Last updated: June 7, 2021 at 11:15 am
If you’re experiencing noise problems in your home, you’ve probably looked into every soundproofing option you can find to restore peace. Among the many options, you may have found soundproof paint.
Let’s have a look at soundproof paint and explain if it works, how it works and the pros and cons of using it.
Does Soundproof Paint Work?
Yes, it does, but only to a limited extent.
If you think this is a low-cost, low-effort alternative to other soundproofing methods, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. As I’ve repeated all across Quiet Living, mass is what blocks sounds. The best soundproof paint in the world will be less than a centimetre thick, so it will only be able to block low-level sounds.
This is the reason it’s advised to use three or four layers – expensive!
Some examples of sounds the paint could block are tv noise, voices, or the boiler in another part of the house. If you’re being bothered by traffic passing close to your home, a loud dog in the neighbour’s garden, or people talking loudly as they walk past your window, then I’m afraid that soundproof paint alone will not be enough. At best, you’d reduce this noise by about 30%.
If you’ve got a baby that is being disturbed by you talking in your bedroom or if your partner goes to bed later than you and you can still hear the tv, then soundproof paint may be the washer to your problems.
How Does It Work?
Firstly it’s much thicker than normal house paint. This mass is designed to create a barrier to prevent sound from moving through it. This mass is achieved by using fillers made with thermacels and ceramic microspheres.
Thermacels are vacuum-sealed packages with a soft pigment inside. When sound hits this pigment, it causes it to vibrate, and this absorbs a lot of the power of the sound wave so less can make it through. They combine with ceramic microspheres to boost the paint’s density. These microspheres help keep the density of the paint uniform throughout. Ordinary paint doesn’t have this level of filler, leaving gaps that sound can easily slip through.
Advantages and Disadvantages
It’s easy to apply – Of all the soundproofing options, there are none as simple to implement as soundproof paint. It can either be applied with a roller or a paint sprayer and requires almost no DIY skills.
It’s cheap – Although it is more expensive than regular emulsion, it will still work out cheaper than some alternatives. For example, mass loaded vinyl, acoustic tiles, or acoustic plasterboard.
Disruption is minimal – Many of the methods used to soundproof a room will cause noise and mess, even if it’s only for a day or two. If your soundproofing project is designed to stop a new baby from waking up, you may find increased disruption adds extra stress at an already stressful time.
It’s quick – It’s possible to get the first coat of paint on in a few hours.
As well as blocking sound, the paint is a good insulator, so it keeps in heat and keeps your room warmer. Lower heating bills are always a plus.
Cost – Yes, soundproof paint will be a cheaper option than some other soundproof options available. However, because of the soundproof materials, it will provide as much coverage as other paints would. You should also apply several coats, so make sure your budget allows for more paint than you would normally need.
Drying time – The flip side of the added density is that the paint takes much longer to dry. You may need to apply additional coats on subsequent days.
Less effective – As explained above, soundproofing paint will not block out medium or high levels of noise. If you are trying to block out neighbours who have loud arguments or the motorbike enthusiast who roars past your house at all hours, then you’ll need to pair this with other types of soundproofing or choose a different solution entirely.
Impact noise – Soundproof paint can only block airborne sound; it will do practically nothing if your problem is caused by impact noise. That’s why it’s not recommended for use on ceilings.
If you have applied the paint and it’s not enough on its own, or you simply suspect it may not be, then there are other soundproofing products you can add.
If a lot of the noise is coming in from outside, then soundproof blinds could help. Windows let a large amount of the noise in, so by covering them with soundproof blinds, the sound could be reduced to a level you can live with.
Made from extra-thick, sound-absorbent material, soundproof curtains can again block sound getting into the room through the window. As an added bonus, they’ll keep the heat in too.
If you’re going to be painting the room anyway, you could fit an extra layer of acoustic plasterboard on top of the existing one. This extra mass will block far more sound than the paint alone.
Simply hang the blankets up in the room you’re trying to soundproof as a compliment to the soundproof paint. Most come with fittings to hang them on the walls, so it’s an easy job once the paint has dried. They come in a range of designs and patterns, so they could look like a design feature in your room, especially if you pick colours that work well with the paint. They come in quilted varieties to block low-frequency sounds and non-quilted for higher frequency.
Regardless of the type of soundproofing, it’s always recommended you seal up any gaps around the windows. Windows are the weak point in any soundproofing project, so if external noise is an issue, this is a must.
How To Apply Soundproof Paint
Soundproof paint is still paint, so you’ll apply it with a brush, roller, or paint sprayer. However, there are a few key differences that you should be aware of.
Because soundproof paint is much thicker, it doesn’t spread as well as regular house paint. Take this into account and make sure you buy enough to complete your project to save you from making a last-minute run to the DIY store. 4.5 litres will cover just over 9 square metres.
As you want to build up a solid coating to block as much sound as possible, then it would be best to apply at least three coats to get the best possible effect in your room.
As previously explained, this paint does take longer to dry, so factor this in when planning your project. It will take a minimum of 16 hours for soundproof paint to dry, and this could increase if your room is cold. If the room is north facing or you’re painting it during the winter, then you could have a heater on to speed up the process. 16 hours is the minimum drying time, but ideally, you should leave it 30-32 hours between coats.
The soundproofing material used means the paint’s finish won’t be as smooth as you’d expect from a standard emulsion so please be aware of that before you start. Don’t be concerned, though; it’s a slight roughness, so it won’t graze your arm if you rub against it. Once the paint is dry, you may find that the slight roughness of the walls afterward doesn’t bother you. If it does, the obvious solution is to put a coat of traditional paint over the top.
Most manufacturers of soundproof paint do not recommend this. However, it’s hard to see what negative impact it could possibly have. An extra layer of paint on top will not remove the dense materials below it, and so this is one solution. Another idea is to use the soundproof blankets discussed earlier to cover large sections of the wall and make the finish less noticeable.
Would Several Coats of Normal Paint Work Instead?
No, unfortunately it won’t. The composition of soundproof paint is what keeps the extra material uniform to block and absorb sound. Standard emulsion simply doesn’t have this.
Also, applying several layers of emulsion will only amount to a thickness of about 0.3 cm. This is nowhere near enough to make any noticeable difference to the sounds you’ll be able to hear.
Conclusion: Is Soundproof Paint Worth It?
In most situations, no.
Soundproof paint does work but only for lower levels of noise. It is cheaper and less disruptive to apply than other forms of soundproofing, but it may need to be part of your soundproofing solution, not the only element.
Do your research and read the reviews of people who have used it to decide if this is an option that would work for you. For us, it’s just too expensive and does a sub-optimal job. There are many, many others ways to soundproof a wall which are far more effective.