How to Soundproof a Wall
There are lots of reasons you might want to soundproof a wall or all of the walls in a room. Maybe you have thin walls and noisy neighbours. Perhaps you like to play your TV loud but don’t want the sound spreading through the house. Or you even could have a job working from home recording video and need to contain the sound.
Whatever the reason for soundproofing a wall, there are a few approaches and considerations to getting the job done perfectly.]
Before you dive into looking at wall panels or soundproofing materials, it is good to take a moment to look at the noise and what the problem with it is. Where is the noise coming from?
If the noise is coming from outside such as traffic or your neighbours, this is known as noise ingress. Other times, the noise is in your home and you want to stop it getting out of the room or the house. Sometimes, it is a mixture of both. What the noise is and how it is a problem plays a part in the solution.
Types of noise
There are also three main types of noise:
Airborne – a sound that transmits through the air such as speech or music and travel until they hit something like a wall, which creates vibrations into the space on the other side
Structural – these noises come from the vibration of a part of the building that radiates through the rest of the house. An example could be footsteps on wooden stairs
Impact – a type of structural sound that happens when one thing impacts another and the sound transmits through the house.A door being closed forcefully or a slamming gate are examples
Weak spots for noise
The final consideration is if any weak spots in the room can have an impact on the soundproofing. Sound moves very quickly, 1200 feet person second but it still looks for the path of least resistance – like water running downhill, avoiding the stones and flowing through the flat path.
When looking to soundproof a room, these weaknesses are the points that need the most consideration as they can spoil any soundproofing measures you make. Examples can be things like:
Air gaps or air bricks
Corner posts, lintels or structural supports
You need to spot these and understand how they will factor into the soundproofing before you start.
Soundproofing masonry walls
Most of the time, you will be faced with one of two wall types when it comes to soundproofing – masonry or stud walls.
The approach is a little different for each. Let’s start with masonry walls.
With a masonry wall, there is plenty of mass and density to work with and the aim is to increase the acoustic value and stop sounds travelling through, one way or the other. There is a need for a framework to add materials but the wall already provides this. The aim is to soundproof without increasing the thickness of the wall too much and losing space in the room.
Using an acoustic wall panel is a great idea in these situations. Panels can be added to the wall in a variety of ways including with staples or self-tapping screws. You can choose a panel thickness that works for the room without losing too much space.
Soundproofing stud walls
Because stud walls aren’t as solid and dense, a little more work is needed. You can still use acoustic wall panels but you will likely need to add a wooden framework to attach them first. The panel would be added to the noise source side of the wall ideally but where adding to an existing wall, this is okay.
With both of these types of wall, there are a few finishing touches to add to complete the soundproofing. One thing is to ensure all fixings are countersunk and that a little touch of silicon is used on the head. This softens transmission of sound.
Acoustic isolation strips are also used where there are points of contact such as walls joining or features such as sockets. You can use acoustic socket box inserts with the socket to help stop it being a point of weakness.
With the various acoustic wall panel products available, it is easy to soundproof any wall, even in an existing property. By getting the right product and finishing elements for any weak spots, you can reduce the noise levels or contain them without losing much of the floor space in the room.