Best Soundproof Foam Panels (6-Step Guide to Better Acoustics)
What is soundproof foam? Does it block the sound or absorb it? Where to find the best soundproof foam panels? How to install them on your walls?
A friend of mine has his own home studio where we like to spend our time recording. In order to have good sound circulating the room, you need to take care of the acoustics. So, my friend installed a set of soundproof foam panels, and it made all the difference in the world!
As a result of spending a lot of my leisure time in that studio, an idea just popped up in my mind. I decided to try these foam panels.
My plan was to install them in my living room, just behind the TV set. Now, let me explain why I wanted them there. The sound from my TV was almost unbearable, as it was bouncing off the wall behind it and causing echoes and weird sounds. So, by installing these acoustic panels, the surface behind the TV became way softer. That way, the panels started absorbing the sound waves, and now, everything sounds much better when I watch movies and organize movie nights.
|Acoustic Foam Panels||Pattern||Thickness||Dimensions||Panels/Pack|
|Mybecca Acoustic Foam Panels||Wedges||1 inch||12 x 12 inches||12 Panels|
|Foamily “Egg Crate” Acoustic Foam||Pyramid||2.5 inches||12 x 12 inches||8 Panels|
|Soundtrax Pro Acoustic Studio Foam||Maze||2 inches||24 x 12 inches||12 Panels|
|Mybecca Acoustic Bevel Foam Tiles||Plane||2 inches||12 x 12 inches||4 Panels|
|Foamily Large Acoustic Panels||Pyramid||2 inches||48 x 24 inches||2 Panels|
|Izo Soundproofing Foam Panels||Wedges||1 inch||12 x 12 inches||12 Panels|
|Foamily Decorative Foam Panels||Waves||2 inches||12 x 12 inches||6 Panels|
|Foamily Acoustic Studio Foam||Wedges||2 inches||12 x 12 inches||6 Panels|
STEP 1: Learn all you need about soundproof foam
First off, we’ll need to learn everything there is about soundproof foam. Therefore, we’re going to start from scratch.
• What is soundproof foam?
A vast majority of soundproof panels is made out of so-called “acoustic foam”. Usually, this foam has polyurethane-based materials, such as polyether, polyester and extruded melamine. Thanks to these materials, open cells will be formed across the surface and inside the panels.
Once the sound waves penetrate the foam, they will get caught into those small cells. Afterward, the sound waves will spin and bounce until they can make their way out. And, during all the spinning and bouncing, they will most likely lose a significant amount of energy, which leads to them dying more quickly than usual.
Soundproof foams are usually cut in small panels with wedge or pyramid patterns. However, there are larger sheets and other patterns, too. Furthermore, having in mind that the materials used for acoustic panels have a chemical composition, you might notice a chemical odor. But, keep in mind that this odor is not harmful and will dissipate almost immediately. Hence, you can relax and focus on the benefits and the usefulness of this product.
• Does soundproof foam work and how?
Before consulting with my friend and doing thorough research on this topic myself, I thought that the purpose of this foam is to actually block the sound and prevent it from entering or leaving the room.
The only way to completely block the sound from passing through a wall or another object is to prevent it physically from doing such thing. So, there should be something as a barrier. This barrier should be thick and made out of dense materials, preferably in as many layers as possible. You can check the following article for more information on How to Block the Sound.
Back to the panels… If you’ve ever held a soundproof foam panel in your hands, or you just took a closer look at it, I’m sure that you could notice that there is nothing solid or dense about it. In fact, this foam is exceptionally soft, light, and porous. This type of material allows the sound to pass through its porous surface into the panel itself and it finally lets it out on the other side.
Now, this is where the open-celled structure starts doing its magic as it catches the sound inside. The caught sound waves rub against the foam inside the panel, which leads to energy loss. Essentially, the energy of the sound gets absorbed by the soundproof panel, and that’s how eventually the foam takes control of the sounds and makes the room feel a lot quieter.
