Acoustic foam improves the sound quality of an area by absorbing background sounds and echoes. Contrary to popular myth, acoustic foam doesn’t block sound — instead, it has pores that allow original sound through. But does it get dusty over time?
Acoustic foam gets dusty over time due to normal wear and tear. It takes around seven years from the date of manufacture for the acoustic foam to start flaking. The acoustic foam’s ability to absorb sounds decreases as the material disintegrates into dust.
This article will take a closer look at why acoustic form gets dusty over time. I will also give you tips on how to select and care for acoustic foam.
Also read: Does Acoustic Foam Degrade Over Time?
Does Acoustic Foam Get Dusty Over Time?
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Acoustic foam is made from polyurethane, a lightweight polyether or polyester material. It comes in tiles and features various shapes on the surface depending on the purpose of the foam.
The material used to make acoustic foam is firmer and more resistant to dusting than other conventional foam (e.g., the foam you find in pillows).
Acoustic foam gets dusty over time as it breaks up due to prolonged use. Factors such as the acoustic foam’s density and PPI rating affect the rate of acoustic foam fragmentation into dust.
Conventional foam produces small fragments every time something rubs against it.
Acoustic foam, on the other hand, resists disintegration on contact. The soft yet dense material used to manufacture it doesn’t flake due to light abrasion.
Manufacturers create soft yet dense acoustic foam to increase its efficiency against high-frequency and low-frequency sounds.
Despite the durable nature of acoustic foam, the material loosens over time and breaks off as dust. The foam’s density and PPI rating and your maintenance practices affect the longevity of acoustic foam.
Flaking acoustic foam loses its sound absorption capabilities as the material gets worn away. Furthermore, dust from acoustic foam can be a health concern.
Therefore, you must replace acoustic foam as soon as it gets dusty.
How Long Does Acoustic Foam Last?
As I said above, acoustic foam will get dusty over time due to degradation. However, the time it takes for acoustic foam to degrade depends on factors such as maintenance, PPI rating, and firmness. That said, there’s a general period acoustic foam can last.
Acoustic foam can last at least seven years assuming you maintain it properly. Durable and well-maintained autistic foam panels can last for as long as ten years.
The fact that acoustic foam is tougher than conventional foam doesn’t negate the need for proper maintenance. All else equal, a low-density acoustic panel that’s well taken care of will last longer than a neglected high-density acoustic panel.
New acoustic foam will resist light abrasion without flaking, but constant scratching will impact the foam’s integrity over time. Therefore, install the foam panels away from areas where they may experience regular contact.
Additionally, keep the foam panels free from liquids. If the panels come into contact with liquids, you’ll need to act fast to dry them.
Rectifying liquid contamination will likely require contact with the foam, which you should avoid as much as possible to improve foam longevity.
No matter how hard you try, your acoustic foam panels will get dirty, forcing you to clean them up.
The Pores Per Inch (PPI) rating of foam indicates the number of pores or microscopic holes per linear inch.
Acoustic foam has a higher PPI rating than regular foam, increasing the surface area to absorb sound and dissipate it as heat. Regular foam has a lower PPI rating, making it thicker and tighter and, consequently, less suitable for sound absorption.
Cushions have a PPR rating of around 30, while quality acoustic foam panels have PPI ratings of above 80.
The higher the acoustic foam’s PPI rating, the better its sound absorption properties and the longer it’s likely to last.
The PPI rating of an acoustic panel is a reliable indicator of the foam’s quality. PPI ratings of around 80 and above usually indicate durable and efficient acoustic foam panels.
As with most things, quality is directly proportional to price: You’ll likely have to pay more for acoustic foam with a high PPI rating.
On the other hand, since high-quality foam is also very durable, it’ll likely be a while before you consider buying new panels.
Long-lasting acoustic foam can withstand abrasion without crumbling. You may need to install acoustic foam in a tight area that exposes it to constant contact.
Quality acoustic foam handles contact for longer without disintegrating. Nevertheless, I recommend you install acoustic foam away from areas where it’ll be subject to frequent abrasion.
Try flexing the acoustic foam before buying it to confirm its firmness. A durable panel will maintain its form regardless of the pressure exerted.
How To Take Care of Acoustic Foam
If you want acoustic foam to last longer, you need to take care of it. Here’s how:
- Install acoustic foam away from fire hazards and areas it might receive contact.
- Ensure acoustic foam remains clean and free from moisture. Dust accumulation on the foam’s surface can reduce its efficiency and longevity.
- Use a damp cloth to clean acoustic foam regularly. The wet cloth will remove dust without drenching the foam, which can significantly reduce the shelf-life of acoustic foam.
- Vacuum the dust off the panels. Hover the vacuum over the panel, taking care not to suck the foam into the vacuum.
- Isopropyl alcohol is the best remedy for stains on acoustic foam. Use it to gently rub off the stain before using a damp cloth to remove the alcohol’s smell.
- Keep the acoustic foam free from moisture. Moisture affects the foam’s performance and contributes to faster degradation.
Acoustic foam gets dusty over time due to expected wear and tear. The foam degrades gradually and flakes off as dust due to prolonged usage. Well-maintained acoustic foam should last at least seven years. High-quality and well-maintained acoustic foam can last up to ten years.
The quality of acoustic foam depends primarily on its PPI rating. The foam’s quality increases with increased PPI rating.
Keep acoustic foam free from dust, moisture, and contact to increase its longevity.