Soundproofing a wall can seem like an impossible task, and it can seem like every tiny sound bounces around the room in a chaotic way. But learning how to soundproof walls is a key component of learning how to soundproof a room!
Look, we won’t bore you this guide is effective. Soundproofing isn’t usually a fun topic but we’ll try and make it that way. IF YOU’RE SKIM READING just scroll down to the guide and the step by step section.
This guide will show you how to soundproof a wall for different BUDGETS, as well as how to soundproof existing walls!
Scroll down for the cheap ways and the more expensive ways..
- What you’ll need before you start
- How to soundproof a wall – the 10 best ways
- The cheap way to soundproof a wall
- The slightly more expensive ways to soundproof a wall
- Soundproofing existing walls – the 10 best ways
- Why aren’t walls already soundproof?
- Why you should do soundproof walls
- Know your wall
- Identify the source of noise
- Tips for soundproofing better
- FAQ about soundproofing a wall
What you’ll need before you start
Before you begin trying to soundproof a room, think about the sound, where it’s coming from and what your budget is for this project. Some people spend thousands of dollars on soundproofing their room for a music studio etc, while others just have less than $100 to play with. Try and collect the following items or things:
- Soft materials like carpets or rugs
- Soundproof Blankets and sheets
- Sealant (Ideally soundproof caulk but any sealant will work better than NO sealant)
- Under door strips to stop sound going under the doors
How to soundproof a wall – the 10 best ways
There are essentially two different approaches to soundproofing a wall.
The first one is learning how to soundproof a wall or room using things you can find around your house. This is by far the fastest and cheapest way of soundproofing, or at the very least dampening the sound so it’s not as easy to hear from outside a room.
The second approach is to actually use proper materials and soundproof it professionally. You’ll certianly be able to tell the difference between the two. What we mean by that is, the cheap way is cheap and cheerful, BUT you’ll still hear SOME sound when you’re done.
To truly block all sounds coming out of a room or a wall you need to use the right materials (we created a list of the best materials for you!). We’ll also explain how to use the right materials AFTER the cheap guide below:
The cheap way to soundproof a wall
This method is very simple and just involves a bit of moving things around, and some common materials you can easily find in your house. It’s NOT as effective as the slightly more expensive methods mentioned below, but if you also use quiet products like the best quiet keyboards or a silent mouse it will definitely get you started.
This is more for short term fixes and emergencies than long term solutions. These steps can be taken independent of each other, meaning you can choose to do one, or more of these steps.
1: Add dense mass to the walls, doors and floors
As you might have guessed, this step is all about adding mass to the doors like blankets, sheets, soundproof paint, and other materials that can block out sound. This won’t look good, and the chances are you won’t be able to stand looking at a mass of pinned up blankets for very long but it does seem to work.
To do this simply find the thickest, heaviest blankets you can, and then nail them into the walls to cover all of the surface. We’ll warn you now though, it will get HOT in the room you’re soundproofing, and there’s not much you can do about it. This is best for Winter time and you can use blankets like these:
The last part of this is to get a rug or carpet! Carpets and rugs are great for soundproofing floors and they also help with how things sound in the room. The chances are you’re soundproofing for some sort of audio related reason like building a studio or trying to keep the noise of your drum set under control..
Well, having a carpet helps with all of that. The sound bounces around the room LESS, and LESS of the sound leaves the room through the floor, plus carpets and rusg aren’t actually that expensive.
Also when adding mass to a wall, it’s important to consider the main areas sound escapes from a room which are:
- The doors and windows
- The corners of rooms (bass gets trapped there)
- ceilings and walls
2: Put strips on the doors
So sound travels in various ways but a common way sound escapes a room is under the door.
If you’ve got a huge crack underneath the door or you can see light coming from the other side of the door, you could have a fantastic soundproof setup but the sound would still slide right under the door!
For almost no money at all, you can get adhesive (or nail in) strips that go on the bottom of doors and sweep across the floor, blocking most sound from escaping that way. A very easy and cheap soundproofing fix that can make a huge difference!
3: Fill the cracks with caulk or soundproofing sealant
As we’ve just said, sound can escape from the tiniest cracks and spaces. For less than $30 you can get a huge tube of acoustic sealant which is great for sealing up cracks and holes in the corners of rooms and edges of walls etc. You can find soundproof caulk like this:
This makes a big difference when you seal the entire room, especially if your room has lots of wooden edges and cracks where sound could escape. It also helps to seal up the cracks around the door frame (if there are any there) as sound can travel through those as well.
4: Fixing all the sound leaks
Now you’re just going to go round the room and fix all of the ‘sound leaks’. These could be light switches that have come loose, windows that have gaps in them, or loose floorboards that can be nailed down.
