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DIY Acoustic Panels: How to Make Them in 7 EASY Steps

DIY Acoustic Panels

WILD GUESS: you probably don’t have the ideal sound environment right now.

Acoustic panels or other forms of sound absorption panels MIGHT BE ineffective or too expensive.

So, why not create a DIY panel? Don’t worry about not knowing how to make one because we’re here to help you out.

Let’s get the best possible sound environment and sound quality with this step-by-step guide for DIY acoustic panels!

Table of Contents

How to Make DIY Acoustic Panels: 7 Steps to Sound Success

Are you ready to start on your own DIY project? If yes, follow these 7 EASY STEPS to successfully build acoustic panels on your own!

Step #1: Plan Wisely

Choose Your Target Location

WHERE do you want to put your panels? Will they be wall panels or ceiling panels? You may want to get the location down first, then see how many sound absorbing panels can fit.

If you’re not sure where you’re going to place each panel, read further down this article. We have a short guide on where each acoustic panel should go for the best sound absorption.

Measure the Approximate Size of Your Acoustic Panel

You also want to measure HOW BIG each acoustic panel will be. The larger the size, the better because it would absorb more sound. Of course, you have to factor in the space you can allow.

Most DIY panels measure 3 x 4 feet, with thicknesses going from 3″-4″ thick. It’s up to you if you want to make it larger or smaller than that.

Why should you measure the size?

  • The size dictates HOW MANY PANELS you’ll be making.
  • You don’t want to create thousands of them just to fit your room, so don’t go too small! At the same time, make sure the panels fit. Don’t go too big.
  • The goal is to cover at least 15% of your room with sound panels for better sound absorption. You can do 3-8 acoustic panels for one room.

Determine the Materials You Want to Use

Next, you need to find out which material you’re going to be using. Get ready to measure out the wood, fiberglass, fabric, and furring strips!

You need to decide on the material you need to INSULATE THE INSIDE of the frame before doing any other action.

Many DIY enthusiasts favor using egg cartons for soundproofing since it’s very accessible and also enforces the practice of recycling.

Step #2: Select Your Acoustic Panel Material

We recommend using the following materials to insulate your panels properly.

  • Owens-Corning 703 fiberglass screen
  • Denim insulation
  • Roxul rock wool insulation

Fiberglass and rock wool insulation panels may be more familiar to you for soundproofing. They’re lightweight, resilient, and great at blocking sound waves in and out of the room.

However, denim insulation is also a great option for your core material. It’s more eco-friendly and has the same sound blocking value as unfaced fiberglass.

If you don’t mind experimenting with the panels, you can give DENIM INSULATION a try.

What Should I Do After Choosing My Preferred Insulation Material?

The next step involves taking note of the following factors:

  • Quantity
  • Size
  • Thickness

You can go for 1-2 inches of insulation thickness to absorb human conversations. If you’re working in recording studios and need a better music listening environment, you can go for 2 inches and above.

Step #3: Cut the Wood for the Frames

It’s time to get the power tools out! Have the drill and saw ready. Measure and mark the wood you’re going to use for the wood frame.

If you don’t have any spare boards nearby, it’s best to be accurate. Mark everything carefully.

You’re cutting the wood for two frames:

  • Internal frame
  • External frame

The internal frame holds your insulation material in.

The external frame is another important part of the board because its role is to keep the insulation and the internal frame together.

Step #4: Assemble the Frames

Now it’s time to assemble the frames. This is also where the furring strips come into play!

You can use three-inch furring strips to make sure that the wood frame is COMPLETELY FLAT. A shorter frame can make for a beveled look at the front.

When you assemble two boards, it should create a 90-degree angle. Here’s what you have to do to create a fully assembled frame.

  1. Get the power drill.
  2. Grab a drill bit.
  3. Put pilot holes near the 90-degree angle (This is where each furring will go).
  4. Repeat the drilling for each corner and attach the furring strip there.
  5. Use wood glue to attach these boards.
  6. Get the drill bit again and drill five more pilot holes on each side.

Once you screw everything to each other, you’ve got a rectangular frame that’s similar to a picture frame. You can also attach a 2 x 2 central bar in the middle.

