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Wednesday, March 29th, 2023

18 Best Soundproofing Materials for Effective Noise Reduction

How Much Does It Cost To Sound Proof A Room 4

Acoustic mineral wool insulation, mass-loaded vinyl barrier, and resilient sound channels are effective materials in soundproofing a space. Those on a shoestring budget can go for soundproof curtains, blankets, or anti-vibration mats because they absorb sound well. 

Sick of dealing with next-door neighbors who love partying at night or watching movies at their home theater?

Well, it’s not just you; countless people have to deal with annoying neighbors. But I’ve got a solution: installing soundproofing material around your home is the most practical way to deal with unwanted noise

Read on to learn more about the most common soundproofing materials, so you can pick one that fits your budget and needs. 

Soundproofing 101

The process of preventing sound from transferring from one location to another is known as soundproofing.

Usually, dense materials are added to stop sound waves from penetrating a floor, ceiling, or source walls. Cars, barking dogs, noisy neighbors, or construction work– the right soundproofing material would block sound waves from outdoors effectively. 

While there is no shortage of soundproofing materials on the market, you must be careful when choosing one for your space. Among the plethora of factors, one important factor to consider is noise frequencies and noise transmission modes. 

Other than that, you will have to take into account the location or wall that you have to soundproof when choosing a soundproofing material. 

Soundproofing Materials Vs Sound Absorbing Materials

Best Soundproofing Material

Many people believe that soundproofing and sound absorption are the same thing. However, that’s not the case; in fact, it is one of the elements of sound insulation. 

One of the primary differences between a soundproofing material and a sound-absorbing material is that the former eliminates sound transfer, while the latter enhances the acoustics of a room. 

Unlike soundproofing materials, those that absorb sound reduce echo and reverberation of sound within a space. Sure, they improve audio quality, but they aren’t useful in preventing sound from leaving or entering a space, no matter the material you use. 

For all those who want total sound isolation, you must use both soundproofing and sound-absorbing materials in conjunction. 

Key Principles Of Soundproofing

So, what makes soundproofing materials effective in eliminating sound from a space? There are four principles of soundproofing that prevent sound transmission, and they are as follows:

1. Mass

Mass is the first principle of soundproofing, according to which the heavier or thicker the material, the better the noise reduction. That means whichever materials are thick and solid will reduce noise better than those that are soft or fluffy. 

This approach is particularly useful for blocking airborne sounds like sirens and traffic noises, loud music, the voices of other people, etc. 

To add mass, you can use mass-loaded vinyl over or under your drywall or simply add furniture. Both are highly effective when it comes to sound reduction, so you can go for whichever option you find convenient. 

However, this won’t be effective if you’re looking for materials to reduce impact noise like a hammer strike. 

2. Decoupling

The second soundproofing principle is decoupling, which is frequency-dependent. Decoupling creates gaps in the interiors of a building, which makes it easy to break up sound vibrations. 

You must always decouple your ceilings, walls, or floors during construction; otherwise, it would be too much of a task to get it done later. 

Decoupling reduces sound transmission to a great extent and is usually done with resilient channels, sound clips, or specialty framings like staggered stud walls or double stud walls. Of all the options, resilient sound channels are well-suited for blocking impact and low-frequency noise. That’s because low-frequency sounds do not pass through walls; rather, they vibrate against the resilient channels. 

Unlike other soundproofing materials, installing resilient channels requires professional installation. If poorly installed, it will create a room within a room, worsening low-frequency noise. 

3. Damping

Damping is another principle of soundproofing, which is accomplished through damping compounds. These special compounds convert sound energy into heat, and that’s what blocks the noise. 

For blocking sound, sound-dampening compounds are applied in the middle of plywood, drywall, or other stiff panels, which are later joined using screws. Among all the sound-dampening compounds, Green Glue is the most effective in deadening sound. In the absence of Green Glue, silicone caulk is a dependable option, so you can go for that. 

Like decoupling, you can rely on damping compounds to stop low-frequency noise. 

4. Absorption

Last but not least, absorption is the fourth principle of soundproofing. And since it improves the sound quality of a room, it isn’t as effective in soundproofing as the other three principles. 

