We have all experienced the frustration of noise that is too loud and invasive.
Are you tired of shouting at the kids to turn the volume down? From deafening music, sports matches, ear-splitting TV programs, even people talking too loudly – sometimes we want to hide away from everything and simply have a quiet space.
How do we do this? By using soundproofing materials – here’s how you can make that happen.
What are Soundwaves?
Sound Waves can pass through all mediums i.e., gas, liquids and solids.
The two measurements usually used to calculate sound are decibels (dB) and hertz (Hz).
Decibels are the measure of loudness.
Humans can hear decibel levels from 0dB – 130dB, but extended exposure to noise above 90dB can harm your eardrums, and above 120dB can cause irreversible damage.
Hertz is the measure of frequency. One hertz equals one cycle per second.
The human ear can hear soundwaves between 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz. Waves below 20Hz are called infrasound and above 20Hz are called ultrasound.
Different animal species have various ranges of hearing that differ from humans, and are able to discern sounds in both the infra- and ultrasound spectrums.
We experience two kinds of noise: airborne and impact. Both types can penetrate any medium.
Airborne noise is noise carried through the air.
Examples of airborne noise are:
- Dogs barking
Impact noise is the sound of two objects colliding.
Examples of impact noise are:
- Moving furniture
- Vehicles colliding
What is the Basic Principle of Soundproofing?
There are four aspects to the basic principle of soundproofing:
The greater the mass of an object, the harder it is for soundwaves to penetrate. Glass is much easier for soundwaves to get through than concrete,
Dampening means to reduce or stop vibrations that cause noise. Different materials have different densities, so you can see which combinations work best for you.
Decoupling means to separate layers between solid objects, e.g., a hanging ceiling below a fixed ceiling. The space between them will deaden sound waves.
Insulating materials such as foam are best at absorbing sound. The sound waves cannot bounce back onto a hard surface and their momentum is stopped.
What are Different Types of Soundproofing Material?
Different types of soundproofing or noise reduction materials have various levels of efficiency, depending on what they are designed for.
Soundproof and Absorbing Foam
Sound absorbing foam comes in two types: open cell and closed cell.
Open-cell foam has irregular shapes which allows the air to travel through its pores and apertures.
Sound is absorbed into the cell chambers but the level of sound energy that is absorbed cannot be controlled.
Closed-cell foam comprises regular-shaped woven cells that are dense, and can therefore trap more sound waves. Closed cell foam is more efficient at assimilating low-frequency sounds.
Sound insulating batting can be made of mineral wool or rock wool, which is made from molten glass spun into fibers.
The batting fits between wall studs, taking up the space that would transmit soundwaves.
Mineral wool or rock wool fibers can cause health problems if they are breathed in. It has been largely proven that they are not carcinogenic, but can irritate the lungs.
These fiber sheets should be covered with drywall to prevent the escape of loose fibers into the air.
Sound Absorbing Panels and Boards
Sound absorbing panels or boards work by stopping sound waves from entering or leaving a space, such as a room.
They can be made of various materials such as:
- Fiberglass panels wrapped in fabric, to form a thick pad
- Perforated wood panels
Sound absorbing panels can be used to block noise in environments such as:
- Dance studios
Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) is effective at providing sound insulation.
You probably best know vinyl as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a synthetic polymer that was created in the late 19th century by a German scientist, and refined in the 1920s by an American inventor.
Its flexibility meant that it could be used for many thousands of applications, including soundproofing.
MLV sound blocking panels are frequently used in sound recording studios.
The negative effects are that because the material is so durable, it does not break down easily, and has been responsible for enormous environmental degradation.
Sound deadening is usually required in vehicles.
That annoying rattle in the trunk when you’re on a road trip can spoil your mood in no time.
Sound deadening sheets that are cut to shape and size can be installed anywhere it’s needed to reduce noise, either internal or external.
Its flexibility means it can go around awkward shapes and into tight spaces, making it less likely that sound waves can escape.
Acoustic Panel and Insulation
Acoustic panels can be installed vertically or horizontally, which have different effects on sound insulation.
Vertical panels will help reduce noise in an office environment by focusing the sound waves upwards.
Horizontal panels can be laid on a flat surface or hung from a suspended ceiling, thus preventing the sound waves from bouncing on nearby hard surfaces and creating noise.
Soundproofing board is known by various names, such as sheetrock, plasterboard, drywall or gypsum board.
It is made by chemically bonding gypsum between layers of paper.
