How to Soundproof a Room: The Ultimate Guide

Installing soundproofing in a room

Last updated: August 23, 2021 at 10:05 am

There are many different things that can cause interior and exterior noises. These include loud neighbours, traffic, noisy kids, etc. Soundproofing your rooms can be a great way to get rid of all of the unwanted noises. Also, there are many cheap and affordable ways to do that.

There are five main areas to consider when soundproofing a room. They are:

  • Walls
  • Floor
  • Ceiling
  • Door
  • Windows

We have explained how to soundproof each of these below, including ways you might not have thought about before.

Basic Principles of Soundproofing a Room

To reduce the noise that gets into your room, you need something that will absorb or block the sound. This can be easily accomplished by adding soundproof panels on your walls, putting blankets to seal the places with gaps that let in the sound, and positioning your furniture effectively to block the sound from entering your room.

When you think of soundproofing your room, you need to start from the inside. It’s not that hard, but definitely effective. You need to determine several key aspects that make your room noisy.

These are the source of the sound, the reflection point of the noise, and the entry point. You need to find these places to effectively use the additional tools to block out the incoming noises.

The Source of Sound

To be better equipped to block out the noise from entering your room, you need to determine where the sound is coming from. What type of noise is it? The type of sound can help you identify the location of it. After you’ve identified the source of the sound, you can continue following the next steps to soundproof the room.

The Entry Point of the Noise

The area where the sound enters your room is called the entry point. This can be the same point as the source of sound or it can be a completely different wall or window. It’s good to know that windows are among the most common entry points of outdoor noises.

Reflection Point

When the sound gets into your room, it will reflect at the same entry angle. Usually, the entry angle is a straight line, the sound is most likely to bounce back and forth from the walls until it dissipates.

That’s why it’s important to reduce the bouncing of the sound from different surfaces. You can achieve that with the application of certain soundproofing techniques, including adding acoustic panels to your walls.

There are also many different cheap methods to soundproof a room. The following cheap ways to soundproof will help you to achieve the best results without big investments.

This article will explain the various options available if you want to soundproof a room. These vary in terms of disruption and mess, cost, time, and the DIY skills required. The most appropriate solution will be largely determined by your budget and the type of noise you’re trying to block, but the other factors listed have an impact too.

Reasons For Soundproofing

There are various reasons you may want to soundproof a room. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • It’s a baby’s room
  • You live on a noisy street
  • The room is near a noisy boiler or pump
  • You have noisy neighbours
  • Your partner or housemate works a different shift to you, and they wake you up when they get in

5 Areas to Properly Soundproof a Room

1. The Walls

There are several options you can look at, which range in expense and level of disruption.

The least disruptive option would be to hang thick blankets or moving blankets on the walls. Because you can get all types of blankets in a range of styles, sizes and colours, it can be an artistic touch as well as keeping the room quiet.

The next option is to add a soundproof product to your plasterboard. This will involve mess and disruption but it is one of the most effective options if you’re trying to block a lot of noise. Two of the most commonly used products are green glue compound and Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV). Green glue compound is applied to the back of a piece of plasterboard, and then this is screwed over the existing wall. Green glue converts sound to heat and reduces it by a significant degree. For more detailed information on using green glue check out our article here.

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Mass Loaded Vinyl is a thin, rubber-like substance that comes in sheets. Theoretically, as it can be painted, you could use it over the top of your existing wall, however, it wouldn’t exactly look great. The best option is to tack it onto your existing wall and then fit an extra layer of plasterboard on top. You can read all about MLV’s uses here.

Both of these options mean you’d have to buy the products and the new plasterboard, as well as redecorating the room. This makes it expensive and disruptive. It will make the biggest difference in the degree of soundproofing, though.

The final option that you can fit onto your walls is acoustic tiles. These are the ultimate in soundproof as their intended use is in recording studios. Needless to say, they’re expensive and may be more than you need. Some people have reported completely sound-free rooms can feel eerie and put them on edge. If you’re looking for maximum soundproofing, though, this will do it.

Finally, you can also look at getting soundproof wallpaper. It feels thick and heavy and is made to be noise-cancelling. On its own, it would only be effective in blocking very low levels of noise, so a boiler or a tv in another room you can only just hear. If you use it with some of the other options, then more mass means a greater effect.