If you’re feeling curious about this segment, go ahead and learn more about it:
BEST SOUND ABSORBING MATERIALS
STEP 2: Figure out where you want to use soundproof foam panels
Figuring out where to place your acoustic panels is really important. Basically, you can mount them pretty much anywhere you want. It would be reasonable of you to want to cover your walls, doors, or the ceiling to get the perfect acoustics in your room or studio. However, the proper positioning usually depends on where the reflection points are.
If you are trying to set up a listening room or a studio for recordings, make sure to do a couple of tests to figure out where those points are. You can find detailed tutorials online to get some tips on how to do this properly. Usually, placing acoustic foam on your door or walls works fine. Of course, if you are having issues with the neighbors above, placing the panels on the ceiling can also be beneficial.
In the end, the best way to figure it out is through experimentation. Simply take your time and move the panels around until you are perfectly happy with the result. For that reason, it’s recommended to use the velcro strips. With these strips, moving the panels around is not a big issue at all. What’s more, you won’t destroy them after a single installation.
STEP 3: Decide what kind of foam panels you want
Before making a purchase, you need to have a clear picture of the exact characteristics you’re looking for. When I decided to purchase soundproof foam panels for my living room, I found out that there is a wide variety of them on the market. So, what I needed was a well-defined strategy to help me make the right decision.
Without a clear idea of what you’re looking for, you might end up being confused and settle for foam panels that just don’t cut it. You have to make sure that this kind of scenario doesn’t play out.
To be able to do so, you absolutely have to take a few things into consideration while shopping for soundproof foam panels. A good purchase depends on the following:
- Size and quantity
There are panels with different levels of thickness that you can purchase. And, it goes without saying that the thicker the panel is – the better the effect will be. The reason behind this statement was already explained.
If you want to absorb high- to mid-range frequencies, then 1 or 2-inch panels may suffice. On the other hand, you’ll need thicker foam to deal with low-frequency sounds. But before jumping to a conclusion and buying the thickest panels you can find, you might also want to consider where you want to use them.
For instance, thicker foam panels might be a good choice if you have enough room, so you don’t mind them sticking out of the wall. However, if space is at a premium, you might have no choice but to pick a thinner version. That being said, mind the “where” too.
The most common soundproof foam patterns are pyramids and wedges. The first ones are probably more popular, but I personally prefer the later version as I find it more aesthetically pleasing.
If you don’t like the standard look, you can find other patterns too, not to mention plain panels. Also, you don’t have to limit yourself to only one pattern. Just play around and combine them – get in touch with your creative inner self.
You’re probably impatient to find out how patterns affect the performance of the foam panels. It’s pretty simple – they don’t. Hence, the only parameter you should go by is the aesthetics. Additionally, please keep in mind that because of the shape of the pattern, some panels might have spaces that are hard to reach and difficult to clean.
• Noise Reduction (NRC)
NRC stands for “noise reduction coefficient.” It basically represents the rating of how much sound the panels can reduce. Panels with higher NRC ratings will, typically, deaden more sound than those that have lower ratings.
You can find the NRC information in the product description of any reputable brand. Basically, the higher the number, the greater the absorption. Therefore, you should take this parameter into consideration quite seriously as well.
• Size and Quantity
The foam panels are usually sold in packs. But, the number of panels in each pack may vary based on the brand. Typically, the pack can have 6, 12 or 24 panels.
When it comes to the size, each panel will be either 1ft², 2ft² or will have dimensions of 2ft by 4ft. The size of a single panel won’t matter much. However, it will affect the amount of time and work you will need for installation. For example, mounting two larger panels will take you less time than mounting twelve smaller ones.
Before heading out to buy the foam panels, I suggest you take the measurements of the wall, the ceiling or the whole room that you want to soundproof. That will give you a rough idea of the number and size of panels that you’ll have to purchase.
STEP 4: Find a shop that sells acoustic panels
Well, one thing is for sure – the chances of you finding soundproof foam panels in your local store are slim to none. Instead, you could try finding a store near you that specializes in acoustics or technology. But, even then, there are no guarantees.
