Do you live in the city? Work from home? Or are you a music enthusiast, with loudspeakers or a studio? In any case, you are probably looking for a way to keep the sound in or out. Well, I have been there, and I did extensive research asking acoustic experts, ‘what are the best soundproofing materials that are easy to use?’. They were indeed helpful, and they did well to give me an insider’s take on the matter.
To soundproof, the best materials include; acoustic panels, mass loaded vinyl, soundproof fiberglass, and soundproof drywall. Each of these materials listed are examples of the four subcategories of soundproofing methods, which will be explained extensively in this article.
There are several soundproofing materials, and each has its function and application method. The general rule of thumb when it comes to soundproofing is; the thicker the material, the better the soundproofing result. Another point to note is, gaps and holes, no matter how small, can make your entire effort futile, so a sealant cannot be overemphasized. That said, shall we begin?
Soundproof Materials 101
First of all, you have to understand what a soundproof material is, how they work, and how you can apply them for the best result.
To understand how soundproofing materials work, you require some insight into how soundwaves move. You hear a sound because soundwaves propel air that causes objects around you as well as your eardrums to vibrate.
In order words, sound requires several media sources to be transmitted before we actually hear it. If we don’t want to hear it, we have to disrupt this series of events. That’s where soundproofing comes in.
Soundproofing interrupts this series of events by interfering with the transmission of soundwaves and blocking them before they can reach the medium that transmits the; and also reduces the vibrating energy of soundwaves. Simply put, soundproof materials make this process doable.
Moreover, you have to know the mode in which this soundwave is being transmitted and their frequency to be able to choose the best soundproof material applicable.
Categories Of Soundproofing Materials
These are materials that absorb soundwaves reverberance -vibration-, decrease echo, and improves the acoustics of a room. They are highly absorbent. They are usually porous and soft and work by converting some of the sound energy to heat and conveying the rest by absorption.
However, sound absorption materials are different from soundproofing because the former absorbs soundwaves while the latter blocks and reflects it. Examples of sound-absorbing materials are acoustic foam, acoustic panels, and acoustic blankets and curtains.
To make this concept clear, I have added an image below.
To achieve the best soundproofing result, however, it’s best to use both sound-absorbing materials and soundproof materials.
Sound Dampening Materials
These materials have a high mass and are also highly dense. This property gives them the ability to block sound. Sound dampeners work by dissipating and preventing vibrations; by doing this, they convert sound into heat, stopping the noise.
The best way to utilize sound dampeners is by applying them between two hard surfaces for maximum effectiveness. The principle of this is when the sound reaches the hard surface, a shearing force is activated between the two hard surfaces creating friction where the dampening material is placed. As a result, soundwaves are converted to heat energy.
Soundproof Insulating Materials
These materials are like the holy grail of soundproofing materials. They work as soundproofing materials and also as insulating materials. In order words, they help you kill two birds with one stone. Soundproof insulating materials are usually easy to use because they are pliable.
Insulation materials have tiny air pockets in them that dissipates sound energy and converts it to heat. They work better when they are applied between walls.
Some examples are mineral wool and fiberglass.
Soundproof Decoupling Material
Decoupling is separating two walls to create space between them so that it becomes difficult for sound to pass through them. It requires some professional expertise to be done properly, although it can be done after a house is built, this requires more work, removing and separating walls. The best time to decouple a wall should be during the initial construction of the house.
Decoupling materials work by preventing sound energy from passing two surfaces by creating a medium for the sound vibration to be absorbed and isolated instead of it vibrating the walls causing noise.
The Best Soundproofing Materials
Best soundproofing materials currently available in the market are:
- Mass loaded Vinyl
- Soundproof fiberglass panels
- Green Glue Compound
- Soundproof Drywall
- Acoustic Caulks
- Soundproof paint
Well, I’ll give a detailed explanation of each of these materials.
Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is a dense rubber-like material, perfectly designed for soundproofing. The mass of this material acts as a sound barrier. The thickness and density are what makes the Mass Loaded Vinyl one of the best sound dampening materials.