Think of sound as being like water or a ‘mist’ and find all the places where it could escape the room. Then seal those gaps off using things like:
- Duct tape (one of the most effective cheap soundproofing solutions, and it’s so strong!)
- Sealant like we mentioned before (many purposes, always useful)
- Under door strips like we mentioned, these can also be used on the sides of doors if you have a door with gaps on the sides as well (some old doors are like this)
5: Focus on the small areas of the wall
If you’re on a budget but still want to stop sound escaping your room, you should focus on the smallest area possible. This means you need to know where the sound’s escaping from, and you need to focus on those areas, applying some of the materials above or maybe a bit of soundproofing wallpaper.
If you’re on a budget but still want to stop sound escaping your room, you should focus on the smallest area possible. This means you need to know where the sound’s escaping from, and you need to focus on those areas.
Try testing by playing music through a handheld speaker, have someone move around the room while you’re outside it, and try and figure out where it’s escaping from.
Usually, it’s either through the doors or windows, or through the thin walls. The walls are a lot harder to insulate but if it’s the doors, that’s a much easier fix. If you’ve got a cupboard of walk in wardrobe, fill it with as many clothes as possible because that will insulate the sound more as well.
The slightly more expensive ways to soundproof a wall
These methods are more effective, higher quality BUT more expensive usually.
This is for those of you with a slightly higher budget for soundproofing.
Any links should open in new tabs so you won’t lose your place, and also don’t feel like you have to do all of these methods. You can just choose one if you like, but we’ve found that the MORE of these things you do, the more soundproofed the room.
6: Changing the doors
Most doors inside houses these days are hollow, meaning they’re simply two panels of thin wood held apart by batons of slightly thicker wood. This means (annoyingly) that most hollow doors act like drums, amplifying the sound of the room and blasting it outside into the rest of the house.
That being said, most modern houses are starting to include solid doors, but not all. For a small amount of money you can replace the door with a SOLID door which will let much less sound pass through.
You can actually now buy special soundproofed doors that also have insulation inside. This is first on the list for a reason: Most sound escapes through doors.
7: Insulating the wall cavity using soundproof materials
Going one step further you could insulate the inside of the walls.
Soundproofing walls as you’re building them is something we have other more detailed guides on because it’s quite an advanced process, but there are lots of things you can do here (like adding hat channel or resilient channel).
Lots of materials to choose from as well. Try getting some sound insulating expanding foam sealant and spraying it into the inside of the wall.
If you’re building the room for the first time or converting an existing room, it’s easy! You can spray some soundproofing materials onto the inside of the drywall as it’s being built. You can grab a spray can of damp-blown cellulose and spray that over the walls as you’re building them. (Remember to wear a dust mask).
8: Remove air gaps in the walls
Most walls have lots of air gaps in them, which is just another way sound can escape.
You can try and fill all the air gaps in the walls by getting insulation for soundproofing walls. There are many DIY kits you can get for this, or you could hire a professional to come and insulate the walls for you.
You could try using a sealant or even duct tape to seal off the gaps in the room, but bare in mind that the more gaps you seal off, the more likely the room is to become very warm, very quickly! This isn’t advised in warm places with no airflow because you’ll turn the room into a sauna!
9: Adding more drywall to the rooms walls
So this will cost a little bit more, but it’s a good long term solution (better than nailing blankets to the walls).
Create a layer of double drywall , separate from the actual walls, or use QuietRock all around your room. This will allow the sound to bounce off the new drywall before hitting the ACTUAL wall and travelling through that. We have another tutorial on how to soundproof a drywall as you’re building it so check that out!
If you’re adding/redoing drywall also consider adding soundproofing spray foam to make your walls even more soundproof!
10: Acoustic sound catching panels
So this is slightly more expensive, but I’ve listed it here as well as in the expensive section because there’s such a range of price here. You can get some REALLY cheap foam acoustic panels to stick on your walls that really make a difference.
However, you can also (if you want) spend thousands on more effective higher quality sound panels as well, so it’s entirely down to your budget.
Soundproofing existing walls – the 10 best ways
Regardless of whether you’re trying to prevent the noise from coming in or going out, soundproofing is the best solution.
Here’s the thing:
The proper heavy-duty sound insulation is a lot of work that’s best done while building the walls. To do it after building it is a messy and time-consuming process. So, what can you do if you’ve already built your home?
Luckily, a few methods are proven effective in soundproofing a wall that’s already built.
This is especially convenient if you’re renting or the houses in your neighborhood share walls so you can’t really tear any down.
