DIY Acoustic Panels (How to Build Your Own)

Making an acoustic panel

Last updated: November 1, 2021 at 11:56 am

There are many soundproofing products available on the market to suit every task and every budget. One of the best options if you want the maximum soundproofing effect is to install acoustic panels.

You can learn more about acoustic panels here, however this article will be focused entirely on how to build your own DIY acoustic panels.

What Are Acoustic Panels?

Acoustic panels (or soundproof panels) are large panels usually padded with foam or fabric. These panels are attached to walls to prevent noise from bouncing against the wall and back into a room. They can also greatly reduce or even completely remove an echo. This is a significant benefit if you plan to record or play music, make podcasts etc.

It’s important to be clear that the purpose of these panels is to improve the room’s acoustics. They are not designed to stop sound from travelling between rooms. As mass blocks sound, they will have some soundproofing abilities, but there are much better and more complete solutions if that is your aim.

Acoustic panels are very effective if they are well made and only have one main drawback, they can be quite expensive. That’s why making them yourself can get you the benefits the panels offer but at a reduced cost.

How Much Will a DIY Acoustic Panel Cost?

It’s impossible to give a definite price as it depends on many factors. These include the size of the panel, how many of the tools you already own, what the cost of wood is in your area, the insulation you choose and the quality of the fabric.

However, based on average prices at DIY stores in the UK, you should be able to make a good quality acoustic panel for between £15 and £20.

What You’ll Need

The instructions here will make three 800mm x 800mm x 44mm panels. You can scale up or down these instructions to fit the needs of your room or if you want to make panels in a larger size.

The instructions are to make a square panel, but if you feel your DIY skills are up to it, you could make rectangles, pentagons, hexagons, or anything else you think will suit your room.

Tools

  • A Stanley or craft knife for cutting the sound-absorbing product
  • Tape measure and pencil for measuring and marking out the wood frame
  • Drill and range of drill bits
  • A mitre saw or hacksaw for cutting square pieces to make the frame
  • A staple gun for attaching the fabric to the frame
  • Scissors for cutting the material for the outside
  • Mask and gloves for safety

Materials

  • Softwood, long pieces at least 44mm deep. You can buy them in whichever lengths you can get a good deal on but 2400mm lengths will split easily into 3 800mm parts. They need to be at least 44mm deep to ensure the layer of soundproof material they hold will reflect the sound waves effectively. You can certainly buy thicker softwood, but it shouldn’t be any more shallow
  • Acoustic material. There are many options you can choose from. They come in pre-cut panels made from materials such as fibreglass, cellulose and Rockwool. Manufacturers commonly make these cores in packs of six, and a common size is 1200 x 600. This will be easy to incorporate into this design, but these products come in rolls too. Shop around and see which products suit your project and budget
  • Fabric. This is the material you’ll use to wrap the panel, and as it will be on display on your walls, you should choose a type that matches the decor of the room. You could use acoustic or moving blankets for this, which will increase the panels’ effectiveness, but also the cost. You could also get offcuts at haberdashery departments or even use curtains
  • Thin fabric for the lining. Top tip, if you wanted to, you could buy a thick pair of lined curtains to cover your panel. Then you can use the curtain to cover the panel and the lining for this step
  • Felt. It’s unnecessary to cover the back in thick, expensive fabric as this will not be seen once the panels are hung. Felt is easy to work with, and covering the back means you can be slightly less concerned with how neatly you fit the fabrics in the corners
  • Screws, nails or wood glue to put the frame together and attach the fabric
  • Mounting brackets (or similar) for hanging the panels

Step-By-Step DIY Acoustic Panels

  1. Take your first piece of softwood and cut off the tip at a 45º angle from top left to bottom right.
  2. Measure down the wood to 800mm and cut at a 45º angle again. This time cut from bottom left to top right.
  3. Cut another three lengths of softwood to 800mm using the angled cuts described above.
  4. Keep going and cut the softwood in sets of 4 until you have enough for the number of panels you’re making.
  5. Take two pieces of wood and make sure they join up neatly. If they do, fasten them using nails, screws or wood glue. Wood glue is the easiest and most secure option, but you could add nails for extra sturdiness if you wish.
  6. If you used glue and any has leaked between the joins, either wipe it clean with an old cloth or wait for it to dry and cut the excess away. If you choose to wait, then make sure the glue won’t accidentally brush against your clothes, carpet or furniture. Pets and children are a danger too.
  7. Glue all four pieces of softwood together until you have a square frame.
  8. Take the curtain lining or other lining fabric and cover one open side of the frame. Use the staple gun or glue gun to attach the fabric around the edge of the frame.
  9. Measure the inside of the frame, so you know exactly how much insulation you’ll need.
  10. Cut the insulation to size with the Stanley knife or a sturdy set of scissors if you prefer. It’s a good idea to add a few mm extra to ensure it fits snugly.
  11. Tuck the insulation into the frame. If your insulation material is not big enough to cut a single piece, then cut multiple pieces and ensure they fill the space completely and won’t slip out.
  12. Cover the insulation and frame with whichever fabric you are using. Make sure you pull it tightly and staple or glue it securely to the frame on all four sides. The fabric should be completely smooth on the sides and tops.
  13. You’ll need to gently fold in the fabric and cut away any excess before stapling it onto the frame to complete the corners.
  14. Cut out a piece of felt big enough to cover the rear of the frame. Place it precisely on top of the frame so that it covers the places where the fabric is attached to the frame. Once it’s in place, either glue or staple it down. Your panel is now complete.
  15. When it comes to mounting the panel, there is a range of options. It’s slightly more complicated as there is no solid back to the panel. However, as the panel is relatively light, then mounting brackets should still work. Other options include impaling clips which are very widely used to hang acoustic panels. Finally, if you don’t mind a little mess on the walls, then there are some heavy-duty tacks available. If you can get some that will bear the weight, you can stick the panel directly onto the walls.

Conclusion

Acoustic panels can make a big difference if there’s an annoying echo in your room or if you want to improve the acoustics for recording. However, these panels cost a minimum of £35 in the UK, and you will likely need more than just one. For acoustic panels to be effective, normally, you would add at least one per wall.

Making your own panels allows you to save money and create panels in the size, shape, and design of your choosing. If made correctly, they can look like a great design feature that elevates the look of your room. Making acoustic panels will require some DIY skills but should be well within the capabilities of most people, so there is no reason not to give it a try.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ writes about living a quieter life, soundproofing tips and recommending the best quiet products here on Quiet Living.

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