Properties of Mass Loaded Vinyl
- Mass loaded vinyl is dense, nonporous vinyl sheeting.
- The dense mass and nonporous composition prevent sound from penetrating through it, effectively keeping sound contained from either entering or leaving a space.
- It is most often applied directly to a stud frame, then drywall applied on top, but can also be added to the existing wall as well.
- The product is not very attractive, so an additional sheet of drywall is usually added on top.
- The product is incredibly useful.
I recommend the Quiet Barrier HD Soundproofing Material as they are very effective.
Where To Use It?
You can use Mass Loaded Vinyl in many different situations, such as:
- Car soundproofing
- On the walls, and ceiling
- As an underlay on the floor
You don’t need any professional service to install the MLV. However, you will need a helping hand in the overall installation process. The process is pretty simple:
- Cut the sheet of MLV according to dimensions of your targeted area. For instance, let’s say you want to soundproof a door.
- Place this sheet on the door and attach it with adhesive, nails, or staples.
- Give it a final touch by cutting the boundaries of the sheet according to the edges of the door.
Soundproof Fiberglass Panels
As the name suggests, it is made from glass fibers that are reinforced to give it strength and insulating properties.
Fiberglass panel is one of the best soundproofing materials due to its ability to block sound waves. You can use it to insulate your room from unwanted noises, making a very huge overall difference.
I recommend the BQLZR acoustic soundproof panel tiles on Amazon.
Where To Use It?
The most suitable places to use a fiberglass panel as sound-dampening material are:
I usually prefer installing the fiberglass panels in the ceiling for better sound insulation. So, I will share the installation process of these panels in the ceiling.
- Install the mold on the ceiling.
- Take your first panel, and set it on the mold you have placed on the ceiling.
- Now you can take out your drill and drill bit, and drill it in place.
- As you have the first panel up and attached securely, you can take the other panels, and place them next to each other.
- Now all you need to do is make sure everything is sturdy, and you should be finished.
Green Glue Compound
Picture credit: bettersoundproofing.com
Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound works by dampening sound. They are more effective when used between two hard surfaces. Furthermore, the Compound significantly reduces structure-borne sound and also reduces flanking noise.
When applied between two surfaces-plywood or drywall-, and sound passes through one of the surfaces, green glue causes the contact surface to vibrate against it instead of the other surface. As a result, it dampens the sound and converts the sound vibration to heat.
As the name implies, green glue also serves as an adhesive. You can use it between surfaces like drywall, or to attach any type of acoustic foam a wall.
This is the green glue sealant I use on all my soundproofing projects, you can get it on Amazon.
Where To Use It?
Green Glue Compound is a product, which you can use anywhere to dampen sound. However, I prefer using it between two surfaces- like drywall or plywood, as I mentioned earlier- before joining them together or to seal off holes or gaps.
Green Glue Compound can be applied this way:
- First, tap your tube of the compound on a hard surface to bring mixture away from the tip.
- Cut a 1/4 inch hole in the tip of the tube with a utility knife.
- Then, screw nozzle tightly over the tip of the tube and cut a 1/4 inch hole in the tip of the nozzle.
- When your nozzle is adequately cut, place the tube in a standard 28-ounce gun to prepare for installation.
- Pull the trigger to dispense the product from the tube under the drywall -or any other place which you want to soundproof-, leaving a two to three-inch border around the panel.
- I recommended that you apply two tubes of the compound onto each 4 x 8 ft panel.
- Within 15 minutes of applying green glue to your drywall, fasten the two surfaces with screws.
- Continue to follow this process until you have applied green glue to all desired drywall panels, or gaps and holes.
- And you can always store any remaining green glue compound at room temperature for future use.
Click here to see what the expert Green Glue Compound manufacturing company says about this material.
Soundproof Drywall usually consists of gypsum or some other hard construction material. Also, it has a sound-insulating sheet inside it.
