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What to Consider When Working with Fabric Wrapped Panels

Posted by on 21 Dec 2017

We at RFP are experts at fabric wrapped panels. We are the industry leader in Canada, and have a full dedicated production line to our fabric wrapped panel products. We would like to discuss four critical items to detail when working with fabric wrapped panels. They are fabric width, stitch details and types of foam to use, the type of substrate to be specified and how to fasten these to the wall. By being detailed and addressing these four topics, a successful installation is inevitable.


When completing fabric wrapped panels, almost any material can be used. First inquire if the material meets commercial fire code for vertical application. Once that is confirmed the next question to ask is , “what is the width of the fabric?” A standard sheet of substrate is 48’’x 96’’. Fabric widths vary from 54’’ – 80’’ . When wrapping a panel be advised you will need to lose 1’’ around the outside perimeter of the fabric for gluing and stapling.  A strong suggestion is to not exceed a width of 51’’ overall for a fabric wrapped panel. You can keep the height at 96’’ as you can run the fabric that way but you are limited to the width.


Once you have confirmed the fabric width, it’s now time to discuss how you want the panel to look. There are two things to consider

1) Is there stitching?

2) Are you using foam?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, at this point the decision is based on the intent of the design. The foam acts as a great way to add additional acoustic properties along with keeping a clean consistent look. With foam on the panel you will have a tapered edge, which will dramatically change the look of the panel.

Either way looks great but here’s a secret… if not applying foam, chamfer the edge of the panel so it doesn’t add or tear the material being wrapped.

fabrics wrapped panel with no foam

When using foam , which foam should you use? FIrst thing to confirm is, is this fire rated foam? Once the foam has been confirmed that it meets fire code, the next item to confirm is the density. The rule to apply is as follows, the more dense and firm the foam, the better the acoustical properties will be and the sharper the panel profile will be . This means the panel will look more rigid than soft. We recommend a 2.2 lbs medium dense foam for vertical panel applications. The thickness of the foam can range from ½’’ to 2’’… Anything thicker would be unnecessary.


We have reviewed two critical details, foam and fabric width, but now we need to confirm the substrates. There are many substrates to use such as, plywood, masonite, acoustical board and homasote. They can all work, but first you need to check the building code. We never recommend plywood or homosote, as these will warp. A great product is a fire rated substrate called ply-core. It stays straight and meets commercial fire grades. This can be purchased at specialized suppliers.


At this point we have covered 3 of 4 items you need to consider when working with panels. Now we have a recipe for a fabric wrapped panel. What’s next? Well it’s time to fix it to the wall. You can glue it, which is a terrible idea because what do you do when it needs to come down? Our recommendation is using a z-clip. These are aluminum and fix to the back of the panel and on to the wall. What this does is keeps the panels in a straight line and helps to minimize warping.


Z-clips can be bought at specialty hardware stores such as Lee Valley or you can find an aluminum supplier locally in Toronto, we work with Extruda-Trim. When working with a z-clip you need to account for the reveal, which is the distance between the clip and the back of the panel, naturally there’s going to be a gap. Please think about this before you move forward on your project.

Provide these in your details and you will have a very successful project!


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