Movable walls vs. room dividers: what’s best for your home?

Movable walls vs. room dividers: what’s best for your home?

Home renovations are exciting. They can also be costly, messy, and time consuming. And if your goal is just to separate the dining and living rooms or add a second bedroom, you don’t need to spend the time or money on costly renovations.

Instead, consider outfitting your home with movable walls or a room divider system. A more design savvy and flexible option than studs and drywall, portable walls offer the same function at a fraction of the cost without having to endure weeks of construction in your home. And best of all, portable wall systems adapt to your changing needs.  

Movable walls vs. room dividers: what’s the difference?

Movable walls are usually floor to ceiling partitions that can transform a single space into several spaces. They are commonly made from wood or glass, allowing you to control just how much privacy you want. When not in use, they can easily be retracted, folded, or slid away to open up the space.

Room dividers
serve the same purpose – to divide an open space into multiple smaller spaces. Unlike movable walls though, these flexible wall systems don’t require traditional construction and can be easily installed in any home in just a few minutes.  

Benefits of movable walls and room dividers

Whether they slide, rotate, fold, or collapse, partitions are designed to provide acoustic and visual privacy, but they offer other benefits too:

Built for all shapes and sizes

Movable walls and room dividers allow you to define space in your home without drywall. You can divide large spaces to make them cozier or more practical, like adding a private office to your bedroom. In smaller spaces such as studios and tiny homes, partitions help to add structure, hide clutter, and maximize square footage. 

Highly customizable and easily adaptable to your needs 

Movable walls and room dividers are meant to be fluid, enabling you to customize them around your needs. Unlike traditional walls, they can be tucked away at a moment’s notice. Using customizable room dividers will allow you to quickly transform one space into several and back to one when needed. 

portable room divider gif

A wall may divide your dining or work area from the noisy living room. But what if you’re hosting a party and want everybody in the same room? What was once impossible with a fixed wall is now an easy option thanks to the flexible wall system

Similarly, both dividers are modular, component based systems, meaning you can build and rearrange them to change the shape or height of the wall as you please. 

More cost-effective

Room dividers are the most cost effective dividing solution. They don’t require any special tools, construction permits, or hired labor. You can separate spaces and create new ones yourself for a fraction of the price of other options. 

Movable walls are generally less expensive than fixed walls, depending on the materials and construction quality. They typically require the installation of tracks and hinges on walls, floors, and ceilings.

Building a permanent wall from scratch generally requires permits and a basic knowledge of construction. Depending on the desired result, this can mean purchasing studs, drywall, hardware, and insulation. These costs in addition to hiring a contractor can add up quickly.

How to determine which type of wall is best for your home

Movable walls and room dividers can suit your needs, but one might be better than the other. Here are some tips to guide you on your journey to spaces that work for you!

Consider your lifestyle

Do you rent or own your home? For renters, you’ll need approval from your landlord before installing a permanent or movable wall. This makes your decision easy: room dividers. You won’t have to worry about losing your deposit and you can take them to your next lease. 

Dividing space might be your idea, but do your spouse, children and pets share this vision? Consider how breaking up a space might affect how everyone uses each room. Share your ideas and get their input. Try laying down some tape where the wall would be so you can get a better feel for how the room will change. The flow of your home’s energy and your family’s daily routines should guide your decision.

Sometimes the need for functionally separating a space is greater than the aesthetic concerns. But be aware that if the space is not comfortable or visually appealing, the benefits of a room divider may be lost. Pick rooms that are large enough to split and consider the width of the room divider and the mechanism required to install it.

Let the room guide your decision. If you have a loft space with incredibly high ceilings, self standing dividers may be a better solution. For lower ceilings and smaller footprints, movable walls might be a better fit. Using the tape method above to help you visualize the effect of dividing the room. 

If you want to create some visual and acoustic privacy, a room divider may be the perfect solution. But if you’re looking to soundproof your creative studio or workspace, nothing short of a permanent wall with proper sound absorption will help you achieve that. Set clear expectations to ensure you are happy with the new space.

Get clear on your vision 

Now that you’ve decided which is best, figure out how it fits into your vision. Ask yourself these questions – Will it be a temporary or permanent wall? Should it blend into the space seamlessly or stand out with vibrant colors? Does it need to be a floor to ceiling partition, or is a half wall enough?

There are plenty more questions you should ask yourself before proceeding, but make sure the vision is clear. Even though these options are flexible, it’s best to get it right the first time. 

Space it out 

Measure twice, cut once – the same goes for interior design. Before dividing up the room, make sure there’s ample space when the room is separated and when it’s open. The goal is to divide space so that it is both functional and inviting.

And when the walls need to be moved, make sure they can be tucked away with enough room to move around, host guests, and place furniture. 

Budget your money

Ultimately, your budget may be the deciding factor on which option you choose. With no construction involved, room dividers are the most affordable option. You can divide spaces in your home with just a few hundred dollars and a few minutes rather than several thousand dollars and weeks of construction.

Ultimately, there are several factors that will determine which wall system is best for your home. And while there are no one-size fits all solutions when it comes to dividing rooms, it’s worthwhile considering all options before you break ground on expensive renovations.