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I want to make an acoustic barrier which include about 6-8 square feet of 1/4" lead. Normally when making such a barrier, it is desirable to solder it together so that there is a tight fit between the panels and no gap where sound can get through. However, in this case I will need to move the barrier to service the equipment it is shielding about once per year. If I solder together the whole barrier it will be very heavy, about 150-200 pounds, and difficult to move.

So, I need some way to connect the lead sheets together tightly, but in a way that they can be easily disconnected into smaller panels that are easily movable. Any ideas how to do this?

(Note that the barrier will not just be lead sheet, it will have a sound absorber like drywall or plywood bonded on both sides to it. However, the absorbers do not need to be tightly connected, only the lead does.)

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In a cross section of a sliding puzzle piece, one will see something akin to tongue and groove on all four sides of the piece. In the image below, there is a partial tongue visible, but your purposes would require full length.

sliding puzzle

If you create a carrier for the lead panel pieces by bonding plywood (drywall is not wear resistant) to the lead and have the plywood extend on two adjacent sides and have the lead extend on the other two, when fitted together, the edges of the lead sheet will make contact. I suggest that having the lead extend without a carrier of its own is contra-indicated, as lead is also not wear resistant and could be more easily damaged when being moved. You would likely want a four layer sandwich.

rough sketch

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  • That would let the pieces fit together. I still worry that hairline gaps could let sound through. Maybe that could be answered by simply caulking the seams between the outer carriers? – Tyler Durden Dec 1 '18 at 12:03
  • The design of staggering the panels will prevent the gaps from being a straight-through path for the sound. It will have to pass through one layer of plywood, then "squeeze through" the hairline gaps. What little energy remains has to get through the second layer of plywood. If you're considering caulking, build the wall without it, then add it after testing, but there's not going to be much energy left, in my opinion. Frequency of the sound also matters. Some will not be damped. – fred_dot_u Dec 1 '18 at 13:20

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