Step #5: Wrap the Panel in Fabric

Get acoustically transparent fabric. You don’t have to shell out a lot just to cover the acoustic panel frame!

Cheap fabric is enough. You can probably get some from your local fabric store or hardware store.

Better-looking fabric is more useful for the front of the panel, which comes in the next step.

How Do You Know If It’s Acoustically Transparent?

If the fabric is breathable, then it probably possesses transparency qualities. Flip the frame and drape the fabric over it. Staple the fabric down the back of the panel firmly.

You’re halfway to completing your acoustic panel! Now, FLIP IT BACK on the opposite side.

Step #6: Insulate and Add the External Frame

It’s time to insulate! Put on the safety items we’ve mentioned above, especially if you’re cutting fiberglass for one panel or if you’re dealing with fire retardant materials. 

Fiberglass won’t kill you, but it can be an irritant. You never know what kind of reaction you’re going to have. Putting on the proper attire and safety accessories goes a long way!

  • Get the marker to line out where you’re cutting, then do so with the serrated knife. Once you have the right fit for a fiberglass panel, put it into the panel frame.
  • Push the edges into the top and bottom of the panels until all of the fiberglass fits. Don’t worry — a fiberglass screen is flexible.
  • The same goes for other non-rigid insulation materials you’re going to use. Make sure it fits into the acoustic panel frame!

Step 6A: Add Another Layer of Fabric

Now, it’s time to put ANOTHER LAYER OF FABRIC onto the panel frame.

  • Pull the fabric tight and staple it on one side. This is going to be the front of your panel, so make sure it looks nice! It might help to do this on a completely flat surface to avoid misalignments.
  • Iron it out to make the front panel look more visually pleasing. Creases will continue to be there after hanging the frame up — no matter how tight you pull the fabric today.
  • TRIM ANY EXCESS fabric hanging from the top and bottom edges. Your sound-absorbing panel should look professionally done regardless of where you plan on putting it. But you might need to do this 1-2 times for all sides.

Don’t worry too much about the way you cut it! It’ll all be covered up by the external frame.

Step 6B: Add the External Frame

  • Cut boards up to put around the internal frame.
  • Use wood glue to make each board stick. This is especially if you’ll be using wood screws.
  • Add a pilot hole or two for each edge.
  • Then drill the screws (or wood screws) into each pilot hole and ensure the frame is secure.

Repeat steps 4-6 for all the frames you need to do. If you want your acoustic panels to double as room decor, you can get different colors or designs for the fabric.

Choose complementary colors and designs for your room. After all, you will hang them there for a long time.

Step #7: Hang It!

Make sure there are eye hooks or nails where the panels are supposed to go. Attach the picture wire and D-rings to the acoustic panel and double-check everything.

The picture wire, picture hangers, and eye hooks MUST be spaced out and equal. You don’t want your frames looking wonky.

Why Should You Consider Adding an Air Gap When Installing a Panel Into Your Room?

The air gap acts as an extra layer of sound absorption.

Sound energy goes through the front of the panel and bounces off the wall surface and drywall anchors because the gap aids the panel.

Then, it goes to the back of the panel. The sound absorption is easy and won’t take a long time to put onto the panel itself!

Put them NEAR THE MIDDLE of the sound absorption panels so they remain out of sight. Try not to put it near the corners.

End of the Step-by-Step Procedure

CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve done your own acoustic panels. It only took some time and effort on your part! The acoustic treatment of your bedroom, living room, office, or studio will be much better.

However, you’re not yet out of the woods. Be sure to see if there’s anything lacking or wrong with your work.

If you find the set-up ineffective in the following weeks, it may be time to investigate a little further.

What Materials Will You Need When Setting Up Your DIY Acoustic Panel?

There are some requirements you need to prepare when creating your own panel. Consider this as your menu and checklist before starting on your acoustic panel project!

