null

How to Soundproof a Room

Shop Products

Are you kept up all night by the sound of your neighbor throwing a party or rearranging their furniture? Sleep deprivation can ruin your day and turn even the most chipper of chipmunks into a zombie. Do NOT talk to us the morning after a bad night’s sleep. You’re liable to lose a hand. So, we can definitely sympathize with you for wanting to look into soundproofing your room to help improve your sleep schedule.

There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to soundproofing your room, but there is no need to panic. We have all of the information and materials you could possibly need to turn your room into a quiet oasis.

Soundproofing a Room for Two Types of Noise

There are 2 main types of sound we deal with when soundproofing a room: airborne noise and impact noise. You will need different treatments and techniques for each of these, so it is important to distinguish the type of noise you are dealing with.

Airborne

Airborne Noise

Airborne noise is sound that travels through the air, for example; loud talking, music or TV, a dog barking - these are all sound waves traveling through the air and then heard when they reach your ear. A metaphor we like to is how sound waves move like water; they flow towards the weakest point. Which means an effective, airtight barrier is key. Airborne sound waves find the path of least resistance to travel from space to space, once they collide with your barrier, they will try to find a gap. If they can't, they'll be forced to travel through the barrier.

Impact

Impact Noise

Unlike airborne noise which is defined by sound waves traveling through the air, impact noise (also called structure-borne noise) is sound that occurs as a result of one object "impacting" another and the vibrations being radiated through the object or to adjacent objects. Basically the difference between a bang in the other room, and a bang directly on the floor above you. Impact noise includes things like people walking or footfall, a ball bouncing, a chair rolling, or things being dropped on the floor. These noises are often so annoying because they are distinct and jarring - making them very noticeable. The key to reducing impact noise is to prevent the energy from ever entering the building's structure by dampening the vibrations.

Don’t Use Acoustic Foam or Panels for Soundproofing a Room

You may see some soundproofing advice columns that suggest using acoustic foam or “soundproof foam” as a soundproofing treatment. In reality, soundproof foam just doesn’t exist. For a product to be efficient at blocking sound, it needs to have density. Most acoustic treatments are lightweight and allow sound to essentially pass right through them. Imagine if you were to hold foam over your mouth and talk. Think someone would hear you still? You bet they would! While open-cell acoustic foam is a good acoustic treatment, the foam doesn’t have enough mass or density to soundproof. Do NOT install acoustical material on your wall or ceiling and expect to make ANY DIFFERENCE in the sound you hear.

That being said, acoustic foam and acoustic panels are great at absorbing sound and improving the sound quality in a room by reducing echo and reverb. Acoustic panels are commonly seen in large spaces such as churches and auditoriums; they can also be used in recording studios, offices, and other commercial buildings. But again… these acoustic products should not be used for soundproofing applications.

How to Soundproof a Room

Ok, so now that you're practically a sound engineer, let's get started with your actual soundproofing project.
Before you go off and start buying up soundproofing materials, you should plan your strategy.

Step 1 Consider the Noise Source

Firstly, identify the noise problem. I know this sounds obvious, but people often jump into complex soundproofing projects when they could just treat the source. Are you trying to block out your kid’s band practice in the garage? See if you can find another location for them to play. Trying to drown out that noisy HVAC unit outside? Don’t soundproof your room. Build a soundproof enclosure or soundproof fence for your unit instead.

Step 2 Decide Where to Soundproof

Understanding where to add soundproofing is absolutely key. Sound is best reduced by blocking sound at the source, blocking sound at the receiver, or increasing the distance between the sound and the receiver. For example if you were sitting 20 feet from a loud stereo, adding a barrier right in the middle at 10 feet would be the least effective strategy. Instead you could; (1) put the stereo even further away, (2) create a box around the stereo (blocking the source), or (3) put in earplugs (blocking the receiver).

Step 3 Determine How Sound is Getting In

Once you’ve identified the sources of noise, determine the path it’s taking. Is there anything between you and the noise? Is it coming from inside the building? Is it above or below you? Any soundproofing barrier you create is only as good as its weakest point. Sound behaves a lot like water, and it’ll find its way through even the smallest gaps. If you have big gaps, priority #1 is to plug them up so that your room is like a swimming pool with no leaks. In most rooms, the biggest sound leaks are around the windows and doors, but we’re going to walk you through how to soundproof each part of a room.

