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A Buyer's Guide to Room Dividers

When you need to change the layout of your space often or create short-term barriers for privacy within a larger area, room dividers can be a good investment for your company or school. Because they can be easily moved, room dividers offer you more flexibility for layout within your space, letting you transform a classroom into cubicles, or an auditorium into a presentation booth. The ability to pack and store your dividers after use means you can even revert your space back to its original open layout in a short amount of time.

If you're considering purchasing room dividers you have many options to choose from, but not all of them will adequately meet your needs. Each product line or type of design is best suited to a specific set of tasks, so take some time to become familiar with the most common types of dividers before you buy. Find out more about the process of buying new room dividers to get the most out of your budget and your space.


The first thing to ask yourself before buying room dividers is "is this the right product category for me?" Room dividers aren't the only way to partition a room, but they are certainly the most flexible and are often the most cost-effective way to solve layout concerns. If you're not sure whether you need flexible partitions, consider these benefits to find out if room dividers will work for you.

  • Cost efficiency: a full renovation of your office can costs tens of thousands to reposition walls and doors. You'll also need to consider the lost productivity due to disruptions during construction, and the potential for unexpected costs during renovation. Room dividers allow you to add, remove, or reconfigure new work spaces for your employees or create meeting spaces as needed at a fraction of the cost of renovations.
  • Ease of use: Most room dividers are designed to be set up and torn down by one person. This means a classroom teacher, office assistant, or staff member working a trade show alone can maximize their space without taking time away from other employees. It also makes it easier to try out new floor plans by quickly adjusting the dividers. If you don't like the layout, no problem! Reset the divider to its original space in minutes.
  • Custom design options: Each office and classroom has unique needs specific to the professionals who work in those spaces. Fixed partitions or permanent walls are hard to customize, and can't accommodate changes in the use of space over time. Room dividers come in so many styles, it's easy to find one to support, not limit, the way you use your space.
  • Noise reduction: Sometimes you don't want to isolate areas of a room, you just want to cut down on the noise. For areas with high ceilings, wood floors, or lots of talkative people, room dividers with fabric can significantly absorb sound.

Room Divider Styles

While some divers are multi-purpose, others work best for specific primary uses. Consider your needs for a divider system. Will you need to display materials? Reduce noise? Or have storage capacity? These are some of the most common styles of dividers along with their benefits. Depending on your essential uses, you may need to mix and match to create a combination of room dividers that will organize your space effectively.

  • Partitions: These classic room dividers are usually the first thing buyers imagine when they hear the word "dividers". These lightweight, moveable walls can be used for everything from cubicles to presentation areas to meeting spaces and are well suited for office areas where layout will remain the same for longer periods of time. They are available in a range of heights and widths, allowing you to customize your space for any privacy: higher walls and smaller spaces for more intimate conversations or low partitions and more open boundaries to encourage collaboration. Partition systems are usually sold in separate pieces, allowing you to further customize a set of bases, panels, connecters and feet.
  • Freestanding: For very large spaces that need to be separated into smaller working areas, a full-room divider will be an effective choice. These free-standing structures expand from a flat panel into an accordion-style divider that can extend from wall to wall. You can adjust how far you unfold the divider to allow for movement between the spaces. Rolling casters are a standard feature that allows these dividers to be freely opened and easily stored during different periods of use, making them especially versatile for rooms that change use within a single day or week. The typical height is six feet, allowing for optimum noise reduction without interfering with ceiling heights or hanging fixtures
  • Wall mount: In multi-purpose rooms where semi-permanent divisions are needed, but freestanding or partition dividers are not appropriate, a wall mounted partition can organize the room. In classrooms with small children, a banquet room or gymnasium for example, these dividers can be folded out from the wall easily, and then stored quickly for the next meeting or class period without worrying whether visitors in the space will move or knock over the partitions while they are stored.
  • Display: Often presenters and educators need wall space to use for displaying important or relevant materials such as posters, diagrams, or advertising materials. Display partitions include sections of paneling with either fabric, cork, or magnets allowing documents to be displayed in a three dimensional way. For schools and offices hosting demonstration events such as science fairs, art shows, job and resource fairs, and other demonstrations, these can maximize a large room with individual presentation spaces.
  • Dry-erase panels: Some display needs are less static: teachers and presenters may need a surface to write, draw, and diagram their thinking for an audience or collaboration team. Room dividers that incorporate portable dry erase boards have an easy-to-clean and flexible writing surface, perfect for group work or shared notes. In addition to its display properties, these dividers also function like traditional partitions, allowing you to create boundaries for work areas, or with a second side with fabric for display or noise reduction purposes.
  • Noise reduction: In work environments where there is a lot of noise interrupting focused work, partitions designed to reduce sound can drastically improve productivity. Any divider with sound-absorbing fabric will help with this challenge, but classrooms with high-pitched child voices, or offices where data analysis or private client conversations need to take place will benefit from specialty designs that maximize noise reduction.
  • Storage: Not all room dividers include storage, and not all storage solutions will safely divide a room. If you have limited space, or work with large quantities of materials, look for organizers that serve both functions. Bookcases with a finished back work well, and many are available in cubby-style designs that can hold a mix of storage bins and loose materials like books or art supplies. Some dividers will be open on both sides, making access to materials easy from all parts of the room, and others have closed backs, increasing the noise reduction and providing a blank space for functional display or white board uses.

Functional Considerations

In addition to choosing the right style, you also need to consider a few other practical limitations on your room divider purchase. What are the specific room features you need to keep in mind? How often will you be adjusting your layout, and who will handle the set up and storage of your dividers?

Before you buy, make a diagram of your space including specific measurements and ADA requirements for access to doors, hallways, and work spaces. Think about how you want to use the space and what heights of dividers will help you achieve those goals. Ask for other perspectives on what will make the room functional: your workers may understand the noise, storage and space needs better than management.

If you plan to use your dividers in one configuration for a long time, take note of areas near doors, windows and other fixtures that could accommodate bases or brackets to make the partitions semi-permanent. If you'll be adjusting things often, look for lightweight materials that are easy to move with one or two people. Casters on the bases can help for ease of storage and set up. Keep in mind the added weight a white board or display panel will add to the basic partition and how those modifications may impact your moving plans.

Room dividers are the most flexible and versatile way to reconfigure work space without a costly and permanent renovation. Find the divider that works best for your needs and make a decision that will fit both your space and your desired use.