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Does noise from your neighbors keep you awake at night? Do you have a noisy occupation or hobby and you do not want others to be disturbed?
If your answer is yes, then you should know that there are practical solutions to these problems. Instead of getting frustrated, check out this list of fourteen best soundproofing materials which could help you to prevent noise from leaving or entering your room.
Sound Absorbing Versus Soundproofing Materials
There’s a common misconception that soundproofing is the same as sound absorption. Absorption is an element of soundproofing. The significant difference between soundproofing materials and sound absorbing materials is that the latter is primarily used for improving a room’s acoustics, while the former prevents sound from getting out or in.
A sound absorbing material reduces reverberations and echoes that are present in a room; they can’t prevent sound from leaving or entering. So, great sound absorbing materials might not be useful for soundproofing.
However, for complete sound isolation, you can combine the two kinds of materials; they’re most effective together. But if you are not bothered about the reverberations and the only issue you have is the sounds, then stick to soundproofing.
Four Principles Of Soundproofing
Soundproofing looks like a complicated subject, as there’s so much misinformation which confuses us, even individuals who claim to be professionals when they are not.
Based on sound transmission physics, there are just four soundproofing principles. Combined with the materials and techniques used for soundproofing, the principles are enough for effective soundproofing.
Every solid material that is thick and heavy will reduce sound. People who do not like airborne sounds like a voice, usually prefer this approach. If you would like to try this approach, add mass to your walls using furniture. Also, you can add Mass-Loaded Vinyl over or under the drywall. You should note that the mass principle is not very useful in terms of impact noise.
This can be achieved using damping compounds. The compounds have unique properties which make them convert sound to heat energy and stopping the sound suddenly. Green Glue is a perfect example of a material for damping. This principle is even used for automotive soundproofing materials.
For the damping compound to work, you have to apply it between 2 stiff panels, such as plywood or drywall, which you can then screw together. When sound tries to reach the unit, it triggers a shearing force between the panels which create friction through the damping layer and convert sound into heat energy. Damping is a beneficial approach for handling low-frequency noises.
Decoupling is best used when sound passes through a building structure. Introducing gaps in some regions of the structure makes it easier to interrupt sound vibrations.
The best time to employ decoupling is during the construction of the structure. Though it can be done after construction, it would be more complicated as you would need to remove existing ceilings, floors, or walls.
If you are searching for a soundproofing material which would be perfect for decoupling drywall from a building, you should try resilient channels. They are effective at handling impact noise and low-frequency noises because sounds will only vibrate against the channels but not pass through the walls.
Although decoupling is very effective, it requires professional planning and installation. Doing it poorly will worsen low-frequency noises in some cases.
Although absorption does a great job at soundproofing, its effect is not like the three other principles. However, you can consider this as well to get the best results.
One material that is the most absorbent is the acoustic foam. It comes in different colors, sizes, and shapes, but it is worth noting that instead of blocking sound, it improves the audio quality in a room. Also, soft furniture pieces can be used for sound absorption.
All these principles work independently but complement each other. Hence, if you are not satisfied with the soundproofing effect of an approach, you can introduce another one. Combining these elements will give the best results.
Top Soundproofing Products and Materials
So far, you have read about the several kinds of products you can use for soundproofing your room. Now, let us take some time to see the things that the best soundproofing products and materials can do for you and where to use them.
1. Mass-Loaded Vinyl Sound Barrier
Mass-Loaded Vinyl is a great instrument for adding mass to the ceilings, floors, and walls without including unnecessary bulk. The synthetic material is flexible and relatively thin while it retains its functionality.
The primary purpose for materials which add mass is to block sound completely — or reflect it. Mass-Loaded Vinyl does that pretty well. It can be used to soundproof air ducts, pipes, and construct window plugs. Its main drawback is that despite its efficacy, it is a bit expensive.
The most popular brand of this product that has stood above others for some time is the Trademark Soundproofing Mass-Loaded Vinyl.
In terms of the most popular manufacturers of this product, one brand has stood above the rest for quite some time. The Trademark Soundproofing MLV was pretty tough to beat for a long while in terms of quality. Nowadays, though, there are other comparable products, such as the one Soundsulate makes.
2. Green Glue Soundproofing Compound
If you are looking at using a noise dampening material for the sound damping principle, this is arguably your best bet. Green Glue may look like a mystery, but it’s easier to comprehend than you would think. See some alternatives to green glue.
We’ve already discussed the installation process. Sound dampings are very effective when they are between 2 hard surfaces. Then the surfaces, usually plywood and drywall, are joined together. Whenever sound tries to pass through one of the drywall layers, it makes the panels vibrate against the damping compound, and the vibration is converted into heat.
One advantage that Green Glue has over other damping compounds is the fact that you do not need to attach the two surfaces using screws. After all, it also functions as an adhesive. It can be used to add another drywall layer to an existing one or to attach the acoustic foams to walls. Surely, it is very useful if it is used to fuse two drywall pieces.
3. Soundproofing Window Kit
Single-pane windows can be physically converted into double-pane ones. This do-it-yourself project involves getting a glass panel or acrylic panel and attaching it on the window.