I really like the concept behind soundproofing with these drywalls in particular. When the sound waves strike the surface of the drywall, the layer of gypsum absorbs them. Then, the insulation layer inside it completely blocks the sound waves from passing through the wall.
I recommend Quietrock soundproof drywall.
Where To Use It?
You can use soundproof drywall on any place that is directly exposed to sounds and noises. However, the primary usage of drywall is for:
- Creating a partition between rooms
- Soundproofing a ceiling
- Replacing inner walls
Also, avoid using these soundproofing drywalls in the outer structure of your building. The reason for this is; most of the drywalls are not meant to withstand the heavyweight of the building.
That said, I will recommend using it along with the inner walls to soundproof them.
Soundproof drywalls might need you to hire a professional for better installation. However, if you are familiar with using the installation tools, it won’t be a problem for you to install the drywall properly.
The process of installing drywall is:
- Measure the area (that you want to soundproof) with a tape measure.
- Cut the drywall accordingly by using a drywall saw.
- Drill the holes in the walls where you will be attaching the drywall.
- Place the drywall on the required area and check for the correct level.
- Finally, screw the drywall from all the edges with the existing wall or any other area that needs to be soundproofed.
- For the best result, attach resilient channels to the stud frame first, then place the drywall on the resilient channel. The resilient channel helps to absorb more vibrations.
There you go, it’s all done. However, I will advise you to install an additional layer of insulation like mineral wool, to have even better sound-dampening results. I will also recommend you to go for it if your building needs extensive soundproofing. Here is a helpful video
Acoustic caulks are simple, versatile, and cost-effective solutions to most noise problems. You can use them to fill up the gaps and cracks between different surfaces.
Besides, the acoustic caulk minimizes the possibilities for a sound wave traveling through the holes that you cannot see easily with a naked eye.
Furthermore, you can also use acoustic caulk to fill up the gaps that are large in size. People also use acoustic caulk mostly with other soundproofing materials to enhance their soundproofing results.
You can try the Sashco big stretch acoustic Chaulk on amazon
Where To Use It?
You can use acoustic caulks anywhere for soundproofing. The most common usage includes:
- Filling the gaps between doors and windows.
- For filling the cracks in the ceiling and walls.
- In the installation of certain soundproofing materials like drywall, to seal holes.
- Any damaged area of the building, responsible for air or sound leaks
- Filling gaps and holes of the air vents.
Acoustic caulk is the easiest thing to use, ensure you wear proper safety gadgets, and you have a caulking gun and acoustic caulk, and you are good to go.
The process of applying acoustic caulk is quite simple.
- Just clean off the dust on the place where you want to apply the caulk.
- Place the nozzle or tip of the caulking gun where you want to seal.
- Press the gun to let the caulk out.
- Fill the gaps and holes appropriately with the caulk.
- Let it dry, and you are done.
Personal tip: Always use hand gloves to keep the sticky caulk from clinging to your hands.
Soundproof paint is different from other mainstream paints because it is thicker and denser than them.
This is because it is a very heavy-bodied water-based paint that gets its density from a combination of ceramic microspheres and sound-absorbing fillers.
Sound dampening paints might be able to reduce mid-frequency sounds, such as conversational speech, by a sizable amount. However, you need to apply at least three coats to achieve this result. I recommend the Acousti Coat Sound Deadening paint on amazon
Here is a full-length article about soundproof paint.
Where To Use It?
You can put sound-reducing paint wherever you feel the most vulnerable to the noise. Basically, the use of this paint is for interior surfaces.
Other than walls, and ceiling, you can use this paint on wood and metal, as well as on primed drywall.
For instance, when painting the wall, make sure you cover the entire walls you are painting, as it will increase the absorption. Also, you may include some crevices with it and seal the holes that release the noise.
You need to have a paintbrush or a roller to apply the soundproof paint on walls, ceiling, or any other place. You just need to follow these steps:
- Peel off the existing paint from the wall.
- Clean the surface of the wall properly.
- Apply a single coat on the wall and let it dry.
