There is a lot of work that goes into acoustic panels, which causes the prices of these panels to skyrocket. This article has summarized some of the key reasons why acoustic panels cost so much.
What Makes Acoustic Panels Expensive?
Acoustic panels have considerable costs as they are considered a specialty product that has a very specific use case. Since specialty products don’t have a lot of competition, manufacturers are able to price them quite high. Also, these panels have expensive raw materials which further add to their price.
Let’s take a deeper look at what really makes acoustic panels so expensive and how you can potentially lower the cost of your acoustic paneling project.
One of the main reasons for the high prices of these panels is that these are niche products, manufactured using specific techniques. Speciality products are sold based on their quality and reliability. And the low competition allows flexibility when it comes to pricing.
Acoustic panels can be further specialized for increasingly intense acoustic treatments, for spaces like recording studios. For example, loaded vinyl is a much more expensive option available in the market. While curtains and some brands of foam are affordable, they don’t give the same results since they were not designed to keep this particular aspect (acoustic treatment) in mind.
Acoustic foam is made by using polyurethane foam or in some cases, melamine foam. These materials cost considerably more to manufacture because the process to manufacture acoustic foam is a lot more complex than regular foam.
The structure of regular foam has a closed-cell structure which makes it good for filling cushions and pillows. To block sound waves, foams used for acoustic treatments are designed with an open-cell structure.
Acoustic panel foams allow sound waves to enter but obstruct some of it from leaving. Sound waves are absorbed by the foam and not reflected, which is how reverberations are lowered and the sound quality in a room is improved.
While the materials may not be too expensive on their own, to absorb sound, acoustic foam tends to be prepared through a much more complex method. The additional work adds to the price.
Size of the Project
While acoustic products are expensive on their own, the size of the project can add a lot to the cost since the room’s size will increase the materials you need. Then there is also variety in the number of ways you can mount the panels, one of which requires you to rip down walls, thus increasing the overall cost significantly.
Some projects require you to block lower frequency noise, which requires thick concrete. In others, you may need to soundproof your doors and windows, as well. All of these additional aspects increase the project cost.
How can you lower the Costs of Acoustic Panels
While it seems that acoustic treatment is a very expensive matter to deal with, there are some measures you can take to help reduce the costs i.e. budgeting, market research, etc.
The high costs usually prevent people from taking the leap into soundproofing their spaces. But through the methods mentioned below you will be able to cut your costs tremendously. Otherwise, you can also go through this list of affordable acoustic panels to choose from.
1. Be Aware From the Start
By now, the title of the article should have warned you about the high costs of acoustic panels. It is beneficial for you to have a basic idea of the costs and availability of the panels before you try to purchase any acoustic panel. If you are new to the world of acoustic treatment, becoming aware of your product and its prices is a good place to start.
2. Work Out a Budget
One of the best ways to avoid spending more money than necessary is to set a budget for yourself. If you stick to the budget diligently, you will avoid spending more in favor of over-priced brands and additional accessories that add little to the acoustic treatment. And if you have done the necessary research, it can also help you find areas where you can save.
While sticking to a budget is very commendable, there may be additional (unforeseeable) costs that may require you to stretch your budget. So it is wise to include an additional amount in your budget. Keeping an additional 10% to 15% of your budget aside can help you be prepared for any surprises. Remember, to focus on your original budget though, and only use this additional amount if absolutely unavoidable.
3. Do Some Research
Once you have made yourself aware of some basics, you should do your research. The internet is a good place to start. There are countless articles and forums that can help you gain more information relevant to your specific scenario.
Say, if you need to perform acoustic treatment for a basic home theatre, you just need a few panels across from your speakers (or sound source) to do the trick. Knowing it beforehand would help avoid being filled by any tricky salesman that might lure you into buying more than you need.
And reading other customers’ experiences online is a great way to understand what you need to do and the mistakes that you need to avoid.
Having such information at your disposal will also help you in making a realistic budget. For example, $1000 might sound like plenty to a novice, but that won’t get you too far in soundproofing your space for professional purposes.