When it comes to absorbing sound, acoustic foam is an option worth considering. Or, you can go for soft furniture because it is useful in absorbing sound. 

Best Soundproofing Materials

Materials To Use For Soundproofing A Room

In the quest for the best sound insulation material, you must have come across several options. Understandably, figuring out which ones are effective in noise reduction and which aren’t isn’t easy, especially if you’re a beginner. 

Here I’ve enlisted the best soundproofing materials that are useful when it comes to noise control. Also, I’ve highlighted key aspects of each of the materials, along with the scenarios where you can use them. 

Let’s check them out. 

1. Acoustic Mineral Wool Insulation

For insulating walls of buildings under construction, acoustic mineral wool insulation is an option worth considering. 

Sure, ceilings are insulated to prevent air from passing through them, but insulated walls can reduce sound transmission. Not many know that noise usually enters or escapes from spaces that aren’t well-insulated. 

Also known as QuiteFibre, mineral wool insulation is an open-cell insulation material that absorbs both thermal and acoustic energies. Coming in different densities and thicknesses, this rigid material is used in cavities like stud walls. Therefore, you can use it to fill hollow spaces that transmit sound from one location to another.

And since most insulating materials add mass to the walls and ceilings, they make those surfaces soundproof. What’s more, it’s usable in both small and large spaces, thanks to the affordable price tag. Though rigid, this material is easy to cut, so installation won’t be challenging. 

2. Mass-Loaded Vinyl Sound Barrier

Though thin, mass-loaded vinyl is a dense material that blocks sound by adding mass to ceilings, floors, and walls. Not just that, but this synthetic material can be used to soundproof air ducts and pipes, so it’s a versatile material. 

Aside from the main ingredient, i.e., vinyl, this material contains another high-mass compound, and that is why it blocks sound completely. Sure, it soundproofs a space better than other materials, but keep in mind that it will put a dent in your wallet.

Mass-loaded vinyl is manufactured from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and comes in a plethora of colors, which makes it usable on a variety of surfaces. Hence, you can use it to soundproof drywall, install it beneath carpets, and on a variety of other surfaces. 

3. Resilient Sound Channels

As previously mentioned, resilient sound channels help decouple drywall so that your walls and ceilings can block noise effectively. You can install resilient channels with gaskets or acoustic hangers to minimize vibrations. 

These are basically strips of timber or metal placed in the walls to maintain the integrity of the soundproof insulation within them. Not just that, but it also serves as a foundation on which you can attach all finishing systems. And since these channels have holes, screws can pass through them easily, making them easy to install. 

So, whenever a sound enters the chamber, it vibrates against the resilient channels, isolating it from the surrounding space. 

Resilient channels can be installed only if you haven’t applied a finish coat on the drywall of your walls or ceilings. However, if you wish to install them in your already-built space, you will have to tear down the drywall to add them. 

After installing soundproof insulation in your ceilings, walls, or other surfaces, screw in the channels at 90 degrees. 

And as soon as you install the drywall, the fasteners will go through the resilient channels, not the studs. This may sound like an easy task, but you will have to be extra careful to make sure you don’t drill screws into the studs. That’s because if you drill screws into them instead of resilient channels, there would be no use for decoupling. 

4. Soundproof Room Divider Curtains

Looking for the best soundproofing materials for your open-plan home? Soundproof room divider curtains reduce noise to a great extent, so they would be highly effective for dividing open-plan spaces. 

Usually, divider curtains are made of synthetic fibers that mimic velvet, cotton, or suede. What’s more, these curtains come in a multitude of colors, so finding a shade that complements the decor of your home wouldn’t be too much of an issue. 

Besides colors, you’ll find them in a variety of prints, so there is no shortage of variety. Floral embossed texture or a solid color curtain– soundproof room divider curtains are available in multiple styles. 

On top of that, they even come with grommets, so putting them up in your space won’t be challenging, and your space will be soundproof within ten minutes. If you wish to install them around your sleeping area, you will have to install a ceiling rod to hang them. 

As a piece of advice– you can open the seams, add a piece of mass-loaded sound vinyl barrier and sew it up to reduce noise transmission. 

5. Green Glue Soundproofing Compound

Don’t want to disturb your neighbors with your late-night jamming sessions? Go for the Green Glue Soundproofing compound, which dampens unwanted sound. 

