As with most things in life, there’s an easy answer and a complicated answer to how many acoustic panels you need. We’ll start with the “non-acoustic consultant” answer, which is something we call the 40% Rule. Then if you need special guidance, we can get into the exceptions where things can get more complicated.
As with most things in life, there’s an easy answer and a complicated answer. We’ll start with the “non-acoustic consultant” answer, because sometimes you just need some basic guidance. Then if you need it, we can get into the exceptions where things can get more complicated.
Acoustic Panel Coverage Recommendations
Your Basic Room: Follow the 40% Rule
To qualify for the easy answer, you must meet three key criteria.
- The room must be a normal ceiling height. As you start getting taller than 8 feet, the acoustic treatment recommendations start changing. Once you're above 12 feet, you may need a more customized recommendation that the 40% Rule.
- The room can’t be too big. If you have a standard 10' x 10', 10' x 15', or even 20' x 20' room, perfect. Go ahead and follow the rule. Once the room starts getting bigger than 400 square feet, we're back to needing a custom recommendation.
- The room can't be weird. Weird can mean a couple things, but one common "weirdness" is to have multiple walls made of glass or metal. This changes the dynamics and means you may need a more specific recommendation from us.
Ok, so you meet the 3 criteria to follow the 40% Rule. What's the rule?!? This is where you're typical acoustical expert will equivocate with you here, but that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to give you the straight-talk.
Measure the square footage of the room using either the floor or the ceiling.
Length x Width = Square Feet
Multiply that square footage by 40% to see how many square feet of panels you need.
Square Feet x 40% = Square Footage of Panels
Calculate the number of acoustic panels you need to cover that amount.
Square Footage of Panels / Size per Panel = # of Acoustic Panels Needed
But what if I don't have room for 40% coverage?!
That can happen in a small room with windows, bookshelves, doors, and more taking up wall space. If this describes your room, you can get by with fewer acoustic fabric panels in a small room. But you have to pick thicker panels to "cheat up" your sound absorption. Going with the 2" thick panels instead of 1" thick panels gives you a little leeway on coverage, but we wouldn't recommend going below 25% of the room's square footage even in a small room.
That bears repeating. We do not recommend going below 25% coverage of the room's square footage. We like having happy customers, and skimping on coverage is a good way to get mediocre results and angry phone calls.
We also wouldn't recommend going above 40% of square footage. At that point, diminishing returns really start kicking in and you're not getting a good bang for your buck.
After you figure out how many acoustic panels you need for your room, the next three steps are getting some tips on where to install acoustic panels. We include the Rotofast anchoring system for free with any order. We also have a full set of instructions on how to install acoustic panels and how much do acoustic panels cost.
More Complicated Rooms: Calculations Are Needed
Now let’s assume your room don’t meet those three criteria to follow the 40% Rule, because the room has very high ceilings or the floor square footage is much larger. If you are looking for the best way to fix acoustics in a gym, a house of worship, an auditorium, or an office lobby, chances are your reverberation and/or echo problem requires a more tailored solution.
Good news! We can help you there too. You’ll just need to reach out to us so we can do some calculations and tell you how many acoustic panels you'll need and where to install them. You may even need to be considering different sound acoustics materials. The fastest way will be to give us a call to discuss it (1-800-679-8511).