You can buy acoustic-grade glass which is similar to those that can be found in sound recording booths. One way you can attach the glass to the window is to set it into a metal frame, and have the frame drilled into the window from inside. Also, it can be attached magnetically.
If you’re looking to try the other method, you can purchase a soundproofing window kit made by MAGNA-SEAL. The soundproofing window kit contains a white “L” framing trim and an adhesive magnetic edging tape. However, it does not include the ¼-inch thick acrylic sheet, screwdriver, or screws.
The L-channel trim is four feet long, with four pieces in the kit — implying that it should be able to cover four-by-four foot windows. But if your window is not as big as that, you can cut off any excess.
This method will allow the transmission of natural light through the window. But it may be costlier if the price of the glass or acrylic is taken into account.
The Weatherstripping tape is about the essential tool for soundproofing windows and doors. It is made of a variety of materials, and it comes in many sizes and shapes:
Hollow rubber weatherstripping tapes usually compress when the door or window is shut, and form a tight seal.
Thin or thick foam tape can be used for smaller or bigger gaps.
Felt tape can also be used to achieve similar results.
The backs of these products have a peel-off layer which protects the adhesive and makes them very easy to apply. Ensure to clean the window frame or door frame you wish to soundproof. Pick up all the dirt using an alcohol-soaked rag.
Then, peel the tape, stick it, and roll it out on the edges where the door or window meets the frame. Most of these tapes are not flexible enough to stick on the corners; hence you should cut them there.
You can save so money by purchasing this tool. Aside from preventing noise from passing through, it is primarily used for weatherstripping — this implies that it was made to control temperature.
5. Soundproof Wallpaper And Paint
There has been some debate about whether soundproof paint and wallpaper can really enhance the noise level in a room. It’s good to know things that might work, even if you have doubts about their actual efficacy.
Soundproof paints may actually have the ability to enhance a room’s noise level. However, the results aren’t particularly promising. But it is certainly more effective than laying coats on ordinary paints. (See my recommended wallpaper)
One reason for the effectiveness of this product is that it contains much latex. As you have been able to read from this article, rubber is used often for soundproofing every area in the home. The latex could even settle into every tiny crack in the walls just like silicone caulk also does. Hence, that may be one of the reasons why there’s a little difference in sound.
It seems as though soundproof wallpapers can help you achieve more. The one we are specifically looking at is a stick paper and brick-shaped peel. It was made with a white closed-cell polyethylene foam, which has sound absorbing properties. The wallpaper does the work of thin acoustic foam panels. And rather than having boring foam walls, wallpapers would add some style to your home.
6. Acoustic Foam (Auralex Studiofoam Wedges)
It is used to improve the sound in small and medium rooms, such as control boardrooms, small home theaters, and even recording studios.
Colors: Burgundy, Charcoal
Auralex is a reputable acoustic foam brand which has several foam sizes and shapes that are ideal for home theater lovers, podcasters, recording artists, and musicians. Their best seller, as well as the most popular product, is the Studiofoam.
With an 0.8 NRC rating, the anechoic wedge of Studiofoam Wedges can cut down reverberation, flutter, and slap significantly. The 2-inch panels are rated per ASTM 84.
You can mount the foam on your room’s ceiling and wall using spray adhesive, hook and loop strips, or 3M Command strips. If you plan to move them, you should use the removable kind of adhesive strips for easier removal.
7. Sound Absorbing Foam (Pro Studio Acoustics Tiles)
This serves a good alternative to Auralex panels. They provide multiple colors for breaking up with the charcoal which looks attractive in every room.
Colors: Charcoal with Purple, Teal, Blue, and Red
Pro Studio wedges are manufactured from a top-quality acoustic foam in the USA. They can be installed on areas with noise reflection issues, or used as ceiling tiles for cutting down reverberation and echo. Pro Studio foam isn’t a comparison to the cheaper “egg crate” variety foams.
Most individuals use the Pro Studio Acoustic foam panels to absorb sound both for professional and residential use. The attractive colors liven up studios, voice booths, gaming rooms, and theater rooms while killing echoes and absorbing sound.
8. Acoustic Panels (ATS Acoustics)
Acoustic panels are perfect for rooms where the look of pyramid foam and wedge is not desirable. The appearance of these wood framed panels is more like a large picture or decoration than sound absorbing panels.
Colors: Black, Ivory, Beige, Burgundy
For any room where you foam may not be a great idea visually, acoustic panels can surely fill the void. The ATS panels are made with a solid wood frame and Roxul ABF mineral wool. The panel is finished off with a fabric cover to give it a beautiful look.
All that is left is to have them hanging on the wall with the hardware included. It is essential to note that ATS Acoustic Panels come as single panels, but multiple panels can be bought at the same time to save costs of shipping.
9. Acoustic Curtains (Utopia Thermal Blackout Curtains)
Blackout curtains are great for minimizing the noise that comes in or gets out from doors and windows. They can be used in the nursery, home theater, bedroom, or wherever you need a little quiet.