Contrary to its name, it is a noise-proofing product that can be used in both new construction and renovation projects. From soundproofing walls to soundproofing windows, you can use it on any surface that leaks sound. 

Sound-dampening compounds are most effective when they are applied in the middle of two hard surfaces, which are then joined. Therefore, whenever sound reaches any layer of the surface, it quivers against the noise-proofing compound, converting it into heat. 

As against other soundproofing methods, you need not use screws to join the two surfaces. This sound-dampening compound doubles as an adhesive, so you can use it to attach acoustic foam panels or drywall to the walls. 

6. Acoustic Caulk Or Sealant

To seal gaps around your main door, bedroom window, or living room window, acoustic caulk or sealant is a good option. Basically, it seals holes that allow noise to travel from one space to another. 

Acoustic sealants are usually used in conjunction with other soundproofing materials. This latex-based material is highly flexible, meaning it’s non-hardening, so it’s different from the regular caulk. Even then, it’s highly durable and doesn’t crack nor shrink, which makes it a dependable option. 

More often than not, sealants are supplied in tubes, which can be put into a caulking gun. The tubes boast sharp and long tips, with which you can control the quantity of the sealant and apply it to the exact spot you want. 

So, the primary purpose of a sealant is to seal gaps or cracks to prevent air from passing through them, thereby limiting noise transfer. 

After screwing up the drywall, you’ll have to apply this sealant to seal gaps, especially where two drywalls meet. In addition to that, you can rely on acoustic sealant to seal imperceptible air gaps that develop due to normal wear and tear. 

Though this sealant comes in various colors, it’s paintable, so you can apply any color you want. 

7. Soundproof Blankets

Much like curtains, soundproof blankets are made of polyester, cotton, or a mixture of both materials. These blankets are sturdy, thick, and denser than regular blankets, which is why they are used in recording studios, cinemas, and theaters. 

Also, they come with grommets that make it easy to hang them in whichever space you want. The soft and porous construction of soundproof blankets captures sound waves, preventing them from bouncing off solid surfaces and reducing reverberations and echoes within a space. 

Keep in mind the thicker, denser, or heavier the blanket, the more noise it will absorb. 

Soundproof blankets are about 72 inches wide and 80 inches long. Since they won’t cover eight to nine-foot-tall walls entirely, you will have to layer blankets. Or, you can use them alongside other soundproofing materials. 

Unlike soundproof curtains, blankets won’t be the right choice if you’re looking for soundproofing materials that add style or character to your space. However, they block noise effectively, so you can cover them up with soundproof curtains to make the space look attractive. 

You can even wrap them around noisy equipment like washing machines to dampen sound, so they are a highly versatile soundproofing material. 

8. Acoustic Tiles Or Soundproof Foam Panels

Constructed from polyurethane materials like extruded melamine, polyester, or polyether, acoustic tiles or soundproof foam panels absorb noise rather than blocking it. 

These panels form open spaces both in the interiors and exteriors, which trap sound waves as they travel through the foam and absorb them. Hence, they are more useful in improving the sound quality in a space instead of blocking them out completely. 

Mostly, you’ll find soundproof foam panels in the background of a YouTuber’s video or music studio. 

More often than not, acoustic tiles come in various shapes, including pyramids, egg cartons, maze patterns, wave panels, and simple lines. The shape doesn’t play a role in determining the soundproofing ability of foam panels; rather, it’s the thickness that decides how much noise it absorbs. 

Thicker foam panels are effective for absorbing low-frequency noise, while those that are one to two-inch thick are useful for mid to high-frequency sound. 

Though they are sound absorbers, they prevent noise transfer, making them a dependable soundproofing material. To soundproof your space, you need not line these acoustic panels within the walls; instead, you can simply keep them on the walls facing the source of the noise. 

If budget isn’t an issue, you can opt for fiberglass acoustic tiles, which are effective in blocking low-frequency sound. 

9. Fiberglass Acoustic High-Density Insulation

Fiberglass insulation or glass wool insulation is quite similar to mineral wool insulation, as it comes in panels. What makes fiberglass acoustic high-density insulation one of the best soundproofing materials is its versatility, which means it can be used in all DIY projects. 

