Acoustic foam has amazing sound-absorbing qualities. Yet installing it can be a hassle, especially if you don’t want to damage your walls using nails. Luckily, we are here to help install acoustic foam panels without damaging walls. But before that, let’s start with the basics and see how acoustic foam works.
Since acoustic foam panels are made out of polyurethane-based materials, they have open cells formed all across their surface and insides. When the sound penetrates the foam, its waves will get caught in the small openings, bouncing until it can make its way out again. During that process, the sound waves will lose most of their energy, allowing them to dissipate much faster.
When installed properly, they will drastically reduce residual sound and improve a room’s sound balance. However, improper installation will make sound bounce back and create even more sound reflections.
Where to Place Acoustic Foam
The placement of your acoustic foam panels is extremely important, especially if you want to make the most out of them.
First, you should decide what kind of effect you want to create. For example, installing foam panels behind your sound system will project the sound away from the wall. By creating a proper combination of sound absorption and diffusion using acoustic panels, you can maintain sound balance and amplify the sound quality.
Generally speaking, most sound engineers recommend that you decide on a listening position and place the foam panels according to it. Doing so allows you to imagine how sound will bounce on the walls and help you decide which walls need foaming the most. Not only that, but you can also draw a map of your wall and use it as a template for designing different setups.
Prepare the Wall for Installing Acoustic Foam
Before you even think about installing your newly purchased acoustic panels, you will need to prepare the surface. Start by cleaning them completely, making sure to remove any adhesive leftovers from previous installations.
If you plan on using command strips, you should also clean them using rubbing alcohol to remove any dust. However, be careful not to use solvent-based or isopropyl alcohol solution as that could damage the paint.
How to Hang Acoustic Foam Without Causing Damage
Your goal is to soundproof your room without destroying the walls. Thankfully, this is not that difficult. Follow the guide below and install your acoustic foam without damaging the walls.
1. Plan Out the Arrangement
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.
2. Glue Your Foam to a Cardboard Panel
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.
3. Use Command Strips to Mount Everything on the Wall
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.
Other Damage-Free Ways to Hang Acoustic Foam
Command hooks work similar to strips, as they use an adhesive to securely stick to the wall. Yet, the biggest difference is that command hooks don’t use velcro and instead rely on a single large hook. Therefore, you can hang pictures, clothes, and other decor items using command hooks.
But what about acoustic foam panels? Since they are made out of soft materials, acoustic foam panels can easily be inserted into hooks. Place them in front of the hooks and just push until you reach the hook’s base. And if the grip is not strong enough, you can place additional command hooks to increase their coverage.
It’s important to mention that it can be hard to detach the panels after using command hooks. Not only that, but you can end up breaking the panel entirely if you are not careful during installation.
Self-adhesive pins are similar to T-pins, but instead of a T-shaped head, they have a flat adhesive bottom. They are usually used to install all types of insulations, making them perfect for acoustic foam panel installations. Some self-adhesive pins even come with a cap that you can use to cover the tip of the pin to prevent injury.
So how do they work? Self-adhesive pins are very similar to command hooks, but instead of a hook, they have a long pin. As a result, all you have to do is remove the bottom cover and press the adhesive bottom onto the wall, holding it for about one minute. Then, insert the foam into the pin until it touches the wall, leaving little to no space in between. Lastly, if the tip of the pin sticks out, you can use a cap to cover it.
Another non-invasive albeit more unusual method is to use a garden lattice. Start by attaching your foam panels to cardboard or directly to the lattice using an adhesive. Then, you can just lean the garden lattice against the wall or use command strips to place it on the wall. However, using a garden lattice will drastically limit your foam placement, making it a last resort type of solution.
The Dos and Don’Ts of Acoustic Foam Installation
Installing your acoustic foam panels can be a daunting task, especially if you lack any experience. From placement to mounting system, you need to know a lot of things about foam panels before you even start installing them. And since that can be overwhelming, the following tips are designed to help you out.
- Planning Is Important: Pay close attention to foam placement, as randomly installing it throughout the room can reduce the overall sound quality.
- Don’t Overdo It: Placing too many acoustic foam panels will make the room sound lifeless, unnatural, and unbalanced.
- Corners Matter: If you can, place a few foam panels across the corners of the room to absorb low-frequency resonances.
- Use Furniture: Furniture can be used to redirect sound and allow you to use less foam than you normally would.
- Avoid Household Cleaners: When preparing your wall, avoid using household cleaners as they could reduce the adhesion of the foam or even damage it. Instead, you should use rubbing alcohol or similar cleaning compounds.
- Start Over: Don’t be afraid to remove your panels and change their position if you don’t like the sound quality. In fact, if you use command strips, you can freely redesign the entire setup without worrying about breaking anything.
Overall, acoustic foam panels are one of the quickest and cheapest ways to transform any ordinary room into a studio. And while professional recording studios may provide a better sound quality, you can get extremely close using basic foam panels. However, installing them properly is essential, as one mistake could ruin the panels or the sound design of the room. As a result, you need to be careful where you place the panels and how you install them.
Nevertheless, with just a bit of attention and knowledge, you can easily enhance the sounding of your room. So why not give acoustic foam panels a try and experience the best sound quality your home has to offer?