Last updated: July 28, 2020 at 9:44 am
Though soundproofing and sound absorbing comes under the same umbrella, there are differences between both. Some people also call sound absorbing as soundproofing as they don’t know the clear difference between the two. This is because the term ‘soundproofing’ generally encompasses all the internal acoustic solutions.
To be specific, soundproofing is as same as sound blocking. It blocks all kinds of noise from entering a certain room or building. Sound absorbing, on the other hand, refers to the application of materials that absorbs the sound within the room. Contractors install sound-absorbing materials under walls, ceilings, or both.
Soundproof materials are insulators that do not allow sound waves to transmit into a room.
The Principles of Sound Proofing
Windows and doors are the most important sources of incoming noises. But keeping them shut or only sound-proofing them isn’t enough. This is why you need a combination of techniques to soundproof a room. The phenomena of soundproofing work on the following four principles.
Heavy and thick materials are strong enough to block sounds. The heavier the mass of walls, windows, doors, and curtains, the lesser the voice can pass through it.
If airborne sounds disturb you, then this technique can be useful for you. This technique can be as simple as using furniture to add mass to the walls. Using heavy curtains, thick glass windows or mass -loaded vinyl over drywall are common applications of this technique.
Damping is a reduction in the amplitude of oscillating sound waves. Let’s understand it in a simpler way. You tap a wine glass with a fork, and it rings. You hold the wine glass and then tap it; there will be very little or no sound. By holding the wine glass, you have damped the vibrating sound waves, and so you hear little or no noise.
Damping converts sound energy into heat energy. Some of the common damping materials include rubber, caulk, and PVC.
To use this technique, you have to apply the damping material between two stiff panels, such as plywood or dry wood. This technique is very effective against low-frequency noise.
Isolation of Decoupling
Decoupling means separating or isolating the two sides of the structure to keep them from vibrating together. This prevents the transmission of sounds through the wall.
Most standard walls are single stud constructed. Both sides of the wall are connected to the stud, which allows the sound waves to pass through the walls easily.
Introducing gaps in certain parts of the wall internally is a common decoupling method. There are also some decoupling materials like resilient channels. The sound waves uselessly vibrate against such channels and materials instead of passing through walls.
Decoupling is highly effective, but its installation isn’t an easy task. It requires professional installation. If a professional doesn’t accurately implement sound decoupling, it can worsen low-frequency noise.
We have already discussed the difference between sound blocking and sound-absorbing. Sound absorption is effective in stopping the transmission of sound waves into the room. Certain materials inside walls, panels, flooring, and windowpane can absorb sound. These materials include acoustic foam, acoustic fiberglass, acoustic boards, etc.
12 Best Soundproof Materials
Now we know how the principles of soundproofing let us see what materials we can use for their application.
Materials for Soundproofing
1. Mineral Wool
Acoustic mineral wool uses a rock board, which is a fire-resistant- insulator of both sound and heat. It is a natural material it is eco-friendly. Also, this material is easy to cut and sticks to surfaces. You can install mineral wool very easily in any room or surface.
Materials for Sound Decoupling
2. Acoustic Floor Underlay
These materials help soundproof hardwood or tile floors. Floor underlay materials like cork felt, and polymers are very effective in decoupling noise.
3. Noise-Proofing Compound or Glue
Soundproofing glue is becoming very common these days for dampening different surfaces. It is widely used between drywalls to prevent sound transmission.
4. Resilient Channel
These are metal sheets mounted across the studs of the walls and ceiling joints. These are one of the best decoupling materials for walls and ceilings.
Materials for Sound Dampening
The mass and density of soundproof materials reduce the energy of noise. These materials can be mats, tools, sprays, and paints to dissipate any vibrations and rattles.
5. Mass-loaded Vinyl
Mass-loaded vinyl’s most common application is to sound-proof cars, machinery, and appliances. Manufacturers also add them to other acoustic materials to strengthen them. Mass-loaded vinyl is very flexible and has adhesive backing for quick installation.
6. Acoustic Curtains
These types of curtains have heavy-weight plush fabric combined with soundproofing material like vinyl to dampen sound. High-quality blackout curtains can also work well as soundproofing curtains.
7. Sound Deadening Spray
This is an efficient sound insulator used for spot treatment. It fills in gaps between hard to reach auto parts, machinery, and appliances. It is a spray version of mass-loaded vinyl.
8. Sound Deadening Paint
Sound deadening paint provides an extra soundproofing layer to walls and surfaces. You can either spray or paint this material on walls or other surfaces.
Materials for Sound Absorbing
9. Acoustic Foam
This type of foam is open-celled. The open-celled structure is very effective in reducing the amplitude and dissipating the energy of sound waves.
10. Acoustic Panel
These panels are strong enough to absorb noises to a certain extent. These are best for rooms where you can’t fit acoustic foam or other materials to block noises. Moreover, wooden acoustic panels look like a decoration item rather than a sound-absorbing panel.
11. Moving Blankets
There are certain blankets that can reduce noise. These aren’t ordinary blankets rather special blankets with thick plush fabric that can absorb sound. These are a good option for cheap sound absorbing setups.
12. Acoustic Fiberglass
Acoustic fiberglass’s main application is to sound-proof office rooms, home studios, commercial buildings, churches, theatre, etc. It comprises small compressed particles of glass or plastic. Acoustic fiberglass is effective to insulate noise. You can install acoustic fiberglass on a wide variety of surfaces.