This soundproofing material is low in odor and comes pre-cut in panels, so installation won’t be a painstaking task. You can make sound panels by wrapping the foam in a thick fabric or burlap and using a spray-on adhesive so that it adheres to the surface. 

For this, you’ll have to pre-cut fabric such that it goes around two inches onto the rear side of the foam panels. After spraying on the front side of the material, smooth out bubbles and wrinkles by rolling the other fabric or burlap over the forepart. 

Then smooth out the rest of the fabric after a couple of minutes and turn the insulation over to do the opposite side. One thing that you mustn’t forget in the process is to cut off or fold the extra fabric. 

10. Anti-Vibration Floor Mats

Don’t want to be the troublesome resident whose noisy appliances disturb others in the building? Try placing anti-vibration floor mats beneath noisy appliances like washing machines or speakers to dampen the sounds or vibrations they produce that may travel through the floor. 

Mostly, anti-vibration mats are constructed of rubber, which means they absorb shock well. Note that the thickness of the mat determines how much noise it will dampen. For loud appliances, you must opt for thick floor mats; only then will it reduce sound transfer. 

Anti-vibration floor mats are available in a plethora of sizes, from large pads to small coasters. 

Appliances that produce vibrations or loud sounds must always be kept far from the walls or furniture, or the impact will be transmitted to the adjacent structures. You could also consider wrapping appliances with a soundproof blanket if they are overly noisy. 

11. Soundproof Floor Underlayment

Soundproofing your flooring is an excellent way to eliminate excessive noise produced by footfalls, objects dropped, or chair raking across the floor. In this regard, floor underlayment is the only method to soundproof your floor. 

Premium-quality underlayment will serve as a barrier and cover empty spaces to prevent sound from reverberating in your neighbor’s home. 

No matter if you pile on the thickest rugs, memory foam carpet underlays, or even use MLV, your floor won’t eliminate noise transfer if the structure isn’t solid. That is why you will have to tear down the existing flooring, place the underlayment and reinstall it to minimize sound reverberation. 

Though underlayments are effective on their own, you can use Green Glue to eliminate floor impact sounds. 

Besides noise attenuation, adding a floor underlayment would prevent mold from thriving between the floor and ceiling. That is because most of the underlayment products are moisture-resistant. 

The various base materials used in floor underlayment are as follows:

  1. Felt– This highly versatile material is an excellent sound absorber and can be used beneath any flooring material. 
  2. Rubber– Natural rubber underlayment is both heatproof and waterproof, so it can be used beneath tile, carpet, or wood but not below vinyl.
  3. Cork– While cork is antimicrobial and eco-friendly, it isn’t resistant to water; however, it can be used to soundproof vinyl flooring.
  4. Foam– Foam is the most popular method for floor underlayment because of its thermal insulation properties.  

12. Acoustic Coating

Using acoustic coating is the most practical way to soundproof existing walls. Unlike acoustic foam, it doesn’t need to be attached to the walls; rather, it’s a paint that you’ll have to spray to make the surface soundproof. 

Also known as soundproof coating, acoustic coating is a water-based paint that is designed exclusively to prevent the transmission of sound waves. Other than sound-absorbing fibers, it contains ceramic microspheres and microscopic vacuums that are packed with pigment, known as thermacells. It is this pigment that makes the material soundproof.

Though heavy, acoustic coating isn’t challenging to apply– all you need is a brush and roller to coat your walls with it. The price of the coating depends on the coverage– the greater the coverage, the more money you will have to spend.

13. Soundproofing Window Film 

Ceilings and walls block sound, but windows permit sound vibrations to move through and enter or escape the home. 

Sound-dampening window film is made of environmental PVC or thin plastic vinyl, which can thicken glasses, thereby reducing vibrations. Similar to thermal insulation films, soundproofing films are a self-adhesive layer that can elevate your space in a variety of ways. 

For instance, many window films are opaque, meaning they are non-transparent, so they can help you protect your privacy from strangers and nosy neighbors. Furthermore, they are available in an array of colors or patterns, so they can brighten up your dull and dreary space. When used with other soundproofing materials, window films can block sounds to a great extent. 

