Acoustic Ceiling Panels – Best Ones and How to Install


A common solution for noisy ceilings is to go with something a little better to handle sound than a hard, flat surface. Installing acoustic ceiling panels is one solution to fight this problem. And it is becoming a little easier to get everything installed at an affordable price.

Professionals are recommending these solutions for those who want something effective, and they can appreciate the aesthetic as well. There are some keys to purchasing the right acoustic panel ceiling material, and how to set everything up properly as well to maximize its efficiency.

This article is geared towards helping first-timers figure out how to maximize the effectiveness of acoustic panels on ceilings. While using them on other surfaces in the room also matters, the ceiling can add that extra bit of a difference that sticks out.

Purchasing The Right Panels

A lot of panels advertise themselves as helping with both absorption and diffusion of sound. While it is great to have versatility, most people are looking for a main focus on one or the other.

That is why it is worth going beyond the initial description of a panel, and instead look at what they do best. Finding something that specializes in one or the other is probably going to make a difference that can be audible.

Almost all high-quality ceiling panels are made of some mineral fiber. There are also some fiberglass options, as well as a few other less popular solutions that make sense in some scenarios. Some of the panels use a variety of materials to make sure that it not only provides a soundproofing solution, but also looks like a stylish option as well.

Tips For Placing Acoustic Panels Correctly On Ceilings

For acoustic panels to work on the ceiling (Source), they need to be placed in the right locations for maximal effect. So many people do no get this done correctly, and it ends up not being as effective as it should be.

What people do not realize is that depending on what the room is being used for, different setup situations make the most sense.

Recording Studio

Acoustic ceiling panels recording studio

When a room is being soundproofed because it is meant to be a recording studio (source), the emphasis needs to be on where the main microphone is located.

This is a relatively small area, and all other sounds need to be reduced as much as possible. That means having diffusion near the microphone, and absorption everywhere else.

Recording is all about getting that one sound from that one very tiny amount of area, and then eliminating everything else. It is essential to make sure that a ceiling is treated in some way to help with that.

Most recording studios have an abundance of panels on all surfaces, and going without them is going to leave many people wanting more out of the studio as a whole.

Listening/Meeting Room

Acoustic ceiling panels conference room

If a room is being used mostly for listening, whether it is a Conference/Meeting room or holding speeches, the goal here is to have a little bit of absorption, but a lot of diffusion. This is to make sure that everyone can hear things clearly, and all of the sounds are limited as much as possible.

The goal in a room like this is to make sure the sound is contained, as it makes so much of a difference. Acoustic panels that are hanging from the ceiling to close the square footage a bit can prove to be very beneficial. There are a lot of flat surfaces in an otherwise bare room in most cases, so having the acoustic panels hanging throughout the ceiling will make a huge difference.

It might not seem like sound and a listening or meeting room makes that much of a difference, but it is definitely something that helps companies out significantly if they are hosting someone that is not within the company. Being able to hear everything and really enjoy the sound of the room can make a huge impact on how a place is perceived.

Home Theater

Acoustic ceiling panels home theatre

Think of a home theater set up as a tunnel from the viewers to the screen and speakers. There should be a pretty straight line to maximize the quality of sound, which means that most of the set up is going to be based on diffusion. There is some absorption needed on the ceiling and the floor, but other than that, it is a diffusion type of set up.

Home theaters that have the proper amount of a set up can make a huge difference. There are a lot of people who have high expectations for their home theater, so they pour a lot of money into trying to get everything just right.

Ceiling panels are going to help dictate where the sound goes from of the speakers. So placing the panels directly flat on the ceiling will also help reduces the bass from spreading throught the rest of the house. 

Benifit of Proper Placement For Acoustic Panels on the Ceiling

Think of both the floor and the ceiling of any room as a bit of a balancing act. They are reflecting sounds off of each other at all times, so they both need properly treated to get to hear a real difference.

Ceiling acoustic panels are going to be used to adjust the height of the sound and change things up a bit in that regard. If there are diffusing panels on both the floor and the ceiling, there is sound that is permeating every corner of the room.

If there is an emphasis on absorbing panels on the ceiling or the flooring separately, it can affect the sound and have a bit of an upwards or downwards effect.

The truth of the matter is, ceiling panels are not going to make that big of a difference in a lot of smaller rooms. It is much more beneficial to see what they can do in large areas, especially if there are particularly high and large ceilings.

With that said, small areas that are using ceiling acoustic panels need to have a mixture of absorbing and diffusing qualities. It is all about a balancing act for the most part.

One tip is to avoid adding too much in the way of absorbent panels on the ceiling. This is one way to make the sound feel very squashed, which is hard to explain, but something that leaves people very dissatisfied.

Simply remove a few of them while keeping the ceiling spaced out properly, and see what difference it makes. There is always a way to remove and add panels until there is a right balance overall. Once people find it, let things sit for a while before trying to make any further adjustments later on down the road.

Examining Reflection Points

Every room has certain reflection points where sound will travel and bounce off of the walls or ceiling before being heard by the listener. This is usually something that a lot of people look at with walls, but ceilings have their own reflection points.

It is important to have acoustic panels in these locations, as it will be the sound that is heard the most. There is no reason to cover the entire ceiling without any gaps with acoustic panels in most cases, but having some of the main areas covered will make a significant difference.