- Now keep on applying the additional layers as much as you want.
The Best Sound-absorbing Materials
Sound-absorbing materials are meant to improve the quality of sound by absorbing it. Some of the best sound-absorbing materials available out there are:
- Acoustic Foam Panels
- Mineral Wool
- Bass Traps
- Soundproof Curtains
Let’s discuss them.
Acoustic Foam Panels
This material commonly called studio foam has a distinctive wedge or pyramid shape that is highly effective at absorbing sound.
The foamy structure of these panels helps them absorb a considerable amount of sound and permits minimal leakage.
Check out this Acoustic foam on amazon.
Where To Use It?
You can use the acoustic foam panels on:
These panels can also be attached to walls as panels, hang from ceilings as baffles, or sit in corners as bass traps.
The installation process of acoustic foam panels is also easy, like other soundproofing materials. Besides, the best part is that you just need to attach these panels with the walls or anywhere else. No fabrication required.
However, let’s discuss the installation process:
- Clean the surface of the wall before placing panels on it.
- Use the adhesive or glue to attach the panels on a wall.
- Let it dry.
Mineral Wool for soundproofing
Mineral wool is any fibrous material formed by spinning or drawing molten mineral or rock materials such as slag and ceramics.
As you know, sound needs a medium to travel, and in most cases, the air becomes a medium. Mineral wool works by absorbing the air and sound that comes in contact with it.
I recommend Rockwool Acoustic Mineral Wool Insulation on Amazon.
Where To Use It?
The most common places where you can use the mineral wool to absorb sound are:
- Inside walls
- Mineral wool
- Drywall (Where necessary)
- Cut the mineral wool batts or rolls according to the size of the place you plan on using it.
- Start installing the mineral wool from one corner of the room.
- Staple through the flanges of the mineral wool batts, to the inside of the wood joists.
- Use a hammer to install several nails in the wood studs; then using a wire, make a network to support the mineral wool.
- Finally, install drywall or any other material to keep the mineral wool in place.
Personal Tip: Try as much as possible to avoid direct contact with the mineral wool by using safety glasses, gloves, and a respiratory mask.
Check out the video below, it shows how you can install mineral wool.
Bass traps are acoustic energy absorbers that are designed to dampen low-frequency sound. It also reduces resonance (vibrations) in rooms.
They are made from a foam-like substance that gives them a porous appearance.
Like all acoustically absorptive devices, bass traps function by turning the sound energy into heat when the sound waves hit them. I recommend New Level Charcoal acoustic foam bass trap on Amazon.
Where To Use It?
Bass traps should be placed at the corners of a room because that is where the pressure of sound is higher.
Bass traps are also sound-absorbing materials that do not require you to hire a professional to install them. They have built-in holes inside them that will make the process of attaching them more manageable.
- First of all, you just have to find a suitable place for them -corners being the most suitable place.
- Insert the clips in place.
- Hang these traps on those clips.
- If clips don’t work out, then try using staples or nails.
Soundproof Curtains And Blankets
Soundproof curtains and blankets are made from thick and dense materials that help in absorbing the sound and echo in rooms. Also, they are different from other curtains and blanket due to their massive thick material.
I recommend NICETOWN Blackout curtains on Amazon
Where To Use It?
You can use soundproof curtains on:
- Air vents
Soundproof curtains are quite similar to other curtains when it comes to their installation. You just need a rod to hang them in front of a door, window, or any other place. While a soundproof blanket has grommets on the edges so that they can be tied or hanged on doors or windows.
However, bear in mind that they should touch the floor and cover the entire area you are using them for; to get better soundproofing results.
To answer your question on ‘what are the best soundproofing materials?’; the best soundproofing material are materials that are highly effective in blocking sound.
However, the sound-absorbing materials mentioned in this article are effective in reducing sound while the soundproofing materials block sound. They all serve their purposes when installed properly.
Though they are all fully functional when used properly; to achieve the best results, I recommend combining both sound-absorbing material and soundproofing materials.