I would recommend simply buying the soundproof panels online. Not only are you 100% certain to find available stock, but you will probably end up spending less money. In fact, you can get a pack that covers 12 square feet for around 20 dollars online. And. that is simply by opening Amazon and clicking on the first, cheapest link you see.
Another advantage of online shopping is the ability to be picky. Even if you find a store near you that sells acoustic panels, they rarely offer a wide variety of products. Online, however, you can select the quality to price ratio as well as the design details of your panels.
STEP 5: Buy the best soundproof foam panels on the market
Having done thorough research of the panels present on the market, I made a list of some of the best soundproof foam panels that you can find.
1. Mybecca panels
Mybecca is a company that specializes in home furniture products, such as upholstery fabrics, carpets, rugs, pillow inserts, upholstery foams, and, most importantly, acoustic soundproofing foams. Their products are among the best ones on the market, mostly thanks to their durability and high-quality performance. You can read more about Mybecca acoustic foam products in the link.
If you are looking for moderate sound absorption, and you don’t have a need of absolute sound deadening, these 1″-thick wedge panels are going to be just perfect. However, if you want the best results, than pick a thicker, 2″ version. You can use them on walls, ceilings, doors, and windows too. The wedge panels from Mybecca come in 12 tiles, so they will cover a decent amount of surface.
These wedge panels go 1”/2” in depth, and I’d recommend going for that kind of thickness when you’re working with large areas. The reason to it is that by putting thinner foam over a large area, there’s a smaller chance of distortion and muffling sounds. The wedge shape will help trap the noise, while, simultaneously, alleviating flutter echo. In addition, they reduce the unwanted reflections as well and, overall, they offer an amazing sound control that will be perfect for your needs.
All in all, if you opt for the Mybecca wedge panels, you’re in for a treat! These foam panels are ideal for spot-treating production studios, practice rooms, vocal booths, control rooms and similar. What’s more, you can rest assured that the foam won’t deteriorate or fall apart over time. All that is required is the occasional dusting, and that’s as easy as it can get!
As the name of the product states, these foam panels will be more than appropriate for decorating the walls of your home, as they have different shapes and patterns. When it comes to their thickness, you can choose from these two options: 3″ – thick and 2″ – thick foam. Besides the thickness level, what makes them differ from one another are their patterns, too.
So, as far as their looks go, you can choose between the wedge-shaped and the tile-shaped foam. If you feel like it, you might even want to combine these models into one. Basically, no matter which option you go for, essentially, you’re going to have a feast for the eyes!
These panels are incredibly efficient, and they are meant to be used mostly in entertainment areas, such as dancing rooms, recording rooms, vocal booths or theaters. Yes, they are most commonly used for more professional purposes, but you can also use them in your living room, conference room, game room and similar places.
What makes them so aesthetically pleasing are their beveled edges that give an elegant, custom-designed look to almost any décor. In addition, to mix things up, you can place them side by side with wedges and pyramids.
The solid foam base that these panels have provides maximum absorption even in the smallest space. Also, it reduces excess reflections, sound waves, and reverberations as well. So, not only will you have a stunning visual design, but you’ll also have outstanding acoustics! That’s exactly why this is another great purchase.
2. Foamily panels
Another popular brand in this area is Foamily. We put it on our list as a runner-up to Mybecca, as it appears to be extremely reliable with numerous soundproof foam panels to offer.
These foam panels are a great choice for spot treating sound on the walls in your studio or office. No matter if you want to use them for professional or amateur purposes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good they look and how good they’ll make the sound. If you’re just sick and tired of the echo in your place, this is a great choice, which will eliminate echoing throughout any form of media you decide to create.
The main cause of sound reflection are the hard surfaces inside a room. On the other hand, the main cause of reverb are the corners in the room. Finally, any windows or mirrors that you might have will cause additional bouncing of the sound. These panels are a perfect fix for it all, and you can find them in two different thickness levels: 1″-thick and 2″ – thick wedges.
