Soundproofing mistakes: 5 things to avoid


Soundproofing mistakes as any mistakes, in general, are unintentional. But when they do happen, they can leave you feeling fed up with the whole process. No one wants to spend more money than they have to when soundproofing. Then again, to end up with quality results requires a lot of work and giving your best to avoid those mistakes. However, in order to avoid it, you should be aware of them and here you will learn the 5 things you should avoid while soundproofing.

Man making a soundproofing mistake

During my soundproofing experience, I’ve done those mistakes myself and it could be said that I learned not doing them the hard way. However, since you are here reading this then chances are that’s not going to happen with you. It’s good to know that soundproofing mistakes can occur before or during the process. So if you’re planning to do some soundproofing and you want to be on the safe side, here are five important soundproofing mistakes you need to avoid. 

Let’s begin.  

SOUNDPROOFING MISTAKES TO AVOID #1 – NOT KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOUNDPROOFING AND SOUND ABSORPTION

The number one mistake when it comes to getting rid of noise is confusing the meanings between soundproofing and sound absorption. Just as they are not the same, they solve two different problems. Not knowing the difference between soundproofing and sound absorption can lead to falsely addressing the problem. Let’s start by understanding each solution by defining them. 

WHAT IS SOUNDPROOFING?

Soundproofing means preventing sounds outside a room from coming in. And in some cases, it usually means making sure the sound inside a room doesn’t go out. Some people refer to soundproofing as sound blocking or sound isolation.

Soundproofed drum room

For instance, you might want to soundproof your walls because your neighbor’s drumming is a constant distraction. Or it could be you are the neighbor and you’re the one causing the ruckus. 

WHAT IS SOUND ABSORPTION?

Sound absorption is a stopping sound that’s already in the room from bouncing all over the place. The buildup of multiple sound bounces creates an echo, reverberation, and amplitude. In short, sound absorption gets rid of echoes but doesn’t isolate sound from entering or leaving the room. 

Examples of places that use sound absorption are music studios and cinemas. 

Sound absorption is technically referred to as “acoustical treatment”. To acoustically treat a room, you can work with either sound absorbers or sound diffusor. Most people prefer using both as they create a better ambiance. These two types of acoustical treatments work differently but achieve the same goal. 

  • Sound absorbers: These come in different shapes and are usually light. The most popular is the pyramid-shaped absorbers. They work by sucking up the sound energy like a sponge, thereby leaving the noise with less power. 
  • Sound diffusers: These on the other hand can be pretty heavy. They are usually made of wood and look geometric in shape. How they work is by scattering the sound waves in different directions.

QUICK SUMMARY TO AVOID THESE TYPES OF SOUNDPROOFING MISTAKES 

Knowing the difference between soundproofing and sound absorption can save you from falsely addressing your sound problems. While sound blockers are thick and dense, sound absorbers are light and airy. 

So when do you soundproof and when do you have to opt for sound absorbing? Knowing which way to go will depend on the source and nature of the sound, and that’s what we’ll look at next. 

SOUNDPROOFING MISTAKES TO AVOID #2 – NOT DETERMINING THE SOURCE AND NATURE OF THE SOUND 

Soundproofing mistakes finding the source in refrigerator

Question: What’s the best way to fix a car? 

Answer: It depends on what’s broken. 

This same idea works as well for finding out where exactly the unwanted sound is coming from. What it means is you have to pinpoint the noise source first before you do anything else. By doing so, you will determine the necessary soundproofing steps to take to fix your noise problem. 

This same idea can be applied in determining the source of the sound and its nature. Figuring out where it’s coming from will help you know where you need to soundproof. And by understanding its nature, you will have a good idea of which materials to use. 

Depending on your situation, the noise sources could be one or two of the below. Hopefully, it’s just one. 

Common noise sources include: 

  • Family member
  • Noisy neighbors
  • Street traffic
  • Local club
  • Construction site
  • Nearby airport or railway

NATURE OF THE SOUND

Concerning the nature of the sound (noise), you would either be dealing with airborne noise or structural noise. 

