The ultimate guide to room divider types and where to buy them in Australia

Introduction

Room dividers can help you make the most out of the space you already have and they are the most affordable way to divide a space, create a new room, create privacy and in the process reduce noise or just add color and style to a room.

With so many different types of room dividers available from home DIY options to Tackable Classroom Dividers and Operable Walls this guide gives you the essential factors to consider before you buy a room divider, the type of room dividers available, which room divider is perfect for you and where to buy them in Australia.

 

5 key questions to get you started

1. How much soundproofing do you need?

Completely soundproofing comes at a price and it can only be achieved with a floor to ceiling solution like a studded wall or a sliding or folding operable wall. Because these options reduce the flexibility that most people are looking for while significantly increasing the cost, if you only need some degree of soundproofing you should look for other alternatives.

2. What size is the space that needs to be divided?

Creating a small division between two beds in the same room is not the same as dividing a whole conference room or creating a new classroom area. Having in mind how big or how many separate areas you need to create will help you know which room divider or combination of them will be the most effective.

3. How flexible do they have to be?

Different types of room dividers have different benefits and limitations so knowing what hey have to be capable of doing for you is critical. Do you need to be able to set them up in different positions and configurations for different purposes whenever and wherever you want or are you going to use them to create a permanent layout within a space?

Consider if you need a divider that does not need to move from its installed position or change lengths or if an expandable divider that can fold or slide open to different lengths would be more suitable. Would it be helpful if you could also move it into position when needed and then easily remove it and store it away or are you fine with it always operating in the same fixed position within the space?

4. Will this be a long term layout for the room or will you need to reconfigure in the future?

You may achieve the same configuration with different type of room dividers for a similar initial cost, but if your choice is not flexible enough for current and future needs you might end up having to pay future expenses to make alterations or reconfigurations that would have been easily made by a more flexible option without the additional cost.

Investing in a solution that is not flexible enough for your current and future needs might create higher upfront costs and most certainly create future expenses and trouble that could have been avoided.

5. Do you need to let light through?

When planning to divide a room consider if the new areas will have their own light sources. Depending on how you set up your divider and where your windows and light sources are in a room you might accidentally create a very dark area if the divider does not have the ability to let enough light through. Some materials like perspex and acrylic screens are completely transparent, others like polycarbonate let light through while still giving privacy and fabric materials are fully opaque.

Factors to consider what room divider is best for you

Now that you are aware of the basics and have a better idea of what you need you can find the category of room dividers that is a better fit for your needs. As you already know any room divider visually divides a space, but choosing the right one is all about balancing the flexibility and functionality requirements you need within your budget and knowing which room dividers can get the job done is key.

Factor/Type Budget, Shoji Bookshelf & DIY Screens Fixed Japanese & Decorative Room Dividers Freestanding acoustic room dividers Modern & Medical room Dividers Studded walls & Fit Outs Operable Walls
Cost per lineal metre of wall $35 - $235/m Quote needed $250 - $350/m $250 - $350/m $600/m $1200 - $2000/m
Lengths 0.6m - 2m Custom 2.6m - 7.6m 2.6m - 7.6m Custom Custom
Heights 1.5m - 1.8m 1.8m - 2.0m 1.8m - 2.3m 1.9m - 2.3m Custom Custom
Builder required
Flexibility Low Medium High High Low Medium
Mobility after installation Low High High
Reconfigurable (Sliding/Folding) Static or Folding Static or Sliding Folding or Sliding Folding or Sliding Static Folding Sliding
Translucency Mixed
Noise Reduction Low Low Significant Noticeable High High
Ease of Storage
Extra Functionality
Aesthetics
Customizability
Installation Cost Low Medium High High
Reconfiguration Cost Low Medium High
Removal Cost Low Medium High High