If a person having any trouble with reflection points, try to install acoustic panels rather loosely at first. They can then be moved around a bit so that the right areas are covered. People can actually mess around with how sounds are depending on certain locations. It might not be a drastic difference in certain scenarios, but there will be ways to tell the difference.

Major Benefits of Acoustic Ceiling Panel?

Putting in acoustic panels makes a very hard ceiling much more absorbent. This can help out sounds by reducing echo, improving sound quality, and even limiting the amount of sound that goes between the different stories of a building.

Another benefit to using panels is that it can cover up what might look like a ceiling that needs a lot of help and repair. Some people will love the fact that they can get panels in different designs so that they do not have to look at their old ceiling.

Acoustic panels are not extremely cheap, but they are certainly affordable compared to doing a completely new ceiling. So many people are trying to make some changes one way or the other, and this is one of the best ways to do it.

Finally, some people just need to spice up your room a bit and add some character. One way to do that is to go with acoustic panels that are not only effective but stand out from the crowd.

There are different options out there, and they can match the overall look of a room in general. In a lot of ways, they are also a bit like using wall art to cover up walls and add some mass as well. There is no reason to not use this as a way to come up with some creative options while also controlling sound.

Best Acoustic Ceiling Foam Panels on the Market

Shopping for acoustic foam panels that go on the ceiling is part effectiveness, and part how things look. For a lot of people, they do not want to have something that stands out for a bad reason, but they also want to have something that is very effective.

The vast majority are pretty standard foam panels out there are solid colors, and come with some type of texture to it. There is an egg crate set up that a lot of panels half, and there is also wedge foam that is pretty popular.

What companies make the best acoustic foam panels right now? These are a few of the most well-known companies to look out for and see what they offer.

Auralex

This is a very popular option out there for people who care about effectiveness over everything else. They might not have the most beautiful panels out there, but they do a great job of providing studio-quality sound at an affordable price.

They have a few different options, such as acoustic studiofoam, acoustics sonoflat acoustic absorption foam (Amazon) , and the acoustics roominator acoustic absorption kit.

Most of their products are used for more than just the ceiling, as will be the trend with some of the other options below. It really just comes down to finding something that seems to fit with the rest of the setup. Some people might not love the fact that they are more about performance than aesthetic, but it is one way to find some quality improvements in a room.

Foamily

With a specialization in helping to reduce echo and really absorb different types of noises in a room, this company is very affordable. They have options that work in any room out there, and they do a great job of being easy to install and put just about anywhere.

They are not going to win a style awards, but it is something to consider if money is tight. There are a lot of people who have used these in just about every room that they have because they know that if they ultimately take them down, it is not going to be that big of a deal. 

Click here for the Foamily Wave Panels from Amazon!

Soundsulate

This company has an acoustic ceiling tiles and panels available for a bit more of full coverage. This comes in handy for people who are looking to treat an entire room and really kill as much sound as possible.

This might not be a treatment for everyone, but it does come in handy for those who are trying to see a significant difference.

They have a more polished look for them, which some people are really going to be able to get behind. They also seem like something that might be designed more for the office or something like that instead of being placed in a home. They are a bit too sterile for some people, but they are as effective as any other option out there.

Burdurry Acoustic Panels

These are about as basic as they can get, but there is a reason why they are one of the best sellers online. They are extremely affordable, and can be purchased in bulk for an entire room. This means that people can put the different panels in different spots, and everything matches up.

They offer limited color choices just like some of the other budget options, but it is something to keep in mind when trying to find something cheap.

Artistic Options

Finally, there is, of course, the opportunity to go with more artistic options that are being offered by different companies out there. It is pretty exciting to see that so many people are embracing not only offering acoustic panels, but turning them into a bit of an art piece. It is definitely going to allow people to feel a lot more comfortable installing these in homes or at an office.

The only downside is that they might not be as effective as some of the other options out there, but not everyone needs to have studio-quality acoustic panels on their ceiling. They just want to have a little bit of help, while also improving the overall look.

Companies are really starting to get creative with what they can come up with that stands out from the crowd. Try to browse online to see what might be available, and then reach out in some cases.

They are at times created by individuals who do not have that much of a following, and the price might be a little high in some scenarios. Think of it as a blend of an art piece and as something that effectively helps the treatment of the ceiling in general.

Additional Tips, and Final Recommendation on Acoustic Ceiling Panels

It is one thing to put acoustic panels on the ceiling, but there is more to it than just that when it comes to soundproofing in general. In fact, cutting corners is really going to leave a person with a room that is not that much different than in the beginning. Before questioning whether or not acoustic ceiling panels are actually useful, make sure that everything is set up correctly so that a valid judgment can be made.

What most people realize is that at the end of the day, this is going to balance out a room just right. It is important to make sure that other parts of the room are also treated well, but that is usually not too much of a problem. Ceilings are one of the most overlooked aspects in a room, but they should never just be left bare if soundproofing treatment is on the walls.

Try something cheap and light at first, just to see what type of change can be heard. If that is not getting the job done at some point, there is always a way to graduate to something more useful.

All in all, ceilings can play a crucial role in making sure that a room sounds the way it should. Never overlook the importance of even having a little bit of acoustic panel coverage above. It makes a huge difference, especially when it is coupled with some treatment on the floor.

Martin Poirier

For the last number of years, I've Been dedicating a lot of time in soundproofing and helping people be able to soundproof their home, business, and vehicles. I also have a YouTube channel by the same name Soundproof Guide.

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