You should also be mindful of the brands and the different forms available on the market. As we discussed previously, acoustic foam is manufactured particularly to absorb sound, and normal foam cannot accomplish the same task.
So, read the customer reviews carefully to help you choose the best option. In fact, we’d recommend you check out our detailed reviews of the best acoustic panels on the market. You can also visit the stores personally, and talk to them to develop a better realization of what works best for you.
4. Do as Much as You Can by Yourself
Doing research could also help you find some alternate solutions to acoustic paneling. For instance, it is possible to build an acoustic panel at home rather than buying an expensive one from the market. This could help reduce the costs significantly. If you decide to go down the DIY route, research can help you formulate a list of required materials and construct a proper plan for the project.
While buying an acoustic panel seems like a much more convenient option, it is also super expensive. If you have any experience with DIY projects, constructing acoustic panels yourself is worth the trouble. These materials are easily accessible and if you dedicate a bit of your schedule to this task, it can be worthwhile.
However, you need to be well-prepared before you take on the project. It would mean spending some time understanding the dimensions of your room and the purpose you’re soundproofing it for. To improve the sound quality, placing two or three panels across the speakers is a good place to begin.
Further, you can stick to the standard measurements that are 4ft x 2ft, and 2 inches deep. However, if you’ve got experience in such projects, you can also go for customized measurements for your room.
If you are interested in building the panel yourself, you can follow the steps in the next section.
Simple Steps to Build a Cheap DIY Acoustic Panel at Home
We have listed the materials that you will need to build the panels. And added instructions for not only how to build the acoustic panels but also how to mount them.
Materials for Creating DIY Acoustic Panels
You need to find the below materials to build an acoustic panel by yourself.
- Rockwool / Fiberglass
- Tape Measure
- Staple Gun (this is one that I love)
- Wood glue
- 120 grit sandpaper
- Ear & eye protective gear
- Screw Driver
- Power drill
Before you start, remember that this project needs a significant amount of time. Set aside some free time so that you can commit to the project one hundred percent.
Steps for Creating DIY Acoustic Panels
You need to follow the following steps:
- First, with the help of your tape measure, mark the timber with the required length, 24 inches, and another timber with the required width, 12 inches. You should have two pieces for the length and two for the sides when you are done sawing the timber at the mark.
- Use the power drill to screw holes into the corners of the boards that you have set aside for the top and bottom of the frame.
- Join the sides and the lengths using a right angle bracket to ensure that the boards are all at right angles with each other. You can also apply some wood glue to the joints to keep them joined.
- Once you have measured the fabric, mark it and cut it more than the measurements required. This will allow you to deal with any mistakes in the measurements. Use the fabric to cover one side of the frame properly.
- Fill the frame with a considerable amount of the absorbing material, but make sure it doesn’t cause the fabric to bulge.
- Stretch another piece of fabric over the insulation and pull it tightly over the corners of the frame. Staple the fabric in place and make sure the edges are neat to give you a finished look to the final product.
Some Tips on Building Your Cheap Acoustic Panels
Note down these tips on how to build cheap acoustic panels:
- Use thicker foam to absorb sound waves of lower frequencies. If you are creating acoustic panels yourself, you can choose to thicken them up to 4 inches.
- Make the acoustic panels look like wall hangings or art by covering the panels with a printed design on the fabric. You can even print your own design if you would like to get really creative.
- Seal the edges properly with the fabric to stop the fibreglass from leaking out. You can add a layer of epoxy glue at the edges before stapling the fabric to the frame, to add more strength to the seal. Adhesive spray is also a suitable alternative.
- Use a mirror to find the proper place to mount the acoustic panels. A simple way to do so is to sit in the spot you would be when watching the TV and ask a friend to walk alongside the right wall while holding up a mirror. When you can see the reflection of a speaker, mark the area and mount the panel.
By now it’s clear that acoustic panels do not come cheap. It is a specialty product that is specifically made to absorb sound waves. Also, the lack of competition in that arena has caused the prices to remain higher than necessary.
However, if you are planning on soundproofing your room, you can try to maintain a budget to control your expenses. Even better, you can build yourself a panel to help cut the costs down even further.
Happy sound proofing.