Acoustic foam is a material used for soundproofing rooms, especially studios. It allows for the production of high-quality sounds by enabling proper and even dispersal of sound. But will this foam degrade after you install it?
Acoustic foam does degrade over time. This degradation is caused by several factors, with the most common being poor hygiene practices and prolonged use. Typically, acoustic foam will start to show signs of degradation after five years of use.
The following explains how acoustic foam degrades, the factors that cause its degradation, the signs of acoustic foam degradation, and how to prevent its degradation.
Also read: Will Acoustic Foam Soundproof A Room?
Does Acoustic Foam Degrade Over Time?
Acoustic foam does degrade about five to seven years after installation. Factors that lead to its degradation include prolonged use and exposure to external substances such as water and elements.
Like all other materials, the use of acoustic foam is only viable for a certain amount of time. Therefore, when you use it for a long time, it will degrade. Most acoustic foams will begin to show signs of aging after five to seven years of use.
Acoustic foam relies on an open cell structure to capture and disperse sound energy. Moreover, it can also capture other materials like moisture, dust, and stains. Such foreign substances can cause degradation of your acoustic foam.
The foreign substances partially or fully close the open spaces within the foam. The foam will not disperse any sound produced in your acoustic room. Over time, the cell structure will collapse, rendering your acoustic foam unusable.
What Causes Acoustic Foam To Degrade?
Acoustic foam is like a sponge since it has open spaces within its structure that absorb sound energy. The open structure contributes to degradation since it traps foreign material like water and dust within it.
Therefore, the presence of the following substances within the acoustic foam contributes to its degradation:
When water enters your acoustic foam, it spreads around the foam’s structure since it has pores meant to reduce the intensity of sound energy.
Due to this aspect, it becomes very difficult to remove water from the acoustic foam resulting in its degradation. Moreover, the water does not properly evaporate from the foam since it is deeply lodged within the material’s structure.
Just like in the case of water, dust also gets lodged within the acoustic foam structure. Over time, the dust accumulation will block the open cells primarily meant to help with sound energy dispersal. The result is a gradual decline in the foam’s ability to absorb sound.
Biological substances like fungi, bacteria, and viruses can also find their way into your acoustic foam. The foam’s warm and dark environment allows the microorganisms to grow and spread. Consequently, the foam won’t work as efficiently since the open cells will be partially closed.
Acoustic foams are made using polyurethane or melamine. Those made using melamine are Class A fire rated, while polyurethane is not.
Therefore, if your foam is made of polyurethane, you should not use it in places with a lot of heat since they aren’t Class A rated and will degrade quickly.
How To Prevent Your Acoustic Foam From Degrading
Like most things, acoustic foam also requires regular upkeep to ensure it works properly and lasts for a long time. The following are ways of maintaining your acoustic foam:
Acoustic foams collect dust and other debris brought into the room by its users. As such, you should regularly clean them to prevent degradation.
Clean the foam using a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. However, be careful not to clean the acoustic foam using a wet cloth since the extra moisture will become trapped in the foam.
You can also vacuum your acoustic foam using handheld vacuum cleaners. Consider using the BLACK&DECKER Handheld Vacuum (available on Amazon.com). It comes with a pivoting nozzle that will allow you to clean hard-to-reach places like your acoustic foam’s corners.
Please do not place the vacuum directly on the foam. Instead, drag it slightly above the foam. Such caution prevents the vacuum’s suction from ruining the acoustic foam by detaching it from the wall.
Using Protective Coverings
Placing a protective cover on your acoustic foam ensures dust and other debris do not get lodged within the foam’s fabric.
The cover acts like a skin layer that does not allow dust and stains to penetrate it, making it easier to clean. The cover does not affect the foam’s sound energy conversion capabilities.
Reduce Fire Hazards
Most acoustic foams are manufactured using flammable polyurethane foam. Therefore, you should minimize fire hazard risks in rooms containing foam. This includes avoiding smoking or the use of candles in the room. You should also correctly insulate electric cables to prevent potential electrical hazards.
Signs You Should Replace Your Acoustic Foam
Like all materials, the acoustic foam will slowly decline in its effectiveness. Your acoustic foam’s decline will manifest in several ways. Therefore, you should look out for the following occurrences after prolonged use:
- Aging. After about 7 years, the acoustic foam structure will break down. Pieces of the open cells will begin to detach from the foam.
- Reduced air quality. Dust accumulated within the acoustic foam will start filling the room. You will perceive this by feeling the room getting stuffy, and for others, some difficulty breathing.
- Lower sound quality. Once you experience a drop in the sound quality captured in your acoustic room, it is time to consider getting new foam.
- Smelly. When dirt, stains, and organic material get lodged in your acoustic foam for long, it will begin to smell. It may be time to replace your acoustic form.
- Feeling sick. Accumulation of dust and microorganisms like fungi and bacteria in your acoustic foam can make you sick. This is especially true for a room shared by several people. A degraded acoustic foam can contribute to the spread of illnesses like flu.
Acoustic foam does degrade over time. This degradation is caused by:
- Water seeping into the foam.
- Dust accumulation.
- Microorganisms lodging into the acoustic foam.
- Extreme heat for acoustic foams that are not Class A fire rated.
However, one can take measures to ensure an acoustic foam does not degrade as quickly. That includes regularly cleaning your acoustic foam, placing a protective skin on the foam, and taking fire precautions.