In this post, I’ll walk you through the various aspects of soundproofing a wall to help you make an informed decision.
Almost all the methods that we’ve discussed in this post are budget-friendly and highly effective.
In order to help the newbies and first-time buyers, we’ve also included some frequently asked questions as well as a rough estimate of the cost involved in a soundproofing wall project.
Undoubtedly, living in an apartment has its ups and downs.
However, out of the endless list of problems, the one I would like to highlight is dealing with a wide variety of unwanted noises.
In fact, at times, living in an apartment may test your tolerance capability.
Even though you are lucky to have sensible educated neighbors there are lots of airborne and external noise that you’ll have to deal with.
It’s not always the neighbors that produce high-pitched noise.
Moreover, you also contribute to everyday unwanted noise.
For example, noise produced by household appliances, TVs, music systems, and many more.On the other hand, if you’re living in an apartment in the vicinity of an airport, railway station, or a high-traffic zone, then high-pitch external noise can be a point of concern.
All in all, you need to deal with unwanted noise in a smart way.
If you own an apartment, then things are easy for you because you’ve all the rights to do modifications in your apartment.
Unfortunately, the same doesn’t hold true when you’re a tenant in an apartment.
Even for the smallest modification or construction, you’ll need a permit.
Well, even though you get a permit, you should be ready to spend a handsome amount on remodeling.
However, I’m not here to discuss something like “best ways to remodel your room”, etc.
On the contrary, I’ll walk you through the numerous ways that can help you achieve the epitome of silence without spending a fortune.
So, are you ready for the ride?
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for months to see whether your permit has been approved or NOT.As a soundproof consultant, I’ve helped hundreds of my clients achieve quietness and peace, and today I’m gonna disclose all my secrets to help you achieve the same.
Before we start the in-depth discussion, let me tell you, that all these 9 soundproofing wall methods that I’m gonna discuss are for existing walls.
So, without any further ado, let’s begin.
9 Cost-effective Ways to Soundproof Existing Walls
It goes without saying that all the methods that I’m gonna discuss now are cost-effective and budget-friendly.
So, you’ll NOT have to worry about the budget at all.
In case, you’ve any doubts or queries about these methods, then you can ask me in the comment section.
Rearranging the Furniture
Let’s start with the free method.
Well, the good news is you don’t have to spend a single penny.
However, it would be completely wrong to say that alone this method will help you to get rid of all sorts of external noises.
But, at the same time, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use this method to tackle your noisy neighbors.
Nonetheless, this method will give you a satisfactory outcome ONLY IF you have a good number of furniture in your apartment.
To be honest, a couple of furniture is not gonna do any miracles.
So, now the question arises, what do you need to do with the furniture?
Well, add a good number of furniture, closets, and bookshelves in the room that you want to soundproof.
Furthermore, once you’ve got the furniture, the next thing that you need to do is to place them on the critical walls.
If you’re an avid reader of this blog, then I’m assuming that you’ll be well aware of the fact that the emptier the room the more it will be prone to the echoes.
So, you need to fill your room with furniture, painting, etc. to reduce the echoes, reverbs, and vibrations.
Place the furniture, closets, and bookshelves in such a way that it covers the critical walls.
And, once you’re done, you’ll find a tangible reduction in the external as well as airborne noise.
Remember, for the optimum result, you need to use this method along with other soundproofing methods that I’m gonna discuss later in this post.
Soundproof Your Walls Using Decorative Items
Another way to soundproof your walls is by placing decorative items on the wall in a tricky wall.
This method will show you extraordinary results in case your wall is thin.
But, before that, it’s REALLY important to understand the logic behind this method.
By adding decorative items to the walls, you’ll add mass, and the more the mass of the wall the better it will combat the unwanted noise.
So, now the question arises, how to proceed further?
In case, you’re not comfortable with creating, then you can buy one from the market.
While buying it is advisable to prefer one that has a good amount of mass associated with it.
Both fabric paintings and canvas art prints will work fine.
Moreover, you can also try thick and tight-woven decorative quilts as they provide great sound insulation for any room.
These decorative quilts are quite popular among soundproof enthusiasts as they look cozy and homely.
The market is flooded with soundproof wallpapers, and you can also use them on your walls.
Nevertheless, the performance of the soundproof wallpapers depends to a large extent on their thickness.
The gist of the entire discussion is, that though the paintings and wallpapers can help a bit still the quilts and similar items can be a better option.
Install Soundproof Foam Panels
First of all, I would love to clear up the confusion surrounding the foam panels.
