Acoustic wall and ceiling panels in an indoor setting

Since you’re reading this blog post, you are probably contemplating getting yourself some acoustic panels or at the very least you are slightly interested in what this product has to offer. In this blog post, I will guide you through the world of acoustic absorbers and hopefully, you will find this helpful for picking out the ones that you need.

You might think that acoustic panels don’t differ much from each other or that they’re used purely for sound deadening purposes, however, what if I told you that there are some considerable differences between different types of sound absorption panels and their purpose extends further?

What are acoustic panels?

You probably have a general idea about what an acoustic panel is supposed to do, however, the extent to which these sound isolation panels can be used is far greater than that. Firstly, acoustic panels are boards that are used to reduce background noise, reverberation, and echo in an indoor environment. They are meant to either absorb or diffuse noises. A material that reduces previously mentioned noises is incorporated in these panels. A lot of the time they come in a frame or have a finish of a particular material. The materials that these sound panels are made out of can vary greatly. There are many different types of acoustic panels, some of them include:

Sound insulation panel with rockwool
Sound insulation panel
Foam acoustic panels in black
Foam sound panels
A close-up of 4plus wooden acoustic panels

There are many different types of acoustic panels, some of them include:

  • Wooden panels
  • MDF panels
  • Wool panels
  • Foam panels
  • Fabric-wrapped panels
  • Paper panels

These are just a few of the materials that are used in the making of acoustic paneling. At 4plus we focus on wooden acoustic panels, however, I will give you a rundown about other types of acoustic paneling so you have a better understanding of the different types of soundproofing panels.

Secondly, they can be used as an element of interior design for various indoor environments. That’s where the different types of acoustic panels also come into play since some of them might be a better design choice while others are meant purely for functionality purposes.

When it comes to design the panels are not restricted to use only for walls as there are acoustical ceiling panels as well. It all depends on what your needs are and what is the function as well as the style of design that you’re pursuing.

Acoustic panels for ceiling in a natural tone made from aspen wood by 4Plus

How do they work?

Wooden acoustic ceiling panels made from aspen wood
Acoustic panels work in quite a simple manner. These panels have a sound absorbing material that alleviates echo, reverb, or any other unwanted frequency. The panels can be set on the ceiling, the wall, or the furniture, which will help to neutralize the sound that is bouncing around the room.

It is important to note that all acoustic panels are not the same and the two main types of them are – sound absorbers and sound diffusers, although some may incorporate properties from both types.

Sound absorbers

As you can probably tell by the name, the sound absorption panels absorb sound and isolate it. The absorption panels block both internal and external noise. This type of panel merely absorbs and dissipates the sound rather than reflecting it.

Panels intended for sound absorption are typically made from materials such as wool, foam, fabric, rubber, and others. They are great for removing unwanted frequencies however the tricky part is that too many of these panels can make the space that you place them in less lively due to the panels removing too many frequencies resulting in muffles sounds, etc.

Sound diffusers

Unlike the absorption panels, these reflect the sound and spread it around the room in a more controlled way. The main thing is that while they reflect sound they disperse it so that it evens out and isn’t overwhelming. 

The upside to these panels in comparison to sound absorbers is – sound diffusers maintain the same functions as absorbers do, however, they maintain the dynamic audial energy, therefore keeping to help maintain the vibrant vibe, while still eliminating unwanted frequencies. 

Different types of acoustic panels such as foam or rock wool eliminate different frequencies and are better for certain environments. But you still might be thinking to yourself, why exactly should I choose acoustic panels?

Naturally toned sound insulation panels for walls

Why choose sound absorption panels?

Acoustic paneling is a great thing to have in homes, offices, and public spaces, not only because they reduce overwhelming sounds and frequencies, but also because it can serve as a great piece of interior design and can be the only thing or maybe the final touch that you need. So let’s get into the things that you can gain from acoustical panels.

Functional gain

Acoustic soundproofing panels in white, made by 4Plus
Acoustic panels are all about reducing and deadening sound. At some time you probably have been in a room that has terrible acoustics and might’ve been thinking how much better the experience would’ve been if there was some soundproofing in said environment.

Sound bounces around the room and therefore if there are acoustic panels placed on the ceiling or the wall the sound is absorbed or dispersed. Therefore, enhancing the acoustics and allowing you to have a normal conversation, listen to music or watch a movie without having to pause, replay or ask someone to repeat what they were saying.
 All in all, the main functional gains from sound absorption panels are that they make the room more lively, more soundproof, and overall enhance your experience in the particular environment.

Design opportunities

When it comes to interior design opportunities regarding sound panels, they can bring out the best in the design of a room, by placing the much-needed accent that you want. Since there are so many types of acoustic panels, you can choose which ones will fit right into the interior of the room that you’re designing or placing them in for soundproofing reasons. 

Regular panels that you would buy for sound treatment purposes can also function as decorative acoustic wall panels, therefore, being a great value item due to them fulfilling two functions at the same time.
White Decorative acoustic wall panels in a white colorway
4Plus acoustic treatment panels on the ceiling

The color of the panels is also of great importance. Some colors work better for ascetic Scandinavian-type interiors, while some will work better if you are going for a more contemporary aesthetic.

How to choose sound isolation panels?

Acoustic Panels for walls and ceiling made from aspen by 4Plus

Now that we’ve covered the questions regarding what sound panels do and why should you choose to go with them it’s time to talk about how to choose the right acoustic panels for your needs.

Things to consider regarding the panels themselves

There are quite a few things to take into account regarding this question, they are:

  • Material (Both on the surface and under it)
  • Size of the panels
  • The thickness of the panels
  • Weight of the panels
  • How easy is it to mount them?
  • Panels’ durability and ability to last
  • Acoustic properties

Materials

To elaborate on these bullet points, when it comes to the materials of the panels, each material has some differences. For example, foam can be quite good for limiting high-end frequencies, however, it may have a tough time limiting the low-end.