Soundproofing a Door

Doors are a weak point for sound because they’re also a weak point for air. Air carries sound, ergo, sound gets through your door. As the weakest link for letting sound in, there are two major things to consider to effectively soundproof a door: the mass of the door and whether there are any gaps between the door panel and frame. That’s it. That’s all you need to solve.

The average STC rating of a typical wall in your house is 32, while many types of doors are much lower than that. Because doors are a weak point for sound, this lowers the overall effectiveness of sound blocking for your entire wall if there’s a door in it – even if it’s closed.

Once you determine the types of doors in your space, the other key to remember is the gaps around the door. Your typical door can easily have 1 sq ft of airspace around it. Not good. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to improve the soundproofing.

Type of Door Does it Stop Airborne Noise?

Louvered Door

Your typical louvered door is about 25% open. You're done before you even start. Might as well leave the door open… Come on in!

0/10

Hollow Core Door

Typically used as bedroom doors or any other in-home entryways, these are made of fiberboard or laminated wood and (true to their name) are mostly empty inside. These doors are lightweight, easy to install, and aren't super expensive. On the downside, hollow core doors are fragile and do little to stop sound from passing through.

3/10

Solid Core Door

These doors are significantly heavier, made up of a combination of wood and wood byproducts, and are usually used to partition your home or apartment from the outdoors. They're more expensive but thanks to their density, solid core doors are able to do a better job of blocking out noise.

6/10

Sound Lock Door Seal Kit

It may not look like much, but like we just said… the gaps around your door can often add up to nearly 1 square foot of space. Imagine a foot-wide hole in the middle of your wall! Seal up these gaps with a door seal kit. These kits are fairly easy to install and cost-effective. Be sure to measure your door and frame thoroughly before-hand.

8/10

Sound Lock Soundproof Door

If significant sound blocking is key in your space, To really keep things quiet you can install an acoustic door. Often used as recording studio doors, or in offices, conference rooms, hotels, and dorms, acoustic doors have an STC rating up to 56.

10/10

Popular Door Soundproofing Products

Related Articles

How to Soundproof a Door

Doors are a common weak point for sound.

Read More

Soundproofing a Window

Windows have a similar problem to doors in that they’re also a weak point in your wall. Again, the key components here are sealing up gaps, and adding mass. Like doors, not all windows are made the same and some are better at sound blocking than others.

Of course replacing your windows is always an option, but that cost can start to add up. And if not installed properly, you may even be worse off than when you started. If you don’t feel like replacing windows is the right option for you, or you want additional sound blocking, here are a few options.

Type of Window Does it Stop Airborne Noise?

Monolithic Float Glass: 1/8” or 1/4”

This is standard glass produced using the tempered glass float process. Thicker glass has more density, so it blocks more sound.

5 or 6/10

Fantastic Frame Window Inserts

A more practical and visually appealing solution is installing a soundproof window insert. In addition to helping soundproof a window, it can actually help with temperature control to reduce your heating and cooling costs. They can also be removed as needed so you don’t lose access to your windows.

8/10

Tru Acoustics™ Soundproof Window

Innovative soundproof window design used by recording studios, commercial buildings, and the military. Unmatched performance and easy installation.

10/10

Popular Window Soundproofing Products

Related Articles

How to Soundproof a Window

Windows are a main weak point for sound and heat transfer.

Read More

Soundproofing a Wall

Sometimes sealing up doors and windows isn't enough. Or maybe you’re just dealing with a wall that just isn’t cutting it. As with any soundproofing project, start by finding any weak points. Along with treating any doors or windows, use caulking or acoustic sealant around outlets, switches, vents and any other potential gaps. Identifying and treating gaps may be enough to find the volume you’re comfortable with, if not you can take things a bit further with wall soundproofing methods.

Type of Wall Does it Stop Airborne Noise?

Acoustic Foam

Acoustic foam is for reducing echo and reverb. It will not stop sound from traveling between rooms through the wall.

0/10

Mass Loaded Vinyl

Adding mass is a key component in helping to block sound. You can do this in several ways, but a tried and true method is to add density with mass loaded vinyl. For best results, we recommend attaching the MLV directly to the studs before installing your drywall on top. We always recommend ⅝" drywall for any project where soundproofing mattters.

8/10

Green Glue

Take your wall soundproofing project to the next level by adding a 2nd layer of 5/8" drywall with Green Glue between the two layers. This will substantially increase the density of your wall and if combined with acoustcal sealant will give you an STC rating of 50+. Green Glue + 5/8" drywall is much more effective than a new layer of drywall on its own.