Window films may not be the right choice for windows with multiple panes; however, they are effective for soundproofing single-pane windows. 

14. Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping tape is most commonly used for soundproofing doors and windows– the two sources from where noise enters and escapes a space.

Not only are these tapes available in different shapes and sizes, but they are also made of different materials. The three main varieties are:

  • Thick or thin foam tape— they are ideal for sealing gaps both big and small.
  • Hollow rubber weatherstripping tapes— they shrink whenever windows or doors are closed to create a tight seal. 
  • Felt tape— it seals crooked or irregular-shaped cracks or corners. 

All these varieties of weatherstripping tape feature a peel-off layer to protect the glue or adhesive from drying up, which is why it is relatively easy to install. 

Before you stick the tape around the frame of your windows or door, clean the surface with an alcohol-soaked rag. Then peel the backing off of the tape and stick it along the edges of the frames of windows and doors.

In case your tape isn’t flexible, cut it into pieces and then stick them around the corners. Once done, your doors and windows will become soundproof, so no outdoor noise will disrupt your sleep or hamper your productivity. 

15. Acoustic Partitions

Acoustic partitions or sound absorption panels are useful in creating soundproof spaces.

With these panels, you can separate your workspace and work in peace. So, whether you work from home or the office, this acoustic partition makes it easy for employees to work in silence without breaking the bank. 

Acoustic (absorption) partitions use foam and fabric, which dulls or dampens noise by employing the damping principle. Some acoustic partitions feature swivel wheels that make it easy to move them from one place to another, while others feature simple stands. 

16. Door Draft Stopper

If the continuous barking of your neighbor’s dog makes it difficult for you to sleep or work, a door draft stopper is one of the cheapest ways to soundproof any door. 

Ideal for a variety of do-it-yourself tasks, it is a self-adhesive insulation material that is easy to apply. Simply measure, cut, peel off the backing, and stick it in the gaps or cracks that allow air to pass through. 

Door draft stoppers adhere well to a variety of surfaces such as plastic, metal, glass, wood, etc. And since they are made of cold and heat-resistant silicone, they won’t damage the surface you stick them on. 

Usually, these stoppers feature three layers of silicone that traps air and noise. This flexible soundproofing material is long-lasting and doesn’t crack even when exposed to natural elements. 

Some door draft stoppers also act as insect repellants, which would discourage insects from crawling or flying into your space. So, you might as well go for insect-repellant draft stoppers if creepy crawlies scare you. 

To get a 20-foot tape, you won’t have to shell out hundreds of bucks, which makes it a cost-effective soundproofing material. This soundproofing material would be particularly suitable for those who stay in hostels or rented apartments. 

Not only does it quieten the room, but it also insulates it well, meaning you’ll save money on energy bills. 

17. Soundproof Wallpaper

Contrary to what the name suggests, soundproof wallpaper isn’t wallpaper but a closed-cell polyethylene foam. 

Unlike regular wallpapers, soundproof wallpapers boast insulating and vibration-dampening qualities. More or less, soundproofing wallpapers function as thin acoustic foam panels, which aren’t dull and dreary like other soundproofing materials. 

These stick-and-peel wall panels are available in tons of styles, from hexagonal wall tiles to wood designs, so make sure you look at all options before settling on one. The right one will improve your indoor aesthetics, so you won’t have to use another attractive soundproofing material to make your space visually pleasing. 

Soundproofing wallpapers may be soft, but they are high in durability– once installed, chances are that they will last for years. 

18. Soundproof Curtains

Soundproof curtains are much sought-after because they add a classic touch to any space. What separates soundproof curtains from regular ones is that they are heavier, denser, and thicker. 

As a matter of fact, the majority of options use triple-weave technology, meaning they feature three layers woven into one another. Among the three layers, the middle one constitutes a high-density black yarn. 

And since soundproof curtains are thick and dense, they work as blackout curtains and are highly versatile. 

Unlike soundproof room divider curtains, this soundproofing material can be hung around windows or doors to block sound. Or you can use it to hide unsightly soundproofing products in any corner of the room or your recording studio. 

And if aesthetics top your list, soundproof curtains would be the right pick for your space because they are available in a variety of styles. You can easily opt for curtains that are made of satin, velvet, or polyester. 