Soundproofing board is thicker than plasterboard, and thus more effective at reducing penetrating sound waves.
The perforations in the layers absorb sound and reduce or prevent echoing.
The higher the mass of the sheets, the more effective it is.
Green glue is a semi-liquid paste that is applied between sheets of drywall.
You have to wait 7-8 days for it to cure before it becomes somewhat effective. It can take about 6 weeks to be fully functional.
This can be used in domestic situations, e.g., where there are thin walls between neighbors, or for a home-theater system to dampen sound.
Green glue is neither toxic nor carcinogenic.
Floor underlay is put down under the final floor layer like tiles, wood laminate, or carpeting.
They are usually made of dense materials such as:
- Sponge rubber
- Recycled plastic
Underfloor layers provide comfort for walking as well as reducing sound, as it is soft and flexible.
It also provides insulation against moisture and heat.
Sound Absorption vs. Sound Blocking vs. Soundproofing
What is the difference between sound absorption, sound blocking and soundproofing?
Sound absorption reduces the amplification and reverberation of waves that produce sound. Softer materials which are porous are most effective at absorbing sound, but will not eliminate it.
Sound blocking is where noise needs to be completely excluded from an environment.
Scientists from Boston University have created a new material that blocks up to 94% of sound but allows light and air to pass through it.
The lightweight material is shaped like a donut and can be constructed into bricks or tiles to create a wall that eliminates sound.
Soundproofing is where noise is stopped from entering or leaving a space, such as a room.
Heavier materials such as sheetrock are used where soundproofing is required, such as music studios, airports or heavy industry.
What are the Best Soundproofing Materials?
Various soundproofing materials work best in different circumstances, depending on the level of sound that needs to be eliminated or reduced.
MVL is one of the best products to ensure soundproofing.
There are also a number of sprays and paints on the market that claim to assist with soundproofing.
Noise-canceling foam gaskets can be used in doorways to improve soundproofing, but if the door itself is hollow, the sound waves will pass through that.
What are the Best Sound Absorbing Materials?
Foam is the best material to use for sound absorption.
It can be applied in various ways, such as blocks or wedges, and can be inserted in sheets between drywall panels.
Its physical properties i.e., lightweight and soft make this an easy and attractive option to use where the material is visible., such as ceiling tiles.
What are Different Types of Sound Absorbing Materials?
A number of sound-absorbing materials are available, designed for different uses. Each of the following examples can be used individually, or two together.
These are effective at deadening sound waves that have a high momentum.
Sound waves travel faster through solid materials such as steel than through gas or liquid.
Porous materials such as textiles, carpets, foam, mineral wool and cotton wool reduce the vibration of sound particles.
Thinner porous absorbers work best if they are detached from the sound source, e.g., a wall hanging or suspended ceiling, If they are attached directly to a solid surface, they will need to be thicker to absorb sound.
Membrane or plate absorbers, also known as panel absorbers, work in the lower range of soundwaves
These are usually boxes measuring about 4×8”made of plywood or similar semi-rigid material.
A filler material such as mineral wool is compacted inside the box cavity.
They absorb sound waves over a narrow frequency range, between 40Hz – 100Hz and are usually custom-designed for specific implementation.
A resonant absorber is a solid plate mounted in front of compact airspace, which is filled with a porous material., normally consisting of glass or mineral fiber.
The maximum absorption rate is controlled by the sound flow that the fill material allows, as well as the physical dimensions of the outer container.
Different types of resonant absorbers are available, including:
- Salisbury screen
- Jaumann absorber
- Dallenbach absorber
- Crossed grating absorbers
- Circuit analog (CA) absorbers
What are the Most Effective Sound Absorbing Materials?
To determine which soundproofing materials work best, you first have to determine what type of sound you want to eliminate or reduce.
It may be better to stop the sound from reaching you in the first place, rather than trying to dampen it in your immediate space.
Remember that where there is air, sound waves will be carried.
There are 3 ways to contain noise pollution:
Sound absorption is defined as the amount of energy extracted from a sound wave as that wave.
The best materials to absorb sound are:
- Foam, either as tiles or panels
- Blackout curtains
Sound diffusion is the regular dispersal of sound waves in different directions within a confined space.
The best material for sound diffusion is wood, preferably alder, cherry or pine.
Sound reflection is when you hear sound reflected from a hard surface, e.g., a wall. An echo is the repetition of this sound even when the source of the noise is no longer present.
