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Friday Mailbag – Can I Paint My Acoustic Ceiling Tiles

By May 11, 2012No Comments

Hi Mike,

Thanks for hooking us up with your ACDA series. It’s made a huge difference to the sound in my room. I’m wondering if I can paint them and/or the ceiling tiles you sent? Will it have a noticeable effect on the sound or make no difference? Also I’m having trouble hanging some of them because of the overhang from the cavity wall I told you about. Got any recommendations?

Joe, Santa Monica


Hi Joe,

You can not cover any surface of your ceiling panels with paint. Acoustic foams are open or closed cell construction and their porosity is there claim to fame. Without the ability to be exposed to the open air flow or in some rooms, the lack of air flow, they can not perform at their stated rates and levels of absorption if you cover that foam surface using any manner that can restrict air flow. The best cosmetic approach is to use an acoustically transparent fabric to cover the foam with. If you do use fabric, make sure you leave at least a 1″ air space between the foam surface and the fabric. Make sure it is acoustically transparent fabric. What does that mean? It means that there is at least 25% transparency meaning the “holes” between the fabric threads are 25% of the total fabric surface space.

Any box with the acoustic foam placed in it will have an area for attachment to a surface. If you have an overhang, you must acoustically treat the area surrounded by the overhang. This space will be resonating at a certain frequency and can interject that muddled mess into our music. Most of these small, semi enclosed areas “operate” in the frequency range most effecti for vocals. They must not be allowed to exist.



I am a structural engineer as well as a master furniture maker. I design cabinets for low frequency, activated carbon absorbers. Connect with me on Google+

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