Acoustic foam is a helpful tool for absorbing sounds and controlling reverberations. It works well in loud spaces like busy restaurants, but acoustic foam works best with music. Making your own acoustic foam is an excellent option for people on a budget or those who don’t have access to it easily.
Here is our DIY guide for making your own acoustic foam:
- Start with a frame.
- Choose your material.
- Cut material to fit the frame.
- Insert material and use glue if necessary.
- (Optional) Cover with a decorative towel or sheet.
- Mount on the wall.
Let’s talk about each of these steps more in-depth and help you get started making your own acoustic foam at home.
1. Start With a Frame
Your first step is to find a frame for your acoustic foam or build your own. Whichever method you choose, keep in mind the surface area that you’re working with. You can create one large acoustic foam panel or split the sizes and do multiple frames to cover a wall.
While wooden frames are the most commonly used for acoustic foam, not every type of wood can deliver a good acoustic experience. So, let’s break it down.
If you plan to cover the wooden frame with fabric, then the type of wood won’t make a difference in sound quality. If you don’t plan on using fabric to cover the wooden frame, then let’s get into the specifics.
Hardwood is an excellent option for longevity. It’s also heavier and allows you to create a sturdier frame. Hardwood affects the tonal quality of the sound produced. So, it’s best to use softwood for an acoustic foam panel.
Softwood will produce a better tone quality than hardwood because it is more pliable and allows sound to pass through it without changing the tone. Hardwood is more firm which creates an intense bounce-back effect for sounds. So, softwood gives you a better experience with tone when not covered with fabric.
The goal of an acoustic foam panel is to take up as much of the wall as possible. Fortunately for DIYers, you can do this with one large piece or several small pieces with little difference in quality. As you shape your frames, consider what size is easier for you to work with and start there. The shape isn’t important compared to the amount of wall space taken.
Try different, more intricate shapes if you want to make the acoustic foam panels more decorative. If you’re creating panels for high-traffic rooms, you may want to consider using cool shapes to make them seem more interesting and decorative.
DIY or Buy
Because there are plenty of places for you to get wooden frames, you can easily buy one if you don’t want to build it yourself. You can get an empty wooden frame at nearly any local hardwood store. However, you may not have much control over the size and can’t customize the design.
If you plan to construct the frame yourself, then all you need is wood, something to cut the wood, and nails to ensure it stays in place. Construct whichever size is more manageable for you, nail the frame together so it’s sturdy, and you’ve almost got your acoustic foam panel already.
2. Choose Your Material
Choosing a material for your acoustic foam panel is not complicated, but it’s the most important decision you’ll make. There are many different options for acoustic foam that can absorb, reduce reverberation, and get the job done, but some materials are more effective than others.
When choosing your material, it’s important to understand how you want the finished product to look. The size and thickness of each type of acoustic foam will be vital in making the final decision, as well as price and availability. So, consider your options carefully before designing your frame or purchasing.
Acoustic Foam Sheets
This is the most expensive type of foam to use and branded to use for this purpose only. While buying acoustic foam sheets without a frame is cheaper than full panels, it’s still the most expensive option on this list. So, you can get acoustic foam sheets, but prepare to spend some money.
Owen Corning Fiberglass Insulation
Using Owen Corning fiberglass insulation for acoustic foam has shown to be effective in controlling reverberations. In fact, it’s one of the highest-rated materials out there for acoustic panels.
Not only is fiberglass insulation easy to find, but it’s very rigid, which allows sound to enter the material but struggle to leave. It comes in a standard 2 feet by 4 feet (61 by 122 cm) size, which is a very manageable size for DIY projects. Owen Corning insulation is also straightforward to cut. So, even after you purchase it, you can make any size adjustments that you need easily.
Safety is the biggest concern with using fiberglass insulation, as handling it too much can cause fiberglass particles and dust to get in your eyes or on your hands. Make sure you’re wearing gloves when handling fiberglass insulation and use eye protection as well, but it’s one of the best materials for acoustic foam because it works well and is easy to find.
Rockwool Mineral Wool
Rockwool is another great option for acoustic foam because it specifically absorbs noise. Made from rocks, Rockwool doesn’t require extra safety measures when handling it, like fiberglass insulation. Plus, it can give much of the same benefits as insulation or acoustic foam without much sound difference.
Rockwool is in the same price range as insulation but is slightly cheaper in some places. You can find it in most hardware stores, and many different websites carry it. However, it may be somewhat more difficult to find than fiberglass insulation because it’s more specialized, but it’s nowhere near as uncommon as acoustic panels.