The best materials to reflect sound are those that are dense and with a high mass, such as concrete, glass, metal, and stone.
Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam Wedgies Acoustic Absorption Foam
Do you want great performance for a reduced cost?
Then Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam Wedgies Acoustic Absorption Foam panels are what you need.
They come in packs of 24, and measuring 2” x 12”, will fit most spaces where you need them most.
- Sound studios
- Isolation booths
- Listening rooms
With an NCR rating of 0.80, they will definitely absorb noise from your noisy neighbor or your teen’s music.
The density and surface area of these panels will grab those soundwaves and keep them where they belong: inside your space.
You don’t have to worry about fire either, as this product has a Class B fire rating.
Hundreds of people think this is a great buy!
Pro Studio Acoustic Wedge Foam Absorption Soundproofing Tiles
So you need to absorb sound from your home studio, home theater or recording studio.Or maybe you like your music cranked up, but no one else does.
Pro Studio Acoustic Wedge Foam Absorption Soundproofing Tiles are the best way to cut down on your sound waves traveling down the street.
Measuring 12” x 12” x 2”, they are thick enough and small enough to pack into a small space.
Each pack of 12 tiles will cover 12ft2.
Their extra additives mean extra sound absorption with an NCR rating of 0.65.
Precision cut straight edges and uniform shapes means when you arrange them in an alternating pattern, they look good as well as tone down the sound.
With their neutral charcoal color, they will easily blend in with any decor.
This product is home-grown in the U.S.A. and dozens of people love it.
RYB Home Soundproof Divider Curtains Blackout Curtains
Who knew that curtains are good for soundproofing?
These RYB Home Soundproof Divider Curtains Blackout Curtains are designed to reduce noise, light and UV.
Do you live where you have noise from traffic, airplanes, a nearby rowdy nightclub, or sports stadium?
Three layers of protection will muffle a lot of this intrusive hubbub.
The outer layer is made of triple-weave blackout polyester taffeta, with a detachable felt lining in the middle and a thin thermal inner layer that together ensures total privacy.
They work great in any season and the two outer layers are fully machine washable. For a smooth finish, they can be ironed on a warm setting or a low tumble-dryer setting.
The product contains no toxins, e.g., formaldehyde.
The neutral colors of the white outer layer and the gray-white inner layer will blend in with the most decor.
Hundreds of people think this product is a good buy.
Sure-Max 4 Moving & Packing Blankets
You’re on a reduced budget but you want to block out annoying noise.
What’s the solution?
Professional grade Sure-Max 4 Moving & Packing Blankets are a great choice. Benefits include:
- Better cushioning
- Heavy duty
These built-to-last blankets will help block sound and light, as well as protect your precious belongings.
Hang them on your walls to protect against your neighbors’ noisy kids or loud off-key singing. Put them on the floor to muffle the music from the apartment below you. Or simply put them on your bed and wrap your ears up so you don’t hear the trains or trucks outside your window.
Hundreds of people like this product – buy it today and see why.
Door Sealing Gasket
You’ve put up the insulation on your walls and floors, but you can still hear dogs barking, or the parrot who whistles like a kettle.
Maybe you work in a factory and need to block out the noise of machinery.
You’ve installed a sound-proof door, but you haven’t installed door sealing gaskets.
Sound waves are sneaky – they will travel through any gap, no matter how small.
So stop them in their tracks by not allowing them any space to escape.
The flexible strip is attached to the outside of a door and will move easily with the door.
Once closed, the door will be a sealed unit.
You’ll need to check for wear and tear, and replace it if it gets cracked or damaged.
Soundproofing insulation is best installed during construction, whether a home or office.
This could consist of fiberglass or rock wool, but whatever material is used must cover any gaps in walls, ceilings or floors to ensure effective insulation.
The batting would be installed in sheets between studs and joists.
Types of Soundproofing Insulation
There are various types of soundproofing insulation on the market, such as:
During building construction, blow-in or loose-fill insulation is used to fill cavities between joists and studs.
This material usually comprises cellulose material such as :
- Other waste paper products
Styrofoam pellets and fiberglass fibers can also be used.
Cellulose products are preferred as these are considered more environmentally friendly.
The material is treated with boric acid to make it flame- and mold-resistant.
It is packed into bales before being churned up and blown into the structural cavities with an industrial blower.
Its density and pliability makes it an ideal product to ensure insulation.
Foam Spray Insulation
SPF ( Spray Polyurethane Foam) is a liquid foam that is sprayed onto surfaces and into cavities that need to be insulated.
