Whether in a business, conference, school or even in your own house, there are times when you would like to temporarily or periodically divide a room into smaller areas. Building a new wall would be rediculous since you don’t need the wall all the time. For situations like this, dividers are your best option, but which divider is best for you?

Screens are the most decorative way to divide a room. There are a wide variety of choices and they’re lightweight and easy to move, rearrange and reuse. Some screens are a single panel supported by feet; others have two or more panels hinged together in an “L” or zigzag fold.

Screen construction materials range from traditional Japanese paper mounted on bamboo, to fabric, woven plant fibers, plastic, glass, metal, wood or leather fastened to wood or metal frames. The creatively inclined can find blank screens to paint, dye, quilt and collage.

A strategically placed screen can take the place of window treatments like blinds or curtains (paper screens still allow light into the room). Other screens can hide storage and utility areas from view, or provide privacy for changing clothes. They can be placed to add color to or create interest in a room.

Screens aren’t for home use only. They can be used in service, hospitality and restaurant venues to create private enclosures for guests, in small stores and businesses to indicate public and private areas, and to guide light foot traffic. They can also be used in school libraries to create separate ready area for children.

Because they are free standing and lightweight, screens are not the most stable room divider. Careful placement, away from heavy crowds and high-activity areas, will keep them upright and in good condition.

Portable Panels
Walk into any school or church, hotel or conference center, and you’ll probably see some portable panels in use. These venues often need to divide large spaces into smaller ones; but their needs change — often by the hour — so walls which are strong, sturdy and easy to move and store are in order.

It’s important to check out different manufacturers and panel styles — there are many — when you’re ready to divide space. Consider panel length as well as height, keeping in mind the doorways and storage areas you will need to maneuver within. Taller panels reduce noise levels and create more private “rooms;” they also block more ambient light.

Portable panels roll on casters, and fold out like an accordion to assume a variety of linear shapes. Most are made of steel with a fabric or vinyl covering, but there are also wood panels, and double-duty panels which contain shelves and cabinets. Some have a whiteboard or cork surface, conducive to classes, meetings and displays. Others feature built-in picture frames. Conference centers often need to create backdrops, and use a pipe-and-drape form of panel: fabric drapes hung on metal, plastic or wire frames.

Fixed Folding/Sliding Panels
A more permanent panel fixture is an excellent solution for large rooms that occasionally need to be divided. They are mounted to a wall and may also be fitted into runners in the floor and/or ceiling. The panels then slide or fold out into place.

These panels are great in classrooms, banquet halls, and other areas where there is not as much flexibility needed. Because they can extend completely from floor to ceiling, they provide a good sound barrier. Professional installation is usually required.

Office Partition Installations
Office partitions are also a more permanent divider. Their main purpose is to divide a large area into smaller workspaces. With modern materials, there are many options, including collaborative work group or bullpen style areas, more formal cubicles, reception-style partitions with counters, sound-reduction materials and wire/network raceways and panels which include glass or other materials which add decorative appeal.

While you can order and install office partitions yourself, it’s definitely worth the investment to hire professionals to help configure and install your partitions. In fact, many companies that sell partition systems offer free planning and installation.
Whether you are a business needing to divide up a large workspace, a school needing to occationally divide classrooms, or a church needing to divide a room for Sunday School, there is a room divider that can fit your needs. The wide variety of room dividers available today can provide flexibility and privacy as well as decoration which can enhance the use and look of any room.

Author's Bio: 

Mary P. Sargeant is an author and the Marketing Communications Coordinator for Dallas Midwest. Dallas Midwest in an office furniture outlet offering a wide range of furniture solutions for offices, schools, churches, libraries and more carying everything from wood podiums, to conference tables, to fabric office chairs and everything in between.