How to Soundproof a Room 100%
Noise—particularly unwanted noise—is the bane of productivity. Whether it’s your kids being kids, construction outside of your business, or the chatter from your co-workers in the next cubicle over, incessant noise can make it incredibly challenging to focus on a task or find peace amidst the clamor.
If you dream of turning your home, business, or office into your own fortress of solitude, then this primer on creating a soundproof room is for you.
For most rooms, 100% soundproofing is simply not achievable. Even so, with the right guidance, you can get as close to perfect sound isolation as possible. And, today, we’ll show you how to transform any room into the most quiet space possible.
How to Soundproof a Room in 3 Steps
Whether you’re looking to create a recording studio or simply have a quieter office space, soundproofing your room is the key to acoustic isolation. Naturally, the best way to soundproof a room will depend on the specific space and your acoustic desires for it; however, generally speaking, the following step-by-step guide applies to most situations.
Step 1: Know the Difference Between Sound Proofing vs Sound Absorbing
Before you start, it’s important to first address a common misconception in the world of sound: the terms “soundproofing” and “sound absorbing” are often used interchangeably—we might even colloquially refer to both as such—but they are not the same.
If you want to create a room that effectively controls both internal and external sound, you need to know the difference between soundproofing vs sound absorbing so that you can properly apply these concepts to your room design:
This refers to the process of preventing sound from escaping or entering a space by putting dense, air-tight materials inside the partition walls, ceilings, floors, or other structures to reflect the sound back rather than let it penetrate to the other side. Common sound-proofing materials include:
- Mass loaded vinyl barrier
- Soundbreak XP soundproof sheetrock
- RSIC-1 sound isolation clips
- Green Glue vibration-dampening compound
The sound absorbing process seeks to reduce the sound energy within a room, primarily to improve the quality of sound or eliminate unwanted echo or reverb. This is typically done by placing soft and light materials on the surfaces of walls, ceilings, and floors to absorb sound vibration or sound wave. Common sound absorbing materials include:
- PolyMax acoustic panels
- Echo Eliminator or CFAB Cellulose
- Envirocoustic Wood Wool
- Fabric-wrapped acoustical panels
- Acoustical foam panels
- Wallmate stretch fabric wall systems
Both soundproofing and sound absorption play a vital role in improving sound quality in a room. What materials you include will depend on your specific needs, the usage of the room, and the various types and sources of sound you seek to control.
Step 2: Identify Your Source of Noise
There are two primary ways that sound is carried: through airborne noise and impact noise.1
- Airborne noise – This refers to sounds transmitted via air, such as dogs barking, people chatting, or traffic. This type of noise can seep into a room via gaps in doors, windows, walls, and ceilings.
- Impact noise – This refers to structure-borne noise caused by objects vibrating against one another. Impact noise is transferred through the structure of the building, such as footsteps on the floor above you.
In both cases, sound wave will always follow the path of least resistance, moving freely through open spaces and weaker materials.
So, to effectively soundproof a room, it’s necessary to first identify the sources of both airborne and impact noise. By understanding how and where these sounds are entering your space, you can create a targeted plan to block them out more effectively.
Step 3: Choose the Right Materials
As mentioned, there are two primary methods to deal with sound: blocking or absorbing. However, the specific materials used to accomplish these tasks will depend on the sources of noise and the specific areas of the room that need to be addressed.
That said, there are typically three places, in particular, to focus your soundproofing efforts:
- Walls – Soundproofing wall may involve decoupling inner and outer layers of a wall, adding more mass between the walls with dense materials, or applying a damping compound. Sound absorbing the walls may involve adding acoustic panels, decorative fabrics, or wall coverings that absorb sound waves and reduce echo.
- Ceilings – Soundproofing techniques for ceilings might include adding a second layer of drywall with a damping compound, installing resilient channels or isolation clips, or adding dense acoustic insulation material above the ceiling tiles. Sound absorbing can involve installing acoustic ceiling tiles or hanging diffusers or baffles.
- Floors – Soundproofing floors might involve installing a carpet with a dense pad, using floor underlays made of soundproofing materials like cork or vinyl, or, for more extensive projects, decoupling the floor structure and adding acoustic insulation. Sound absorbing solutions for soundproofing flooring might include adding area rugs or carpeting as the top layer.
Effectively Soundproof Your Space with Acoustical Surfaces
Soundproofing is an art that balances understanding the different types of noise, pinpointing the sources of these sound vibration, and choosing the perfect soundproofing method to counteract them. Although it might seem tempting to tackle this as a DIY project, soundproofing done right is often more complex than it appears.
If you want to do it the right way and create the ultimate soundproof room, you need more than the right soundproofing materials—you need proper installation.
This is where our team of acoustic experts can make all the difference. At Acoustical Surfaces, we partner with you to ensure your room is as close to 100% soundproof as possible. Reach out to us today to learn more and get your soundproofing project started.
- Science Direct. Airborne Noise. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/airborne-noise