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Designing with Baffles


By Grace Henry on October 26th, 2021

There are multiple ways to absorb sound within an open floorplan. Horizontal tiles can hang from the ceiling and prevent sound from traveling across the room. However, there are also vertical design options that can break up a standard ceiling while also limiting how sound travels. These vertical panels are called baffles.

As you develop your sound absorption plans, consider how baffles can add texture to your ceiling while also creating a quiet work environment.  

Decide How Much Coverage You Need

Baffles are traditionally fixed to the ceiling and hang down, not unlike a stalactite in a cave. When you place baffles across your ceiling in an evenly-spaced manner, you can reduce the amount of sound that travels through any space.

The amount of coverage you want on your ceiling determines the number of baffles you will need. Most areas will need 30 to 60 percent coverage from the baffles they use, which is still less than a traditional suspended ceiling.

bedford-institute-of-oceanography-exp-BIO-ecophon-wave-ceilings-baffles-JP (35).jpg
Julian Parkinson

The Ecophon® Solo™ Baffle Wave embellishes the ceiling at Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia, CAN. By reducing excess noise, these baffles create the perfect work environment. Photographed by © Julian Parkinson.

Baffles come in three different sizes. The larger the baffle, the more sound it absorbs. This means you can opt to use several small baffles or a few large ones in your space. For 20,000 cubic feet of space, you will need 250 units of 8″ baffles, but only 115 units of 24″ baffles. This means you can have less coverage with larger baffles without sacrificing sound absorption.

Plan Your Baffle Placement

The type of baffles you invest in and their size will likely be determined by how you place them. Try to map out where you will place your baffles before you set goals for coverage.

Your baffles don’t need to be placed right next to each other. In fact, they perform best when they have room for the sound to bounce off of them. The most effective distance for baffles is 24″ apart.

With the right placement, sound is easily disrupted, which prevents it from traveling long distances. By placing the baffles apart from each other, a sound wave has to travel across multiple panels to move across the room. Additionally, some sound waves will bounce off one baffle and back onto another baffle behind it on the ceiling.

Office interior with High Profile Series Straight Baffle Ceilings.
Wade Griffith

Mercedes Benz Financial Svs Operations Ctr, Fort Worth, TX

The Mercedes Benz Financial Center in Fort Worth, TX uses our High Profile Series™- Straight Baffles to accentuate open spaces and provides a warm ambiance to the showroom. Photographed by © Wade Griffith.

Use Baffles in a Variety of Spaces

Baffles can fit in almost any space. They can add texture to the ceiling of a large atrium without making the area seem smaller. They can also adorn office spaces with standard ceilings without compromising your design aesthetic.

Some designers use multiple baffle sizes to create unique designs. You can alternate between large and small baffles to create a captivating texture or use different baffle layouts to create the impression of waves on the ceiling. Baffles can add to your overall aesthetic while also serving a practical purpose.

A modern office with a wooden ceiling.
Studio 66 LLC

The National Interstate Insurance Headquarters in Richfield, OH uses Tavola™ Divergent Beams and Baffles to create a unique design with elevated acoustics. Photographed by © Studio 66 LLC.

Invest in Quality Sound Control 

Not everyone will pay much attention to the baffles chosen and their placement – this speaks to the beauty of sound absorption. When done correctly, occupants can focus without getting distracted by loud noises or carrying conversations. You can decide whether you want to create a dramatic, eye-catching design or opt for basic baffle placement.

Metal ceiling in Accenture Atlanta office.
Studio 66 LLC

Accenture Atlanta’s open space office uses High Profile Series™- Straight Baffles for ultimate noise control. Photographed by © Studio 66 LLC.

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