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Choose the best fabric for your acoustic panels

Blog | June 13, 2023

There are many options for covering acoustic panels, but whether you are looking to cover some panels for your basement theater or fill an auditorium, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing which material to cover the acoustic panels with.

The fabric’s role

Obviously, the work of absorbing sound in the room is being done by the acoustic panels, so what’s the purpose of the fabric? It’s mostly there to make the room look great, but there is more to it than just choosing an acoustic fabric based on aesthetics alone. Its job is to not get in the way of what the acoustic panel is there to do. You want the sound to pass right through the fabric and into the acoustic material behind it. If the fabric is reflecting the sound back into the room, your acoustic panels aren’t doing a thing.

For example, polyester and polypropylene (a type of olefin) work well on vertical surfaces, but fabric made out of nylon is a poor choice because it absorbs and retains too much moisture. This means that it will start to sag and look terrible as soon as the humidity levels get too high. That is why none of our acoustic textiles are made of nylon.

Ensure safety

A third consideration is flammability. In a lot of applications, a fabric being used on vertical surfaces must pass the ASTM E84 Tunnel Test. Basically the test is determining how much smoke is created when the fabric is burned and how quickly (or sometimes not at all) the fabric burns and how much flame is produced. These are important factors when you think about a room full of people. Is there toxic smoke and the fire spreading too quickly for people to exit the building? Clearly not a good situation.

Environmental and social considerations

Finally, how important to you is the sustainability of the fabric being used? Is it made from recycled material? is it manufactured in a responsible, sustainable way, where workers are paid fairly? Is the country of origin important? Is the quality high enough to look great for many years?

Choose the right fabric

With all of the above in mind, you are now ready for the fun part: Choosing a pattern and a color! Historically, most people choose a plain weave like FR701 or a crepe like Anchorage, but why hold yourself back? We have many quality patterns to choose from. All third party acoustically tested and approved, with aesthetics ranging from simple to large scale, and colors ranging from tons of shades of grays and neutrals, to bright reds and oranges. All our textiles are made in the USA in Guilford, Maine using sustainable manufacturing processes. The majority of our products are made of 100% recycled content. And they all pass E84 testing.