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DIY Sound Absorbing Panels for Churches

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru
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There is a good chance your church sanctuary was not built with sound in mind. Or, maybe you rent a gym, warehouse or some other type of building that is not sound-friendly. Either way, sound absorbing panels will definitely improve the sound at your church.

My church once met in a former grocery store. Every surface in the room is hard and flat: drywall, concrete floors and plastic chairs. On top of this, the sanctuary is about twice as long as it is wide, giving it a hall-like effect.

As you can imagine, this made for a sound nightmare.

If you clapped your hands, the sound would continue for about 2-3 seconds. There is also a frequency range in the room that reverberates 6-9dB louder than the rest of the frequency spectrum - feedback breeding grounds if the EQ isn't just right.

Shortly after we moved into this building, I began the journey of making our room sound better. After hours of working to get the EQ just right and days building and hanging sound absorbing panels, the room actually sounded pretty good.

To get your EQ just right, be sure to check out this post: How to Set EQ with iPhone Sound Frequency Analyzer. To learn how to make sound absorbing panels, keep reading.

Disclaimer: Always check your local building and fire codes to make sure these materials meet their standards. If you are using a rented facility, always obtain permission before hanging sound panels.

Want a printable PDF with materials and instructions? Get it here

Materials Needed

Tools Needed

  • Drill/Driver
  • Electric Staple Gun
  • Saw
  • Scissors
  • Hammer
  • Utility Knife

Assembly Instructions

  1. Have Lowe's cut the plywood to the size you want. They charge a small fee, but it is worth it. For example, we made 2' x 2' panels, so each 4' x 8' plywood was cut into 8 squares. Note - the plywood is used as the backing to help the frame keep its shape.
  2. Make a frame for each panel using furring strips, wood screws, and wood glue. Attach the plywood backing with nails.
  3. Cut the mineral wool insulation with utility knife so that it fits inside the wood frame.
  4. Cut the burlap fabric so that you have enough to cover the insulation and pull it around to staple to the back of the frame.
  5. When stapling the fabric to the frame, start by putting one staple in the middle of each side. Then, continue stapling while pulling the fabric so that it is snug, but not too tight.
  6. Attach the picture hanger to the back of the frame and mount on the wall.


How Many Do You Need?

The amount of sound absorption needed is different for every room. ATS Acoustics offers a Free Online Room Acoustics Analysis to help you determine how much acoustic treatment is needed in your room. It analyzes the aspects of the acoustics in your room using the readily available dimensions and surface information you provide.

Cost

I estimate the cost of a 2' x 2' panel to be around $13 (compared to $32 +shipping when you buy them already made). A 2' x 4' panel would be about $26 (compared to $55 + shipping when you buy them already made).

Want a printable PDF with materials and instructions?

Get it here

18 Comments

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18 comments on “DIY Sound Absorbing Panels for Churches”

  1. Love your blog but you should only use flame retardant fabric in this application. Either a spray applied or fabric that is made that way. Code and fire marshall requirements should be met. Flamable wall treatments are a safety issue. I’ve built many sound panels and used commercial ones as well. They do help immensely mid and high range referb and reflection but SAFETY FIRST.

    1. Great point, Paul. I have just updated the post to clarify that fabric should be fire-rated (and also updated the link to ATS Acoustic's fire-rated fabric).

    2. I actually checked with our fire Marshall and they do not have to be. There are fire resistant options available through ATS. They were great to work with!

  2. At my Church, we have a drum booth and the surrounding walls within the booth are hard. I’m not sure the exact material of the wall structure, but should there be absorption panels within the room or just place a few behind the Drummers back?

    1. Hey Kim - You'll definitely want panels behind your drums. And, more than likely you'll want them in the room too. I'd start with the drums and see what kind of difference it makes. If you are happy with the sound after doing that, then you dodged a bullet. 🙂

    2. How do these compare to the Owens Corning panels in sound absorption?

    3. Sound absorption is about the same. The benefit of the Ownes Corning rigid panels is that you don't have to have a frame. So, even though they are more expensive, it may be worth it because it is less work. Simply wrap them in fabric using adhesive spray and you are good to go!

  3. Hey Kade! I’m a drummer at my church but got my start as a sound guy so I’m very wary of how the kit sounds in the room. We recently built a booth with absorption wool filled walls and a plexi front. We don’t have a roof and because of this we get a ton of slap back of the ceiling, basically leaving the cymbals as loud as they were before. What would you recommend for a cheap and easy ceiling for the booth, whether a heavy cloth to drape and staple to it, or something more substantial? Thanks! Thanks for the great posts!

    1. Hey Alec - I have actually never put a top on the drum shield, but I know there are some great options out there. I'd recommend asking on the Worship Leaders + Facebook group to see what others are using.

    1. Hey Pasquale - Best placement depends on a variety of factors, but generally churches opt for what is visually appealing which is definitely important to consider.

      Feel free to email a few pictures of your room and I will provide some feedback on placement.

    1. Hey Patty - I did a bit of online research before choosing ATS Acoustics. I have purchased from them several times over the last 5 years and always a great experience.

    2. Thanks so much for this info! If we wanted to have 4” panels instead of 2”, would the furring strips need to be 4” and would we need just double the insulation?

  4. Hey Kade, at least around the time this video was made, what was the full cost of a 2’ x 2’ panel? Was it actually $13? When I look up the listed materials now, some of them actually cost more then $13.

    1. Hey Jonathan - Costs are still relatively the same. you just have to divide it out by panel. For example, the 2-inch mineral wool panels are 2x4 and come in a pack of 6 for $35. You can make 12 2x2 panels out of this, so each panel has $2.83 worth of mineral wool, plus the cost of shipping and other materials, which will get you to around $13. Hope that helps!

  5. I would like to build 4x8 panels. Would suggest a support bar horizontally? What would you suggest to hang them at this size?

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