Having a soundproofed room to work in is essential for musicians, singers, and music producers looking to step up their game. Adding soundproof to your workspace will prevent noise from leaking, put a stop to neighbor complaints and give you a much better sound quality.
However, for those who are on a budget, the costs of professionally soundproofing a wall or room can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. Luckily this shouldn’t have to stop you, since doing it by yourself is easy if you take the time to learn the steps. Plus, this task could become a positive experience and a great DIY project.
Essentially, the main fundaments in soundproofing a wall are to create a barrier for the sound to get trapped in and to seal any cracks that the sound could leak through. The former can be done by using techniques such as making the walls thicker, applying a layer of air between dividers, and using special products so the wall can absorb the sound waves easier. The latter can be easily done using glue and silicone.
In this article, you will find 15 actionable ways on how to soundproof a wall from start to finish, what you need to get the job done, as well as the most recommended method for each situation.
Extra Tip: The Difference Between Soundproof and Acoustic Treatment
Before we start, it’s great to know the difference between soundproof and sound treatment. Many people confuse these two terms due to their similarity, but they’re actually two completely different things and are both beneficial to each other.
Soundproofing a wall, as we mentioned before, is done to prevent sound leakage and/or entrance to a room. Applying acoustic treatment, on the other side, serves the purpose of treating any reflections space may have and decreasing the amount of reverb and/or echo, therefore improving the sound for tasks such as audio recording.
How to Get Prepared
The first step is to decide if you’re going to soundproof only one or all the walls. If you’re on a budget and you can only treat one or two sides of the room, it’s best to choose walls that are adjacent to the outside, be it the street, hallways, or other apartments in case you’re in a building.
If you’re soundproofing a studio with audio monitors, sound waves can easily travel through the back of this equipment, therefore causing sound leakage. Make sure to take that into account when choosing the best wall to work with.
The next step should be measuring the height and width of your walls. This information will come in handy when you have to make calculations regarding material use and test if your room is being soundproofed correctly.
Last but not least, once you’ve learned from this article how to soundproof a wall, you should search extensively for high-quality material for a great price to work with. Websites such as Amazon and eBay or your local home depot will help you find all the materials and tools you need.
Tools & Materials Needed
Here are some of the tools and materials you may need to act on the methods listed in this article. Please keep in mind this is an overview and your needs will depend on the method you choose.
- Measuring tape
- Wall Stapler
- Drill and Screws
- Professional soundproofing materials such as sound insulators, acoustic caulk, and silicone for gaps and cracks, mass-loaded vinyl, soundproofing curtains, sound clips, etc.
- Green glue
- Weatherstrips to help filling gaps in the window sill and door frames.
- Soundproof acoustic paint, bucket, and a wall brush, as well as tape to delimitate your painting space.
- Sound dampening furniture and household materials, if you’re going the DIY route
How to Soundproof a Wall
Now that you know all the basics, it is time to learn how to effectively soundproof a wall. As you will see in the following topics, there are a lot of different methods for this task and we are going to present you with the most practical and actionable ones.
Here are the methods that we recommend the most to soundproof a wall:
1. Extra Drywall Layer
Drywall is fairly cheap and easy to use. This material is much more practical than others such as brick walls, which would require an extended amount of specialized work and cost too much.
You can easily put an extra thick drywall layer on top of an existing one. We recommend using sheets of at least 5/8. They’re thick enough and cost little more than their thinner counterparts.
An extra drywall layer can be hanged with the help of a special glue called construction adhesive. This product is fairly inexpensive, can be easily found in specialized stores, and is easy to apply.
2. Sound Insulators
Materials such as rock wool and glass wool work very well to prevent sound passage due to their insulation properties and their ability to absorb and disperse noise.
These materials can be used in addition to the extra drywall layer method previously mentioned. Just apply a layer of insulation between your existing wall and your drywall sheets.
However, if you live in a place with warm weather and choose this method you will may have to invest in air conditioning, since these materials can significantly make a room hotter. Also, make sure the insulator you’re opting for is fire retardant for safety purposes.