To Build The Frame:

  • 1″ x 4″ lumber, or
  • Oriented strand board and common board
  • Power saw
  • Power drill
  • Four (4) furring strips
  • Wood glue or spray adhesive

To Soundproof Your Panel:

  • 1-2 pieces of acoustically transparent fabric. Pick a cheaper fabric for the internal frame and a visually pleasing one for the external frame. The latter fabric will show at the front, so pick wisely!
  • Stapler and staples
  • Sound insulation material (fiberglass panels, mineral fiberboard, or denim insulation)
  • Serrated knife (optional – to cut up fiberglass, board, or denim)
  • Marker (optional – to mark where you can cut up the insulation panels)

To Hang It Up:

  • 3-4 pieces of D-rings
  • Heavy-duty picture wire
  • 3-4 thick nails or nuts and bolts to hang your panel on
  • Felt spacers (optional for making air gaps with the frames)

For Your Safety:

  • Face mask
  • Eye goggles
  • Gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Closed-toe shoes

These may sound like a lot, but trust us — they’re all going to be useful. Make one trip to Home Depot and check off everything in this list for your DIY panels!

Remember to always have food and water nearby.

You may not even have to buy some of these requirements. I’m sure you can look around in your workshop, drawers, and closets.

When in doubt, ask family members, neighbors, and friends for supplies. Doing DIY projects doesn’t have to be expensive.

What Else Can You Do Aside From Acoustic Panels?

Maybe acoustic panels won’t cut it. Sure, they have ample acoustic properties, but you can also choose to incorporate other forms of soundproofing into your room.

In addition to your own acoustical panels, you can also consider adding bass traps. A bass trap will absorb low-end frequencies from any sound source.

Acoustic panels absorb sound frequencies in the middle and high range. Cork is also good for soundproofing since it can absorb everything else in between.

If you have the perfect trifecta, then you’re in luck!

Soundproofing Alternatives

Heavy-Duty Rugs and Curtains

These do a lot more in absorbing sound waves than we think. Just make sure you choose the right fabric — like suede and polyester.

Concealing Gaps in Doors and Windows

Concealing gaps also block the sound source from getting into the space. Look into weatherstripping tape and window films.

These soundproofing solutions are easily found in places like Home Depot.

Suggestions from the Internet

If you can’t go over there, then go online. The Internet will have more soundproofing solutions available.

Plush Furniture

Even having plush furniture around the surface area are great additions to blocking sound! Move them against the walls to absorb noise.

Look into what tools you have and what you can do to ABSORB MORE SOUND.

Where to Place DIY Acoustic Panels

Strategic placement with acoustic panels is a must! You can create a good absorber for all music and sound reflections, but it won’t do much if the placing is ineffective.

You want the most bang out of your buck — and labor, too. So, where can you most effectively put your acoustic panels in a home studio or office?

#1 Put Acoustic Panels Where Sound Is Reflected

Look at the room where you’re placing your acoustic panels. Assume a listening position. Where is the sound going to come from? Are there speakers?

See where the sound is going to be reflected and put the first acoustic panels there.

Some reflected sound will travel to the opposite end of the room, while some may bounce around off random surfaces (like ceiling surfaces). Here are some terms to remember when placing your panels.

  • Comb filtering: This happens when DIRECT sound and reflections combine.
  • Standing waves: When the sound BOUNCES OFF several surfaces, a pressure area is created. These standing waves reinforce each other and are quite loud!

Not allowing the opposite wall or any other surface to reflect back sound can stop comb filtering and standing waves from happening.

#2 Put Them In the Corners and Rear Walls

Low-end frequencies get trapped in the corners of your home studio. A bass trap is ideal, but putting an acoustic panel near the corners will absorb enough of the sound or music.

Next, put some of the panels on the rear walls or drywall anchors. When reflected, the sound will scatter and create an ECHO.

In short, you should put an acoustic panel for the following:

  • Four rear walls
  • One back wall
  • Two sidewalls

However, this can still vary depending on the set-up of your room.

I Still Don’t Get It. Why These Walls?

Imagine sound as a ball of energy. When it hits your walls, it does the following:

  • Creates a loud sound
  • Triggers a Domino effect

It bounces from one wall to another, and you can’t stop the loud thuds!

An acoustic panel takes care of business by absorbing the ball’s impact, thus SOFTENING the sound.

If you have enough panels to catch the ball as it bounces around, then you’re free from loud noise! That’s the kind of philosophy you need to think about with your recording studio.

Why is an Acoustic Panel Important?