Typical acoustic curtains use heavyweight; quality fabrics combined with soundproofing materials such as mass loaded vinyl to reduce echo and dampen sound. Though these curtains are special-order units, the best alternative for homes is to purchase heavyweight and high-quality blackout curtains. Alternative you can read this article and learn how to make the curtains at home.
For homes, acoustic curtains are used for improving a room’s sound, as opposed to reducing noise from entering or leaving. Utopias Bedding Blackout Curtains are our favorite pick for acoustic curtains.
Note: sound curtains can be used to control industrial noise. The curtains are designed with Rockwool layers or fiberglass, sandwiched over mass loaded vinyl. Acoustic curtains are much stiffer than others and are hung on frames which make them mobile as well as easy to surround noisy areas or a piece of equipment.
10. Moving Blankets (Sure Max Heavy Duty)
When you have a tight budget, sound can be absorbed using thick moving blankets.
Asides moving furniture, moving blankets are also used for other purposes. The thick fabric of blankets such as the Sure Max Heavy Duty Blanket can be used for the effective absorption of sound. They can be hung on walls, over doors and windows, and even enclose sound booths for recording.
Sure Max blankets are designed from polyester backing, and plush cotton batting and each weighs more than 5 pounds. They do not have grommets (supposed to make hanging easy), but for some inexpensive sound absorbing setups, the materials are great.
11. Door Sealing Gasket & Sweep Kit
Foam gaskets are an effective, cheap material used to fill in space on the frame of doors where noise are likely to leak out or in.
Every gap between door jams and doors are major channels for unwanted sound to pass through. Compressible foam gasket material absorbs some sounds and seals up the gap. The door sweep part seals up the floor aspect of the door, especially when on hard floors.
However, it is just a piece of the puzzle in terms of soundproofing doors. Even with a door sweep and gasket, a cheap hollow door will still transmit sound, so you may need to add blankets or acoustic curtains on the problem areas for more effectiveness.
12. Soundproofing Insulation
This is used in homes and buildings for reducing the amount of transmitted sound to other areas in the building. The major materials are fiberglass and mineral wool. It is a cost-effective and relatively easy way to improve a room’s soundproofing.
13. Mineral Wool (Rockwool Rockboard)
Rockboard is a durable mineral wool insulation that is used for both thermal and acoustic insulation. It is fire-resistant and best used in commercial and residential buildings.
Density: 8 lb/ft^3
Sizes: 24” x 48” x 2”-4” thick
NRC: 0.8-1.1 depends on the thickness
Rockwool Rockboard is a great insulation board product perfectly suited for the acoustic insulation of buildings and homes. Mineral wool is one natural mineral which can even earn you LEED points for installing it. It is easy to shape, rigid and is fire and moisture resistant up to 2150°F.
Also, Rockwool can be used to make bass traps and acoustic panels. All that’s required is building a wood frame, fitting the Rockwool boards, and covering it with a good looking fabric.
The Rockwool Safe ‘N’ Sound is a great option too, and Rockboard is a high-quality soundproofing insulation material, perfect for soundproofing ceilings and walls. It is flexible and soft, which makes it easy to stuff the batts into the standard stud cavities. Unlike other kinds of soundproofing insulation, Safe ‘N’ Sound isn’t available online.
14. Soundproof Fiberglass (Owens Corning 703)
Owens Coming 703 fiberglass boards mostly used to make acoustic panels for theaters, churches, commercial buildings, and home studios.
Density: 3 lb/ft^3
Sizes: 24” x 48” x 2” thick
NRC: 1.0 starting at 300 kHz
The Owens Coming 703 fiberglass boards are ideal for reducing high-frequency noise in recording rooms, home theaters, and any other areas where the acoustics require improvement. 703 boards are more effective at the low frequencies required for bass traps.
Build your own wooden frames and spread them around the room, as well as above unwanted noise sources. You should handle the product with care if there’s a need to cut the boards because fiberglass is an irritant, and proper protective equipment should be used.
The density and mass of these materials reduce the energy and amplitude of the noise and dissipates sound. Sound damping materials are usually in the form of paints, sprays, rolls, and mats and help kill rattles, vibrations, and overall noise dissipation.
15. Floor Underlayment (Roberts Super Felt)
Underlayment can be used to minimize sound transmission of engineered floors and hardwood.
Thickness: 4 mm
IIC Rating: 67
Size: 360 sq feet
STC Rating: 66
Roberts Super Felt underlayment is an ideal choice for soundproofing floors, especially engineered wood, hardwoods, and laminates. The felt is manufactured from recycled fibers, heat treated and compressed to form rich sound absorbing materials.
The material roll has adhesive strips on a side; you lay it on the subfloor an overlap of size 1-¾ inches. There’s a built-in vapor barrier, hence no need to bother about smells or moisture being absorbed.
The Roberts Super Felt underlayment is a good product for improving the sound reduction qualities of a newly installed floor. It goes down easy, is tough, and is an excellent soundproofing product.
On Soundproofing Materials
There you go guys- above are some of my most recommended products you can use for DIY noise reducing projects at home. Most of these materials are affordable and yet very effecting in absorbing or blocking unwanted noise.