Meanwhile, wooden acoustic panels are great because they have the properties of both a sound diffuser and an absorber, therefore, their functionality is far higher. Wooden panels can also be used as a piece for interior design. 

No wonder, that wood has been used for acoustics for centuries now, especially in concert halls and theaters. It absorbs the sound while dispersing it moderately, therefore providing a great audial experience.

4Plus acousticc absorbers on the wall and ceiling
A full picture of the 4Plus acoustical panels

Size of the panels

Regarding the size of the panels, it all depends on the size of the room that you’re looking to soundproof. If you need to cover a large area on either the walls or the ceiling, you will need more panels and they will probably have to be larger. However, some acoustic panels are extendable, so with those, you can be more flexible.

The thickness of the panels

The thicker the panel, the more sound it will absorb. In regards to this aspect, you need to assess the purpose for which you’re getting the panels, as well as the pre-existing acoustical situation in your room. If the panels are rather thin there’s a chance that they will provide less soundproofing and will function more as a piece of interior design. However, that’s not set in stone, since it all depends greatly on the panels’ material. It doesn’t necessarily have to be very thick to fulfill its function.

The weight of the panels and the process of mounting them

The panels’ weight is something to consider as well since it will come into play when mounting them in your space. What concerns mounting – it is crucial to find out and determine how the panels are set up and how easy will it be. There are many ways how to install acoustic panels. Regarding wall panels, you can use a lathing frame that is attached to the wall, and then you use screws to apply the panels to the wall. Using just screws will also do the trick. Furthermore, using glue to install them is also an option. Concerning ceiling panels, your options get just a little bit slimmer since you cant use glue, purely because it might not be the safest option. However, you can still rely on the lathing frame or screws, to hold the panels to the ceiling.

Panels’ durability and ability to last

Another thing to consider is how durable and long-lasting the panels are. Like everything else, they tend to wear down as time passes. Regarding this, you need to determine how impact-proof they are and what are the properties of your desired material regarding durability.
White aspen sound deadening panels on the ceiling

Acoustic properties

Akustiskie paneļi

This is an important one – the acoustical properties. Probably the most important factor since acoustic improvement is most likely the main thing on your mind while trying to decide which panels are the right ones for you. For this you have to decide, do you want the acoustic panels to absorb or diffuse sound, or maybe you want a bit of both. Materials such as wool, foam, rubber, fabric, and others will act more as an absorber, while materials such as wood, will perform more as a diffuser.
Here at 4plus, we focus on 2 types of materials for acoustic absorption – pet felt and non-woven fabric.

Pet felt acoustic panels are commonly used in places like concert halls, theaters, gymnasiums, and more. They are also widely used in various commercial spaces such as office meeting rooms, private office spaces, music recording studios, and others.

They are lightweight and do not require a lot of effort to install. They offer a relatively high coefficient of noise reduction, they don’t require any special maintenance. These panels are also long-lasting (they can last up to 10 years without deformation), and they are also environmentally friendly.
Non-woven fabric sound absorption panels are also widely used in many private and commercial areas. They have great sound absorption properties. These panels are also easy to handle and install, offer good fire resistance (B class), and are easy to clean and maintain.

In combination with the wooden slats attached on top of these materials, you can achieve great sound absorption as well as diffusion, therefore, gaining more functions in one product. Not to mention that our panels can also be used as a piece of interior design to add character to the space instead of purely functionality.

What kind of interior do you need the panels for?

The room that you’re trying to soundproof is greatly important, more precisely, the size of the room. For instance, if you are looking to do sound treatment in a smaller room, be it in your house or private office space, you should be looking more toward acoustic wall panels. Sound waves act differently in various rooms depending on their size. If you’re in a smaller room the sound bounces off at the nearest hard surface, which in most cases is the walls. On the contrary, acoustic panels for ceilings are better for larger spaces. The sound acts differently in a large hall or any other larger space and usually, the sound waves hit the ceiling first rather than the walls. Therefore, ceiling-suspended panels are going to be the better choice if you desire to soundproof a larger space. Also important to note, is the type of room you’re placing them in. If it’s, for example, a music studio then it’s more important to focus on the functional gain and not as much on the design value they’re going to be adding. However, if you’re planning on placing them in your home or office space you should be looking for acoustical panels that will also provide value to your interior design.
4Plus acoustic wall paneling in a natural tone

Which ones will fit the interior better?

Ceiling panels in a naturally light tone

For this, you have to define the aesthetic and vibe that you are going for in the space you’re going to place the panels. If you are looking for a feeling of warmth in your home and a more simple yet tasteful it’s best to go with more natural colors.

In the case where you desire a more modern look, you can go for some darker tones, for instance, anthracite. It has been quite popular for quite some time now and is one of the trademark colors of modern architecture in the world currently.

However, if you’re more of a fan of the Nordic or Scandinavian type of design, you cannot go wrong with acoustic panels in white. They have a clean and flawless look, they don’t look overwhelming and they bring a bright, yet subtle feel to the environment.

In conclusion

White aspen acoustic panels placed on a wall

Acoustic panels are a great product for improving the acoustics in a lot of spaces, be it your office or home. That much has been established, although I have to say that there’s a lot more to this product than meets the eye. This has been an overall introduction to this subject and product, and we will dive deeper in future publications.

In this blog post, we have discussed different types of acoustic sound panels however, I hope that you will consider choosing the wooden panels since they offer a lot more than plain foam or wool panels for example.

Hopefully, you found this useful and you gained more of an understanding of what acoustic panels are all about, what are the differences, as well as, what to keep in mind when choosing panels for yourself.
Written by: Pauls Paeglis

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