Does Wood Absorb Sound?

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Are you trying to find out if wood is a material that can absorb or block sound? Well, you’re in the right place because we are going to discuss all you need to know below. 

The short answer is that you can use wood to absorb sound but there is a catch. Because wood lacks acoustical properties, it’s not the greatest choice when choosing materials to absorb noises. 

Does Wood Absorb Sound

Firstly, wood is light. Therefore, it is not great at blocking sound. It is generally pretty smooth too and its surface is too dense to absorb sound effectively.

That isn’t to say that wood can not be used as a soundproofing material, however. There are ways to put it to good use but there are certainly better methods to absorb sound.

By itself, wood tends to block sound better than absorbing it. However, if wood has holes throughout the surface, it can become much better at sound absorption.

If a piece of wood is perforated with airspace behind it, certain mid to high-range noises can be effectively dampened and bass sounds can even be absorbed.

To better understand wood’s soundproofing qualities, we need to study its acoustic properties. 

The acoustic properties of wood 

Wood is much better at reflecting sound rather than absorbing it. However, its porous nature can absorb some levels of sound.

Because sound waves are all varying lengths with different frequencies, they travel through the air seamlessly. That is until they come across something that disturbs their frequency of movement such as an obstacle.

Nonetheless, wood is not dense enough to absorb many sounds. This can be remedied somewhat by adding holes, slots, or grooves to the wood.

This kind of wood then becomes a perforated resonator and, therefore, reduces sound effectively. Just enhancing the porous attributes of wood can improve its effectiveness when absorbing sound.

The panels of the wood help fragment soundwaves. The grooves, slots, or holes allow air inside the wood which disrupts the sound waves passing through.

Therefore, an improved sound resonance is the result. On the whole, wood reflects higher frequency sound waves while lower frequencies are absorbed.

Sound-absorbing products made with wood

While wood isn’t the best choice of material for absorbing noises, it can be put to great use in certain products to effectively absorb sound. As with most soundproofing materials, they work best when combined with other materials.

Sound absorbing wood

Some examples of products that use wood to absorb sound are:

  • Slotted panels
  • Acoustic plywood panels
  • Perforated wood acoustic panels
  • Grilles

Slotted panels

These panels are often used on ceilings or walls as a way to reduce certain noises and echoes inside a room. As the name suggests, slots are cut through the panels in different lengths and patterns.

The size and layout of these panels determine how well they can absorb soundwaves.

The Noise Reduction Coefficient (NFC) value of these panels ranges from 0.40 to 0.75 but, as we mentioned, this depends on the slot patterns and installation. 

Acoustic plywood panels

Acoustic plywood panels sometimes have rounded holes cut through them.

Sometimes, these holes can be oblong depending on the manufacturer. Other plywood panels can have grooves or slots cut through one side horizontally and then vertically on the other. And where the grooves intersect, an opening can be found.

The shape and design of these panels can vary. Some are flat, curved, or concave but this depends on their design purpose. Acoustic plywood panels are favored by many homeowners as they can add warmth and coziness to most spaces. 

Perforated wood acoustic panels 

Many wooden panels are either perforated with holes throughout them or partially covered in dents. These holes or dents work to centralize and absorb different soundwaves that are traveling through the wood.

These panels are great at reducing noise levels within a room and they can be installed on walls or even suspended from ceilings. Having NRC values between 0.25 and 0.80, the efficiency of their sound absorption can depend on the hole diameters, patterns, and installation.

Grilles

Grilles are made from wood and are also known as a “grid” or “slatted panels.” These acoustic wood grilles are usually applied to walls and ceilings to effectively reduce the transfer of sounds and echoes.

As with the diameter and pattern of the holes with perforated wooden panels, the spacing between the wooden pieces influences the effectiveness of a grille when reducing soundwaves. 

Different grille depths, materials, and the manner of installation can see the NRC values vary from 0.20 to 0.70. However, for larger rooms, these acoustic wooden grilles are the better option from our list. 

In Summary

If you want to soundproof an area, wood is certainly an adequate choice. But when it comes to absorbing sounds, there are better materials out there. But, by combining wood with porous materials, you can effectively absorb sound or combine with denser products to simply block unwanted soundwaves.