Neither they are expensive nor difficult to install.
So, if you’re not considering this method because you think it is costly, then let me tell you, anyone can afford these panels.
You’ve got a wide variety of brands to choose from.
In case, you’re very particular about the appearance of your wall, then let me tell you, these panels come in a variety of colors and patterns.
I prefer using these panels either for my personal use or for my clients.
- Superdense Soundproofing Acoustic Panels: These high-quality panels are known for easy installation. You can install it on your own without any professional help. (Check the Current Price On Amazon)
- 12 Pack-Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges: I recommend these acoustic panels to my clients who are on a shoestring budget. I’ve tried a couple of cheap acoustic panels, and I found these panels effective as well as among the cheapest panels available on the market. (Check the Current Price On Amazon)
However, to get the maximum out of these panels, you need to install them in the correct way.
For correct installation, you’ll have to figure out all the sound reflection points.
Now, the question arises, how can you figure out those points, right?
The best way is through tests and experiments, and for the same reason, I always recommend velcro strips or other non-permanent adhesives because after doing the experiments the probability is very high that you’ll have to change the location of these panels.
I’ve written an in-depth article on acoustic foams and panels.
Furthermore, I would request you to go through it for more information on this topic.
Acoustic Fabric Panels for Walls
I’ll not deny the fact that Acoustic fabric panels are a bit costlier than foam panels, but are still affordable.
The acoustic fabric panel consists of a solid wood frame.
The fabric is wrapped over the panel.
Moreover, the fabrics wrapped over these acoustic panels enhance the sound-absorbing properties of the panel.
ATS Acoustics is a well-known brand in the soundproofing domain.
You may have to spend around $50 per piece to take ATS Acoustics home.
However, you’ll get all the hardware that you need as well as detailed instructions for installation.
I would advise you to choose between these two fabrics:
- Jute: check the price of ATS Acoustics Wall Panels on Amazon
- Microsuede: In case, you’re looking for an elegant product, then you can try these panels wrapped in microsuede (Check the Current Price On Amazon)
Seal the Cracks in Drywalls
If you would have got a chance to go through my previous articles, then you would have seen me emphasizing the cracks, gaps, and holes.
In the article on soundproofing windows, I’ve mentioned the importance of sealing the gaps and cracks, and without any doubt, the same holds true for soundproofing walls as well.
First find out all the gaps, holes, and cracks in the drywall, and then use a soundproof adhesive to seal them.
The market is flooded with soundproofing sealant, so finding a good product may be a bit tricky.
Don’t worry, I’ll guide you to the best sealant.
I always recommend acoustic caulk. (Check the Current Price On Amazon)
And, the reasons for backing acoustic caulk are as follows:
- Highly flexible
- Permanent solution
- Neither shrink nor crack over time
If you’re the one hearing Acoustic Caulk for the first time, then allow me to throw some light on acoustic caulk.
You’ll be astonished to know that acoustic caulk is a “rubbery” material that is easy to apply and doesn’t change shape over time.
Let’s have a look over the top acoustic caulks on the market.
- Big Stretch Sashco Caulk
- St. Gobain Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant
- Franklin International Sound Sealant
(Check the Current Price On Amazon by Clicking the Aforementioned Links)
No matter which caulks you choose out of the three, I can assure you that all of them can be easily installed.
I’m sharing with you a brief guide to help you get started.
- Protect yourself: It is equally important to work in a well-ventilated environment. Definitely, the smell can be overpowering, and I’m sure you don’t want to cause any damage to your health.
- Clean the surface: It is very important to wipe away all the specks of dirt, debris, and dust from the area so that it doesn’t interfere with the elasticity.
- Using a caulking gun to apply the caulk: Once you’ve made a hole in the tube nozzle, you can start applying the caulk. Don’t forget to apply a good amount of caulk in the troubled area.
- Smooth out the caulk: Furthermore, you can use a caulking toolkit to smooth over the surface for an elegant and beautiful finish. Instead of the toolkit, you can also put your finger to work.
Install Soundproof Curtains
I’ve praised soundproof curtains in quite a few of my articles.
It goes without saying that noise-canceling curtains play a crucial role in soundproofing doors and windows.
Without any doubt, the obvious places to hang these heavy soundproof curtains are in front of your windows or doors.
But, have you ever thought of hanging them along the wall?
Before you make up your mind to use soundproof curtains on the walls, you need to understand that you’ll have to install a curtain rod on the wall to hang the curtain.
If you’re not interested in doing so then you can definitely skip this method.