Why invest in acoustic panels in the first place? Surely, you can find another way to soundproof your rooms.

Unfortunately, this assumption is MISINFORMED.

Acoustic panels are a must for people who take sound absorption seriously — especially if they need it for work! While other soundproofing options can help, acoustic panels are one of the most effective and have the BEST NRC rating.

Let’s dive into some reasons below:

For a Home Studio

You need professional-quality audio when recording in your home studio. That means your audio should be free from echoes and background noise.

However, there are still gaps that sound could go through even if you close all your doors and windows.

Some Things to Consider for Your Home Studio

Weatherstripping tape and window films can help in sealing side, top, and bottom gaps. However, it does nothing about the echoes.

And you can just imagine the stuffiness closing every window and door can result in!

You also have to consider YOUR OWN NOISE. Your voice may carry through the walls — especially if you’re in a shared residence building where there are thin drywall anchors.

It’s even more of a concern if you’re PLAYING INSTRUMENTS. Piano playing is loud enough. What more if you practice your drum cover of a heavy metal song?

You won’t get the perfect sound in one attempt. You’ll be playing for hours on end!

But Can’t I Edit Out Noise?

Yes, you could consider editing all the noise and echoes made from recording and mixing music, but doing so can result in so MANY mistakes.

You could accidentally edit out a vital part of your music or end up with an inconsistent recording!

Acoustic panels can absorb mid to high-range frequencies. It easily remedies any outside noise and echoes. You can conduct noise-free recordings WITHOUT extra effort.

You also get to skip out on complaints from the neighbors, so you may want to seriously consider this solution.

Some shared residence buildings, like apartments and condominiums, have penalties in place for too much disruption. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll get kicked out.

At this point, it’s best to make noise while working on an acoustic panel or two.

For an Office

You also have to consider your own working conditions. Work-from-home set-ups are increasingly popular nowadays.

Memos are replaced by emails. Meetings have become Zoom or Google Meet appointments.

What Will Get in the Way of Your Crucial Business Presentation?

NOISE!! A lot of it, to be exact!

You could have the best set-up, good lighting, and fast internet. However, the noise drowns you out and slows down processes.

You won’t be able to hear much of the meeting itself even if “You’re on MUTE,” as most Zoom users would say.

But Meetings Aren’t a Problem With My Set-Up…

Let’s say you find a way to circumvent the meeting part of the business. It’s not a major factor because you can message or cancel out noise anyway.

Then, you have to consider how you’ll be working. Even if you can thrive in all kinds of environments, the noise will still irritate you and get in the way.

Noise Comes from Different Sources

Here are some situations that could result in inevitable background noise for your work-from-home setting.

  • Maybe you’re unfortunate enough to be near city traffic or busy central areas.
  • Your next-door neighbor might have finished installing a brand new home studio.
  • You could have kids and pets running around.

Acoustic panels can solve all of those problems! Proper soundproofing, sound absorption, and sound blocking can help you finally work in peace.

People usually underestimate how much proper sound set-ups can affect their quality of life. At this point, we hope we’ve convinced you enough to do panels on your own!

In Conclusion

Man drilling wood

Acoustic panels are easy to do! If you don’t have the budget or simply find store-bought ones ineffective, this guide can help you start.

Nothing is stopping you from pursuing the DIY option. With enough wood, tools, insulation, fabric, and some effort, you can make your own sound absorbers today!

After you prepare the materials, it shouldn’t take more than a day or two to complete. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to speed things along.


Changelog:

July 8, 2021 – removed affiliate links, updated external links

June 30, 2021 – added changelog, updated title and featured image, fixed article format, updated internal linking, optimized content

About the Author

andrea_adams

Andrea has always been bombarded by the hustle and bustle outside her home. Living in the city doesn’t get any quieter. The never ending noise from construction, traffic, and dogs barking on the streets day in and day out drove Andrea to a breaking point.

For 3 years, Andrea committed herself to studying DIY hacks, performing soundproofing experiments, and installing noise-free solutions. Now, she lives a quiet life free of the stress from noisy environments.

She hopes to share this knowledge so that others don’t have to endure the noise reigning in their ears and live a peaceful, stress-free life.