Acoustic panels are a great tool to tame the excess reverberation in your recording space. They efficiently absorb sound—but can also add an aesthetic touch to your home or studio space. They’re also easy to make and won’t cost you an arm and a leg—provided you have some basic carpentry skills.
You can wrap your acoustic panel in fabric by taking measurements and cutting the fabric to size. Once you cut the fabric to size, spread it on a flat surface and place the acoustic panel face down in the center of the fabric. Then, wrap the fabric around the panel, securing it with a staple gun.
This article will provide a more thorough guide that expands on the basic steps above. I will also include some tips and tricks I’ve learned from experience to make the process easier; keep reading.
1. Choose the Correct Fabric for Your Acoustic Panel
Acoustic panels or sound panels are handy tools in your home or office to absorb echo, reverberation, and diffuse sound in a space. These panels, properly insulated and covered in the fabric, reduce competing sounds in an area to make communication and sound more intelligible—making a cleaner, less cluttered acoustic space.
Ensure the insulation foam is the right size and thickness for your panel. It won’t do much to improve the sound quality if it’s too thin. And if it’s too thick, it will make the board bulky and make your work challenging. It should fit snugly inside the panel, so there are no gaps.
Once you have selected your foam or mineral wool panel, the next step is to choose the best fabric. The fabric you opt for should be:
- Breathable: Acoustic panel fabric must be porous enough so that the sound waves can travel through to the panel.
- Maintain its shape: The fabric you choose should not be prone to sagging or rippling over time, as this may affect sound absorption.
- Functional: The fabric you select should be acoustically transparent in that it does not absorb or reflect sound.
The Guilford of Maine Sona Fabric from Amazon is an excellent fabric for acoustic panels that features the above qualities. This fabric is ideally suited to acoustic panels and offers a fire rating. Alternatively, burlap is a less expensive option if budget is a concern.
- An ATS Acoustics Exclusive made by Guilford of Maine
- 14-16 oz weight per linear yard
- Flammability: ASTM E84 Class I or A.
Last update on 2023-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
2. Get Your Staple Gun, Staples and Measuring Tape
Wrapping an acoustic panel in the fabric is a relatively simple process, but there are a few things you’ll need to ensure you have before you get started.
Materials for Wrapping Your Acoustic Panels:
- A staple gun
- A measuring tape
- Acoustic panel(s)
- Fabric pen
- Backing material (to secure the insulation in place).
An Iron may also come in handy but isn’t necessary. I like to iron the fabric before I begin wrapping because it helps to remove any wrinkles or creases. This step is optional because you can stretch the fabric as you wrap it around the panel, and those wrinkles will eventually disappear.
3. Measure the Dimensions of Your Acoustic Panel
Before you measure the fabric, you’ll need to determine the dimensions of the acoustic panel.
Using a measuring tape, measure the width and length of the panel and the thickness of the wood used for the frame. You can take measurements directly from the acoustic panel or calculate them if the panels are pre-made and ready for wrapping.
The length and width of the fabric should be at least 10% longer than the length and width of the acoustic panel to give you enough space to work. The thickness of the wood frame should be at least as thick as the fabric you’re using, so you can wrap it around the structure.
Once you have the measurements, transfer them to a piece of paper so you can use them as a reference later.
4. Cut the Acoustic Fabric to Size
Cutting the fabric to size is the most critical step in wrapping the panels. Make sure the measurements are accurate to avoid having to start over.
To cut the fabric to size:
- Use a ruler and a marker pen to draw a line on the fabric indicating where you’ll be cutting.
- Cut along the line with a sharp pair of scissors. Cut the fabric with the grain running horizontally on both pieces to help prevent the material from stretching as you wrap it around the panel.
Using sharp scissors is essential because it will make cutting the fabric easier and prevent fraying. However, if you have a rotary cutter, you can use that instead. A rotary cutter will give you a clean, straight line, and it’s much faster than cutting with scissors.
Remember that you will need two pieces of fabric for each acoustic panel – one for the front and one for the back.
5. Iron the Acoustic Fabric (Optional)
If the fabric is wrinkled or creased, ironing it will make it easier to stretch around your panel. If the fabric is already smooth, you can skip this step.
Place the fabric on an ironing board and set the iron to the appropriate setting for your material. Iron the fabric until it’s smooth, taking care not to scorch the fabric.
6. Spread the Fabric on a Flat Surface
Now that the fabric is cut to size and ironed (if necessary), it’s time to move on to wrapping the acoustic panel. But before you do, place the fabric on a flat surface large enough to accommodate the panel. This placing will make it easier to wrap the panel without moving it around too much.
A table is a good option because it will keep the fabric in place as you work. Also, the height of the table will make it more comfortable for you to work on the panel, so you don’t strain your back or shoulders.