See: 6 Ways to Soundproof a Wall – Noisy Neighbours Included!

2. The Floor

There are dedicated soundproofing options for your floor, but these are designed to be applied before the floor is laid. As it’s unlikely you’ll want to rip up your floor, adding mass is the way to go here.

The most obvious solution is to lay a good-quality carpet with as deep a pile as you can find. If you have the budget, you can also buy special acoustic underlay, which will give the level of sound absorption a boost. As a final touch, you could also lay thick rugs on top.

See: How to Soundproof a Floor for Cheap [Including Flats]

3. The Ceiling

Soundproofing options for the ceiling are more limited, but for soundproofing to be effective, every surface must be addressed. It wouldn’t be normal to hang blankets on the ceiling, so they are not recommended. You could use soundproof wallpaper in a plain colour and/or paint it, but it likely wouldn’t be all that effective on its own. The best option is to apply the same Green Glue or MLV with an extra level of plasterboard that you used for your walls.

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You should also take a trip into your loft and check out the state of your insulation. If it’s looking thin or in poor condition, replacing it will block the sound coming in from outside and keep in the heat.

4. The Door

The door is a vital area to tend to, especially if the noise you’re trying to combat is coming from inside the house. Many new homes are built with cheaper, hollow doors, so replacing them with ones that have a solid core will make a big difference. You also need to examine the frame thoroughly to find any gaps. Once you’ve found them, then seal them up with some acoustic sealant. You can also get a sealant stripe that fits around the inside of the door frame, forming a tight seal between your door and the frame.

There are also doors designed to block sound because they are very thick and have no gap at the bottom. These are significantly more expensive, though, so it all comes down to your budget and how much noise you’re trying to block.

See: 5 Steps to Easily Soundproof an Interior Door

5. The Windows

If you’re trying to stop noise coming in from the outside, windows are a major weak spot. It’s also an area you should address if you’re trying to block noise from your neighbours. Noise escapes through their windows and enters through yours. You need to start by looking at the condition the windows are in. Replacing them will be expensive, but if the frames are rotten or they’re not double-glazed, then it’s a worthwhile investment. If you don’t have the budget for this, then as a minimum, use acoustic caulking and seal all gaps in the frame and around it.

Top Tip!

If you’re not positive you’ve found all the gaps, then the wind is your best friend. Either manually slide strips of tissue paper around the window or just attach them with tape on the upper edge. Whichever you choose, once the paper is in place, simply watch closely for any movement. If you’re not positive you’re seeing movement, there’s nothing to lose by adding a bit of sealant just in case.

As mentioned above, if your windows aren’t double-glazed, then this is a major weak point for sound penetration. If you don’t have the budget to double-glaze all your windows, then consider replacing the ones in the rooms where noise is an issue. There is nothing else that will make more of a difference if outside noise is a problem. It is expensive upfront, but an additional benefit is that double glazing also retains the heat in your home, which will bring your bills down.

Once you’ve done as much with the windows as you can try to add some extra mass. As a bare minimum, hang a good thick pair of curtains. If you want to take your soundproofing up a level, then consider soundproof blinds and/or curtains. They are more expensive than their normal counterparts, but they can help reduce noise in the room significantly.

For the best soundproofing solution, you should fit blinds and thick curtains. As well as the soundproofing benefits, it will stop heat from escaping through the window. This will keep your room warm and lower your heating bills. If the room you’re soundproofing is a bedroom, it will also mean the room is darker, which will aid you in getting more restful sleep.

See: The Easiest DIY Ways of Soundproofing Windows

Conclusion

When learning to soundproof a room, there’s a range of soundproofing options available. Which you choose depends on your budget and how significant the noise is. The key takeaway is for soundproofing to work, you need to attend to every surface.

There’s no point adding MLV to the walls but ignoring the old, single glazed windows, or adding good thick blankets and carpets but keeping a flimsy door that has lots of gaps in the frame. If you need to soundproof a room, take the time to do it thoroughly, so you achieve the effect you want and restore the peace you need.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ writes about living a quieter life, soundproofing tips and recommending the best quiet products here on Quiet Living.

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