Short Answer: No, cardboard is not an effective soundproofing material or sound absorption material.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a cheap and easy way to fix any sound problem? We get it. Taking on a soundproofing project in your home can get confusing and expensive. So, it is totally understandable that homeowners will look for cheaper DIY friendly materials. As a general rule, if the soundproofing solution sounds too good to be true – it probably is. While cardboard isn’t any good for soundproofing, there are many ways to cut costs and there are plenty of affordable materials that can be used for soundproofing. With the help of a Second Skin expert, any sound issue can be solved!
Does Cardboard Work for Soundproofing?
Let’s get deeper into the “why” behind cardboard being an extremely ineffective soundproofing solution. To understand why cardboard is not an effective soundproofing treatment, we must first look at what makes a product effective at blocking sound.
In order for a barrier to be soundproof, it needs to have enough density to effectively block sound. Soundproofing materials are generally thick and heavy to block airborne noise – just think about how concrete blocks more sound than a sheet of paper. Cardboard is not dense enough to block airborne sound, and lacks any special properties that would allow it to reduce structural noise.
Soundproof barriers also need to be sealed to prevent airborne noise from flanking around the gaps and penetrations that surround them.
Our Recommendation: Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass loaded vinyl is an incredibly effective all-around soundproofing material that is very easy to install. The product is very thin compared to other soundproofing solutions due to its density, and is excellent for blocking airborne noise . For residential and commercial applications we recommend Luxury Liner. For automotive applications, we recommend using Luxury Liner Pro which includes a fused layer of decoupling foam.
Does Cardboard Absorb Sound?
So, now you know that cardboard can’t be used to block sound. But can it be used to absorb noise? Before answering that question, let’s be clear on what absorbing sound does and doesn’t do. By absorbing noise, you can improve the acoustics and sound quality inside a space. You will not stop sound from traveling between spaces – that’s soundproofing. Adding sound absorbing materials to a wall won’t stop you from hearing your neighbor.
Ok, back to absorbing noise. Let’s say you do want to improve the acoustics and reduce echo in a room. There are plenty of materials that can be used to soften the reflective surfaces in a room. Unfortunately, cardboard is not one of them. Do not install cardboard on a wall if the goal is to improve acoustics in a space – it’s not effective and there are better options.
Our Recommendation: EcoVerb Roll or CelluZorbe Acoustic Panels
Adding sound absorption to your room doesn’t have to break the bank. There are some very effective DIY options available. For an easy cost-effective option, we recommend our EcoVerb roll or the CelluZorbe acoustic panel. If you’re looking for budget friendly acoustical materials, these are the best options out there as they are very effective and can be bought in bulk for less than $3 per sq ft.