Is Soundproof or Acoustic Wallpaper Worth the Hype?
Recently, soundproof wallpaper has been coming up in conversation more and more often. So I thought that I should tackle the subject sooner rather than later. Today, I’ll attempt to reach a conclusion as to whether acoustic wallpaper is effective or not.
As always, the question is more complicated than you’d think. In some of my latest articles, I found myself recommending soundproof wallpaper without taking the time to explain what to expect of the product. Today I mean to rectify that.
So as I have said in my guide to soundproofing a bedroom and soundproofing without damaging drywall, soundproof wallpaper can indeed be a stylish way to soundproof. But let’s see just how effective you can expect it to be before we rush into anything.
WHAT IS SOUNDPROOF WALLPAPER
When it comes to the paint vs. wallpaper debate, I have to say I’m on the fence. As far as I can tell, it mostly boils down to the cost and the longevity of the two methods.
On the one hand, we have the paint, which can be quite affordable. In fact, it would probably be cheaper to paint a room than apply wallpaper to it. However, you should ideally be repainting your home every couple of years. So even the smallest cost would pile up.
As I have said in my article on soundproof paint, you should invest in the mid-tier paint at the very least. After all, cheaper paint tends to crack and even fall off after a relatively short period of time. And even if you get the priciest gallon of paint on the market, it’s bound to get dirty at some point.
On the other hand, wallpaper is more durable on the whole, and many of them are easy enough to keep clean. However, you can’t use it in steamy rooms, like kitchens or bathrooms, because the moisture will disintegrate the wallpaper and the adhesive. Then you’ll be stuck with an unsightly mess of paper peeling from the walls, and no one wants that. Also, speaking of adhesives, some wallpapers are much harder to take off than others.
Despite possible drawbacks to using wallpapers, they have been gaining in popularity lately. I’ve even noticed the recent trend of using wallpaper on a single wall as a design accent. It’s definitely a very stylish option at the very least. So now that we’ve considered the pros and cons of wallpaper in general, let’s see what sets soundproof wallpaper apart.
Properties of Soundproof Wallpaper
Well, to begin with, even its name is a bit deceptive. After all, if this was a simple paper material it certainly wouldn’t be doing much of anything in terms of soundproofing.
Fortunately, soundproof wallpaper does have a bit of an advantage over regular wallpaper. Take, for example, this Arthome wallpaper from Amazon. It isn’t made of paper at all, but of closed-cell polyethylene foam instead. The material does have vibration dampening and insulating properties.
This particular wallpaper is also shaped like a brick wall, which should at least grant you some style points. But because it’s fairly soft, you can be sure that your kids or pups won’t get scraped up if they come into contact with it.
What’s more, you should be able to clean it fairly easily as it is, in fact, waterproof. And it should also be pretty easy to install too, since it has a simple peel and stick adhesive in the back. You can even cut out the shape of the bricks you want first, then peel and apply the wallpaper. That is, of course, if you don’t want to cover the whole wall.
However, if you’re relying on this product to soundproof your walls, you may want to cover as much of the surface as possible. Just going off of what I know about soundproofing, covering a whole wall is always a smart idea.
The manufacturer of this product lists it as sound insulated. You can obviously do with that information what you will, even though it isn’t necessarily true. Because the product is 8mm (0.3 inches) thick, it would add some mass and density to the wall. It would certainly add more thickness than any amount of soundproof paint ever could.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS SOUNDPROOF WALLPAPER
If you know what my thoughts on soundproof paint are, you can probably guess what I’m going to say about soundproof wallpaper. Ultimately, although it is thicker than soundproof paint, I wouldn’t say that it’s that much more effective.
In fact, allow me to draw a parallel to a type of soundproofing material we’ve dealt with before — acoustic foam products. Although the wallpaper I’ve mentioned may have some unique properties, it is, for all intents and purposes, an acoustic foam product. And although I have a great respect for acoustic foam tiles and fabric panels, I also think that knowing the purpose of a product can only help when you’re dealing with home improvement projects.
As it turns out, acoustic foam isn’t meant to block sounds from leaving or entering a room. It’s simply supposed to improve the acoustics inside of a room, which is exactly what musicians use it for. At the end of the day, many soundproof wallpapers are also foam products that are usually much thinner than your average foam tile. As such, you can’t really expect to hear a huge difference in the level of outside noise or the sound absorption inside of the room.
So Should You Buy Soundproof Wallpaper?
In the end, whether or not you end up buying a soundproof wallpaper is completely up to you. In my opinion, it might be worth considering, especially if you’re looking for a stylish addition to your home. You may even hear a bit of a difference in the acoustics of the room, especially in the mid-range frequencies. But this is about all you can expect out of soundproof paint too.
I should also say that, despite any waterproof claims you might see, you should proceed with caution. No matter what a manufacturer claims about the properties of their product, the adhesive holding it to the wall most likely won’t be waterproof. So you should still avoid using it in bathrooms or kitchens.
Other than that, you can use this type of wallpaper pretty much in any room. In fact, the manufacturer of the brick wallpaper I’ve mentioned claims that it’s especially great for kids. The foam is supposedly soft enough to soften their walls if they tip over. So you could even use it in your nursery or wherever your toddler spends the most time.
But although you can’t expect to hear stellar soundproofing results from soundproof wallpapers, you may use any number of other soundproofing techniques on your walls.
OTHER SOUNDPROOFING TECHNIQUES YOU COULD TRY
Since I’ve already written many articles about soundproofing walls, I’ll try to keep this section short and sweet. So let’s begin with some of the usual advice I typically dole out.
First and foremost, I always say that every soundproofing project should begin with some strategic redecorating. You can push your wardrobes or bookshelves up against the most vulnerable walls. Then, there are also dense fabrics like curtains, blankets, or even carpets you could put up.
If you want to go professional, you can use soundproof blankets and curtains. They both do a decent job of creating a barrier for the sound to absorb into before reaching the wall. You could also nail or glue some type of rubber material or even MLV directly to the wall and cover it up with fabric.
However, before you start shuffling furniture, you may want to ask yourself if your walls are sound in the first place. That is, if your walls have cracks in them, they could be letting all sorts of sounds in. The same goes for windows and doors, which are especially prone to slacking off when it comes to soundproofing.
Fortunately, you could fix any of those air gaps easily with some acoustic caulk. If you want to make sure that your doors and windows don’t have cracks between the frame and the wall, you can use the flame test. Just bring a candle along the window and see where it flickers, then seal the spot with caulk. And if the flame is still flickering even after you’ve sealed around your window, some weatherstripping tape (Amazon) should do the trick.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SOUNDPROOF WALLPAPER
So there you have it, my comprehensive review of soundproof wallpaper. To summarize, I can’t confidently state that soundproof wallpaper will solve all of your problems. In my opinion, soundproof wallpaper simply can’t soundproof a room adequately.
You’d still be able to hear noises coming in from the outside, and people would still be able to hear you, even if you covered the walls completely. Still, there are plenty of other ways to soundproof a room, aside from plastering foam directly onto it.
Ultimately, I’d focus on using wallpaper for its intended decorative purpose and leaving the rest to the professional soundproofing materials. And as you know, sometimes all it takes is rearranging the furniture.
At this point, though, you may have decided that you’d like to put some more thought into the soundproofing of your home. Well, I’ve pointed you towards a couple of good avenues in the previous section. So hopefully, that should be enough to inspire your journey onward.
All it takes is a bit of time and some basic understanding of soundproofing techniques and materials. Fortunately, I can provide both — so feel free to dive into my backlog of articles. You’ll be an expert in no time.