Fabric track options reviewed - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 45 Old 01-11-2010, 11:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I will be using plastic track to install my GOM fabric and the research I have done concludes that there are really only two options out there for acoustical fabric track:

Option 1
Friction lock type track
suppliers:
Fabricmate: http://www.fabricmate.com/StoreManag...nail.asp?cid=6

Pros - easy to install because you simply wedge (pizza cutter) the fabric in the channel, and it's a one piece design.
Cons - a small amount of the plastic track remains visible around the perimeter of your panels, and the competitors claim the fabric has a tendency to come loose from the "teeth" over time.

Option 2
Snap lock type track
suppliers:
Fab trax aka Wall-mate: http://www.cascadeaudio.com/commerci...all_system.htm
snap trak: http://www.soundnice.net/Technical.html

Pros - super strong hold on fabric, allows fabric to be installed right to edge of ceiling / wall with no gap or plastic track visible
Cons - harder to position fabric (they put a small strip of adhesive at the edge to aid in holding the fabric) because it pulls the fabric as it locks it in place.

It seems like most people on the forum use fabricmate, but I would like to hear people recommendations, successes, failures, etc with either of these solutions?

I'm leaning towards Fabricmate because of ease of install, BUT I really don't like how the edge of the track remains visible.

Mark
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post #2 of 45 Old 01-12-2010, 09:39 AM
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I used the friction lock type on parts of my soffit and on my screenwall. It worked great and because my fabric is black and the track is black, you don't even notice the track.

Plus, they have different profiles so you may be able to use the type where the fabric wraps around the edge and is wedged in close to mounting flange. With some planning you may never see any of the edge of the track.

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post #3 of 45 Old 01-12-2010, 01:53 PM
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I just got done using Fabricmate 1" in my 12x12 HT, although I haven't gotten to the point of rolling in the GOM yet.

So far, it was very easy to use, and their customer service has been excellent. In fact, I ordered my GOM from them, too.

I'm using the 1" thick black frame "straight" track (where the fabric comes in from the front side) for my perimeter track, and the amount of track that shows is negligible at ceiling and floor level. The only places I can really see it is where it's next to a door frame, but even then it's nonobtrusive to me.

Another reason why I used Fabricmate was...I just didn't see people writing about the other solutions as much here. And I didn't want to buy several hundred dollars of product that I couldn't get help or advice on from the community here. It seems more people use the Fabricmate track than other vendors, so there's a bigger pool of advice and previous installs here to draw upon.

Good luck in your decision!
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post #4 of 45 Old 01-12-2010, 05:39 PM
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I just finished my theater with Fabricmate. I agree it's somewhat important what color scheme you have for the fabric. I have a very dark black and blue room, and I used the black fabricmate track. No way you can see the track unless you know where to look and shine a flashlight into the joint seam.
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post #5 of 45 Old 01-12-2010, 05:41 PM
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+1 on the ease of using fabricmate.

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post #6 of 45 Old 01-15-2010, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input everyone.
I decided to go the fabricmate route.
I feel it's just simply a more user friendly design, especially for the do-it-yourselfer. Also the intermediate strip they have allows fabric insertion from two sides which saves in material cost.

Kudos to Larry at Fabricmate who was INCREDIBLY helpful and even gave me a discount for being an AVS member. Track arrives on Thursday, will let everyone know if I have any major concerns with install, etc.

Mark
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post #7 of 45 Old 01-16-2010, 12:42 AM
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Larry G. helped me, too, on my GOM order. Very nice guy.

I don't remember getting a discount, though. But I may not have mentioned I was an AVS member. Oh well. I'll know next time

Let us know how it goes!
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post #8 of 45 Old 01-16-2010, 08:24 AM
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Larry helped me, too. He gave me an AVS and a bulk discount (I ordered a lot).

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post #9 of 45 Old 01-16-2010, 08:59 AM
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post #10 of 45 Old 02-23-2011, 02:48 PM
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Just adding to an old conversation. I found this alternative: http://www.fabric-wall.com/default.aspx

If I can get information from them, I'll report it back here.

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post #11 of 45 Old 02-23-2011, 03:11 PM
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I didn't do it because the visible portion is not noticeable to me, but I've read that you can cover the visible edge by inserting a strip of fabric and then gluing it to the side of the track.
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post #12 of 45 Old 02-23-2011, 09:10 PM
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Which of the different types did you guys find look the best?

Like around the edge of the screen wall? If I was making a fabric door for my electric panel which one would look good?