Continue reading to learn how you can improve the soundproof qualities of finished walls in your house or to soundproof your apartment.
You’ll discover some of the necessary information you should know about soundproofing walls, as well as some of the easiest methods you can do yourself.
We’ll discuss a few things you can do to prevent the noise from going in or out your room. However, before you proceed, think about the stuff we’ve mentioned above.
The key is not to damage the walls any more than you might have to, so take your time with the project and don’t rush anything.
1. Blowing insulation
If you just have drywall resting against the studs, your walls are probably a horrible sound barrier. In this case, one of the best things you can do is add some insulation to the interior space of the wall itself.
This isn’t something you can do yourself, but the process is quite quick, not very messy or pricey either. Insulation is usually blown into the wall with a pump or any specialized machine through a pre-drilled hole.
A most common material is fiberglass since it dries rather quickly.
Cellulose is another option that’s non-toxic and far more eco-friendly. It’s actually newsprint that’s been recycled, shredded and treated with a fire retardant.
Another easy thing to do is add another layer of drywall to the existing wall in your home. This is a relatively simple process that anybody can do though you have to pay attention to a few things.
By adding a new layer, you add mass and thickness to the wall making it more difficult for the noise to get through. The thicker the wall, the more soundproof it is.
Use some Green Glue to connect the two layers because it can actually work as another barrier between the rooms. Besides, Green Glue is known to make heat out of sound energy, so that’s another plus.
You can add as many layers of drywall as you want. It’s up to you to decide depending on your needs and preferences. It’s also useful when it comes to soundproofing ceilings.
3. Special paint
You may or may not know, but there’s a special paint that reduces noise.
Acousti-Coat is specially formulated for this purpose and minimizes noise by up to 30%. It’s made of hollow ceramic microspheres, resins that are quite sound-absorbing and different fillers.
The best part is that it’s easy to apply so anybody can do it. You just apply it with a paint roller to all the large areas, and with an angled brush to the small and hard-to-reach points. Keep in mind that it dries quickly.
This paint does an incredible job at dampening sounds. We recommend you apply two coats for best results in noisy neighborhoods.
When you think of a soundproof room, the first thing that probably comes up your mind is a foamy wall we usually see in podcasting studios. You’re not the only one, and it’s for a reason.
Adding foam panels like these to your walls is one of the best things you can do to improve its soundproofing qualities. These are made especially for this purpose which is precisely why people use them in recording studios.
The panels are quite affordable, and the installation is also simple. They come in different sizes, and there are also a few colors to choose from. Again, the glue you use can be an extra layer of protection, which is also a plus.
However, one thing to keep in mind is the aesthetic appeal of the panels.
If you’re building a recording studio at home, you probably don’t care if the foam panels are visible.
But if it’s your bedroom or living room, then you should consider something else that’s a bit more stylish.
5. Wall covering
This is a better option if you don’t want any foam to be visible on your walls. Wall coverings are essentially the same thing as foam panels, but they have a more stylish finish to them.
The best thing is that there’s a vast selection of these to choose from. Some are already painted in every color and shade you can think of, while others are even textured.
They work in the same way and are also easy to install, but are more suitable for other areas of your home. The price ranges depending on the size of the panels, as well as the color and finish you opt for. With some wall coverings, it’s even impossible to tell it’s foam by just looking at it.
Acoustical wallpapers are another simple yet effective way to reduce noise. Though it doesn’t sound like the most efficient method, it actually reduces noise up to 75%.
These come in large rolls, and you apply them with an adhesive in the same way you would apply traditional wallpaper. It’s pretty simple, and you can do it yourself by just securing the top of the wallpaper to the wall with a staple. Press it firmly and smooth out all the wrinkles and bubbles.
It’s also recommended you apply some spackle on the seams where the wallpaper meets. This will bring the two pieces together for a more seamless result. Once the spackle is dried, you should paint over the whole wallpaper with latex paint.
7. Soundproof curtains
Soundproof curtains are a great way to reduce noise without any tampering with the existing wall. You can use them over any wall in the same way you would use regular curtains.
They are made of special materials that prevent the sound from getting in or out of the room. The installation is the easiest and anybody can do it. Though it makes more sense to drape them across a window, curtains can be equally effective in soundproofing a wall.
8. Acoustic blankets
A wall with an acoustic blanket hung on it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing sight. However, it makes for a great temporary solution.
It’s a great way of reducing the noise that will soon stop. For example, if you work from home, but there’s some minor construction going on in another room, a blanket will keep some of the noise out if the source is a little further away from your office.
9. Acoustic Tiles
Another way recording studios soundproof their walls is with acoustic tiles.