You can also use the floor, but I don’t recommend it because it’s more difficult to wrap the panel when working on the ground. However, the floor will work in a pinch if you don’t have a table or other flat surfaces. Make sure the surface is clean and debris-free before you begin.
7. Place the Acoustic Panel on the Fabric
Once the fabric is in place, it’s time to put the acoustic panel on top. Center the panel on the fabric, so there’s an equal amount of fabric on all sides.
The best way to do this is to measure the fabric and panel to know precisely where to place the board. This process may take extra time—but it is worth ensuring the panel is centered.
The face of the panel should be facing down, so the back is facing up. This upside-down position may seem counterintuitive, but it’s important because you’ll be wrapping the fabric around the back of the panel.
If you’re using a patterned fabric, make sure the pattern is placed in the right direction before you begin wrapping. You don’t want the fabric to be upside down when you’re finished.
8. Wrap the Fabric Around the Panel
Wrapping the fabric around the panel is a crucial step in this process. If you don’t wrap the fabric correctly, the panel won’t look good, and the sound quality will suffer.
To wrap the fabric correctly:
- Start at one side of the panel and wrap the fabric around it. As you wrap, don’t worry about making the fabric tight since the opposite side of the panel is not yet attached. Just make sure it’s in place and not bunched up.
- Using a stapling gun, attach the fabric to the panel, starting at the center and working your way out. Make sure you fix the staples close together to secure the fabric.
- Once you have completed one side, move to the other and repeat the process. Now that you’ve wrapped and stapled the other side of the panel, you can pull the fabric as you staple it in.
Don’t tighten the fabric too much as you wrap. You want the fabric to be tight enough that there are no wrinkles but not so tight that it stretches the material.
As you wrap it, smooth out any wrinkles or creases. These imperfections will show through when you’re finished, so taking your time and getting them out is essential.
After you’ve wrapped the main body of the panel, you need to wrap the edges. The process differs from covering the panel body because the edges are beveled. Thus, you need to fold the fabric over the edges.
To do this:
- Start at one corner of the panel and nicely fold the fabric over and align it with the edge.
- Using your stapler, attach the fabric to the panel. Take care to work methodically to make a clean, finished edge that will make your panel look professional.
- Pull the fabric taut as you wrap the edges and staple it. You want the material to be as tight as possible around the edges without any wrinkles or creases.
Once you’ve wrapped all the edges, ensure that you fold all sides of the fabric neatly—so no parts of the wooden frame are visible. You should fold the fabric around the panel like a gift, so it’s nice and tight with no gaps.
9. Staple the Backing Material to the Acoustic Panel
Staple the backing material to the panel to ensure the insulation foam stays in place. This process will also help keep the panel’s shape and ensure it doesn’t warp over time.
Since you already measured and cut the fabric to size, it should fit snugly over the opening in the back of the panel. Use a stapling gun to attach it to the panel, ensuring the staples are close together. Ensure that it is tight and there are no wrinkles or creases.
Ensure you use a lightweight material that is thin enough to let sound waves pass through it. Avoid using thicker fabrics, such as velvet, as they dampen the sound too much.
10. Repeat the Process for Each Panel
Once you have competed with one acoustic panel, you should repeat the entire process for the others. Depending on the size of your room and the number of panels you need, this could take some time.
However, it will be much easier the second time as you’ll be familiar with the process. Plus, once you get into a rhythm, it will go quickly.
11. Hang the Acoustic Panels
Once you have wrapped the acoustic panels, you should hang them in your chosen space. But before you secure the acoustic panels, you must decide where to put them.
You want to target the early reflection points in the room, typically the wall behind the speaker, the ceiling above the speaker, and the wall to the speaker’s side. By hanging acoustic panels in these positions, you can reduce the reverberation time and improve the room’s sound quality.
When you’re ready to hang the acoustic panel, use unique acoustic panel holders designed for the purpose. You can also use nails or picture hooks to hang the acoustic panels, but be careful that you don’t damage the board.
It’s best to use acoustic panel holders, which ensure that the panel is securely attached to the wall and won’t fall. They are also convenient and easy to install. Once the acoustic panel holders a
re in place, hang the panels on them, and that’s it!
You can now stand back and admire your handiwork! You’ve just made a professional-looking acoustic panel that will help to improve the sound quality in your recording space.
Check out how far apart your acoustic panels should be here.
Acoustic panels are a great way to improve the sound quality in your recording space. They’re relatively easy to make, and you can do it yourself with some basic materials. Plus, they’re not too expensive, so you can make a few of them without breaking the bank.
And by following the steps above, you can properly wrap your acoustic panels and start enjoying improved sound quality in your recording space. So—get wrapping!
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