Thinking fabricmate is the way to go....
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post #13 of 45 Old 02-25-2011, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuskerOmaha View Post

Which of the different types did you guys find look the best?

Like around the edge of the screen wall? If I was making a fabric door for my electric panel which one would look good?

Thinking fabricmate is the way to go....

I've been doing a bunch of research on fabric frame track systems. I just ordered fabric (GOM) and some track (1" square edge top loading) from Fabricmate for the underside of my soffits. I'm also bouncing between track or frames for the walls, but I'm still undecided.

I do note that the Wallmate system will give a better edge probably, where the track will not be seen. It's a two piece system, and might be more expensive. I'm having trouble finding the system for DIY, it's mostly sold with a full installation package. Still looking..

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post #14 of 45 Old 05-25-2011, 12:05 AM
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Sorry for bringing up an old thread... But this is a cool find... I was looking for some of this stuff for weeks and couldn't find anything decent. Ill be giving these guys a call!
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post #15 of 45 Old 05-26-2011, 10:29 PM
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Here is a source for DIY WallMate:

http://www.acousticalsurfaces.com/so...s/wallmate.htm

I'm researching the two (the other being Fabricmate) for covering my screen wall and soffit bottoms, and possibly acoustic panels. From the pricing I have at this point, WallMate is ~$0.10 more per ft.

DD
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post #16 of 45 Old 05-26-2011, 10:45 PM
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I ended up with fabricmate under my soffets, which worked great, I wish I had used it in more places. I did custom frames on the walls, a rather huge undertaking. The small black edge that shows with fabricmate track does not look bad, it actually helped define the join between fabric and wood in my installation. I investigated the other options mentioned above, but found pricing was too high unless you were ordering very large quantities.

Mike

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post #17 of 45 Old 05-26-2011, 10:59 PM
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Mike, are your walls 100% fabric covered or did you make "standalone" panels?

I track commonly used with standalone panels?

DD
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post #18 of 45 Old 05-27-2011, 12:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaconDan View Post

Mike, are your walls 100% fabric covered or did you make "standalone" panels?

I track commonly used with standalone panels?

DD

The underside of the soffits are 100% track and fabric. The walls are individual framed panels made of plywood and MDF. I've heard of people using track for individual frames, but once I had the track in hand I did not see a simple way of making removable individual frames with it.

Mike

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post #19 of 45 Old 05-27-2011, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bh285 View Post

I ended up with fabricmate under my soffits...

Mike

That's what I'm planning. Was it a PITA to install, working overhead? I'm also considering making pine frames covered with fabric and finish nailing them to the wood soffit framing.

Got any pictures?

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post #20 of 45 Old 05-27-2011, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petew View Post

Was it a PITA to install, working overhead?
Got y pictures?

Working overhead was a little extra chore, but not bad. I put a few dabs of construction adhesive on the track with 1" brads. Very solid, easy to cut, easy to roll the fabric in. I have pictures, in fact I'm gathering info for a build thread. However, I'll post some images here when I finish my current travels.

Mike

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post #21 of 45 Old 05-30-2011, 11:09 PM
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Here are some pictures of my installation of fabricmate track under my soffits. Sorry about the quality, I just snapped quick pictures with my phone.

This shows the special cuts I made to make a miter joint in the back corner


Here are the two pieces of the corner together showing the angle is a bit less than a 45.


Here is the track installed to the outside wall and against the light tray


And again installed under the soffit to the left of the stage


Here is the left side of the room. It's hard to see the track edge unless there is a bright direct light shining on it as in this photo. The void near the back is for the side surround speaker box which fits up against the ceiling. In the back corner you can see the miter joint where two sections come together. One edge track was used as the joint and two pieces of fabric tucked cleanly into the track. The drywall dust cleaned up easily.


Here is the fabric going in on the other side. I would start by pushing up one side, then the center of the opposite side, then in the middle of each leg, then work my way to the edge with the pizza wheel. I actually made my own installation tool by buying a cheap pizza cutter with a thick blade, then used a grinder to flatten the edge. Worked perfectly.


Once the track was up, it a couple hours to get the fabric up, and I did it without any assistance. One thing I would say is to order a bit more than you need. I ended up with about 6 inches left over in random cuts. I was seriously sweating for a bit until I figured out I had just enough .

Mike

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post #22 of 45 Old 05-31-2011, 03:19 AM
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What fabric did you use? And did you not use any insulation or other material behind/under the fabric?

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post #23 of 45 Old 05-31-2011, 09:13 AM
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My dedicated room is nearing completion and I thought I'd share my experiences with my fabric wall system.