These room divider curtains are capable of creating a soundproof space within a room or another space.
I’ve always vouched for soundproof room divider curtains because they are highly effective in dampening unwanted noise.
I’ve recommended them to my clients, and I’ve also bought one for my child’s study room.
Can you guess the color of the curtain that I’ve bought for my child’s study room?
Well, the color is Burgundy.
It syncs well with the background of my child’s room and also adds to the home decor.
There are lots of ways to soundproof walls, but in the end, it is you who has to take action.
Install Soundproof Blankets
You can understand the importance of moving blankets from the fact that these blankets can alone soundproof an entire room if installed in the correct way.
If you don’t believe my words then check out my article on soundproofing a room using blankets.
Soundproofing blankets aka moving blankets are mainly used for protecting furniture and other household appliances while shifting houses.
But, at the same time, these soundproof blankets are also used for soundproofing purposes because of their heavyweight and dense structures.
Similar to the noise-canceling curtains, these moving blankets are mostly used for soundproofing windows and doors.
But, they can also be used to soundproof walls.
You can hang these soundproof blankets from the rods or tack them to the walls.
To know more about soundproof blankets, you can check the article titled “Best soundproof blankets“.All said and done, soundproof blankets are one of the cheapest ways to soundproof walls, and the good news is that you can take them down and put them back as per your requirement.
The newbies can easily install these blankets on the wall without any professional help.
But, since these blankets are quite heavy, you may need quite a few helping hands to help you hang them on the wall.
Other Soundproof Materials for Walls
The soundproof materials that I’m gonna discuss now are easy to install.
Can you guess?
Well, it’s none other than soundproof mats.
These mats are not only easy to install but are also capable of dampening any kind of noise.
The soundproof mats are made of high-density materials and can be placed beneath the drywall or over it.
In both cases, it performs extremely well.
There are quite a few good soundproofing mats available on the market.
You can check my recommended product’s current price on Amazon.
The only thing that may refrain you from going ahead with my recommendation is its color.
It only comes in one color and that is black.
If you’re the one who doesn’t like the black color, then this mat is not for you.
Again, due to its high capability to combat noise, this mat is a bit costly compared to its counterparts.
So, you may not prefer this method in case you’re on a shoestring budget.[Related]
Never Ignore Big Holes in the Walls
The success of your soundproofing wall project depends to a large extent on how well you’ve identified the weak spots.
The windows are the ones that are the easy targets of unwanted noise.
Whether it’s car horns, dog barking, or even people yelling, the windows being thin allow this noise to spill into the room.
To add to the problems are the doors.
They don’t cancel out all the noise from the hallway.
So, the probability is very high that you may hear what your neighbors are discussing out in the hall.
But, it doesn’t mean that once you’ve soundproofed the front door, you’re done.
If you’ve small children, then they are the ones that may create lots of noise.
For example, I need peace after a hectic work schedule to prepare me for the next day.
Before I soundproofed my entire apartment, I used to close all the doors and windows to get rid of unwanted noise, but the truth is I seldom used to get peace of mind.
Even after closing all the interfaces, I used to hear the traffic noise as well as the jumping and shouting of my kids from the next room.
Finally, the noise is aggravated due to the air vents.
Since the air can flow in and out through these air vents, so does sound.
You can’t achieve a superlative soundproof solution until you seal these massive air vents.
I hope you’ve got the most needed information now.
Moving further, our discussion will revolve around fixing these holes, gaps, and cracks in an efficient way.[Related]
Are your doors hollow and worn out?
Have you checked for the gaps between the door and the door frame?
I hope that you’re now well informed about the disadvantage of having gaps between the door and the door frame.
Well, you can place the existing furniture, bookshelves, etc. in front of the edge of your door to prevent unwanted noise from coming into your apartment through the space between the door and door frame.
Another cost-effective way is to install soundproof blankets in the correct way.
I know many people will not consider hanging blankets on the door because it isn’t aesthetically pleasing but before you come to a conclusion, I request you to listen to me.
Placing a soundproof blanket on your door will give you a similar effect as you would get by soundproofing your door.
I would suggest, picking a design that syncs well with your door.
If you’re a resident of a cold country, then these blankets will enhance the warmth of your room by acting as a thermal insulator.
In short, soundproof blankets can be your best bet to sound-dampen the door.
For windows, soundproof curtains are my best bet.
Make sure to buy a noise-canceling curtain that is tightly woven, and has multiple layers.
Never buy a heavy soundproof curtain that does have a grommet embedded in it.