Factors

Show More Information On The Above Factors

  • Costs: besides the room divider itself, consider if there will be any additional construction or installation costs. As a reference our cost per lineal metre of wall factor includes installation costs helping you have a better idea of your real upfront cost. Depending on the type of room divider you choose you should also consider potential future costs which are not included in our cost per metre factor such as the cost for reconfiguring, renewing or removing the room divider if you want to change the layout over time. Also consider if your provider is a local manufacturer that will help you get better prices for similar or superior products.
  • Dimensions: A full operable wall option can divide a large space such as a conference room in two, while freestanding mobile panels or workstation cubicles can break up large open plan offices into a lot of different workspaces for individual workers. Not all types of room dividers may be long or high enough for your needs. Check our table to know if there are prebuilt solutions that fit on their own or that you can combine before considering custom built options that might be more expensive.
  • Builder required: a builder can create customised solutions in an incredible way but if a prebuilt and more flexible solution is available maybe having a traditional wall built is not the best option for you. Keep in mind that involving a builder usually means additional labour costs and mostly a long time between measuring, quoting and the actual installation of the product as well as space downtime while the product is installed. Because they are usually integrated to the main structure of the space they also lack the flexibility of freestanding partitions.
  • Flexibility: how permanent will your room divider be? does the room divider give you the ability to modify, reconfigure and shorten or lengthen for different layouts without needing to pay and wait every time you do this?
  • Mobility: part of the flexibility factor is mobility. There are portable room dividers, as well as permanent solutions like studded walls and sliding room dividers. How much flexibility you need in the use of the space will help determine whether or not you need a portable, mobile or permanently positioned solution.
  • Reconfigurable: besides how practical it is, having a reconfigurable room divider is one of the best ways to avoid further investment or space limitations. Consider if you need to set up different configurations like a U shape for a temporary meeting space or a L shape for a waiting area? Do you need to change lengths depending on how much wall you need to create for every occasion?
  • Translucency: if it is important for you to be able to see through the room divider (security, corporate, retail or medical applications) consider one with a transparent material like perspex or acrylic screens. Also consider if the divided area will have its own light source or if it needs to have the ability to take in light from the main space. If the area has enough light a fabric room divider would work, in another case a polycarbonate or semi transparent option where light comes through but privacy is still created might work better.
  • Acoustics: Not all room dividers offer the same amount of acoustics, so this is an important factor to bear in mind, especially if you’re looking for privacy or a quiet space. Room dividers with acoustically engineered panels covered in fabric are usually the best option to dampen sound and if full soundproofing is needed you will have to adopt a floor to ceiling solution that physically interrupts sound from getting in or out of the space.
  • Easy Storage: an extremely practical factor, if your room divider has the flexibility to be removed easily it should have the capacity to be stored away easily and neatly in a small space. Well designed folding or sliding room dividers should have this capacity.
  • Functionality: The function of a room divider is first and foremost to divide a space, but it can also double up as a whiteboard, data wall, pinboard or eve as a structure to hang art frames and photographs. Consider if the material and the room divider allows for the extra functionality you might need.
  • Aesthetics: It’s important for a room divider to not distract the occupiers of a space in a bad way, so it should be either neutral or pleasing to the eye. Depending on the specific type, room dividers come in a range of materials, colors and designs, so review the available options and determine which is best for your purposes.
  • Customizability: Are you dealing with a local manufacturer or are you buying a set in stone product? If you are dealing with a manufacturer and you can’t find an appropriate solution they should be able to customise in a short time frame any pre built option they offer in case you really need it. Resellers or retailers might take longer or might not be capable of fulfilling your request.
  • Where to purchase: Some room dividers can be purchased at your local IKEA, while more specialized ones need to be purchased at a dedicated manufacturer like Portable Partitions. The best way to find out where to buy a room divider is to do an online search and research whether or not the businesses you find deliver to your specific area.
  • DIY options: If you don’t have a large budget or want to make a highly customized room divider, there are several DIY options to choose from, as you’ll see later on in this guide.

Types of room dividers

Who uses them, what they are used for and where to buy them in Australia.

Economy Room Dividers

  • Cost Range: $200
  • Cost per lineal metre: $90/m
  • Common Dimensions: 2.2 x 1.75m
  • Type: Freestanding
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: Yes
  • Allows light through: Yes
  • Noise reduction: No
  • Ease of storage: Yes
  • Functionality: Visual
  • Installation costs: none
  • Reconfiguration costs: none
  • Removal costs: none

 

Who says room dividers have to be a significant investment? Cheap room dividers come in many forms, giving you an affordable way to divide a space, add color and style, or create necessary privacy.