A metal grid holds these fiberglass tiles, so the installation might not be the easiest. However, it’s one of the most effective ways to add mass that acts as a sound barrier.
Even with these, there are many to choose from as some have different sound-interrupting layers such as foam or MLV. It’s also important to mention that the entire process of adding acoustics tiles isn’t very budget-friendly. Still, it’s one of the most effective ways of soundproofing that’s also long-lasting.
10. Check for holes
A small hole that the previous owner drilled for a cable to go through can be the cause of all the problems. Patch it up with some Green Glue or spackle, paint it over, and then check if you can still hear the noise at the same level.
Also, if you opt for a method that requires any kind of tampering with the existing wall, make sure to check if you’ve patched up all the holes you made. Any little crack in the wall can let the sound in or out the room, so it’s important you treat it accordingly.
Why aren’t walls already soundproof?
Walls are there to physically separate one area of your house from another and to provide privacy. Most homes typically don’t have soundproof walls so that’s something you’ll most likely have to do by yourself.
Walls are usually built with drywall resting against studs which is excellent to provide privacy but does nothing in terms of soundproofing. In most houses, you’ll hear a loud TV, people yelling, washing machine, and all kinds of other noises.
This is because most walls don’t have any insulation in the space between the studs. The sound then bounces all around this empty space and ends up growing even louder at times.
Styrofoam heat insulation might help but only with preventing the outside noise getting in as it’s done only on the outer walls.
Why you should do soundproof walls
Soundproof walls will keep the sound INSIDE the room you’ve insulated.
So if you’re planning to build a home studio, this is something you should seriously consider.
Now, we mentioned heat insulation as a good way to also soundproof the outside walls. However, this isn’t a simple process, and it’s quite costly, too. Do you live in a noisy neighborhood?
If so, you can still do a few things prevent the noise to bother you inside your home without breaking the budget.
Simply, you should do it if there’s any sound bothering your daily life. Most methods of soundproofing aren’t complicated at all, and you’ll have your peace before you know it.
Know your wall
You can add mass to ANY wall; it’s just a matter of how you do it.
So, there isn’t really a wall you can’t improve, but you’d have to find a specific method that works with what you have.
For example, removing drywall and adding some insulation is one of the ways, but what if you have brick walls? That’s not nearly as easy to work with, so you’d need to come up with another method.
Before you start with any planning, think about the kind of material you’re working with. This will help you find the best method of soundproofing.
Identify the source of noise
Think about the noise that’s bothering you before you jump into any projects. Not every sound calls for installing extra drywall so make sure to give this some thought.
This will also help you determine how much of extra mass you need to add to your existing walls in order to reduce that noise to minimal levels.
Tips for soundproofing better
As you’ll discover, soundproofing a room takes time, and because there are SO many options out there and ideas you could use, it’s hard to know which approach to take.
The best starting point for a small room with fairly small walls is just to get some acoustic foam panels and a couple of bass traps, stick them up and see what difference they make.
For the VAST majority of people, that would be enough to soundproof the room enough for your needs. It’s only when you need the room to be TOTALLY soundproof that you should consider other things like insulating the walls, drywall modification and rubber paint etc.
FAQ about soundproofing a wall
Is soundproofing expensive?
As we mentioned above, there are countless different methods to soundproof pretty much any type of wall. Luckily, each of these methods differs in how simple they are and how cost-effective.
Still, it doesn’t always have to mean that investing more money would bring better results. Soundproofing is essentially just adding mass to your wall.
That’s something you can do in many different ways depending on the results you want and how much you care about the aesthetic aspect.
Can I soundproof a wall that has a window?
Any wall can be improved, even the one with a window or door. It might require some extra work since you’d have to work around those holes but it can still be done.
Every way of soundproofing we’ve mentioned above can also be done on a wall that has a window or door. You can add drywall, foam panels, paint or anything else to it. Still, keep in mind that windows are far less soundproof than walls so unless you treat them too, the noise will still find its way in your room.
There are different ways to soundproof doors and windows so you’d probably have to do that as well in order to get satisfactory results.
Are there any downsides to soundproofing a wall?
Soundproofing a room tends to make the room warmer, so be careful of that. It’s good to have some sort of air conditioning unit if the rooms completely soundproof
Various soundproofing materials are expensive and the chances are you don’t NEED the more expensive materials, at least most people don’t. Try the basic solutions and foam panels before splashing out on higher priced items.
Look out for gaps when soundproofing using caulk or sealant. If either water or air can get through, sound can easily get through too!
Don’t change your entire wall and then put the same door on, because the door will leak sound and make the whole project pointless. If you’re going to change the walls, you should change the doors too