The length and breadth of the curtain should be more than the dimension of your window.
For example, the length of the curtain should be at least 10 inches more than the window dimension, and the breadth of the curtain should be at least twice.
Check out my article on sound dampening window where I’ve had an in-depth discussion on the topic.
The concern with the air vent is that it allows cold and hot air to enter inside your room, and as a result, plenty of noise also enters the room.
However, if you’ve got an air vent above the door, then things become quite easy.
Simply, buy a soundproof blanket or curtain and hang it from above the air vent, and all your problems will be solved.
At the same time, I’ll not deny the fact that the most effective way to sound-dampen the air vent is to block it completely.
For example, you can block the air vent by simply placing a bookshelf or similar things in front of the air vent.
Tips for Soundproofing Walls on a Low Budget
I hope that you’ll be more than satisfied with the performance of soundproof walls if you follow the aforementioned methods.
Nonetheless, if you’re not satisfied with the outcome even after following all the steps in the list, then I can help you with some additional soundproof wall tips.
These tips for soundproof walls are quite cheap and have helped me a lot in some of my projects.
So, without wasting any time, let’s begin…
Draft stoppers are great ways to keep out the noise coming from the other side.
I would recommend you buy a draft stopper that can be used for both interior as well as exterior doors.
I’ve used Evelots in most of my projects. (Check the Current Price On Amazon)
Trust me, this product has always performed as per my expectations, if not exceeded.
You can add plenty of rugs in the trouble areas.
Adding rugs can help you reduce vibrations and airborne noise.
Even though your room is well carpeted, I would recommend you add some rugs on the top of the carpets to enhance the noise-canceling properties of your carpet.
In the case of soundproofing walls, you can hang a rug on the wall as well.
Just keep in mind, that the design and color of the rug must sync with the soundproof walls as well as carpets.
Even you can consider adding some soft padding under the carpet.
All said and done, there is numerous option available, and finally, it is you who have to make a decision.
So, gather as much information as you can to make an informed decision.
Install Window Inserts
There isn’t any doubt that window inserts are one of the cost-effective ways to block external noise.
These window inserts are a clear pane of glass, so they won’t block the outside view.
Furthermore, you can install soundproof curtains to deaden any sort of noise coming from outside.
When it comes to soundproofing walls, it is always good to use a couple of methods together to get an optimum result.
Soundproof Walls Costing
I’ll help you with a rough estimate for soundproofing walls.
The cost that I’m gonna share with you is the minimum amount that you need to spend to get an optimum result.
There is no upper limit.
In fact, it is you who have to decide on the upper limit.
|Material for Soundproofing Wall
|Mass Loaded Vinyl
|$100 – $200 for 50 sq feet
$1000 – $1200 for 12×12 sq feet
|$68 for a pack of 12
|$600 for 12×12 sq feet
|Mineral Wool Batts
|$22 for a pack of 12
Moving further, I’ll walk you through some of the terms that you must know before you start your soundproofing wall project.
Why Do You Need to Soundproof the Walls?
As discussed earlier, the main reason people go for soundproofing walls is to get rid of airborne as well as external noise.
The source of these noises can vary.
For example, a noisy neighbor is a source of external noise.
At the same time, noise caused by household appliances is airborne noise.
After a hectic work schedule who doesn’t want a peaceful sleep?
Failing to get a sound sleep may expose you to stress, depression, and anxiety.
Similar to any other machine, the body also needs time to rejuvenate and get prepared for the next day’s grueling.
Well, a few days back, one of my clients asked me a relevant question, what is the definition of a quiet home?
I know many of you would have the same query at some point in time.
I also had a similar query when I was starting out as a soundproof consultant.
Human communicates at a noise level of 60 dB.
Mostly busy streets have a noise level that falls between the range of 70 dB to 120 dB.
However, things aren’t as simple as it seems to be.If your child practices a band in the basement that produces a noise of 110 dB peak, then it will seem to you as if it is 32 times as loud as human conversation.
Moving further, I’ll throw some light on the various types of building noises that you need to consider.
Soundproofing Walls: Types of Noise
I hope most of you are aware of all the three ways noises are transmitted in or out of a room.
However, it’s REALLY important to know how a sound wave traverses, and thus, will make it easier for you to find a way to block or reduce it.
It goes without saying that sound waves travel in straight lines through the air.
These airborne noises travel in or out through doorways, open windows, ductwork, or anywhere air moves in or out of a structure.
Airborne noises are the sound waves that are transmitted by air and atmosphere such as the radio, the barking of dogs, and even people’s conversations.
