Impaling Clips vs Z Clips for Acoustic Panels

Acoustic panels are valued for providing effective, environment-enhancing sound dampening. Still, they can also add visual appeal to your space, whether you're trying to eliminate auditory distractions in the workplace or protect your neighbors from some overenthusiastic karaoke practice.

Acoustic panels always look better when they "float" on your walls. You can achieve this "no-show" mounting with impaling clips or Z clips.

But is one better than the other?

In this article, we'll compare the two types of acoustic panel mounting hardware to help you determine which mount is better for your sound dampening project.

Impaling Clips

Impaling clips are distinguished by their pronged side and are a fairly standard type of hanging hardware.

These clips' prongs are made by bending small, partial cutouts upward, which creates multiple points acting like nails. They're used to impale the back side of acoustic panels or other wall-mounted items (hence the name). Since the acoustic panel's frame must be impaled, materials like fiberglass are more suitable for this mounting method.

Mounting is accomplished by first screwing the impaling clip into the wall or gluing the flat side in place. Using both attachment methods can make a wall mount even more secure, and you may also want to use some glue on the prongs. Depending on the size and shape of your panel, you’ll likely need two to four impaling clips per panel installation.

Once the impaling clips are affixed to the wall, an acoustic panel is firmly pressed against them to mount it. Although it's an extremely straightforward process, using glue will require drying time and prolong the installation.

Single-Use Considerations

Impaling clips and the acoustic panels installed with them should be considered single use for two reasons:

  • After the panel has been impaled on the clip, you won’t be able to remove and reattach it in the same location without a weaker connection. Impaling clips are similar to nails in that you cannot reuse their holes easily. Even if you’re able to attach the clip in the same location, the mount is much more prone to failure and falling off the wall.
  • The smooth side of the impaling clips is generally mounted to the wall using glue or another strong adhesive. So, removal will likely damage the acoustic panel, wall or both.

If you’re going to use impaling clips, you need to be sure of where you want to mount your panels as the location shouldn’t change.

Z Clips

Z clips are a style of two-piece mounting hardware that uses an item’s own weight to secure its placement. Also known as the “French Cleat Hanging System,” the shape of both pieces resembles a “Z” or lightning bolt.

This profile provides offset notches that interlock with each other and allow both pieces to nest seamlessly. One piece is affixed to the wall (or another mounting surface), while the other is screwed to the back of the panel.

You can use an adhesive when working with Z clips, but it's unnecessary with both sides able to screw into place.

Once both Z clip pieces have been secured, you simply hold up the acoustic panel, slide it down until the clips nest and your Z clip installation is complete. The only extra consideration is leaving enough clearance to maneuver the panel (e.g., 7/16").

It's a simple, pragmatic and effective mounting solution. And if you ever want to remove the panels, you just lift and pull them off the wall.

Mounting Flexibility

Z clips grant you greater flexibility for mounting acoustic panels in two ways:

  • Because the two pieces of the Z clip slide together and rely solely on gravity, you can easily lift up the acoustic panel to remove or rearrange it at any time.
  • Since both Z clip pieces are affixed with screws, you can quickly swap out their locations to reconfigure the panels or fit different mounting hardware.

If changing configurations or temporary mounting is a priority for your acoustic panels, Z clips are your best choice.

Z Bars

Hanging numerous acoustic panels or soundproofing an entire wall is made even easier with Z bars. These are essentially uncut clips, leaving the aluminum extrusion as an elongated piece with the same profile. Z bars allow you to mount multiple panels side-by-side without aligning each panel's individual clips.

Z bars will not only simplify installation with fewer steps but you're guaranteed to keep all of your mounted panels aligned.

Other Z Clip Styles

Z clips and bars are also available with different profiles, achieving the same simplified mounts with shapes that differ from the standard "Z" or lightning bolt. The aluminum extrusion process enables the manufacturing of these profiles and allows for different lengths. Standard measurements include 72" and 144", but custom dimensions are possible.

Alternate Z clip profiles include:

  • Williamsburg – A Z clip featuring a ½” offset
  • XL panel rail – Designed for maximum mount sturdiness and stability
  • Locking panel cleat – Used to prevent theft of or tampering with mounted items; also known as “locking French cleats”

Whatever Z clip profile will best serve your needs, aluminum extrusion makes it possible (and here at Orange Aluminum, we either have it or we can customize your order).

Which is Better—Z Clips or Impaling Clips?

Although both types of hardware will achieve a "no-show" mount, Z clips will generally provide a better hardware solution than impaling clips for mounting acoustic panels. This is because Z clips are:

  • Reusable
  • More secure (i.e., both pieces screwed into place versus impalement)
  • Require fewer installation materials (i.e., impaling clips should use some glue)
  • Less installation work for multiple panels, especially with Z bars

The only instance in which impaling clips provide a better option is if you know—without any doubt—that you're permanently mounting the acoustic panels, and their configuration, placement and quantity won't ever change.

In all other circumstances, you'll be better served with Z clips for acoustic panels.

A to Z (Clip) Aluminum Extrusions with Orange Aluminum

Whatever style of Z clip or cleat hardware suits your needs, you can find it among Orange Aluminum’s stock of over 1000 aluminum extrusion profiles. If nothing within our 1 million pounds of aluminum extrusion inventory meets your project specifications, we can custom manufacture the solution.

If you’re looking to use impaling or Z clips for an acoustic hardware project, contact us today to get started on your next project!

Don't settle for what you can find, let us help you create and source exactly what you need