When it comes to pre-manufactured acoustic panels, there are many options. Fabric wrapped, polyester, P.E.E.P, wood fiber, foam, cotton, and metal are all common acoustic panel types, but the fabric wrapped panel (FWP) is by far the most popular and versatile. The panel core, panel fabric, and mounting options are the main components that make up an FWP.
6-7 pounds per cubic foot (PCF) fiberglass board has the highest quality, versatility, acoustical performance and fire rating of any currently offered FWP core. Typical thicknesses are 1” and 2”. Maximum board size is 4’x10’. 5’x10’ are available though less common. It is a standalone core which means it can be fabric wrapped with no framing or spline necessary to create rigidity or crisp ninety-degree corners. Edge profiles can be square, bevel, radius, or miter and resin hardened for high impact areas. 3 PCF fiberglass board is also used as FWP core. It is typically not used as a standalone core because it is too flimsy and the corners roundoff when fabric wrapped. FWP’s made with 3 PCF fiberglass core typically have wood or plastic framing to create rigidity which typically compromises fire rating and are only offered with a square edge profile.
FWP’s are unique because they can be wrapped in just about any panel fabric making the color and pattern choices almost limitless. Panel fabrics DO NOT absorb sound. This is a common misconception. Good acoustical panel fabrics allow sound to pass through into the panel core. Fiberglass core has the highest NRC (noise reduction coefficient) out of any FWP core on the market today. The higher the NRC, the better overall acoustical performance. Open area in panel fabric is key to having a high acoustically performing FWP. There are thousands of panel fabrics on the market today. Guilford of Maine FR701 is by far the most popular, durable, and highest performing fire rated panel fabric. Don’t be fooled by low priced panel fabric knock offs. Quality, performance and fire rating are rarely if ever achieved together in low priced panel fabrics.
FWP’s also have the luxury of having many different mounting options that are DIY friendly. Impaling clips (spike pads) and construction adhesive are the simplest and least expensive mounting option for a 6-7 PCF core FWP. Obviously, this is not a removable option. If a removable mechanical faster is required, Rotofast anchors or Z clips are the way to go. Rotofast anchors for FWP drywall installation are probably the most popular and user-friendly option of the two. FWP Z clip with wall mounted Z bar are the best option when butting up FWP’s side by side to keep tops and bottoms even. As mentioned earlier, FWP’s made with a 3 PCF core require a frame or spline to create rigidity and ninety-degree edges. How the framing is applied dictates the type of mounting. In general, these types of panels are hung like pictures. Caution should be taken when hanging larger heavy panels with picture type mounting hardware.
FWP’s can be manufactured into just about any size up to the maximum core dimensions. Most manufacturers will not manufacturer FWP’s where the length or width is less than 4”. FWP dimensional tolerance is 1/8” which means from the intended dimensions, the finished FWP can vary +/- in size 1/8”. Standard FWP sizes are 2’x4’, 4’x’4’, 4’x8’, and 4’x10’.
Standard FWP’s provide sound absorption and are used in environments such as sanctuaries, conference rooms, offices, and performance spaces. FWP’s are also offered with high impact facing or a mass loaded vinyl composite. High impact FWP’s incorporate an 1/8” thick 18-20 PCF facing laminated to the core. This facing prevents the panel from denting. High impact panels are designed to be used in multi-use gymnasiums or recreation centers and hallways. Barrier FWP’s incorporate mass loaded vinyl sandwiched between two layers of fiberglass. A barrier FWP not only absorbs sound but also blocks sound and are used on walls where mitigation of sound transmission is required.
We’ve just scratched the surface in this blog post. If you want to learn more or have any other questions, call our acoustical solutions professionals at (800) 782-5742.