3. Cut Material to Fit the Frame
Once you have the frame made and the material selected, it’s time to start the foam. Whichever material you selected above, you will most likely need to trim it based on the size of your frame.
The key to getting your foam to properly fit is to measure the foam and cut it, leaving a little extra material. This way, you’ll help the material fit more snug in your frame, especially if it has no back. All the edges of your material must fit up against the frame, or you will have trouble getting it to stay put.
Precise measuring is key here, but if you’re working with limited supplies, it may be best to cut little by little, measuring as you go. In this case, there’s little risk of cutting too much and wasting foam. If you have plenty of materials, then it’s not as big of a risk to cut the material too small. So, you don’t have to be as careful.
To properly cut the material, you can use scissors as long as they are quite sharp. However, a utility knife will be your best bet to get fast, accurate cuts in the material.
A utility knife is especially important for fiberglass as you don’t want to unnecessarily stir up the fiberglass dust. So, cutting with a sharp knife can help you get the job done safer because you cut faster and more precisely. Also, using a knife allows you to handle the material less than scissors require. So, try to use a utility knife if possible to get the job done.
4. Insert Material and Use Glue if Necessary
Once the material is measured precisely, it’s time to insert it into the frame. Do this carefully to avoid ripping or tearing the foam or insulation. Remember, some extra material should be left to ensure that it fits snugly into the frame.
If you constructed a basic, open frame, make sure the material can’t come out by cutting the material properly. Then it’s time to attach the foam to the frame to ensure it doesn’t move.
Depending on the material that you used, you can staple or glue the material to the frame to ensure that it doesn’t fall out. If you want to staple, you need extra material or have a backing to the frame. If the frame has enough backing, then you may not need to glue or staple the material as long as it sits comfortably in the frame. Otherwise, gluing is the best bet.
5. (Optional) Cover With a Decorative Towel or Sheet
This step is completely optional, and you can skip it if the acoustic foam panel’s look isn’t important. If it is important because you will display it in a room with traffic, then you may want to cover the panel with a sheet or a towel for decorative purposes.
Both a sheet and a towel can easily cover the frame. So, use whatever option you have available. Ensure you attach the sheet or towel to the frame directly to keep it from falling. This material can also help keep your foam or insulation trapped correctly in the frame and prevent it from bending or popping out.
If you want to add more sound absorption to your acoustic foam panel, consider a towel as the decorative top. Towels are thicker than sheets and will help prevent reverberations, working with your panel.
A sheet is a lot thinner than a towel. So, it won’t help with absorbing sound, but if you’re happy with the sound absorption of your panel already, it won’t make a difference. So, use whichever you have available to you. Just make sure that it matches your room. You want your acoustic foam panel to blend in, not clash with your wall or other decors.
Once you have the decorative layer picked out, measure it to fit the frame leaving extra room for it to be attached. Whether you glued or stapled your foam or insulation, it’s easiest to staple this layer to the back of the frame as you want the fabric to cover the entirety of the frame.
So, leave extra fabric to pull it around the top and sides of the frame. From there, staple the towel or sheet to the back, cutting off any excess you may have. It will give you an extra layer of absorption and allow your panel to make a nice, subtle decoration in your home.
6. Mount on the Wall
The goal of an acoustic foam panel is to take up as much of the wall space as possible because less sound will reverberate off the walls without the walls exposed. So, when you’re planning how to mount your panels, cover as much wall space as you can.
When it comes to mounting materials, basic wooden frames can be easily mounted with nails, hooks, or stick strips, depending on the weight. Unless you made a very large panel, they will be lightweight and easy to mount with whatever you have available. If you’re renting, consider using removable strips that allow you to leave the wall undamaged.
Create and hang as many acoustic foam panels as you need to get the desired sound for whatever you’re recording. Keep in mind that you can overdo it with the panels. So, there’s no need to cover the entire wall. Just cover enough to get the desired sound absorption.
If you notice that sound is deadening instead of absorbing and bouncing back, you may have too many panels. So, add more as you need them, but be careful you don’t overdo it.
Making your own acoustic foam at home can be a challenge because you need the right materials and the patience to see it through. But our helpful guide can get you started with the new project. Your audio will be sounding better in no time.
It’s important not to overdo acoustic foam, but there’s nothing wrong with having the majority of your wall space covered in rooms that require it. So, try out our guide for making your own acoustic foam and start preventing reverberations today.
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