I have a 2-year old kid and plans for more, and wanted a room that could withstand all the abuses kids present, but perform at a level that exceeds a commercial cinema, at an achievable cost. Flat black paint would not be durable enough for my needs. Fabric, however, is easy to replace in pieces, can be touched up, and even vacuumed. It also can cover irregular surfaces and room treatment substrates cleanly.

I also wanted an easy way to access all wiring while maintaining a soundproof envelope. I ended up doing a complete room within a room construction, and had everything built within it. In order to maintain access without designing elaborate access panels, I figured that using a framed skeleton with all fabric covering would work best for me. We left the inner layer of drywall completely raw, and a false soffit as well as 6 false columns were framed directly to drywall (secured to the 1st wall layer which is actually OSB).

Planning for application of the fabric to the walls kept me up many nights, mainly because of the added complexity of covering 3 walls, a false wall with an AT screen, and the ceiling. I chose Fabricmate because the basic installation is very straightforward, the support was wonderful, and pricing was fair. In the end, about 2/3 of the room was done with 1" deep track, the rest with 1/2" track. I erred on the side of an overly deadened room with 1" Linacoustic behind the fabric just above ear height on side and rear walls, front 2/3 of the ceiling, and positioned 8" deep columns at first reflection points, to be filled with fiberglass batting for now. The beauty of the fabric is that I'll be able to measure the room at the end of the project, and I can always swap out treatments or add panels over the surfaces when needed. I could have made it more painless by just hiring an acoustician, but learning and experimentation is part of the fun, right?

But I digress. At first I wanted to tackly the project on my own, but with a busy day job and a deadline (theater is being done concomitantly with home construction), I requested help from a framing and trim guy working on the house. THANK GOOODNESS! The fabric track and application is very easy when you're just doing a wall, but quickly requires some ingenuity when you start working around corners, tricorners, and any "hole" in the panel for lights, outlets, HVAC, etc. There were several areas where I am glad the framing of the soffit and columns was overengineered so that we could cut away when necessary. Now that it's just about done, though, I couldn't be happier with the result. For the most part the look is clean at all joints, fabric remains tight, and can even be adjusted with care.

A few tips.
--Buy the pro install kit. The fabric stuffer and shears are very easy to work with, and the stuffer never cut the fabric (using GOM FR-701).
--I ordered about 15% more track and fabric than my calculated need. This turned out to be barely enough. The more small panels you do, the more waste.
--I found that you need to measure for a minimum of 2" excess fabric on all sides. It is easier to work with 3-4" when you get to trimming away the excess.
--Pay attention to the diagrams provided for cutting track where 2 panels meet at a corner. There are strategic gaps left to make the corner look clean, and if you forget to leave them, it takes 10x as long to fix unless you detach the whole piece of track. This is even more critical at tricorners (and I had many due to columns).
-- Before stuffing fabric, run the stuffing device through the track to open it up a bit. This is especially helpful at corners and intersections where cutting the track compresses and almost seals it closed. Stuff fabric in 2 stages. First I gently stuffed the middle and near-corner edges of the top edge, allowing gravity to hold the rest of the fabric in place. Then I lightly stuffed each side, just enough fabric to hold gentle tension, but still easy to remove. Last, lightly stuff the top and bottom. Then check and make sure all edges are held when you tug on the free edges. Once I confirmed this, I cut the excess away to within 1/4" of the track edge. Lastly I stuffed it all into the track, alternating sides. When doing this, the opposing side can pull free, and the act of stuffing the fabric puts a lot of tension on it. If you cut too much fabric away during the trim stage, you run the risk of yanking out the other side while stuffing. If you cut too little (leaving an inch or more), it's a pain to stuff it all in and have room for a second edge.
--When trimming fabric, leave the corners for last. I found that stuffing all the edges first and leaving a lot of excess at the corners worked best. Then I would slowly trim away at the corner until I had a small radius left. When done this way, it was easily stuffed. Too much and it was very hard to finish a corner. Too little, and you have a small gap in the corner and have to start all over (learned that once!).

Now that it's done, the look is soooooo clean. My kid has already leaned on the walls, and it holds up fine. He even pushed on the fabric covering the false wall and loosened it, and all I needed to do was stuff it right back in, took 10 seconds. Also, I cannot stress enough how non-reflective GOM is. My walls and ceiling are a mix of medium gray, burgundy, and black. I'm using a white AT 2.35:1 screen. With the lights off and projecting a 16:9 image, the unmasked portion of the screen is only barely visible, indicating very little scattered reflected light gets back to the screen. Yet with all the lights on, the room is inviting and doesn't feel too much like a cave. To be fair I did put in a bunch of lights including 9 cans, 6 sconces, step lights and perimeter LED to light up the ceiling and soffit.