3. Acoustic Caulk and Silicone
Many people underestimate the fact that even the smaller gap or crack on your wall can allow a lot of sounds to pass. Areas like the window sill, door frames, outlets, and light switches are the most problematic ones regarding that matter.
Luckily acoustic caulk and silicone are materials that provide an easy and affordable solution. Just apply the product to any gaps and cracks you have in your room and you’re good to go. This will make a lot of difference.
Just like most of the methods described, this one can also be used in addition to the previously mentioned ones to ensure an even better result.
4. Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass-loaded vinyl is a high-technology material designed in the 60s. It is widely used in the construction business for consumer-grade soundproofing since it is effective, thin, and can be installed behind or between two layers of drywall.
The way mass-loaded vinyl works is, due to its “floppy” quality, it acts as a shock absorber to the sound waves. If you think about it, a softer material compared to a harder one like bricks or drywall works much better in retaining energy, in this case, sound energy.
Apart from being effective in soundproofing your wall, mass-loaded vinyl will also help you get rid of some unwanted resonant frequencies and reverb and/or echoes since as mentioned before, it is a great absorber.
5. Acoustic Panels
Though acoustic panels are best used in addition to another method such as the extra drywall layer, they are highly effective both at soundproofing your wall and treating them acoustically.
These panels may come in a variety of forms. The two most popular ones are panels made of foam that you can glue directly to your wall and those framed ones that we usually see hanging on the walls of professional recording studios.
6. Thick, Soundproofing Curtains
Windows are a problematic area of the room regarding noise leakage because they are usually thinner than the walls. If your wall or room has a window, you can achieve great results by adding thick, soundproofing curtains.
These curtains often come pre-made and ready to hang, so they’re an easy addition to your room. Even if you’re not working on the wall where the window itself is, you could still add this as an extra since you’re gonna get a lot more soundproofing for a little additional cost.
7. Sound Clips
Sound clips serve the purpose of creating an air gap between two drywall layers, therefore making the wall thicker without the need to fill it with more material. They tend to be fairly inexpensive.
These clips are often little rubber pads that run through a metal bar and create separation. This is an additional step to the extra drywall layer previously mentioned.
8. Bonus tip: Green Glue
Green glue is an additional material used in combination with methods as the extra drywall layer to boost its soundproofing qualities and the sealing between the layers. It is applied between two layers of walls or rigid material and, as it is highly effective and easy to use, it is a worthy extra step for your project.
We know that for those who are on a budget, the costs of soundproofing a wall can quickly add up. That’s why we are presenting you with cheap alternatives on how to soundproof a wall.
1. Weather Strips
Weatherstrips are foam strips that you attach to gaps in places such as the window sill and the door. As mentioned before, those gaps are usually underestimated in how much noise they can let in and out.
This material may help to a certain extent if you have any gaps or cracks in your wall, cost fairly low, and are easy to find on your local construction store, so it’s worth giving it a go and see the results before trying a more expensive method.
2. Soundproof Acoustic Paint
Soundproof acoustic paint is a special type of paint designed to muffle the sound waves that encounter a wall, therefore, improving your room’s soundproofing and acoustic qualities as well.
If you have the necessary skills to paint the wall by yourself, this could potentially be a cheap alternative. This material is often referred to as liquid mass-loaded vinyl due to its similar properties.
3. Acoustic Blankets
Acoustic blankets are blankets especially designed to soundproof walls and reduce the echoes and reverb of a room. They are usually heavier than a normal one thus adding mass to the wall they’re hanged on to.
We decided to consider this one a cheap alternative because they’re highly effective and don’t need any special setup besides hanging them on your wall.
If you’re looking to go on the DIY route, that’s totally possible and could make up for a great project. Here are some DIY methods on how to soundproof a wall with materials you may already have at home.
1. DIY Acoustic Panels
As mentioned before, wall panels can be good for both soundproofing and acoustically treating a wall/room. There is actually a DIY method that is just as effective using materials that you may have at home.
This method consists of creating a rectangular frame out of wood, attaching a piece of cloth to the outer side using a stapler, and filling it with 8 to 10 sewed together bath towels, depending on the size of your panel. You can then attach another piece of cloth to the back as well to hold the towels in place and hang it to your wall.
