Do Acoustic Panels Work Both Ways?


In your home, you’ll want to block unwanted outside noise. It’s also important to keep your neighbors from hearing your private conversations. Acoustic panels seem like a quick and easy method for soundproofing a room, but do they work both ways?

Let’s see if acoustic foam reduces noise both coming to and leaving your living space.

Does Soundproof Foam Work Both Ways?

For the most part, soundproof foam can work both ways. It’s important to get foam that is the same texture on both sides for this to be the most effective. However, soundproof foam will never fully block outside noise and is best for controlling internal sound quality.

Acoustic foam can control sound from all sides when it is installed facing inwards and outwards. If you attach the foam to both sides of the wall, you can control how much sound enters a room.

Generally, acoustic foam or acoustic panels are textured on one side so that you can attach them flat to the wall. The open and flexible texture absorbs sound waves. They absorb sound, rather than block it, but you can reduce outside noise by installing them on the interior and exterior sides of the wall.

You’ll need to cover all of the surface area on the wall when reducing outside noise.You can install just a few panels to control interior noise, but fully soundproofing a room requires more coverage.

Acoustic foam isn’t the best soundproofing material. It can reduce some noise, but it is used primarily for controlling reverberations and echoes.

How Does Soundproof Foam Work?

Sound energy tends to bounce off hard surfaces. This can produce a lot of echoes and reverberations in a room. You can use soundproof foam to combat this.

Soundproof foam isn’t used for soundproofing. Soundproofing materials are made to block noise, creating a barrier that sound waves cannot travel through.

Instead of blocking sound, soundproof foam absorbs it. Although this might sound similar, it’s important to understand the difference.

Materials that block sound are hard and dense. They reflect sound waves and don’t allow them to pass through their surface. Materials that absorb sound are light and porous. They absorb sound waves, not letting them bounce around the room as reverberations or echoes.

Acoustic foam absorbs sounds, enhancing the acoustics of a room. They provide a softer surface than walls, removing the annoying echoes in a room.

Often, bigger rooms like gymnasiums need acoustic foam. These have a lot of reverberations that can be fixed with a few acoustic panels. You’ll notice this if you clap your hands in a large, empty room. The sound will bounce off the walls, amplified by the room’s many surfaces.

A few acoustic panels can easily improve the sound quality of a room.

Do Acoustic Panels Keep Sound Out?

Acoustic panels do not block much sound. Since it absorbs sound rather than blocking it, it doesn’t do a great job of reducing outside noise.

It may absorb some sound that enters a room, but it won’t be truly soundproof. After installing acoustic panels in a room, you might still be able to hear your neighbors.

Soundproofing a room requires thick, dense materials. You’ll often need to layer a few materials to fully soundproof a room. An extra layer of drywall will probably be much more effective than acoustic panels.

Even though they aren’t ideal for soundproofing, acoustic panels can still be incredibly useful. They reduce the average reverberation in a room. You almost always see them in large rooms because of this benefit.

Do Acoustic Panels Keep Sound In?

Acoustic panels can reduce the number of sound waves that travel outside a room. They absorb sound waves that reverberate inside, improving the sound quality and deadening noise.

These panels control noise “junk.” After you install them, you’ll find that there is less background noise. For spaces like auditoriums, dance studios, libraries, and hotels, acoustic panels can contain excess sounds. This creates a calmer area with better sound quality.

Soundproof panels limit the amount of reverberation in enclosed areas. With these, you can boost the value of your home. They can create a more private living space, although not completely removing outside noise.

In general, acoustic panels are effective in absorbing sounds. They can create a comfortable acoustic environment, benefiting any living space.

It’s important to remember that acoustic panels won’t block much sound from traveling to and from your apartment.You’ll probably still be able to hear your loud neighbors, but you can have a great area for podcasting.

Final Thoughts

There are many myths about soundproof acoustic panels and soundproof foam. Although the word “soundproof” is in their names, they don’t block many sound waves from entering or leaving a space. If you’re looking to soundproof a room, use alternative methods.

Soundproof foam is effective in improving interior sound quality, though. When you cover the walls in acoustic panels, you can remove unwanted echoes and reverberations. With these, you can make a perfect room for a studio, home theater, or office.

  • Gregory A Seely
  • Gregory A Seely

    Greg is a self taught home renovator and writer for RenoViso. His shares his experiences with Southern Living, Traditional Home and other publications.

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