It’s a challenge to create the perfect look, feel and sound in a room. It may look great but have bad acoustics. Alternatively, it may sound great but look dated and boring. Acoustic tiles solve both of these problems. Install them directly onto your walls and ceilings to instantly improve both the sound aesthetic quality of your space.
But what are acoustic tiles? How do you use them? Are there different types? And do the benefits really outweigh the costs?
We’re going to answer all of these questions and more in this guide to acoustic tiles. That way, you can make an informed decision about the sound in your space.
Acoustic tiles: What are they? And what do I need to know?
Acoustic tiles are a type of acoustic treatment that are placed on walls and ceilings to mitigate unwanted noise and reduce echo and reverberation in a space. They’re commonly used in commercial buildings such as offices, churches, live music venues, conference rooms, and convention centers. In residential spaces, they’re often used for home theaters, home studios, and other rooms where excellent sound quality is essential.
If you’re looking to eliminate echo in your space or simply design a better-sounding room, this guide has everything you need to know about acoustic tiles.
Benefits of acoustic tiles
Acoustic tiles are the top choice for residential and commercial sound treatment. When used effectively, they reduce the echo and reverberation in open spaces. And for indoor environments such as schools, concert venues, workplaces, and large conference halls, sound quality is critical to a positive guest experience. High-quality tiles can mitigate background noise, even as noise and volume levels continue to increase with large crowds.
There are two types of acoustic tiles, let’s look at the benefits of both:
Acoustic wall tiles - Sound waves bounce off walls in all directions, making it impossible to predict how conversations, music, and other audio will travel throughout the room. But with acoustic wall tiles, you can control exactly how those unwanted sound waves react when they hit the wall. They are especially effective in smaller spaces where sound waves can quickly bounce from one wall to another.
Acoustic ceiling tiles - Ceilings are often the hardest surface in a given room, making them the worst surface for acoustic quality. By replacing standard ceiling tiles with acoustic drop ceiling tiles, you’ll be able to take immediate control of the sound in your space. Not to mention, they won’t occupy any additional space in the room.
Types of acoustic tiles
There are three main types of acoustic tiles: sound-absorbing, sound-diffusing, and sound-blocking. Let's explore each of them in greater detail below.
Absorption is the most common type of acoustic treatment. These treatments are typically made from acoustic foam, fiberglass, wool, and felt. At MIO Culture, we design our acoustic tiles using a felt made from recycled plastic bottles for a blend of both sound absorption and diffusion. They reduce reverberation and scatter directional sound, controlling flutter and slap-back echoes.
Sound-diffusing acoustic tiles produce a similar effect to sound-absorbing tiles but do so in a very different way. Instead of absorbing the sound waves, sound-diffusing tiles scatter and disperse sound waves when they hit the acoustic material. This redirects the sound waves in multiple directions, reducing the intensity of the sound. These are most effective in critical listening environments like studios or live music venues.
As mentioned, MIO acoustic treatments use both absorption and diffusion to improve the sound quality in a space. By utilizing both of these methods, you’ll maximize your ability to dampen noise, increase sound clarity, and improve speech intelligibility.
When sound traveling through ceilings is a concern, sound-blocking acoustic tiles are the solution. Typically, they’re made to fit into existing drop ceiling grids. And they not only reduce the transmission of sound from one room to another but also improve the acoustics in the room.
What are acoustic tiles made from?
Well, that depends on who you ask. Acoustic tiles can me made from a number of different materials such as:
- Felt - effectively reduces noise in all environments where acoustic quality is essential
Mineral fiber - made from recycled paper, perlite (volcanic glass), fiberglass, mineral wool, and binding agents, typically used in office settings
- Fiberglass - often referred to as “glass wool,” typically used in conference rooms and auditoriums
- Wood - block sound transmission and enhance audio quality, common in churches and concert halls
- Perforated metal - absorb sound over a wide range of frequencies, great for retail and hospitality applications
- Acoustic foam - reduce echo and reverberation, commonly used in music and podcasting studios
Check out our full guide to types acoustic materials.
How to use acoustic tiles
Using acoustic tiles is as much art as it is science. And in order to properly optimize the sound quality of your space, you have to know how and where to install them.
So before you start hanging acoustic tiles on your walls and ceilings, start with what you know – the room’s layout and energy. Ask yourself how sound currently travels in the space, how people react to it, and if there are any structural limitations that must be accounted for.
Once you’ve done this, focus your attention on the most active acoustic areas in the space. Install acoustic tiles in these areas so that the sound waves hit here before reaching your ears.
For acoustic wall panels, place them directly in the path of the strongest sound waves. In offices and other commercial spaces, this will likely be 3’ to 6’ off the floor as most of the sound is produced by people standing and speaking. In spaces such as concert halls and churches, place sound-absorbing tiles directly opposite of the speaker, usually on the back or side walls of the large room.
They also need to be added to corners and oddly shaped spaces where sound energy builds up, negatively impacting the overall acoustics.
Unless you’re creating acoustic clouds, it’s very likely that you’ll replace all of the drop ceiling tiles in your space with acoustic versions. As such, the location is less important. Fortunately, most acoustic tiles can be easily installed into existing 15/16” 2’x2’ T-bar drop ceiling grids. Just switch out the regular tiles for the acoustic ones and your sound quality will improve instantly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do acoustic tiles do?
Acoustic tiles reduce echo and reverberation and mitigate unwanted background noise. And with the proper materials and configuration, they can eliminate residual sound at the first point of reflection.
What is the purpose of an acoustic ceiling?
The purpose of an acoustic ceiling is to improve the overall sound quality in a room. Depending on the material and shape of the acoustic ceiling, this is usually achieved via absorption, diffusion, or a combination of the two.
How are acoustic tiles made?
Acoustic tiles are made from a variety of materials and the production process varies between materials. At MIO Culture, we make our acoustic tiles by upcycling recycled plastic bottles into a sound absorbing, non-woven felt, which is then molded into beautifully shaped tiles.
Do the tiles reduce the noise?
Yes, acoustic tiles reduce noise. Depending on your needs, you can configure them to eliminate just the unwanted noises or nearly soundproof the entire space.