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Cost of Acoustic Panels and Foam

Cost of Acoustic Panels and Foam

Contrary to what you may think, acoustic panels are not only used for recording studios or auditoriums. Many large buildings, open office plans and even some residential homes use acoustic materials to absorb noise and improve the sound quality. But surely installing acoustic panels is not something you could not possibly afford? Think again! There is a wide range of prices when it comes to acoustical materials for walls, ranging from budget and DIY friendly to professional quality.

In the article, we will break down the costs of acoustic panels and foam as well as give some helpful info on different categories of products.

How Much Material Do You Need?

The first step to working out the cost of installing acoustic panels or foam is to calculate how many panels or square feet of foam you’ll need to purchase.

Working out how much acoustical material your room needs requires math. The good news is that ANY additional acoustical material in the room will reduce the room’s reverberation time and improve the sound quality – the question is will it be enough to hit an optimal reverberation time for the room to be used for its intended purpose. To get the RIGHT answer, we will need to run an acoustical analysis for you. We are happy to do that, so submit your information to us or call us for help with that.

For those of you that are just looking for a ballpark answer (or deathly afraid of human engagement), we have a simple solution that works for the most basic rooms.

Follow the 40% rule

The first step to working out the cost of installing acoustic panels or foam is to calculate how many panels or square feet of foam you’ll need to purchase.

Now that we’ve got that warning out of the way, let’s dive in. First, measure the square footage of your room (length x width), then multiply the square footage by 40%, and finally divide this product by the size of each panel.

Example: A 100 square foot room with 8 square foot panels

100 square feet x 40% = 40 square feet

40 square feet / 8 square feet per panel = 5 panels

So, you will need 5 panels in the room (roughly)

Read our article on a acoustic treatment calculator for more in depth information.

Unfortunately, the 40% rule does not work for all rooms. There are a few different factors that can affect the amount of reverb and echo in a room, therefore making it more difficult to calculate the acoustical coverage needed.

Size of the room: Any rooms larger than 400 square feet cannot generally follow the 40 percent rule.
Height of the ceiling: Tall ceilings mean longer reverberation times. Any room with a ceiling taller than 10 feet can’t be calculated using the 40 percent rule.
Shape of the room: Obscure shapes to the room can create unusual echo or reverb.
Reflectiveness of the surfaces: Walls made of metal or concrete, large glass windows, and hardwood or tile floors all are reflective surfaces that are worse for the acoustics of your room.
Type of sound frequency: Depending on the sound frequency that is being generated in the room, you may need a specialized amount of acoustical material. In general, low frequency sounds such as large fans, compressors, or other machines are harder to absorb and will require a thicker absorptive material (2 inches or thicker).

For enquiries on more complicated rooms with any of the above characteristics, you will have to contact the experts at Second Skin at 1-800-679-8511 to get an accurate estimate. We will be happy to help!

What Are You Going For?

Once you have determined how many panels you will need in your room, the next step is choosing the type of panel you want to install. When choosing your acoustical material, there will be 2 main factors at play: performance and style.

Performance

Sound absorption is measured by the NRC rating. The higher the NRC rating, the better your acoustical material is at absorbing sound. A high-end acoustical panel will not necessarily have a better NRC rating than budget options. If it is purely acoustical performance that you are going for, then there are plenty of affordable options.

Style

What really bumps the price up for acoustical panels is the look. Cheaper products such as CelluZorbe or acoustical foam certainly work well, but they are not as aesthetically pleasing as fabric wrapped panels or PolyZorbe.

Aesthetic Style Comparison of Acoustical Materials

Decorative

Fabric Wrapped Panels: If you are looking for a customizable acoustic panel, then this is your option. Fabric wrapped panels are the most expensive option, but you can customize everything from the color to the size to even the shape.

Poly Zorbe: PolyZorbe is the most affordable, decorative acoustic panel. They look great, come in 3 different colors, and are very effective at absorbing sound. We have them pre-cut in our warehouse, so they ship out right away!

Style Dependent

Timberwool: Timberwool is a panel made up of cementitious wood fibers. One benefit of Timberwool is that it can be cut to size and painted with any color you choose. This material has been around for decades and is commonly used in building construction.

BlocknZorbe: BlocknZorbe is a very useful acoustical product for specialty circumstances. If you need to absorb sound outdoors or somewhere that will be exposed to water, BlocknZorbe is the best option as it is waterproof, UV stable, and durable.

Budget Friendly

Ecoverb: EcoVerb is a very budget-friendly cotton fiber panel. This bonded acoustical cotton panel is extremely budget friendly and comes in 6 different colors.

CelluZorbe: CelluZorbe is the most affordable acoustical panel. It is commonly used in hidden areas as sound absorption or in DIY projects. Because it’s made of recycled cellulose fibers, it won’t itch like fiberglass and is sold at a comparable price point

Cost of Soundproof Foam vs Panels?

As mentioned before, the price of acoustical materials is not a direct representation of their sound absorption qualities. Sound absorbing foam comes in two primary varieties: polyurethane foam and melamine foam. Acoustic foam made of polyurethane is much more affordable than higher-end acoustic panels, but does have some downsides:

  • Not fire rated, so cannot be used in commercial buildings
  • Easily damaged
  • Doesn’t look very good on the wall

We stay away from polyurethane foam, but do have several melamine foam options because it actually is Class A fire rated, and has other impressive physical properties. That being said, if these things don’t bother you, polyurethane foam will certainly work as a sound absorption material in residential applications.

Related Articles

Acoustic Panel Guide

Difference Between Reverb & Echo

Cost of Soundproof Ceiling

Thank you!