Timber acoustic panels are typically more durable than foam or fabric style acoustic panels, but they also require a larger investment. Therefore, one of the first questions a designer should ask is: how much will it cost?
This is a very open-ended question as there are so many variations in material type, design and project situation that create an enormous range of possible costs.
The supply and install cost for timber acoustic panels typically varies between $200/m² and $600/m² but can be over $1000/m² under certain circumstances.
This article aims to help you understand the factors that impact cost:
Factors impacting supply costs:
- Finish and material type
- Panel size and wastage
- Types and sizes (layout or cutting list complexity)
- Fixing systems (including concealed fixings)
- Acoustic backings
- Curved (ceilings curved in section, walls curved in plan)
- Shaped (curves and tapers)
Additional factors only impacting installation costs:
- Site access
- Ceiling height
- Size of area that can be installed in a single run
Finish and Material Type:
This is the single biggest factor impacting the supply cost of acoustic panels.
Most economical are laminate or concept veneer finishes like our Supafinish. These are typically between the low $100s to about $250/m² supply. Fire retardant materials add between $30 and $50 per square metre.
Natural timber veneers with a high quality 2-pack PU finish will be about $100-$300/m² more than this. There is a big range of costs in veneers, and being a more expensive material, wastage has a bigger impact. Fire retardant materials add between $50 and $70 per square metre.
There are various ranges of textured laminates that fall between SUPAFINISH and SUPAVENEER in cost.
Solid colour painted panels in Satin will vary from $250 to $350 per square metre. Solid colours in a high gloss finish are $300 to $380 per square metre, whereas metallics or pearlescent finishes will be $400 to $480 per square metre. Fire retardant materials add $60-$100/m².
Panel Sizes and Wastage:
One of the reasons the above costs are ranges is that panel sizes and material wastage also impact cost. Generally larger panels require less labour to produce and install than many small panels per square metre.
Most materials come in sheets measuring 2400x1200 mm or 3000x1200 mm, so panel sizes within these sizes will minimise resource utilisation and cost.
Layout Complexity (number of different types and sizes of panels):
In addition to wastage, a layout with many different sizes or types of panels will increase the cost of both production and installation.
Where there are many different sizes, every stage of production is slowed down, with installers having to sort through an entire delivery batch to find a single panel.
Fixing Systems (including concealed fixings):
Direct fixings, such as stainless steel screws, colour-matched screws or decal fixings are the most economical, with a supply cost of well under $10/m².
There are a range of concealed fixing options for walls and ceilings, which typically cost about $20/m² more than visible fixings.
Drop in ceiling tiles require no fixings at all and being very easy to install reduce installation cost by as much as $60/m² for a 1200x600 module standard grid.
The framing required behind the panels is usually supplied by the installing ceilings and partition contractor and is included in the installation rates covered later in this blog.
Acoustic panels require an airgap behind them to achieve their acoustic performance. Where the panels cover the whole ceiling, this is created by the cavity above the ceiling.
To achieve the required sound blocking/ transmission control/ building acoustics between rooms, acoustic panels cannot be fitted directly to wall framing, as the sound will leak between rooms; framing the acoustic panels off a plasterboard or concrete block wall is recommended.
Acoustic panels can be utilised as floating feature panels, which maximises acoustic impact while minimising expenditure on panels. Where this is done, each panel will need its own framing and a return to cover the sides of those frames. Supawood can supply these as a kit (branded as Noise Control Kit, or NCK) in a variety of configurations. These vary between $30-60/m² for low, medium, and high kits, or up to around $100/m² for angled ‘sawtooth’ configurations designed to scatter sound as well as absorbing it.
Supawood supplies a high performance black integrated acoustic textile (IAT) as standard on all their acoustic panels. Unlike what some suppliers may provide, this backing is not just a scrim, but achieves significant acoustic performance even in the absence of any additional absorptive insulation. This is highly recommended as it hides services and framing behind the panels and prevents fibre or dust leakage. In addition, being factory applied there is assurance on quality.
Removing the IAT saves about $20/m², and may be required in situations requiring airflow, such as when panels are used to hide smoke exhausts or chill beams. However, this saving needs to be offset against the cost of painting the framing and cavity black.
Note: Do not spray data or electrical cabling, this may invalidate their warranty.
Additional acoustic performance can be achieved through the inclusion of bulk insulation in the air gap behind the panel. This typically costs between $15 and 35 per square metre depending on the insulation utilised.
Panels can be used to create curved surfaces such as ceilings curved in section or walls curved in plan, or a wall curving to meet a ceiling. The method used depends primarily on the radius and impact cost.
Curves with a radius over 20 metres can typically be achieved using standard panels with no meaningful cost premium.
Radii down to around 1500mm will usually be supplied as curvable panels, supplied flat but treated to enable them to bend to the required radius. The extra supply cost required is usually in the region of $40 to $50 per square metre.
Curves with a radius below 1000mm will usually be supplied as a pre-curved panel with framework attached. As well as being much bulkier to transport, the cost premium is significant in the region of $1,000 to $1,800 per panel where each panel is unique.
Projects with large quantities of identical curves can be significantly cheaper, as low as $300 to $500 for small curves like those pictured on the ADFA project.
Curves also impact the installation costs (adding about $30 to $60) through extra challenges in setting out and the cost of curved framing where required. Where a curved ceiling follows the curve of a roof and the framing can be fixed to follow the structural steel, it simplifies set-out and framing.
Panels can be produced in shapes, such as triangles, curves, notches or tapers.
This allows the designer to introduce a feature in the panel joints, create a shaped floating ceiling, or fit into a shaped space. Shaped floating edges are most efficiently produced from the CAD drawings. Where panels butt into a shaped perimeter (internal corner), it is usually most practical and economical for the panels to be cut onsite from full-size or oversize panels as the cut edge will be hidden and measuring a curved existing surface is fraught with opportunities for errors, especially when it has not yet been built when the program requires production to commence.
Factory shaping of panels adds about $100 to $150 per panel.
Timber style acoustic panels are made-to-order and there are set-up costs. This means very small quantities can be much more expensive per square metre, with the price dropping as the size of the job increases through reduced set-ups.
Installation is also typically cheaper on larger volumes, particularly where they are large areas that only require a single set-out.
A typical cost to supply framing and install panelling is in the region of $150/m². This is impacted by the job complexity and the factors mentioned above and can vary between $100/m² and $200/m².
Installation costs are also impacted by factors such as:
The time required to get materials onsite, and then to the space where they will be installed can be a big factor, especially if they are being installed in inner-city areas and the materials need to be carried up the stairs or scaffolding or taken up in elevators. Where craning is available and accessible, these additional costs can be avoided. (This is why Supawood packs materials in batches by floor or room.)
High ceilings or walls (e.g. walls or ceilings over 4m above finished floor level) will require special access equipment with additional costs of $30-$60 per square metre.
If the program or a live site requires overtime, weekend or night work installation costs will be higher.