8/10

RSIC Clips

RSIC clips allow for the best possible performance beause they utilize a strategy called decoupling. Sound moves as vibrations through a structure, if you can separate - or decouple - the structure some way, it creates a gap that makes it more difficult for vibrations to cross. Using resilient sound isolation clips (or RSIC clips) to attach ⅝” drywall allows you to “float” the drywall, making it more difficult for impact sound to travel through your structure. Depending on the structure, an STC of 55+ is easy to achieve with RSIC clips. You can add a 2nd layer of 5/8” drywall with Green Glue or use soundproof drywall if you want to continue increasing the STC rating of your wall.

10/10
soundproof_a_wall Created with Sketch.

Popular Wall Soundproofing Products

Related Articles

How to Soundproof a Wall

Stop unwanted noise from leaking into a room.

Read More

Soundproofing a Ceiling

Noise you are hearing through your ceiling may not necessarily be coming above you. It’s possible that airborne noise is travelling up and over your wall through gaps like air vents. You can use the same strategies for soundproofing walls to soundproof a ceiling. But since most of what you hear from your ceiling is impact noise, ideally you treat your ceiling and floor assemblies together.

Type of Ceiling Does it Stop Impact Noise? Does it Stop Airborne Noise?

Acoustic Foam

Acoustic foam is used to reduce echo and reverb. It will not stop footsteps or other noise through the ceiling.

0/10 0/10

Green Glue

Add an additional layer of ⅝" drywall on your existing ceiling with Green Glue between the two layers. This treatment is extremely effective for airborne noise and does not require removing an existing ceiling.

3/10 for
impact noise
8/10 for
airborne noise

RSIC Clips

Decouple your ceiling by adding the ⅝" drywall with resilient sound isolation clips, or RSIC, which will "float" the drywall and make it more difficult for sound to vibrate through your structure. If you're going this route, make sure the air cavity is filled with insulation. Isolating the ceiling with RSIC clips is the only effective treatment for structural noise (footsteps) without treating the floor above.

10/10 for
impact noise
10/10 for
airborne noise

RSIC Clips + Green Glue

Combine the RSIC Clips and the Green Glue together to get the best possible results. For extremely high STC applications, we will recommend this combination and then replacing the 5/8” drywall with soundproof drywall.

11/10 for
impact noise
11/10 for
airborne noise

Full floor-ceiling assembly must be considered to determine total soundproofing

Popular Ceiling Soundproofing Products

Related Articles

How to Soundproof a Ceiling

Learn to silence footsteps and other noise through a ceiling.

Read More

Soundproofing a Floor

You may be trying to block sound coming from beneath you, but usually floor soundproofing is done to protect the room below. Either way soundproofing your floor will help with the transfer of noise in either direction.

Type of Flooring Does it Stop Impact Noise? Does it Stop Airborne Noise?

THICK CARPETS

Carpeting is excellent for impact noise. Where we often see people run into problems is buildings that upgraded the décor by removing carpet, but did not properly soundproof the new hard floor surface.

10/10 for
impact noise
1/10 for
airborne noise

UNDERBLOCK RUBBER FLOOR UNDERLAYMENT

UnderBlock rubber underlayment can be used with just about any type of flooring. It’s easy to roll out, and decouples the floor from the building’s structure to stop the sound of footsteps and other impact noise. For soundproofing, we generally recommend the 10mm thick underlayment.

10/10 for
impact noise
10/10 for
airborne noise

Full floor-ceiling assembly must be considered to determine total soundproofing

Popular Soundproofing Flooring Products

Related Articles

How to Soundproof a Floor

Multi-floor buildings must soundproof the floors.

Read More

You Did It!

Congratulations, you now have your soundproofing phD. We’ll be sending your copy in the mail for you to frame and hang on your newly soundproof wall.

Ok, so not quite – but you certainly know enough to school your friends and family. Soundproofing is complex, but we hope that now you have the knowledge to identify your specific soundproofing problem and start to make a plan. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and helped a lot of people with a variety of different issues and circumstances. We know that some of this is easier said than done.

Before you tackle your soundproofing project, reach out. We’re here to help you figure out the right materials, and the right strategy.

Have questions about your project?

Call us at 1.800.679.8511

OR

Fill out the form below and we will get back to you.