In general, lighter, less permanent options like shoji screens tend to be the cheapest to purchase and install. Moveable options tend to be extremely expensive, but many standalone dividers can provide the potential to divide your property without breaking the bank. For a more corporate solution Portable Partitions offers an extensive collection of economy dividers, while budget brands like IKEA and others can provide style at reasonable prices. If you are willing to be a bit more flexible on style, you might even pick up a bargain on second-hand room dividers on classifieds websites.

Where to buy:

Bookshelf Room Dividers

  • Cost Range: $200
  • Cost per lineal metre: $110/m
  • Common Dimensions: 1.47 x 1.82m
  • Type: Freestanding
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: No
  • Allows light through: 
  • Noise reduction: No
  • Ease of storage: No
  • Functionality: Visual
  • Installation costs: none
  • Reconfiguration costs: none
  • Removal costs: none

In general, most room dividers are effective at dividing space but serve no other purpose. When your small home requires something a little extra, a bookshelf room divider can provide a perfect marriage between form and function. Giving you a storage option that also splits up space, a bookshelf room divider can do a lot for residential rooms.

Bookshelf and storage room dividers are available in many different forms. Dividers can be true bookshelves or more stylish and sculptural. IKEA’s Kallax shelving unit is particularly good at breaking up a space, offering superior storage in a large-scale model.

Where to buy:

Hanging Room Dividers

  • Cost Range: $25
  • Cost per lineal metre: $35/m
  • Common Dimensions: 0.6 – 3m
  • Type: Hanging
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: No
  • Allows light through: Yes
  • Noise reduction: No
  • Ease of storage: Yes
  • Functionality: Visual
  • Installation costs: Low
  • Reconfiguration costs: Low
  • Removal costs: Low

When the floor won’t do, hanging room dividers from the ceiling can be a great way to achieve similar results at a lower price point. Hanging room dividers come in many varieties, including decorative and functional opportunities. Often fabric or other light materials rather than the heavier forms standard dividers take, this alternative is generally best for both style and privacy.

As an option more commonly found within the home rather than in commercial spaces, panel curtains from IKEA create a compelling opportunity. Available in neutral colors, patterns, and an extensive range of lengths, shapes, and widths, there’s an ideal fit for every aesthetic.

DIY Room Dividers

  • Cost Range: $25 – $200
  • Cost per lineal metre: $ –
  • Common Dimensions: 1.5 – 2.0m
  • Type: Custom
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: No
  • Allows light through: Yes
  • Noise reduction: No
  • Ease of storage: Yes
  • Functionality: Visual
  • Installation costs: Low
  • Reconfiguration costs: Low
  • Removal costs: Low

When none of the commercially available room dividers meet your fancy, it may be time to do it yourself. Easy to build with standard materials, like wood, paint, nails, and fabric, you can easily create your own divider without compromising on aesthetic features or price.

If you are prepared to put in the effort, you can get some pretty decent effects like these DIY efforts in Ikea Hackers. If you want to build your own japanese door you can use this guide by Handyman to have step by step instructions.

The web is full of instructions for DIY alternatives, whether you need a bamboo wall to keep prying eyes away from your backyard or something a little sturdier to break up a living room or bedroom. If you want to build your own japana

Decorative Room Dividers and Screens

  • Cost Range: Quote needed
  • Cost per lineal metre: Quote needed
  • Common Dimensions: 1.7 x 2.0m
  • Type: Permanent
  • Builder Required: Yes
  • Reconfigurable: No
  • Allows light through: Yes
  • Noise reduction: No
  • Ease of storage: No
  • Functionality: Visual
  • Installation costs: Medium
  • Reconfiguration costs: Medium
  • Removal costs: Medium

Room dividers are most frequently functional, but decorative varieties are very common, especially for those who favor fashion over simple utility.  For example, sculptural, art-inspired room dividers can showcase your artistic sensibilities while still serving a purpose.

