How Do I Soundproof An Existing Wall?
In order to soundproof a wall, you should be familiar with the steps you’ll need to follow and the materials you’ll need. Here’s a brief overview of what to expect.
1. Find where the noise is coming from.
2. Locate studs in the wall & mark them with chalk or pencil.
3. Fill the space with soundproofing material, use roofing nails to attach the soundproofing material to the studs.
4. Seal seams with barrier tape.
5. Install the soundproofing system over the barrier layer.
6. Install acoustic panels between the rails of the soundproofing system.
7. On top of this layer, install the gypsum board.
8. Finish the wall off by filling in all the gaps with sealant. Gypsum board should be finished according to industry standards.
Now that you have an idea of what’s involved, here are some top techniques that you should follow for a solid installation.
DIY Wall Soundproofing Techniques
Soundproofing new or existing walls involves adding mass behind the walls and/or something that absorbs and dissipates sound waves. Tips and advice for soundproofing walls include:
- Install your wall soundproofing materials on the side of the wall from which the noise is coming. In other words, if your kids or neighbor are making all the racket, treat your side of the wall, not theirs.
- Mass loaded vinyl, or MLV, is not just for industrial facilities where decibel levels can reach eardrum-bursting levels. MLV is a flexible material that comes in rolls you can trim easily, and it can be sandwiched between drywall layers to significantly reduce noise transmission and deaden sounds.
- Sound waves leak like water through small cracks and openings. Stop leaky noise transmission by plugging gaps and holes around switch boxes, door casings and receptacle boxes with acoustic caulk.
- Enhance wall soundproofing methods by sealing door frames with Soundproof Cow’s Quiet Door Perimeter Seals and Door Sweeps.
- Absorb those irritating sound waves with acoustic panels that not only clarify sounds within a room, but also reduce transmission of sounds through most wall types. Fabric Wrapped Acoustic Panels are fully customizable and blend in with your home décor.
Also, get to know a little about Sound Transmission Class ratings. STC ratings measure how much a particular soundproofing construction material reduces sound. Higher STC ratings indicate materials that are better at noise reduction. For example, a wall with an STC rating of 30 will allow most sentences to be heard clearly. A wall with an STC rating of 50 however, will block most loud speech and only transfer faint sounds of loud musical Instruments.
How to Soundproof a Wall Cheaply
Need to block sound out of your space but think you don’t have the budget for it? The cheapest ways to soundproof a wall can still be effective. Here are four ways of soundproofing your walls for a low cost.
1. Find the Noise Source and Weak Points in the Walls
Before you do any soundproofing, it’s important to understand the layout of the room itself — and know where the disruptive noise is coming from. Sounds come in various types, including airborne and impact noise, which are the most common issues driving people to soundproof their homes and businesses. While airborne noise has a middle to high frequency and travels through the air, impact noise — or structure-borne noise — can pass through windows, walls, and doors at low frequencies.
The type of soundproofing material you use depends on the type of sound and where it’s coming from. For example, if the noise is coming primarily through the window area, soundproof curtains might be enough. Or, a few acoustic panels might take care of airborne noise coming from other areas in the building. If you’re hearing low-frequency sound leaking through the walls, you’ll need a stronger installation option, like vinyl mats.
Knowing the source of the sound is also important, so you can seal the specific weak spots on the wall with materials like green glue and weatherstrip tape.
2. Fill up the Space
Sometimes, the problem with a space is not that it picks up noise from other areas, but that it echoes noise within itself. When a room is large or sparsely furnished, the lack of objects filling up space can cause sounds to reverberate around the room, amplifying even small noises and making everything loud. This problem is simple to solve by furnishing the space with objects that will better absorb echoed sound.
Adding furniture, bookshelves and wall art to a room can reduce the nature of its echo — especially when you place the objects close to or on the walls themselves. This won’t stop exterior noise from penetrating the room, but it can quiet the reverberations within the space itself.
3. Install Insulation, Drywall and Acoustic Caulk
The best affordable way to soundproof your walls effectively is to use drywall and other materials to create an air-tight wall space. Installed over insulation and sealed in to form an extra layer in your walls, drywall forms a solid barrier for sound.
4. Supplement With Acoustic Foam Panels
If you’re thinking of using a combination of methods to improve your soundproofing, acoustic panels are a good way to add an extra layer of sound absorption. While using acoustic panels on their own may not be enough to stop noise from entering the room, pairing them with another soundproofing method — like drywall — can absorb additional airborne noise. With multiple soundproofing materials in place, your sound defense may improve even more.
Misinformation About Soundproofing Walls
Be aware of ineffective “sound proof” construction material like:
- Soundproof paint: Promising to deaden sound or absorb mid-range sound transmissions, soundproof paint may cover faded spots or nail holes in a wall, but that’s about it. At only 30 thousandths of an inch thick, this paint won’t reduce noise at the low and high ends of the sound spectrum, making it inadequate for most soundproofing purposes.
- Soundproof wallpaper: Like soundproof paint, most soundproof wallpaper is thin and doesn’t live up to its promise of effectively reducing noise. Many soundproof wallpaper products are simply regular wallpaper backed with a minimal layer of foam or other noise deadening product. It does not control high and low frequency sound waves, falling short of adequately soundproofing a room.
- Foam rubber: The kind of foam rubber used to make your yoga mat or mouse pad won’t soundproof walls. Only specialized noise reducing materials containing foam, rubber and other sound absorption components will give you the kind of wall soundproofing needed to effectively control soundwaves.
- Carpet on the wall: Unless you’re deliberately going for the eclectic or “shabby chic” look, tacking carpet on walls doesn’t effectively stop sound waves. Carpet may minimize some reverberation, but does not have the density necessary to minimize sound transfer.
At Soundproof Cow, we consider soundproofing walls a serious business requiring serious, affordable products that deliver proven sound reduction results. Call us today at 1-866-949-9269 to find out how to soundproof a wall using the best products and techniques available for your specific situation.