They can be used in recording studios, control rooms, offices, home studios and home entertainment rooms. These foam panels will be perfect for professional acoustic control, sound dampening, acoustic treatment, and noise reduction. And they will serve you nicely in smaller to medium-sized places.
Pyramid-shaped foam provides excellent sound control on walls or ceilings (larger panels may be less appropriate for ceilings). These two Foamily products are something we’d recommend when you need high, not just moderate sound deadening. They will be perfect for this occasion.
These panels will definitely alleviate the noise and echo in the room. You can place them directly next to the speakers and directly behind the listener or microphone for better performance.
When positioned properly, these acoustically-engineered panels will undoubtedly provide the most accurate sound protection per square foot. If you dig the egg crate/pyramid shape, get your panels in one of two different sizes: 12″ x 12″ and 24″ x 48″.
If you end up choosing these panels, I can safely say that you won’t be disappointed.
This one is a rather interesting choice design-wise. They are stylish, decorative, and, on top of that, extremely functional! They are designed to form a large wave on the surface you’re looking to soundproof. As such, these panels will be a great addition to your decor.
All in all, with this purchase, you will get a modern design that looks incredibly appealing while providing moderate sound deadening. You can finally say goodbye to the echoes and sound bouncing with these 2″-thick waves manufactured by Foamily.
3. A couple of alternatives
Everyone likes to have options and choices. So, in order to expand your horizons, we have two more brands for you to consider:
The Izo Foam Panels are used to absorb sound and background noise while preventing echoes. These panels will definitely enhance the sound and speech within your room. Also, they are going to be a great choice if what you’re looking for is moderate sound deadening.
They come in different color combinations, so you can easily match them according to your needs.
These panels from NexTape will help you get the job done with ease. They offer sound absorption in the mid and high-frequency range. With just a bit of this treatment, you’ll get one step closer to cleaning up your sound issues. All in all, buying these panels will be a good choice, as they’ll grant you a solid performance and you can get them for at a very affordable price.
All right guys, there you have it! We gave you our thoughts on some of the best soundproof foam panels on the market. You have plenty of options to choose from. Once you make that choice, consult our installation guide here below, for the effortless and time-saving installation hacks.
STEP 6: Install your Soundproof Foam Panels
One thing most people don’t realize is that you have to be careful while installing these foam panels. If you do it without any knowledge, you might end up damaging the wall. The most common mistake people make is just trying to spray the panels with glue and stick them to the wall. That is very likely to damage your wall, and it might even cause significant material damage. The same pretty much goes for nailing or stapling the panels to your walls.
And, of course, your goal is to soundproof your room without destroying your walls. Thankfully, this is not that difficult. Simply follow the guide below to avoid any property damage.
• Step 1: Plan it out
The very first thing you want to do is to make a plan and figure out how you want to arrange these panels. If you just start throwing them on the wall, you might end up having to redo the entire thing. Do your measurements and figure out exactly how to arrange the panels for the optimal results. I would recommend using a notebook to draw a “map” of your wall. Of course, you can always draw on the wall itself and follow your own instructions.
• Step 2: Glue the Panels to Cardboard
If you spray adhesive to the panels and stick them to the wall, removing them will be a hellish experience. The adhesive will take chunks of the wall off, and your foam will be ruined. Instead, you can take a cardboard panel and mount the panels on it. Then, after letting the adhesive dry, you can cut the excess material off.
You can skip this step if you don’t plan to cover large areas. If you only want to mount a few panels here and there, you can do it directly.
• Step 3: Install the Cardboard Panels on the Wall using Velcro Strips
You can use Command Strips to mount pretty much anything on your wall. What’s more, they should help you avoid any potential damage to both the foam and your walls.
Now, they are incredibly simple to use. All you have to do is remove the strip that covers the adhesive from one side, and press it into the foam panels.
Then, you take the other one and do the same to glue it onto the wall. All that is left to do to mount the panel is to press the tapes that are on these strips.
You can apply these strips to each foam panel. If you are putting them on your ceiling, I would recommend 4 of these strips per panel. And, if you are mounting the panels on your walls, you can just use 2 of them on the top side. Also, since the acoustic panels weigh next to nothing, you can use the smallest strips available.