This is a good DIY alternative because the density created by the bath towels will absorb the sound waves as effectively as store-bought acoustic panels. Plus, if you don’t have these materials lying around at home you can easily find them in second-hand stores.
Here is a great video showing how you can make high-performance acoustic panels for $5.
That’s right, certain types of furniture can help to soundproof a wall and even improve the sound of your room. Sofas, beds, and rugs all make great examples due to their mass and soft material.
Even though this method may work better with the furniture placed next to your wall, the more sound absorbing decoration you have the better, so make sure you scatter these items around your room for improved functionality.
3. Blankets, Pillows, and Bed Covers
Those items you find on any bed can be effective at soundproofing a wall if you place them strategically. Pillows, for example, are usually made of foam and this type of material is highly effective for our purpose as we’ve seen before.
Blankets and bed covers can be easily hanged onto windows using your already existing curtain rod and, with a little creativity, to walls, if you screw a supporting bar on it.
Mattresses are one of the items most widely used for DIY soundproofing. You can either lean them on your walls to create a mass or if you have more than one lying around and need a quick, temporary solution to record audio, create a sound booth by arranging them into a triangle or square.
They also work well leaned against a door, since doors are usually thinner than the walls around them and may let too many sound waves pass through.
Best Methods on How to Soundproof an Existing Wall
Some of the methods mentioned before may require too much modification on the structure of a building, making it unpractical for those who live in apartments or don’t have the budget to build a completely new wall. If that is your case, from all the methods mentioned the best ones on how to soundproof an existing wall.
– Extra Drywall Layer
– Sound Insulators
– Acoustic Caulk and Silicone
– Mass Loaded Vinyl
– Acoustic Panels
Please note that all these methods can be used complementary to each other. That means, if you decide to put an extra drywall layer on your wall, it is worth going an extra step and putting a sound dampening material such as sound insulators or mass loaded vinyl behind the new layer to boost your soundproofing; Or, you can take care of any gaps and cracks your wall may have by using acoustic caulk and silicone.
Walls Between Apartments
Soundproofing a wall when you live or work in an apartment can be an additional challenge. Extreme structural changes are not always viable in this case and there are also some extra precautions that you should be taking into account if that’s your case.
Walls between apartments, especially on older buildings, tend to be thin. So it’s best to measure and/or have a great guess on what are the thinner apartments in your wall would benefit the most from soundproofing. Don’t forget to consider any walls that are adjacent to corridors and hallways too.
That being said, the best methods on how to soundproof a wall between apartments should be those that create a lot of mass without much structural change needed, such as:
– Mass Loaded Vinyl
– Acoustic Blankets
– Mattresses, if you’re looking for a quick, temporary fix.
1. Combine different methods to boost the soundproofing of your wall.
2. If you’re going the extra drywall layer route, make sure your sheets are thick enough to stop sounding from passing through. 5/8 drywall sheets should do the job.
3. If you want to test how soundproofed your wall really is, there are methods to do so by using speakers and specialized decibel meters. However, if you don’t already have the tools needed, this can be an expensive task.
4. Don’t underestimate how much sound a little gap or crack can let in and out of your room. Try to fill them all with acoustic caulk and/or silicone and weather strips.
5. Always use fire-retardant materials to ensure your safety and of the others around you.
In this article, we showed you 15 actionable ways on how to soundproof a wall. As we saw, soundproofing a wall and achieving a professional result shouldn’t have to be hard or expensive. Plus, there are many DIY methods using materials you may already have at home that can make a great temporary solution.
Overall, focus on creating mass on your wall. Extra steps may and should be done to boost your soundproofing results, but ensuring your wall is thick enough to create a barrier for the sound is the number one priority.
Please remember to plan all the steps with caution before you get to work though since you don’t want to damage your house or workspace. Also, always opt for high-quality fire retardant materials to ensure the best results possible, your safety, and of the others around you.
Do you have any more tips and actionable ways on how to soundproof a wall? Please share it with us in the comments section below!