Industrial soundproof curtains may feature a layer of MLV or mass-loaded vinyl, which contributes to noise reduction while providing a bit of thermal insulation. For best results, go for options that sport thermalayer, thermaweave, or insulating layers so that it absorbs noise. 

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Soundproofing Material 

Knowing the best soundproofing materials is simply not enough information for making a decision. There are some other points that you need to consider in order to choose the best soundproofing materials for your establishments. 

Whichever material you choose must strike a perfect balance between ease of installation, cost, and effectiveness. So, in this section, I will discuss a few important points that you must keep in mind, which will help you choose the best soundproofing materials. 

1. Sound Pressure Level Of The Noise

No two soundproofing materials are the same; some block noise considerably, while others are good for sound absorption. That means they stop the sound from reverberating or echoing within a closed area. 

For outdoor noises like that of a barking dog, traffic, or conversations of people, you need not go for a heavy-grade soundproofing material. Rather, soft foams will do the job of preventing these noises from entering your space by absorbing them. You can also go for soundproof blankets, curtains, and wall pads for the purpose. 

On the contrary, you will need superior-grade professional sound insulation to block noises that come out of heavy machines like construction equipment. In this regard, acoustic foam panels, fiberglass, and mineral wool insulation are options worth considering. 

2. Material Used In The Construction

The material used in constructing the soundproofing solution plays a huge role in determining its efficacy. 

As previously mentioned, the thicker the material of the solution, the better it would reduce noise transfer. In addition to that, your soundproofing material must be dense because denser solutions absorb sound or prevent noise transmission better than those that are light. 

Other than thick and dense, your soundproofing material must be porous; only then will it be able to eliminate noise transfer. A porous material prevents sound waves from passing through its cellular structure; as a result, the waves are trapped and turned into heat. 

So, you must always go for a material that is thick, dense, and porous to block unwanted noise from invading your space. 

3. Propagation Of Sound

Noise interference is of two types– structure-borne and airborne. Knowing the character and the source with which sound travels to you will help you pick the best sound insulation for your space. 

Some soundproofing materials would be the right choice for eliminating airborne noise transfer, while others may work well to inhibit the transmission of structure-borne noise. 

To eliminate structure-borne noise, you must opt for acoustic mineral wool insulation. On the other hand, door insulation weather strips and the mass-loaded vinyl sound barrier will soundproof your home from airborne noise. 

4. Installation

Installation is another important aspect that you must take into account when choosing a soundproofing material. 

Soundproof curtains, blankets, weatherstripping tapes, anti-vibration floor mats, and soundproof window films are some easy-to-install options that you can consider. But if you’re planning to install resilient sound channels or floor underlayments, you will have to tear down the walls and flooring to install them. That means installing them isn’t a DIY task, so you will have to hire professionals for the same. 

Tip

Most soundproofing materials are inexpensive, and you can save additional money by installing them yourself. However, if you are looking for ways to soundproof your space without spending too much, using furniture and items you own will be the best bet. 

Have a room that is too echoey? Move some furniture into that space to reduce echo in your abode. Add a sofa, throw in on some cushions and line your walls with tapestries to improve the acoustics of your room.

Besides, you can add a few houseplants in the space because they are known to absorb sound. 

As for thin walls, consider placing some heavy furniture items against them. One such furniture item you can use is a bookshelf, which you can place an inch away from the wall and then place your books, adding mass to them. 

Soundproofing Material Final Thoughts

Soundproofing Material Final Thoughts

Your home is supposed to be your safe haven, not a cacophony of people talking, motors running, screeching brakes, and honking horns. 

Installing the best soundproofing material will eliminate unwanted noise, improve acoustics, reduce stress, improve productivity and create a more welcoming environment. Although resilient channels and floor underlayments are highly effective in dampening sound, this soundproofing process will require tearing down the flooring and drywalls for installation. 

So, if that requires a lot of money and effort, you should opt for soundproof curtains, blankets, or weather-stripping tape. 

And before you proceed, it would be best to contact a professional soundproofing service to figure out the source of the noise leak. Hence, you’ll be able to figure out which soundproofing material would work best to reduce noise. 

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