The concept of soundproof paint is a brilliant one, soundproofing solutions don’t come much quicker and easier than a product you can paint on your wall.
Simply open the tin, paint your wall and voila - soundproofing completed!
Soundproof paint (also known as acoustic paint, insulated paint, sound deadening and sound dampening paint) is a product that genuinely exists (see the Acousti-coat below), but does it work and is it effective?
Before you decide to abandon all of your soundproofing plans in favour of a lick of paint let’s be clear: even the best sound dampening paint will never be anywhere near as effective as a comprehensive soundproofing solution.
It is best used to help tune out faint background noises or to compliment other soundproofing methods.
Soundproof paint is much thicker than standard wall paints, this is because it is a very heavy-bodied water-based paint which gets its density from a combination of ceramic microspheres and sound-absorbing fillers.
The sound-absorbing fillers consist of thermacels, these are tiny vacuum sealed cells filled with soft pigment.
The power of soundproof paint lies in its thermacels.
The soft pigment that is stored inside the cells acts a bit like the suspension of a car does, it wobbles when the sound waves hit it thus absorbing the sound energy meaning that much less sound energy transfers through the walls.
This helps prevent sound travelling into your toom through a wall and it also helps to reduce echo in a room.
Sound dampening paints will typically claim to be able to reduce mid frequency sounds, such as conversational speech, by around 30%.
If it is just faint background noise that is troubling you then paint could be an adequate solution however if your problem noise is in any way significant such as road noise or a loud TV then acoustic paint is unlikely to make a perceptible difference.
Thermacel based paint also improves your room’s heat insulation.
Adding a lick of paint to your walls isn’t going to suddenly turn it into an impenetrable sound shield, that is clear to all but the most naive of soundproofing enthusiasts.
Yet if it does work it could save a you a lot of time, money and frustration that would come with a more comprehensive soundproofing project.
We could create a table of how many decibels this paint could be effective at but decibels don't mean much to most of us so instead here are a few scenarios in which soundproof paint could make a difference:
It is worth noting that if your neighbour is frequently complaining that you are talking too loud at night, or that they can hear your TV, then using soundproof paint can help you keep the peace (it’s still a good idea to turn the T.V down and lower your voices too though).
There's no denying it though; sound deadening paint it is only a viable solution for very low-level noise.
It will be completely ineffective for any sounds above conversational volume such as:
We do not recommend using it to soundproof a ceiling as ceilings let in a lot of impact sound from people walking on the floor. Even the thickest paint will be ineffective against impact sound.
Do not attempt to use multiple layers of regular paint instead of soundproof paint - it won't work!
Even the thickest standard paint will dry down to no more than 0.2cm thick which will offer absolutely no soundproofing benefits...particularly as standard paint contains no soundproofing additives.
Some internet forums claim that using dark paint helps to soundproof a room, this is not true. Dark paints help create the illusion the room is a smaller more intimate and quieter space than it actually is, the color or shade of your paint will have absolutely no impact on the acoustics of your room.
Applying acoustic paint is different to applying standard wall paint, sure it requires a brush (or roller) and all the usual pieces of painting equipment however it has several unique qualities which you should be aware of:
When applying the paint ensure that you completely cover the entire surface of the wall, don’t leave any gaps or do half of it (for example if you have a dado rail) as this will make it ineffective, instead ensure that every inch of the entire wall is fully covered.
We recommend either using a roller or a pressure spraying system to apply the paint. A pressure sprayer is the best solution as due to the density of the paint the roller gets very heavy and gives limited coverage with each dip in the paint tray so you end up doing an awful lot of dipping!
A pressure sprayer is only slowed down by the pressure dropping or the paint running out, both of which are quickly rectified. Just be careful to avoid accidentally spraying your ceiling or connecting walls if you don’t intend to paint them.
Sound insulated paint alone isn’t going to turn your room from a noise box into a silent library, however if you combine it with some other low-cost soundproofing methods you can achieve much better results.
If you’re searching for acoustic paint chances are you are looking for a cheap solution and would prefer to avoid ripping walls open and adding insulation so here are a few low-cost soundproofing solutions you can use in addition to paint:
Mass blocks sound. It’s an undeniable soundproofing truth.
Thinking strategically about furniture placement can make a massive difference to the acoustics of a room.
For example move your bookcase so that it is against your problem wall and ensure that it is completely full. This will create a mass barrier which will help block any sounds that make it through your wall.
Hanging large picture frames or mirrors can also help add mass to your wall.
Putting a sofa against your wall can make a big difference too, especially if the sofa touches the wall. This helps because the soft sofa material deadens vibrations in the wall in a manner similar to what happens if you touch the skin of a drum immediately after it has been hit.
As we mentioned above adding mass to your wall makes it harder for sound vibrations to get through, the denser your wall the more energy (higher volume sound) is required to get through it.
Before you paint your wall cover it with panels, these can be cheap plasterboard panels or you can go all out and use some specially made soundproofing panels it doesn’t matter too much - the main thing is that you are adding mass to the wall.
Adding panels to your wall may seem like a big job but it is fairly simple providing you can work out where your wall studs are at. Simply cut them to size and screw them into the wall then cover them with your acoustic paint.
Weatherstripping isn’t going to help you soundproof a wall however using it around windows or doors will seal up and gaps in your window and door frames preventing airborne sound from getting into the room.
If road noise or noise coming from your corridor is a problem then weather stripping is worth using as it is one of the best value for money soundproofing materials available (in my opinion).
Combining weatherstripping with a thick pair of curtains can help reduce noise coming in through your window, the thicker the curtains and the more layers they have the better as this helps deaden sound waves.
You could even get specially made soundproof curtains.
Sound dampening paint is an effective solution for tuning out low-level background noise so long as you are prepared to use at least three coats of it!
It will never match the effectiveness of solutions such as acoustic wall panels, acoustic ceiling tiles, or any insulation materials due to the fact that it does not have substantial mass, compared to a wallboard the soundproofing impact will be negligible.
If you have a serious noise problem then paint is not going to make a real difference, however if you combine it with wall panels, weather stripping and thick curtains as well as moving your furniture around strategically to help deaden sounds coming through your wall then the overall impact can be good.
In conclusion you shouldn’t expect miracles from soundproof paint, however a few coats could prove to be the difference between your neighbours TV waking you up and you having a peaceful nights sleep.
If you’re a super light sleeper and low-level noise is disturbing your sleep then it could be a solution that works for you.