  • Airborne noise: As the name suggests, these are sound waves that travel in the air and get to our ears. Examples are heavy traffic and noise from a nearby nightclub. When the sounds travel in the air and hit a building, they make the walls, windows, or doors to vibrate. 

To reduce airborne noise, you need to seal possible cracks and openings they could easily transmit from. Because wherever air can seep through, so can sound. Common places to look out for our windows, doors, and cracks on the floor, ceiling, and walls. 

There are several ways to soundproof windows, each with their benefit. Some of these include acoustic sealants to seal the gaps and glazing methods. To get more knowledge on this subject, you can check out our article on the best ways to soundproof your windows. 

For doors, soundproofing is done using the same method for windows like applying acoustic sealants. Other methods include weatherstripping and making use of door sweeps for added noise reduction. 

  • Structural noise: This is also called impact noise. These noise sounds are produced when there are collisions on solid components of a building. This collision then causes that part of the building to vibrate and then produce sound.  Walls, floors, and ceilings are usually the main culprits of structural noise. Two examples of structural noise are footsteps on the floor and a knock on the door. 

For floors, a common way of reducing impact sounds is by using acoustic floor underlayment and carpet padding. This will work great for soundproofing footsteps but you would still hear the kids jumping the other room. However, if you’re desperate about eliminating every floor noise, then you should consider building a floating floor. This, consequently cost more money. So, be prepared to spend a little bit of cash. 

TYPES OF SOUND (NOISE)

Another thing you should consider is the type of noise you are experiencing. According to Circus Research, noise falls into the below four types: 

  • Continuous noise 
  • Intermittent noise 
  • Impulsive noise 
  • Low-frequency noise 

Low-frequency noise is generated by massive machines such as diesel engines and power stations. This type of noise can easily spread for miles and is usually difficult to reduce. Impulsive noise is related to the construction and demolition industry. It is produced by wrecking ball cranes and pile drivers. The good thing is impulsive noise goes away when the construction is stopped. 

Intermittent noise is a noise that increases and decreases in volume over some time. Examples are the shout of people watching a game at the nearby bar or a train passing by your home. The continuous noise is the noise that is produced non-stop. Examples are noises coming from a ventilation system, air conditioning, and faulty work equipment that is always running. 

Keep in mind that what you’ll likely experience in your home are intermittent and continuous noises. Unlike the other two, it is easy to manage these. Fortunately, if the space you want to soundproof is your home office, then you should check out Soundproofing your Home Office like a Pro. In the article, I go more in-depth on how to soundproof your home office against intermittent and continuous noise.

Quick summary: Knowing the source, nature, and type of noise will help you avoid making any soundproofing mistakes.

SOUNDPROOFING MISTAKES TO AVOID #3 – NOT DOING RESEARCH 

Making a research to avoid soundproofing mistakes

And as the old saying goes, prevention is a better cure. The same holds when you are planning on soundproofing your home or workplace. Jumping right in without doing the necessary research could be the recipe for a sonic disaster. You would be better off knowing what you need from the get-go. 

As rooms are different, so would their soundproofing remedies be. What would work for your room might not work for another’s. 

Your soundproofing research should include: 

  • Asking an expert  
  • Purchasing the right materials 

Asking an expert: You can easily get expert advice from reputable soundproofing companies. One thing you should note is it may come at a cost as some consultations aren’t free. If that doesn’t bother you, then you can go ahead with that. However, if you are on a budget or a DIYer, you can substitute paid consultation with internet research. In fact, I would strongly encourage you to check out my other articles and learn how exactly you should soundproof the room or object that you want to be noise-free.

Purchasing the right products: Soundproofing can be a daunting task to undertake. The number reason for this is that soundproofing products can be expensive. Using the right product would be dependent on the type of noise and where it’s coming from. This means you can go with either soundproofing, sound absorption, or even both. However, if you already know which are the right soundproofing products that you should purchase then you can have a look at here on Amazon and order them right away.

If you want to learn more about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to soundproofing then make sure to have a look at this video:

QUICK SUMMARY 

Getting professional advice helpful. But if you think the cost of that is unnecessary, you can always find out what you need from the Internet. Researching will aid you to determine which soundproof solution you need and also sir you in the for which products purchase. 

