What Materials Are Good for Soundproofing?
Learn which products can keep your room peaceful and quiet
By Glyn Sheridan
The sound of children playing is music to the ears, unless you're trying to sleep. Sound barrier construction techniques, such as building double walls, are the first line of defense in reducing unwanted noise transmission from one room to the next or from the outdoors to the interior of a building. In addition, some materials and textiles also provide sound-reduction qualities when used during the building phase, or later, when decorating and furnishing a home.
Lead reduces sound transmission, but it is also heavy and installing a solid lead barrier in a room is cost-prohibitive. The next best thing is lead-backed drywall panels. Although they cost more than regular drywall sheets, they offer a higher level of soundproofing, especially when used in conjunction with double-wall or floating-wall framing techniques.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is available in thin flexible sheets that install between the wall studs and the drywall panels and between the floor joists and the floor decking. Since reverberation sounds travel through most solids, the vinyl sheets reduce noise transmission by muting the vibration that travels through the dimensional wood in a home's structure. Combine vinyl sheets with other soundproofing measures to decrease unwanted noise. Using neoprene screws when attaching drywall over soundproof matting will further reduce vibratory sound.
While insulating between the wall studs with bat insulation offers some noise reduction, blown-in cellulose fiber insulation offers more and blown-in expandable foam provides an even higher degree of soundproofing. While a homeowner may rent a cellulose insulation blower, a professional foam insulation contractor must install expandable foam before or after the drywall is in place, since the expanding foam can break the drywall if installed incorrectly.
Fabric absorbs sound and the thicker the fabric, the better the sound absorption. Movie theaters decorate their sidewalls with long, thick drapery to reduce sound transmission from one auditorium to an adjacent auditorium, and you can apply the same principle at home. In addition to hanging curtains, you can apply fabric wallpaper to soften the sound in a room.
Corkboard as a wall covering and cork floor tiles reduce sound vibration from one room to the next, and using rubber furniture caps, carpeting or large throw rugs will also help. Commercial pads that contain neoprene may be installed between the wall studs and the drywall, and using specially-made plastic sheets that attach magnetically to windows may reduce unwanted sound transmission from the outside to the inside.
About the Author
Glyn Sheridan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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