Most traditional room dividers aren’t especially stylish, although Portable Partitions does offer privacy screens that can add sleek modern style to your business.

Where to buy:

Japanese Room Dividers

  • Cost Range: $Quote needed
  • Cost per linear metre: $Quote needed
  • Common Dimensions: 1.7 – 2.0m
  • Type: Permanent
  • Builder Required: Yes
  • Reconfigurable: No
  • Allows light through: Partially
  • Noise reduction: No
  • Ease of storage: No
  • Functionality: Visual
  • Installation costs: Medium
  • Reconfiguration costs: Medium
  • Removal costs: Medium

When elegance and style are on your list of must-haves, a Japanese room divider can be the cultural element your home needs to shine. This is another type of decorative room divider that are also known as Shoji screens, doors or dividers and they are ideal for adding beautiful accents and creative touches to any space. Often printed with traditional patterns or constructed using bamboo and frosted glass, shoji dividers are also easily customizable to your space, providing a gorgeous way to separate space and dress up your property.

Where to buy:

Acoustic Mobile Partitions and Expanding Mobile Walls

  • Cost Range: $1195 – $2720
  • Cost per lineal metre: $288/m – $460/m
  • Common Lengths: 2.6 – 4.3 – 5.9 – 7.6m
  • Common Heights: 1.83 – 2.02 – 2.29m
  • Type: Freestanding mobile
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: Yes
  • Allows light through: No
  • Noise reduction: Significant
  • Ease of storage: Yes
  • Functionality: Visual, Acoustic, Extra
  • Installation Costs: None
  • Reconfiguration Costs: None

Folding and flexible, acoustic mobile partitions and expanding mobile walls from Portable Partitions can transform virtually any space. Available in straight and 360-degree models, the right divider can split up a room while shielding divided spaces from excessive noise.

While standard gray and blue options are available, creating a simple, classic statement in office spaces and other commercial areas, colored and more creative variations can add a little flair to an otherwise uninteresting room. Boasting an even split between function and fashion, an expanding mobile wall can be the practical solution your property deserves.

Where to buy:

Acoustic Privacy Screens

  • Cost Range: $890 – $950
  • Cost per lineal metre: $350/m – 372$/m
  • Common Lengths: 2.55m
  • Common Heights: 1.83 – 2.02m
  • Type: Freestanding mobile
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: Yes
  • Allows light through: No
  • Noise reduction: Significant
  • Ease of storage: Yes
  • Functionality: Visual, Acoustic, Extra
  • Installation Costs: None
  • Reconfiguration Costs: None
  • Removal Costs: None

Smaller, more affordable, and easier to manage than a large acoustic mobile partition, acoustic privacy screens are highly effective at suppressing noise while offering an elegant and temporary solution to room division. With both sliding and folding options, there’s a right fit for any space.

Whether you’re envisioning something sleek and stylish or functional and utilitarian, Portable Partitions has an extensive inventory. Choose between materials like fabric or polycarbonate, heights ranging from 1.83 meters to 2.21 meters, and colors including blue, red, gray, and white to add the definition you’re looking for.

Where to buy:

Modern Room Dividers

  • Cost Range: $1195 – $2720
  • Cost per lineal metre: $288/m – $460/m
  • Common Lengths: 2.6 – 4.3 – 5.9 – 7.6m
  • Common Heights: 1.83 – 2.02 – 2.29m
  • Type: Freestanding mobile
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: Yes
  • Allows light through: Yes
  • Noise reduction: Noticeable
  • Ease of storage: Yes
  • Functionality: Visual, Medical surface
  • Installation Costs: None
  • Reconfiguration Costs: None
  • Removal Costs: None

If your property demands a sleek, sophisticated way to break up a space, modern room dividers may be the best fit for what you have in mind. Modern designs are often minimalistic and simplistic, offering a stark, clean, and state of the art opportunity to embellish your home.

While modern interpretations vary from one designer to another, many options include frosted glass and mirrors.

