed-cell polyethylene foam. The rigid surface can be an aluminum composite, while the flexible surface can be fiberglass, carbon fiber, or any combination thereof. The rigid surface, which is then laminated to a flexible facing, makes acoustic fabric stronger overall. Many of these panels are suitable for outdoor use because of the rigidity of the surface.
So which type of material is right for your space?
Choosing one type over the other will largely depend on your needs. While all panel materials are suitable for commercial spaces like schools and offices, if you will be using these in a factory setting or some other high-traffic area, you will want to go with the more durable material so that it can withstand the constant wear and tear. If you will be using your panel in an outdoor space with harsh weather conditions or heavy use, you’ll want to go with the more flexible material that won’t crack or flex under these conditions.
Pros and Cons of each type of acoustic fabric:
Composites : The rigid surface is generally an aluminum composite, meaning it is lightweight and resistant to UV light. However, composites are not as durable as some other materials. Also, because they are so lightweight, they can easily crack or break under severe weather conditions. For example, if a composite panel is placed on the ground in the rain and then covered by snow, the weight of the snow can cause delamination (cracks) in the aluminum composite surface.
Synthetic Fiber : They have the highest damping capacity, meaning they are able to absorb more sound and have more intense noise reduction properties than other fabrics. However, they are less durable in harsh weather conditions.
Vinyl : Vinyl is generally made of the least expensive material—low-density polyethylene (LDPE). It is easy to handle (just roll it up and bring it out to your site) and stores well long term. However, it can take a lot of space in storage because of its size. Vinyl is not suitable for outdoor use or areas that experience heavy traffic because it is not as durable as other materials.
What fabric works best for acoustic panels?
The type of material you choose for your panels will depend on a number of factors, including the space in which you will install it and the frequency of use. But generally, here are some guidelines for choosing the right material (be sure to check that any listed pros and cons match up with your own):
If there are brittle surfaces that can be hurt by impact, like stucco or plaster walls, you’ll need to avoid vinyl.
Those who want to achieve maximum sound absorption in their space should go with either a composite or synthetic fiber. If you’re looking for a more flexible panel, using vinyl is your best bet.
If you’re looking for a panel that can be customized, then synthetic fiber is your only option.
If you’ll be using the panels outside on the ground or in a high-traffic area, then synthetic fiber or composite is your best choice. You can also use vinyl if you will only be using it once and won’t have to move them around after installation.
If you want to achieve a more attractive look in some way, either through color or patterning, some types of synthetic fibers can offer that flexibility.
Do acoustic panels actually work?
Acoustic panels are not just a simple solution to soundproofing. They don’t work as effectively as other types of soundproofing options, such as acoustic foam or vinyl cladding. But that doesn’t mean they don’t work. In many cases, they do help reduce noise in your space simply because of their ability to absorb sound rather than reflect it.
To get the most out of your panels, you’ll want to use them in combination with other soundproofing methods—and you should always double-check that your location is up to code before installing any type of panel in a space that will impact the fire rating.
Although acoustic panels don’t always offer the most effective solution for soundproofing, they are relatively inexpensive to get and easy to install. If you’re looking for a quick solution for a noisy area or want to reduce noise coming into your space in some way, acoustic panels are worth considering.
Do acoustic panels reduce noise?
Yes, because acoustic panels are designed specifically for this purpose, they can reduce noise from surround sound, street traffic or any other source.
Where should you use acoustic panels?
In any area of your space that experiences a lot of noise on a regular basis. You should use acoustic panels in the following spaces:
Around large machinery that produces a lot of noise (factory, manufacturing plant)
Near open office areas or workspaces (call center, warehouse)
Around an on-site employee workstation (factory, warehouse)
Acoustic fabric panels price?
The price of an acoustic fabric panel will vary based on the size and material.
How much does an acoustic panel cost?
The cost of an acoustic panel will depend on the size and material. You can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $40 per square foot.
Will you need acoustic panels for a home theater?
Depending on the type of equipment you have, you may need to use some kind of soundproofing device, especially if you live in a neighborhood zoned for residential living. The sound put out by your speakers may be enough to bother your neighbors—especially in a close-knit community like an apartment building or condo.
In addition, if you’re using a home theater to host parties at your house, you’ll likely want to invest in these soundproofing panels so that the noise doesn’t get out of control. This can be a good option for renters who aren’t allowed to make any permanent changes to their living space.
Soundproofing is one type of improvement that can greatly impact the value of your home. There are a number of soundproofing solutions that can be used in your space, from noise-blocking fabrics to sound-absorbing materials. When choosing which option to go with, make sure you consider the positive and negative aspects associated with each material in order to choose the option that will produce the best results for your specific situation.