How to Soundproof a Room
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Making a room soundproof offers many benefits, including giving you a place of solitude and quiet, an area for a home theater, or even a space for a sound studio for recording music. The level of quiet you needs helps determine which soundproofing method will work best for your particular needs. And while no room can ever be 100% totally soundproof, the following steps can get you started on the journey toward peace and quiet.
The article below details some simple techniques for making any room more soundproof.
Simple soundproofing techniques
The purpose of any soundproofing project is to reduce the amount of sound penetrating or emanating from a given location, such as a room. Sound travels in waves and when the waves hit a barrier the waves cause vibrations which allows the waves to travel through that barrier and continue, albeit muffled, on the other side. So, the purpose of sound reduction is to limit or stop the vibrations caused by the sound waves and thus reduce the amount of noise produced on the other side of the barrier. This is accomplished through the use of a variety of sound dampening and absorbing materials.
Method 1: Using absorbing materials. The easiest way to reduce sound is by using materials that absorb the sound waves and prevent vibrations from penetrating the material.
The most cost-effective materials are thick blankets and foam mounted to the surface of the walls of the room.
In addition, specialty materials, such as fiberglass and sound curtains, do an even better job of sound reduction by absorbing incoming sound waves.
One of the best materials for this case is mass loaded vinyl.
Method 2: Use a damping compound. Another way to reduce sound waves is by creating a barrier that does not vibrate, thus damping the sound.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to apply a special damping compound between your original wall and an additional layer of drywall. This keeps your walls looking relatively normal while stopping the vibrations from the sound from reaching the outer wall.
Method 3: Decoupling your walls. Decoupling is the technique of creating a dead space barrier that effectively decouples one wall from another.
To accomplish this, you need to place another layer of drywall atop your old wall. In between you have dead space. To prevent sound traveling through the wall studs, you need to use resilient channels, which basically inhibit the transfer of vibrations between the wall studs and the outer drywall.
You have two options when installing a damping barrier using resilient channels. Install them when you first build your house or place a new frame between your old wall and a new layer of drywall, with the resilient chambers attached to the new frame.
Method 4: Create a heavier wall. You can also increase the mass of your wall in the hopes that you can make it heavy enough to prohibit the transfer of sound.
Adding layers of drywall represents the easiest way to create a heavier wall.
Low frequencies can still penetrate the barrier, which represents the biggest problem with adding mass to a wall for soundproofing — it doesn’t always do the best job in stopping sound.
Method 5: Other soundproofing techniques. In addition to constructing barriers on the walls of your room to reduce sound penetration, you have a few other techniques at your disposal.
One is to place the items that create the vibrations on top of absorbing materials. While this doesn’t reduce the sound waves created, it does limit the amount of vibrations created by contact with the floor.
You can also keep sound waves from penetrating the space around and under a door by installing weather-stripping around the sides and top of a doorway, as well as a door sweep along the bottom of the door. For larger gaps underneath a door, nail a strip of wood to the underside before installing the sweep.
To soundproof the floor, install soundproofing mats under a layer of carpet. Keep in mind that rooms with no room beneath them usually don’t need soundproofing.
Soundproofing a room doesn’t need to be difficult and might only require some easy-to-install items, such as mass loaded vinyl and sound curtains on the walls or weather-stripping and a door sweep around doorways. You can use more extreme measures if necessary, including adding additional layers of drywall, resilient channels, and insulating materials. Remember to consult with a professional before attempting more complex home improvement projects.