Where to buy:

Moveable or Operable Walls

  • Cost Range: $Quote needed
  • Cost per lineal metre: $1200/m – $2000/m
  • Common Lengths: 2.1 – 2.9 – 3.8 – 4.6m
  • Common Heights: 2.5 – 3.0 – 3.73m
  • Type: Permanent reconfig.
  • Builder Required: Yes
  • Reconfigurable: Sliding or folding
  • Allows light through: No
  • Noise reduction: Yes
  • Ease of storage: 
  • Functionality: Visual, Acoustic
  • Installation Costs: High
  • Reconfiguration Costs: None
  • Removal Costs: High

More expensive to install and operate than traditional room dividers, moveable walls which are also  referred to as operable walls are an investment in your property than can look great and offer fantastic potential. Able to expand and collapse on an as-needed basis, moveable walls can create a truly flexible and multi-purpose space for a cost between $1,200 and $2,000 per lineal meter.

Operable walls come in many varieties, ranging from sliding glass varieties to accordion doors and more. Due to the permanence of installation, moveable walls can be customised in a way other alternatives can’t. Ideal for hotels, ballrooms, schools, office spaces, and more, this alternative opens up a world of possibilities. There are three basic types of moveable walls:

  • Ceiling Hung and Tracked Operable Wall Systems: If you want a sleek, functional and sound-dampening room divider, ceiling hung and tracked operable wall systems are a great solution. They’re highly customizable, allowing you to choose from a range of fabrics and veneers, and they’re specifically made to fit the dimensions of your space. However, this is a higher cost solution, since it requires the installation of a structural beam, as well as labor to install the system itself.
  • Sliding Room Dividers: Sometimes, a room divider isn’t necessary all of the time. These offer permanently installed yet temporary division solutions that can add style or color to any space, creating a stunning space in your home. While this option is generally more expensive due to the installation demands, it’s still possible to enhance virtually any room with a sliding wall. Sliding room dividers can also be used as a stand-in for a standard door, providing a way to divide a space while limiting disturbances. Raumplus room solutions is a premier provider of sliding room dividers and offers chic designs, as well as custom installations.
  • Wall-Mounted Operable Walls: A less expensive and more flexible room divider, a wall-mounted operable wall can be reconfigured, as well as opened and closed. It requires only minimal installation with a screw at the bottom and top, and it can easily be removed when needed. It’s an excellent office partition, since the acoustic panels can be used as white board panels or data walls. At Portable Partitions, Australia we offer highly cost-effective systems at around $1,000 per lineal meter. There are also large track-mounted soundproof walls from Hufcor and Lotus Doors that are good quality — however, they’re much more expensive, since they require significantly more work to install.

Where to buy:

Studded Walls

  • Cost Range: $ Quote needed
  • Cost per lineal metre: $ Quote needed
  • Common Lengths: Custom
  • Common Heights: Custom
  • Type: Permanent static
  • Builder Required: Yes
  • Reconfigurable: No
  • Allows light through: Custom
  • Noise reduction: Yes
  • Ease of storage: 
  • Functionality: Visual, Acoustic
  • Installation Costs: High
  • Reconfiguration Costs: High
  • Removal Costs: High

You can build a stud partition wall quite quickly and easily if you need to create an additional space in your home without impacting the structure of your home. A studded wall consists of metal studs or a timber frame that’s fastened to the ceiling, walls and floor and then covered with plasterboard. The main advantage of a DIY studded wall is that it’s a relatively low-cost solution that offers functional room division and good sound insulation. However, keep in mind that this type of room divider offers no flexibility. This video from Bunnings offers some practical tips on how to put one up. If you hire a contractor to put in a studded wall, it can cost $600 per lineal meter.

Wooden Room Dividers

  • Cost Range: $200
  • Cost per lineal metre: $90/m
  • Common Dimensions: 2.2 x 1.75m
  • Type: Freestanding
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: Yes
  • Allows light through: Yes
  • Noise reduction: No
  • Ease of storage: Yes
  • Functionality: Visual
  • Installation costs: none
  • Reconfiguration costs: none
  • Removal costs: none

Classic and attractive, wooden room dividers can be a perfect fit for any space. In general, wood is an affordable material that can be incorporated with any design or style, making it easy to find a fit for your existing decor. Shoji screens, as highlighted above, make for very effective wooden room dividers, as do bookcases and shelving units.