SOUNDPROOFING MISTAKES TO AVOID #4 – APPLYING SOUNDPROOFING MISCONCEPTIONS 

Egg crate soundproofing mistakes

Soundproofing misconceptions are usually applied as a less expensive way to block out noise from entering a room. But in reality, they barely achieve that. As you would see the list below, these “solutions” wor better for sound absorption. This goes back to understanding what soundproofing means. Some common soundproofing misconception is: 

  • Egg crates: Egg crates made of cardboard don’t soundproof a room. One reason for that is they are too light to block out sound vibrations coming from a shared wall. Another reason is their porous nature which allows sound frequencies to pass through them. Rather, what egg crates do is reduce echo by scattering sound coming in or going out of the room. Thus, they act as sound absorbers. This creates the illusion of soundproofing. However, you’ll still hear a loud noise on the other side of the room.
  • Painting your room dark: This is more of a myth than a misconception. Long story short, painting your room in a dark color won’t stop sound from traveling in and out. In my opinion, this misconception must come from the fact dark colors absorb heat. When sound travels, heat is usually generated. So, someone must have thought up the idea that dark paint will reduce the strength of the sound by absorbing the heat.
  • Soundproof wallpaper: Will it make the room sound quieter? Yes. Will it block loud, party, neighbor noises from the other apartment? Unfortunately, no. Nonetheless, it would do a better job than soundproof paint. How to soundproof wallpaper work is by dampening the already existing noise level in the room. So even though it may not be able to block out loud noises, it would mute out quieter sounds.
  • Carpet on the floor: As a decorative piece in a room, it would work. As a soundproofing material, it won’t solve the problem. This is because the carpet is placed directly on the floor. When the floor receives sound vibrations it will easily pass through to the carpet. A better way to go about it is by laying carpet underlayment on the floor before placing the carpet. This works best because the materials used to make the underlayment have soundproofing qualities. Additionally, you will end up with a cozier carpet finishing.
  • Mattress or pillows on the wall: Not only won’t this work in soundproofing your room, but it would also make the entire space look cluttered. All they will do is make the room have less echo and noise amplification. 
  • Sand in the wall: This one is also considered a myth. The reason why it’s always ruled out as an option is because of the mess it can create.

SOUNDPROOFING MISTAKES TO AVOID #5 – SOUNDPROOFING EVERYTHING 

applying green glue

Believe it or not, some people can take soundproofing to the extreme. And if you think about it, it’s not so hard to imagine why. They really want to get rid of a lot of noise. But as you have already guessed, it doesn’t end well. As with everything in life, you should use soundproofing to create the balance you’re looking for and not tip things over the edge. 

By taking your soundproofing to the extreme, you end up with:

  • Unnatural and muted ambiance: Can sound become unnatural and muted? Yes. This has more to do with how our brains react to sound. Excessive sound or noise is irritating. But little to no sound can be uncomfortable. This is because, from an evolutionary standpoint, we use sound to better understand our environment. It’s all engraved in our DNA. For instance, hearing loud bangs from afar can signify danger – just like the sound of battle. But, if you’ve noticed, very quiet places create a feeling of uncertainty – just like cemeteries.
  • Poor ventilation: This would usually happen if you’re applying the concept of building a room within a room. Taking this approach will require strict planning to avoid missing out on the critical spots to install a ventilation system. 
  • Poor square footage management: This won’t be a problem if the room you’re soundproofing is relatively large. On the other hand, medium and small rooms will suffer from reduced square footage. For smaller rooms, adding a decoupled wall may not be appropriate. 

FINAL THOUGHTS 

In summary, soundproofing mistakes can be avoided by difference between soundproofing and sound absorption, the type of noise, and the other three discussed above.

Living in a noisy neighborhood can be unbearing, and it would drive you to do anything to regain your peace of mind. You would prepare and equip better to reduce the noise invading your space by avoiding the above-mentioned soundproofing mistakes.

Do not overlook the soundproofing mistakes I mentioned above. I know that they might sound like they are not a big deal, but in the long run, they will indeed cause you a lot of trouble. That’s why make sure to try to avoid them! 

Recent Content