How many times in your life do you badly need soundproofing at home for many reasons? Perhaps you have a noisy neighbor next door that never shuts its mouth and often quarrels. Or you have a family member who is a musician and has an audio room set up next to your door.
For whatever reason, we don’t want to get bugged by the unwanted noise around. Who doesn’t want to have a quiet day and night, after all?
Luckily, there are countless practical solutions to control the movement of unwanted noise to our ears. One of which is the use of cardboard, a highly recyclable material, to block sound.
Does cardboard absorb sound? Let us continue to find out.
Cardboard does not absorb sound, but its core material can control the movement of sound waves, removing the echo effect when a sound hits empty space.
Pro tip: When sound is reflected, it means there is too much echoing.
Going back to the basics of sound waves, echo is produced because the sound is repeated or reflected. The echo can only happen in a space with hard walls or objects, represented by a bouncing ball.
Now, to get the concept of cardboards if they “reflect” or “absorb” sounds, they neither do any of those but the corrugated waves of C-flute and F-flute shapes help in sound reduction.
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We know that sound waves move and are absorbed by anything, blocking the space to reduce unwanted sound. However, the material in cardboard isn’t as absorbent compared to soft materials like soundproofing foam (also called acoustical foam) and fabric.
Yet, cardboards are suitable soundproofing material on walls, floors, and ceilings as reinforcement acoustic panels.
It can be a good sound reducer due to its pores.
How Does Cardboard Reduce Noise?
The pores in cardboard are key to its capability to reduce sound. More cardboard panels will help even better in mitigating sound or minimizing noise transfer.
Cardboard is an inexpensive soundproof acoustic tool by gluing panels on the wall or any part of the room.
Like musicians, speakers, and educators, many people use cardboard panels to reduce the echo in a room.
Does Cardboard Absorb Vibration?
Typically in a hall, people install different kinds of sound absorbers, like acoustic foam, egg cartons, or boards with holes to reduce the echo effect of sound that bounces against rigid walls.
Cardboard is also helpful as many teachers have found that cardboard lessens the noise within the classroom and the next.
It doesn’t look appropriate to fill your walls and ceiling with cardboard as they are less appealing. So, what you can do is stick sheets with designs to make them attractive or place aluminum foil on each to make them look more like sound deadeners.
While cities become noisier every day due to the increasing movement of people, different kinds of deadening materials are invented to get away with varying noise frequencies.
Cardboard is a cheaper solution to get rid of irritating noise.
Pro tip: To better understand sound absorption, think of a sound wave as a liquid. Pouring liquid on a non-porous hard surface will only drip or “bounce” back, but if you spray it on soft material like cloth, the cloth will absorb the liquid and never come back.
How to Make a Soundproof Box for a Generator
Is Cardboard Good for Soundproofing?
You can test the effectiveness of cardboard against loud noise by making a soundproof box made of it.
Of course, you will need supplementary soundproofing materials to reinforce the thickness of the cardboard. Because compared to fiberboard, cardboard is made of collective paper pulp or recycled woodchips from lumber mills.
Cardboard is a wood-based material, but heavy paper made into boxes is an appropriate tool for a sound absorption box.
Why a Generator?
Generators are becoming indispensable appliances at home due to frequent power outages. However, just like other industrial machines, generators produce loud sounds that sometimes are unbearable to human ears.
To avoid the impact of noise pollution your generator brings, we find practical methods to manage the sound as much as possible.
Before creating your box, keep in mind that the box must have a designated hole for vent purposes. Covering the generator entirely will cause it to overheat.
- Collect the tools you need for the soundproof box.
- Pencil and paper
- Ruler or measuring tape
- Cutter or scissors
- Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV)
- Acoustic mats or styrofoam sheets
- Nails or screws
- Take the measurement of your generator and the holes in the ventilation duct. Write down the size of the box. Add a few inches or centimeters for the acoustic mats and the little allowance so the container will not tight fit the generator.
- Cut cardboard sheets according to the measurement you made.
- Cut the holes or circles dedicated to the ventilation duct. Ensure that the placement of holes in the box will fit and match the actual location of the generator.