With the options available in wood, including different colours, stains, and painting possibilities, wooden room dividers can be effective in both residential and commercial applications.

Where to buy:

Modular Workstations

  • Cost Range: From $895
  • Cost per lineal metre: 
  • Common Lengths: 0.9 to 1.83m
  • Common Heights: 1.2 to 1.83m
  • Type: Freestanding
  • Builder Required: No
  • Reconfigurable: Yes
  • Allows light through: Yes
  • Noise reduction: Noticeable
  • Ease of storage: Yes
  • Functionality: Visual
  • Installation costs: none
  • Reconfiguration costs: none
  • Removal costs: none

Although many companies have used open-plan workspaces in the past, a lot of employees prefer the privacy of their own spaces where they can work without being disturbed. We offer modular, cost-effective workspaces that can easily be installed without the need to rebuild your entire office space. Better yet — they’re dispatched the day after ordering, so you can have them installed on a tight timeline. Herman Miller also offers a range of competing top-tier workstations that feature sleek designs.

Industry Applications

We’re living in a time of rapid development and unparalleled innovation and the applications for room dividers seem to be endless as homeowners and businesses prefer to keep a relatively small footprint and retain their resources for other objectives. Just think, for example, how startups leasing a large open-plan space can benefit from using office dividers to create individual spaces for their teams. Or how a school can leverage portable partitions to create additional learning spaces. Or even how apartment dwellers can use room dividers to create home offices that are separate from their living rooms.

Here’s an overview of applications that our clients at portable partitions are using our room dividers for in different industries.

  • Residential use: create home offices, add privacy to rooms
  • Schools and educationcreate quiet reading or researching areas, create new learning spaces, isolate group discussion areas, separate rooms for rehearsals, to display artwork or school work. Create data walls, hide unused equipment or areas, divide big halls, create temporary dressing rooms, repurpose large multipurpose spaces. Create a one to one teacher-student area or a technology hub.
  • Corporate and office spacecreate temporary meeting rooms, add layers of safety and peace of mind with desktop protection screens, create waiting areas, modify existing layout for current legislations, set up workstations and cubicles.
  • Sport and leisure facilitiesresize and repurpose big areas, reconfigure layouts for daily and weekly classes, help manage crowd control, create areas to accommodate private functions, meetings or celebrations. Create change rooms or private meeting spaces.
  • Art galleries: divide large areas to create a more guided experience, have extra space to hang art, create temporary exhibitions, hide equipment for new exhibitions
  • Conference halls and convention centers: repurpose the space for different needs, create functional spaces within a large room, help crowd control, create break areas, meeting rooms or change rooms. Display temporary art exhibitions.
  • Health and aged care: create a private space, consultation booths or waiting rooms
  • Churches and religious buildings: resize and repurpose community and multipurpose spaces.
  • Pharmacies and chemists: use retail countertop protection screens or perspex room dividers to help manage crowd control.
  • Pubs and clubs: open up or close areas depending on how busy the venue is, divide venues in two functional areas, help crowd control, create new areas to give a sense of privacy for special celebrations.
  • Cafés and restaurants: open up or close areas depending on how busy the venue is, divide venues in smaller functional spaces, accommodate multiple functions at the same time, control excessive noise within the venue, easily reconfigure for special occasions.

About us: Portable Partitions Australia

When it comes to choosing the right room divider for your purposes, there are many factors to consider. and when it comes to utilising residential or commercial real estate, it’s key to know how to maximize space without compromising on privacy, functionality, lighting and acoustics.

At Portable Partitions Australia, we’re dedicated to providing solutions that allow our customers to make better use of existing spaces or create entirely new spaces that can be used for multiple purposesWe’re also committed to providing our customers with the best possible information about room dividers so they can make informed decisions as to which solutions work best for them.

While this guide is a good place to start, it’s advisable to speak with an experienced room divider specialist like one of our associates here at Portable Partitions Australia to determine the right one for you. If you need further assistance about our space optimisation solutions please get in touch, our team is standing by to help.