However, you should bear in mind that this method involves using a lot of strips in the end. So, you might end up having to spend a lot more money than you might expect. That is why I recommend going through step 2 of this guide.
You can save some money by making a single, larger panel and using stronger strips. That way, you might cover your entire wall with just a handful of strips. You simply take the cardboard panel with the acoustic foam on it and put a couple of strips near the top. If you are running short on strips and don’t want to hit the store again, start small. Only use a couple per panel, and, if it falls, add one at a time until the panel is no longer falling down.
Also, you don’t have to worry about any damage happening to the foam from those falls. It is rather tough when it comes to that type of damage. A great thing about using command strips is that removing the foam (if it ever gets to that) is very simple.
So, if you ever plan to move your studio someplace else, you can still use the same foam panels. Also, if you ever accidentally damage some of the panels, these strips make them easier to replace.
Final thoughts on soundproof foam panels
Soundproof foam panels are among the cheapest methods that you can use to soundproof your room. However, let me remind you of something I said at the beginning. These panels can only absorb the sound and echoes and reduce their “bouncing” within the room. They won’t stop the sound from leaving or entering the room.
You should also know that there are some panels that are made of fiberglass (see below), as fiberglass makes a great material for soundproofing as well. The reason behind it is that the friction between the fibers and the air results in the loss of a significant amount of sound energy. However, sticking to foam panels will result in easier installation and a far cheaper price as well!
So, no matter if you want to soundproof your living room in order to optimize the sounds coming from your TV, or if you’re looking to soundproof your studio, you’re now ready to go panel shopping. If you get the right acoustic foam panels, you will surely notice the difference they make!
Consider all the key features I mentioned and prepare for this easy chore that won’t take you a long time, but it will certainly leave you satisfied with the acoustics of your studio or room.
• What Is the Difference Between Soundproof Foam and Fiberglass Panels?
If you try digging around online to find the best way to set up your acoustics, you will run into this question. After all, you have an option to go with the acoustic foam, or, you can go with fiberglass panels. The fact is that foam panels are better at absorbing sound. However, fiberglass offers superior sound blocking in comparison to acoustic foam.
Fiberglass is especially useful when it comes to low-frequency sounds. However, it is not perfect. Namely, installing fiberglass can be more time-consuming, not to mention that it is much more expensive than acoustic foam. So, only go with fiberglass if you are willing to spend some time and resources.
Basically, if your goal is to reduce echo and improve the overall sound environment in your home, I would recommend you choose acoustic foam. It is effective, significantly cheaper, and incredibly simple to work with. Though, if you have a problem with external noise that you want to block, I would recommend you install fiberglass panels instead.
• Will They Block The Sound of Drums?
One of the important questions a lot of parents ask us is if acoustic foam can help control the levels of noise while their young musicians are practicing the drums. After all, not everyone enjoys listening to drums. And the answer is – somewhat.
Acoustic foam panels will help out to a degree. Namely, they can absorb some of the echoes the drums make. And it is the echo of the drums that makes them unbearably loud. So from this perspective, the foam does help. On the other hand, as it was said many times, foam panels don’t offer much help when it comes to blocking the sound from leaving the room.
Bear in mind; the foam panels will mostly help someone – the drummer. The soft material of the foam is not best at stopping the sound. However, it offers excellent sound absorption, and will significantly reduce the reverberation inside the room.
Of course, there are other things you can try to do to minimize the noise. At least for those not in the room with the drums.
For starters, I would recommend using a door seal. After all, a lot of the sound that leaves the room does so through the door. That makes sense as they are usually not airtight, and tend to be quite thin.
Another common pathway for the noise is the ventilation system. To solve that issue, you can place a magnetic vent barrier over the vent while you are playing the drums. I would also recommend simply keeping the drum set on a heavy duty rug. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to go the extra mile and place some soundproof material under the carpet too. Here are some ideas on how to soundproof a room for drums.