If I get the time, I'll take some post-worthy pictures to try and illustrate the look of the room. All in all very excited with the end result. I'll have to let Ed Blumenstock from Fabricmate know how it all went too. We had several conversations, and he cut me the AVS discount which was much appreciated. Good luck to any other future users of this system, I don't think you'll be sorry.
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post #24 of 45 Old 05-31-2011, 10:50 AM
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Matt,

Great advice! Currently I'm planning to only cover my false screen wall and soffit bottoms with fabric and do standalone fabric covered panels on the walls. Did you do any price comparison (materials and labor) of panels vs. 100% fabric before you decided your direction?

Thanks,
DD
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post #25 of 45 Old 05-31-2011, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iusteve View Post

What fabric did you use? And did you not use any insulation or other material behind/under the fabric?

I used GOM, chocolate color for fabric, behind it is 1" semi rigid fiberglass insulation for sound absorption..

The comments by uscmatt99 are similar to my experience, though I left the track very tight, and have not had to re-tension once yet.

Mike

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post #26 of 45 Old 05-31-2011, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaconDan View Post

Matt,

Great advice! Currently I'm planning to only cover my false screen wall and soffit bottoms with fabric and do standalone fabric covered panels on the walls. Did you do any price comparison (materials and labor) of panels vs. 100% fabric before you decided your direction?

Thanks,
DD

DD,

I didn't do any price comparisons, but I remember reading that Fabricmate is one of the more reasonable options. When you throw in the 10% discount, I'm sure it was at least competitive.

I knew I was going to entirely finish the room with fabric, which at least obviated the need to paint anything. I only have one trim piece in the whole room that has a small trough for the rope-LED uplighting. Otherwise no finished wood trim. Actually, I didn't even paint the walls or framing and nothing shows through unless you shine light directly on it. In addition, I bought one 100' roll of 1" Linacoustic via my builder, which was enough for 2 layers on the front wall and 1 layer where needed on side/rear walls and ceiling. For me that was cheaper than individual panels. I only used OC 703 for my superchunk bass traps.

The labor will be more expensive than I initially thought, even with me chipping in on around 30-40% of fabric cutting and application. This is because each corner adds a ton of time for accurately cutting track. Also, we had to cut grooves into some framing to get the soffit bottom fabric to all be flush with my lights. Plus we had a heck of a time getting the soffit bottoms covered since we had to work around the columns, and get the fabric corners to tuck well when the walls were already covered.

For my needs I couldn't go with finished painted drywall since I wanted access to everything and wanted to hide all the absorptive material I used. I'm sure fabric is more expensive up front, and possibly long term as well. But the access, durability, and very low reflectivity of the material made it worth it to me.
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post #27 of 45 Old 06-01-2011, 11:36 PM
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Mike and Matt,

Do you know the maximum width (span) between track segments for Fabricmate? I could not locate the install manual online, but have e-mailed them to request it.

Thanks,
DD
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post #28 of 45 Old 06-02-2011, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaconDan View Post
Mike and Matt,

Do you know the maximum width (span) between track segments for Fabricmate? I could not locate the install manual online, but have e-mailed them to request it.

Thanks,
DD
I think each track segment is 4-5 feet. Near the end of the project we ran low on track, and actually dug through the trash for small scraps to finish up a couple of panels. After installation, it looks just as good as using one piece of track. You just have to align pieces by using a putty knife in the end of each piece of track, then staple in place. My longest span of fabric is probably 15 feet, and it looks seamless.
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post #29 of 45 Old 06-03-2011, 08:39 PM
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Are you referring to the span of fabric between track? If so, I think the limitation is the fabric, not track. The limitation on length for the track is shipping related, shorter to avoid freight charges. However you can butt the ends together cleanly to make it as long as you want, as uscmatt99 suggested. I have runs over 14' under my soffits and you can't see the joints.

Mike

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post #30 of 45 Old 06-04-2011, 08:23 AM
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Thanks Matt and Mike. Mike, yes I was referring to the span of fabric between tracks.

I contacted Ed Blumenstock at Fabricmate Thursday to get pricing info. With FR701 he thought that I could span the entire length of the soffits on the sides of my room (~19'-6") because of their width being 24" (I forget what he stated as the threshold for needing seams).

DD
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