When the sound waves traveling through the air reach a building element they hit the building structure and cause it to vibrate.
These vibrations travel through the structure and are radiated out the other side.
If the sound waves don’t find any direct lines to travel and nothing to absorb, then they find an indirect path.
This flanking noise mostly travels through concrete and wooden floors, ricochet around the corners, sneak through ductwork, or even escape under a door.
- The structured noise is transmitted when sound arises from the actual impact of an object on a building element such as a wall, floor, or ceiling.
- Footsteps of a person or some object falling on the floor are some of the common examples of structure-borne noise.
- Note: These noises are the hardest to dampen.
Recommended Sound Transmission Class (STC) Rating for Walls
I’m assuming that most of the newbies would not be aware of the sound transmission class, so allow me to throw some light on STC.
STC can be defined as a rating system that identifies the capability of an object to block the noise.
However, the ratings represent ideal laboratory conditions.
So, you can expect the real-life situation to be a bit lower.
It goes without saying that STC is still a great way to not only produce but also practice.
However, the International Building Code (IBC) recommends a minimum STC of 50 for walls, floors, and ceilings.
Again, the STC rating is increased for bedrooms & bathrooms to 52, and kitchens and living rooms to a rating of 56.
Main Principles of Soundproofing Walls
For the optimum result, it is REALLY important to figure out the type of noise that is troubling you.
Remember, once you’re able to figure out the type of noise, the next thing that you need to do is to determine the ways to reduce or prevent that sound or vibration from getting in or out.
Just for your knowledge, adding a 5/8” layer of gypsum to the existing 1/2” drywall wall will only improve the transmission loss by about 3 dB.
So, adding mass can enhance the soundproofing capabilities of the wall.
If the wall is thinner than the standard size, then I would recommend you add some masses to combat the unwanted noise.
The thumb rule is the denser the material the better it will absorb sound.
To improve absorption ratings, you can add fiberglass or mineral wool insulation inside wall cavities.
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) and drywall are some of the materials that have great STC ratings and are also denser than their counterparts.
Conduction can be defined as the movement of sound through the wall and floor materials.
Decoupling or increased mass or absorption will reduce conduction.
Mechanical DecouplingAs per my experience as a soundproof consultant, I can assure you that decoupling is perhaps the best building practice for preventing or reducing sound transmission through walls, ceilings, and floors.
Some of the effective ways to combat flanking and impact noise are the double wall construction and the use of isolation clips and channels.
Noise or impact sounds are usually low-frequencies.
These low-frequencies have the capability to vibrate a wall.
Undoubtedly, the low frequencies can easily resonate through an insulated decoupled wall.
A soundproof adhesive such as green glue will help reduce vibration resonance through barriers.
I’ll be taking some frequently asked queries related to the soundproofing walls.
Most of the questions that I’ll be answering are either asked by my clientele or my readers.
In case, you’ve any queries related to the topic, then you can reach out to us through email, and we’ll try to respond at the earliest.
Can you soundproof existing walls?
We’ve mentioned the cost in detail in the soundproof wall costing section of this post.
Please go through it and let us know if you’ve any doubts.
I’ll try to the best of my capabilities to clear your doubt ASAP.
Definitely, you can soundproof existing walls.
In this post, we’ve had an in-depth discussion on soundproofing existing walls.
You can apply the aforementioned methods to soundproof your existing walls.
It’s A Wrap
- I’ve tried to the best of my capabilities to walk you through the various aspects of soundproof walls.
- Depending upon your requirements and budget, you can select the methods that would prove to be a “value for money” affair for you.
- All said and done, whatever methods you choose to follow, my advice to you would be to double-check your work.
- It has happened to me quite a few times that my team has forgotten to check for all the gaps, cracks, and holes while executing the process.
- As a result, we couldn’t get the optimum result.
- Finally, we had to do a reverse engineer to figure out what went wrong.
- It is highly recommended to check the progress of each wall before moving to the other wall.
- Never move to the other wall until and unless you’re satisfied with the performance of the previous wall soundproofing.
- I’m sure that you’ll achieve the epitome of silence by following the aforementioned methods.
- So, which is your favorite method from the aforementioned list?
- Are you ready to spend a good chunk of money in return for peace, silence, and quiet ambiance?
- In case, you use some other method to soundproof walls, and you’ve seen success, then it would be great if you would share your success story with our readers.
- What are the problems that you faced during the soundproofing walls?
- Last but not least, share this piece of information with the ones who are looking for similar stuff.
- After all, sharing is caring.