Last updated: April 6, 2023 at 12:10 pm
Soundproofing foam is one of the options that is often considered first by many people – but does it actually work? Is decking your home out with soundproofing foam worth the time, energy, or money?
IN THIS ARTICLE
How Does Soundproofing a Room Work?
In order to understand whether a soundproofing technique works, it’s important to grasp the basics of how soundproofing materials work.
First of all:
It’s useful to note that there are different kinds of soundproofing. You can soundproof against external noise, i.e., road traffic, groups of people, and barking dogs, or you can install soundproofing to stop echo within a room or building. The latter is often referred to as sound absorbing, rather than soundproofing.
When you’re looking to soundproof a room against external noise, you want to use dense, heavy materials that will block the sound vibrations from outside and reduce the amount of negative space present in the area for sound to pass through. These materials are usually things like fibreglass, vinyl, or specially designed products like resilient sound isolation clips.
Alternatively, when you’re looking to prevent echo or reverberation in a room, perhaps for podcasts or music production, you’re looking for completely different materials. To absorb, you will need lighter, softer, materials. These are usually attached to the wall, whereas the soundproofing materials are usually placed within the walls.
Is Soundproofing Foam Good for Blocking Out Sound?
Unfortunately, soundproofing foam is not a useful tool for blocking out external sound. The material is not dense enough to prevent vibrations from passing through the air. Soundproofing foam, sometimes known as acoustic foam, is actually a really porous material.
Instead of halting the soundwaves in their path, what it actually does is prevent the sound from going anywhere else – stopping echoes – and converting the energy to heat instead.
This is great for rooms that need to have high-quality sound in them, like in mixing and recording studios, but it doesn’t actually do anything to block out the sound.
It can sometimes be used as a layer within a multi-layer soundproofing assembly, in which its sound absorption properties can be very useful.
Other Options for Soundproofing
If you do want to remove distractions and disruptions from outside, there are a few things that you can implement within your home. Some of them require more effort and DIY know-how than others, but all of them will be more effective than simply attaching acoustic panelling to your walls.
The most common soundproofing techniques are…
Update Your Windows
Windows are one of the leading culprits of outside noise. When the double glazing begins to fail as the window ages, or, in older properties where there is only single glazing, plenty of noise can get through the window and into your home. Sometimes, people also find that noise is entering their homes through cracks and gaps in the surrounding window frame.
To fix this, you can replace double glazed windows with newer window panes and, if need be, improve the integrity of the window frame. Replacing single glazed glass with double or even triple glazing is also something that can not only help with soundproofing but can help with energy efficiency, too.
Window inserts can be a good way to get around this without having to pay out for complete replacements, as can window film.
You might also find that using some acoustic caulk around your window frames may help to reduce the amount of noise that comes in from outside through cracks in the wood or holes in the uPVC.
Add More Plasterboard
Plasterboard, sometimes known as drywall, is a good but labour-intensive way to soundproof a property. It involves you covering the existing walls and adding a layer of thick drywall.
This acts as an extra layer of protection and can be made even more useful in combatting external sound by implementing acoustic or sound-deadening caulk. This will work as a dampening compound and help to further reduce noise transmission.
Install Resilient Channels
If you have the time, energy, or resources to tear a room back to its studs, then this is a great way to reduce the noise transmission in a room. Resilient channels are essentially Z-shaped metal strips between the wall studs and the plasterboard.
They create a ‘decoupled’ wall, which works wonders in stopping sound waves from passing through the wall.
Using Sound Absorption to Minimise External Noise
Acoustic panels or soundproofing foam is unlikely to do very much to reduce the impact of external noise on your home.
There are a few ways to use sound absorbing products and items to minimise the disruption to your house.
Using things like thick, heavy curtains and blinds can really help to reduce the noise coming in through your windows by acting as an absorption barrier. Pair that with the methods of improving windows, and you should find that the noise levels dramatically decrease.
You can also use rugs and carpets to reduce noise, by providing fewer surfaces for the soundwaves to bounce and echo off of once it’s in the room. Soundproofing foam on the walls would have a similar effect, but again, neither will do anything to prevent noise from coming through into the house.