SPF is made of isocyanate and polyol resin which combine to form a foam through an exothermic chemical reaction. When it dries, which it does within seconds, it becomes rigid but flexible.
There are two types of SPF: open-cell and closed-cell. Open-cell is lightweight, soft, and more flexible. Its cell walls are shared, unlike closed-cell, which comprise independent cells adjacent to one another, making it harder and less rigid.
Batt insulation is usually made of fiberglass, but can also be made of cotton or stone wool or other recycled materials,
Fiberglass is made of sand and recycled glass, so is a natural fire-retardant as well as being energy-efficient.
The flexibility of batt insulation means it can be installed in tight spaces and awkward corners between studs, joists, and rafters.
What is the Best Sound Proof Insulation?
There are various products that are effective as sound insulators.
These can include:
- Acoustic foam
- Acoustic fabrics
- Acoustic panels
- Mineral wool or rock wool
- Floor underlays
- Soundproof doors, windows, and walls
Owens Corning R6.7 Unfaced Insulation Roll
One option for sound insulation is the Owens Corning R6.7 Unfaced Insulation Roll.
If you want to discourage sound waves from entering or leaving your space, this multi-purpose insulation will do the trick.
With a thermal rating of R-6.7, it will keep you cosy and noise-free.
It’s made of 2” thick fiberglass wool and comes in sheets 16” (W) x 48” (L) that will cover 5.33ft2.
Fiberglass is inorganic and will last for years. It will also not develop mold or mildew, meaning your lungs are safe against breathing in any nasty bugs.
Hundreds of people like this product – be one of them.
Troy Studio Acoustic Panel Sound Absorber – Fiberglass
Wherever you need sound to be absorbed, Troy Studio Acoustic Panel Sound Absorber – Fiberglass is your solution.
It works great as a noise isolation shield in environments such as:
- Conference rooms
- Home theater
- Recording studio
This product is not only functional but attractive too. Tired of grays and whites? This comes in multiple colors to suit any decor.
It’s even green, enviro-wise. You can’t smell it, and it’s soft and safe for the kids to bounce off. To round it off, it’s also flame retardant.
It will absorb noisy-making reverberating and standing waves as well as echoes, giving you peace and tranquility.
This high-quality lightweight product is easy to install and comes with an NCR rating of 0.79 and has an average absorbent coefficient of 0.75. With even greater capability, it’s a Notable Low-Frequency Killer with a coefficient of 0.42 at 125Hz.
A pack of 2 panels comes in two convenient sizes: 16” x 12” x 1.1” and 24” X 24” X 1.1”.
Dozens of people have tried and liked this product – be one of the in-crowd.
What are the Best Sound Dampening Materials?
In technical terms, sound dampening means reducing a soundwaves amplitude. The term ‘dampening’ in the context of sound is often used interchangeably with the word ‘damping’.
Damping means reducing vibrations, especially in a vehicle.
TMS SoundProofing Padding for Wall – 4 x 25 Feet Mass Loaded Vinyl
Do you have a home theater or sound studio? Before long, you will need to install soundproofing.
Don’t search far and wide – we have the perfect product for you for effective blocking of sound and noise.
TMS SoundProofing Padding for Wall – 4 x 25 Feet Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) wall panels are made of durable but flexible premium quality vinyl.
It can be easily installed on walls, ceilings,or wherever it is needed to block sound. You don’t even need to hire a professional, all you need is a little DIY know-how.
It’s dual-function – it will keep noise in or out, depending on your needs.
You won’t go wrong with this US-made vinyl: it’s heavy-duty, 1/8” thick and weighs in at 1lb/ft2, with an STC rating of 27.
With over 2 million square feet of our product sold, we must be doing something right!
Dynamat 10455 18” x 32” x 0.067” Thick Self-Adhesive Sound Deadener
If you need to stop buzzes, rattles and vibrations in your car or truck, then the Dynamat 10455 18” x 32” x 0.067” Thick Self-Adhesive Sound Deadener is your answer.
This US-made patented butyl (synthetic rubber), the peel-and-stick product is easy to install on interior sheet metal or fiberglass body panels.
One pack measures 21″ (L) x 12″ (W) x 3″ (H) and weighs 23lbs.
Thousands of satisfied customers have used this product, so why not try it out for yourself.
Various glues and sprays are available that are ideal for sound absorption.
Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant Pack
For an out-of-the-box solution to soundproofing problems, try the Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant Pack.
It’s an ideal solution to fill in those small gaps where sound waves leak through. It’s best used to fill gaps of less than 5/8”.
This product comes in a pack of 6 x 29oz tubes with nozzles for easy application.
Try it where floors meet walls meet ceilings, and around outlet and switch boxes.This product is super easy to use: simply paint it on your hard surface after you have installed Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound.
It dries completely within 48 hours and can be painted over to match your decor.
Unlike us, it resists cracking and drying with age. Any excess can be quickly removed using only soap and water.
If you are concerned about the environment, Green GlueNoiseproofing Sealant is non-hazardous and has almost no odor. It’s been independently tested by Underwriters Laboratories and has been certified for fire safety and environmental impact.
Second Skin Audio Spectrum Liquid Sound Deadening Spray and Paint
If you are not a natural contortionist, you can’t easily get to those awkward nooks and crannies to deaden annoying noise vibrations in your car, truck or boat.
Second Skin Audio Spectrum Liquid Sound Deadening Spray and Paint is a water-based viscoelastic polymer. It’s resistant to high heat and is formulated to stick to metal surfaces.
It’s easy to apply, either with a brush or roller, or spray it on using a compressor.
Try it on your undercarriage or in the wheel wells, even your firewall – it’s temperature rated to 400o F.
It works best if two coats are applied, not thicker than about ⅓”.
This will go a long way towards keeping those noisy vibrations to a minimum.
Green Glue Company 10730 Noiseproofing Compound
A new concept of noise proofing is Green Glue 10730 Noiseproofing Compound.
This product is specially designed to dissipate low-frequency sound waves emanating from home entertainment or home theater systems.
It works by painting it on between two layers of rigid material such as drywall. MDF, cement board, plywood, etc. which then converts sound energy to heat.
You can only use it internally, within a temperature range of 65o – 85o F. It’s not designed for exterior use.
It’s green in more than name, as its low odor and environmentally responsible.
This product comes in a convenient case of 12 x 29oz tubes which weighs 27.2lbs.
Use this product with Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant Pack for ultimate results.
Hundreds of people have bought and been satisfied with this product – try it and see why.
Related Questions you may Have
We have spoken extensively about soundproofing materials, but this is related to other areas of insulation and soundproofing.
We will address a few of these areas here:
Do You Also Need to Insulate for Energy Efficiency?
Insulating your home or office primarily for energy efficiency will have no direct impact on insulating for sound issues.
However, a well-insulated space will have an indirect effect as there will be limited opportunity for sound waves to penetrate other areas of the building.
Different products are used for heat insulation against those used for sound insulation, but if gaps and apertures in walls, ceilings and floors are filled, sound waves are limited as to where they can go.
Is Sand a Good Sound Insulator?
Somewhat surprisingly, sand is a good insulator.
Because it is dense and heavy, it stops both airborne and impact sound waves from traveling very far.
Sand is an effective dampening material as it doesn’t vibrate when it comes into contact with sound waves. Sand grains themselves vibrate individually, but the vibrations don’t pass through the mass composition.
Wet sand has been found to be even more effective at blocking sound as it becomes denser and increases its mass.
Despite the excellent qualities of sand as a sound insulator, the practicalities of utilizing it in situations where it may be needed outweigh this.
Can a Room be Completely Soundproof?
The short answer is yes, but with qualifications.
The room would require a suspended floor and ceiling and hung walls. This would create a ‘room within a room’ through which sound waves would be unable to travel.
Completely soundproofing a room would create ventilation issues — any gap anywhere would allow sound waves to escape.
Is Styrofoam Good for Soundproofing?
Styrofoam can be used as sound insulation to a limited degree.
We already know that foam is a good sound insulator, so the properties of Styrofoam make it a viable product to reduce sound waves.
However, it is not a soundproofing material, but rather a sound inhibitor.
It will muffle sound wave vibrations but will not absorb them completely.
Is Sponge a Good Soundproofing Material/Insulator?
The sponge could be used as a soundproofing material but it would probably not be very effective.
At the minimum, it would need to have the ridges and wedges that deter sound waves, but it has not been recommended as a viable sound insulator.
Sound waves are persistent in their attempt to escape any enclosed space.
Because they travel in the air, they are not blocked by many substances.
It is almost impossible to have a room that is 100% soundproof.
However, many materials have been designed that are extremely effective at blocking sound waves in a particular environment.