The success of every soundproofing project is heavily dependant on the materials you use.
Before we go any further here are our favourite soundproofing materials which we have found can have a big impact on almost any soundproofing project:
Use poor quality materials and vibrations and airborne sound will travel through into your room with ease, leaving you frustrated that you can still hear your neighbour arguing or your son's awful music!
Investing in good quality materials is essential if your soundproofing project is going to be a success.
Here is our list of the 12 best soundproofing materials along with an explanation as to what the value and use of each material type is and where to find good quality products.
Please remember the most effective soundproofing projects will use as many different methods and soundproofing materials as possible.
Acoustic caulk (also known as an acoustic sealant or damping compound) is different from standard caulk because it is specifically designed to remain flexible rather than harden with time.
This means that it dampens vibrations rather than passing them straight through as hard caulk does.
Acoustic caulk is essential for pretty much every soundproofing project. It should be copiously spread over any joint between soundproofing materials to absorb vibrations. Examples of places where acoustic caulk should be used include:
Acoustic caulk works best when applied very very liberally. For that reason it is best to go with a product that you can afford to buy lots of.
A couple of Acoustic Caulk brands worth considering can be seen below:
Available in a wide range of sizes shapes and colors, some of our favorite acoustic foam panels are below:
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Acoustic foam differs from styrofoam which is usually used for heat insulation, acoustic foam is instead usually used on the walls of sound recording studios. Strictly speaking acoustic foam will do very little to soundproof a room, instead it will improve the acoustics of a room.
Acoustic foam works by causing sound energy to dissipate into the foam as heat, this happens because of the open cell structure of the foam which causes increased air resistance when sound waves make contact with the foam.
If you are building a cinema, a recording studio, a music room or a place for your band to practice in then acoustic foam is a valuable addition as it will improve the acoustics of the room and reduce echo helping your films and music sound crisp and flawless.
It will not prevent sound leaking out of the room though os if soundproofing is important to your project then combine acoustic foam with other soundproofing techniques for best results.
Also Read: How to hang acoustic foam
Acoustic thresholds are one of the best value soundproofing products you can invest in.
They don’t cost much but if you have a gap underneath your door they can make a big difference to the amount of airborne sound getting into your room.
An acoustic threshold is different to a standard threshold in that they have a rubber seal running down the middle. They are much wider than a standard threshold thus allowing your door to sit flush against the seal when the door is closed.
Acoustic thresholds are very easy to install:
Automatic door bottoms are another type of door threshold which are embedded in the bottom of the door and drop down sealing the door when the door is closed. They draw back up into the door automatically when the door is opened.
These are ideal for anyone who wants to seal their door without compromising the look of it or creating a small trip hazard with the raised rubber seal that you get with standard acoustic thresholds.
They can be more complicated than a standard acoustic threshold to install and the installation method will vary depending on which automatic door bottom you purchase. If in doubt consult a professional for help.
A decent automatic crop down door seal to have a look at is the GedoTec below:
Damped drywall uses vibration dampening technology to deaden sound waves as they travel through it. Damped drywall is essentially high tech plasterboard!
Damped drywall is constructed in different ways depending on which manufacturer you purchase it from.
Typically it will be constructed from a number of different layers which are sandwiched either side by standard drywall. The central layers are often made from something like viscoelastic or a dampening compound which moves when sound waves hit it and dissipate the sound energy into heat energy.
The benefits of pre damped drywall are that it is very easy to install, you simple screw it into your wall as you would a normal piece of drywall, the only difference is that you should ensure you seal all the board joints up with acoustic sealant. Be aware though that damped drywall is much heavier than standard drywall so be sure to get some assistance to save your back.
Sound deadening mats are most commonly used in vehicles, but they can be used on any metal surface where you want to dampen vibrations. Damplifier Pro, by Second Skin Audio, is arguably the best sound deadener you can buy. A good deadener is key to reducing the amount of noise your car creates while driving and will add thermal insulation too.
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When purchasing vehicle sound deadening, you’re looking for a good thickness of 100% butyl rubber, a very sticky adhesive, and a sturdy foil constraint layer. A quality sound deadening material will add significant resistive force to take energy out of the vibrations as the metal flexes back and forth as you drive.
Watch out for sound deadening products that include asphalt though. Asphalt is cheaper, but it has been known to fail and has been linked to health concerns due to the chemicals it releases when heated. That’s why most people stick to high quality sound deadening mats like Damplifier Pro.
Good quality glazing is vital to an effective soundproofing strategy. It is no good investing in every soundproofing material if you are going to have cheap windows which bleed sound as this will completely compromise your project.
Windows are made from rigid frames with rigid sheets of glass in them, unfortunately this means they are like a tight drum skin which makes them very good at conducting sound waves.
Consequently if you have only a single pane window in your home this will do absolutely nothing to soundproof your home.
Most double glazed windows won’t make much difference either as most of them are built with heat conservation rather than soundproofing in mind.
A good quality soundproofing window will made from thick glass (the thicker the better!) with a layer of polyvinyl butral (PVB) between each pane of glass. PVB helps to dissipate sound waves and is completely transparent so won’t have a negative impact on the clearness of your glass.
A good soundproofing window will usually have one pane which is around 25% thicker than the other, this will change the sound wave as it travels through your window and waste more of the sound energy.
A good soundproofing window should also have a big cavity (again the bigger the better), ideally filled with a heavy gas like argon to slow the travel of the sound waves.
Most window fitters or soundproofing companies will be able to advise you on the best soundproof product to go with, we also recommend purchasing your window from a company that can install it for you as soundproof windows will be ineffective if they are not fitted tightly and securely.
Some of the best rated Mass Loaded Vinyl is:
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is also known as limp mass barrier and it is brilliant at deadening sounds.