- With the exact measurement, cut the MLV for an added layer to the cardboard. Use Green Glue or acoustic caulk to seal the corners of the MLV and cardboard and ensure no gaps are left out for better sound blocking. You can use staples or construction adhesive to seal the MLV in place.
- Similarly, cut the acoustic mat to have a soft layer that will absorb the sound from within the box. Stick them on top of the MLV and seal the edges with Green Glue.
- Styrofoam sheets are thicker and have softer cushions that absorb sound more efficiently.
- Attach the box boards using nails or screws.
- Install the air ducts. Make sure they are air-tight with the box.
- Paint the cardboard box for an attractive finish.
- Add a handle on the top of the box for the convenience of removing it. But be careful not to destroy the cardboard box surface.
Since cardboard is a sound-damping material rather than an absorber, you should look into other materials that can absorb sound and noise better.
With that being said, sound-absorbing materials have soft, porous, and pliable characteristics, making them effective sound insulation.
On the other hand, hard and dense materials or surfaces are impenetrable, thus reflecting sound the most.
Cardboard, as a sound reducer, plays in the middle between the absorber and reflector. The corrugated pulp in the core is porous in the cardboard, leaving air pockets in regular patterns that serve as receivers of sound.
To make cardboard an effective sound diffuser, you have to reinforce it with:
- Acoustic sheets
- Sound deadener mats
- Acoustic foam panel
- Mass loaded vinyl
- Soundproof blanket
- Soundproofing curtains
- Acoustic egg crate foam
Pro tip: Soundproofing is the art of applying soundproofing solution in diffusing, absorbing, or decreasing sound wave impacts in a specific area.
You can start your soundproofing project with any of the suggestions below.
1. Cardboard Acoustic Tile
Create an acoustic tile made of cardboard for the floor if you live in an upper-floor apartment. It depends on how much thickness you want on the floor by testing it with a musical instrument and seeing the effect.
Cut and form the cardboard tiles and pile them side by side to cover a wall and serve as a sound absorption wall.
It is better not to cover the cardboard with another acoustic sheet to expose the corrugated waves and increase their effectiveness in reducing sound.
2. Cardboard for Acoustic Wall
If you plan on using cardboard to dampen the sound in your room, we suggest using the E-flute type corrugated cardboard.
It has shown more reducing noise effects than the other types by 40% when considered a soundproofing tool for your drywall.
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You can use them in combination with a soundproof curtain.
3. Cardboard for Attic Insulation
Attic insulation helps in noise reduction between the home’s exterior and interior.
Using cardboard can also be a practical solution to eliminating outside noise as fiberglass insulation or loose-fill cellulose reinforcement.
However, since cardboard is not fire-resistant, they tend to warp immediately with heat.
4. Cardboard Panels in the Ceiling
If you live on the lower level of an apartment and you have problems with noisy neighbors upstairs, you can use cardboard panels to stick on the ceiling as a cheaper way to deaden the sound from the pounding floor.
5. Cardboard for Your Office/library
Installing multiple layers of cardboard is effective in soundproofing a room.
If you’d like a quiet home office room situated beside a teenager’s room who loves to play loud music, cardboard is an inexpensive way to reduce the noise coming to your room.
The thicker the cardboard panels, the more soundproof your room will be.
There are a hundred ways you can use cardboard in your soundproofing DIYs, especially if you have a limited budget to accommodate high-end soundproofing material.
Though investing in pricey acoustic and sound-deadening tools is worth the spend, your immediate need for silence cannot wait if you lack the resources.
Don’t wait until your ears get hurt or your life is disturbed by all sorts of irritating noise around.
Whether you choose cardboard and do some creative stuff to meet your soundproofing goals or look for other sound-absorbing material, your health should come first by controlling the impact of everyday noise to keep your sanity intact.
Robert is an electronic engineer with more than five years of experience with a solid affinity for helping people reduce noise. He writes about these silent home appliances and easy soundproofing measures to help everyone avoid the negative effect of extended exposure to high noise levels.