Limp mass barrier is a better name for MLV because it more clearly articulates what it does. MLV is a dense vinyl sheet which has plenty of mass (mass is important for blocking sound), it is then secured at the top, either by stapling it into a wall cavity or by hanging it from a rail.
That is it, it should not be secured anywhere else as this will compromise how effectively it can stop sound.
By hanging loose, your MLV absorbs the energy and deadens sound in much the same way that if you throw a ball at a sheet hanging on a washing line the ball will drop to the floor rather than bounce off the sheet because the sheet absorbs the ball's energy.
This means that MLV will stop sound from travelling through a wall and it will also reduce echo and improve sound quality in a room or vehicle. If you’re putting mass loaded vinyl in a car though, make sure you’re getting one specifically designed for vehicle use, like Second Skin Audio’s Luxury Liner Pro.
Mass loaded vinyl is typically hung inside a wall cavity as an extra barrier against sound. Some soundproof curtains also use a layer of mass loaded vinyl as a middle layer.
Some good quality resilient channels to consider are:
Resilient channels are a piece of soundproof engineering genius.
They are thin metal rails (channels) which minimise contact between drywall and the wall timber frame. Instead of securing drywall directly to the timber frame the resilient channel is secured to the timber frame and the drywall is secured to the resilient channel.
The resilient channel is designed in a way which means it significantly weakens any sound waves that travel through it. It features a long microchannel which sound waves have to travel along by the time they complete their journey the sound waves have lost a significant amount of their energy thereby making a big difference to the amount of sound that transfers into your room.
Resilient channels can be used to improve the sound insulation of ceilings and walls and work well when used with drywall and plasterboards.
Resilient channels are fairly easy to install and use (have a look at our guide to soundproofing a wall here for more information on using resilient channels), however there are a lot of mistakes which can be made so make sure you carefully read the manufacturers instructions before installing them.
Some good resilient sound clips to consider can be seen below:
Resilient sound clips work in the same way as resilient channels. Their aim is to help you decouple a wall so that either surface of the wall vibrates independently resulting in much less of vibrations travelling through the wall.
Resilient sound clips are small clips which are easily screwed into a wall or ceiling joist, they have rubber padding cushioning the screw or they may be completely made of rubber so that when you attach the furring channel to them sound wave transfer is minimised.
The benefit of resilient sound clips over resilient channels is that they are significantly easier to install.
If you are going to try out some sound deadening paints or sprays then have a look at Acousti-coat below:
Sound deadening paints and sprays are often thought of as being a bit of a joke, a bit like tartan paint or skirting board ladders except it exists!
Many people in the trade will tell you it is just a gimmick designed to make money from people in search of a quick fix to a problem which will take more than a lick of paint to rectify.
To be honest there is a lot of truth in that. If you have a serious sound problem then covering your room in sound deadening paint or spray is not going to make a noticeable difference.
However to be fair to these products they do make some difference, yes it’s a very small difference but if you’re looking to deaden the sound of (relatively quiet) conversation in your lounge waking up the baby then it could be a big enough difference to be worth trying.
If your sound problem is relatively low level then it is worth giving the paint ago before you embark on spending more money and doing things properly.
Sound insulation foam is designed to be used inside floors, ceilings, walls and other internal spaces.
Insulation foam should be fitted as neatly as possible without being overly packed it in as this will compress the air pockets inside it making your foam less effective at soundproofing.
Insulation foam will prevent sound from echoing within your walls or floors and creating a drum effect.
When purchasing insulation foam it is important that you get good quality foam, poor quality foam will invariably result in disappointing results.
The best sound insulation foam available is the Rockwool sound insulation slab which is favoured by professionals.
It is made from mineral wool meaning that it is far denser than other insulation foams. It is not flammable and will tolerate temperatures of up to 1000°C! So it ticks all the building regulation boxes and more, and will give residents more time to escape from a building in a fire.
The Rockwool Sound Insulation Slab is Quiet Mark TM approved. Quiet Mark is an international mark which is used to approve low-noise technology products and services so you can be certain that Rockwool will definitely make a difference (providing you install it correctly).
More information on the Rockwool Sound Insulation Slab can be found below:
Soundproofing board is constructed in different ways depending on which manufacturer you purchase it from. Usually, it will either be a dense rubber laminate board or mass loaded vinyl sandwiched between a layer either side of acoustic plasterboard.
Soundproofing board is best used on brick party walls that are shared with a noisy neighbour or flatmate.
They can simply be screwed into your wall and cut to size so that the entire wall is covered floor to ceiling. They will act as a sound barrier which will absorb vibrations.
Brick walls shouldn’t let airborne sound through however if the wall doesn't have a cavity then vibrations will travel through them very easily. Cavity free brick walls are commonly used for supporting walls inside a home.
Walls dividing properties should always have a cavity however if the property has been redeveloped or if you are sharing a home with flatmates then you may find yourself sharing a cavityless brick wall with a noisy neighbour.
In this case, soundproofing boards could be your saving grace. If you are confident using a drill, screwdriver and plasterboard saw then this job is fairly simple to complete, though you may need some help holding the higher boards in place while they are screwed in.
Our top choice of weatherstripping is:
Weatherstripping is used to prevent rain, water and wind from getting through windows and external doors. Weatherstripping is also a valuable addition to any door that you are looking to soundproof.
Doors often leak noise, particularly flimsy internal doors which don’t fit perfectly flush with their frame.
Weatherstripping is very good at stopping drafts getting through doors and windows, this means it is perfect for preventing airborne sound getting in.
There are a number of different types of weather-stripping available:
Thanks for reading and we hope these materials help you in your soundproofing project.