10 Best Soundproof Materials For Effective Noise Control
Is noise from your neighbors keeping you up at night, or do you work from home and find it hard to concentrate because of the sounds outside your home? Do you cherish peace and silence, and you wish that your home was more tranquil, or do you maybe have a noisy hobby or occupation and you don’t want to disturb others?
If you thought to yourself: ”Yes!” at least once while going through these questions, you should know that practical solutions for your problems exist. Instead of feeling annoyed, take a look at the list of ten best soundproofing materials that could help you stop the noise from entering or leaving a room.
What Is a Soundproofing Material?
Before starting digging deeper into the topic, you should know some basics about soundproofing materials. For example, what they are, how they work, and how effective they can be. To understand how soundproofing materials work, we have to understand sounds first.
Think of a sound as a kind of energy; energy that is a result of things vibrating. That energy has to go somewhere; it travels away from its source, and during that trip, it makes objects and the air around us vibrate. Then, the energy reaches our ears; there, it vibrates as well, and we are able to register the sound in our brain.
So, a sound starts at its source, travels through multiple media, reaches our ears, and stimulates our brains. If we want to stop the sound somewhere along its journey, we have to interrupt the chain of events.
Soundproofing is any means of reducing the sound pressure in regard to a specific sound source and its receptor; and without soundproofing materials, soundproofing wouldn’t be possible.
A variety of construction materials are said to have noise reduction characteristics. However, you should pick the right one depending on different transmission modes and noise frequencies. Also, the location which requires soundproofing plays a big role when it comes to the choice of material.
Sound Absorbing Vs. Soundproofing Materials
A common misconception is that sound absorption is the same as soundproofing. Actually, absorption is one of the elements of soundproofing. The main difference between a sound absorbing material and soundproofing material is that the former is mainly used to improve the acoustics of the room, while the latter prevents sound from going in or out.
Sound absorbing materials reduce reverberations and echoing of sounds that are already present in the room; they cannot stop a sound from entering or leaving. So, excellent sound absorbing materials might be useless for soundproofing.
However, if you want complete sound isolation, it is best to combine these two types of materials; they work best together. However, if you don’t mind the reverberations and your only problem is in relation to sounds, stick to soundproofing.
Four Soundproofing Principles
Soundproofing might seem like a somewhat complicated topic. There is a lot of misinformation that confuses us, as well as people who claim to be experts when they aren’t.
The reality is that there are only four soundproofing principles based on the physics of sound transmission.
Combined with the techniques and materials used for soundproofing, these principles are more than enough for successful soundproofing.
All solid materials that are heavy and thick will block sound. People who are annoyed by airborne sounds, such as voices, find this approach the most effective. On the other hand, the mass principle isn’t very useful when it comes to impact noise.
Damping is achieved with the help of damping compounds. These compounds have a special property that allows them to convert sound energy into heat, making the sound stop all of a sudden.
For it to work, the damping compound has to be applied between two stiff panels, such as drywall or plywood, which are then screwed together. So, when sound reaches the system, it triggers shearing forces between the rigid panels that create friction in the damping layer, consequently converting sound energy into heat.
Damping is the most effective method for dealing with low-frequency noise.
When sound transmits through the structure of a building, it is best to use decoupling. When gaps are introduced in certain parts of the structure, interrupting sound vibrations becomes much easier.
It is best to employ decoupling during the construction. Although it can be done afterward, it would be much more complicated because you would have to remove existing walls, floors, or ceiling.
Even though it is highly effective, decoupling requires planning and professional installation. Having it done poorly can actually worsen low-frequency noise by creating a “room within a room.”
Finally, there is absorption, which we already mentioned. Although it plays a role in soundproofing, its effect isn’t as nearly as effective as the previous three principles. However, if you wish to see the best results, consider it as well.
These four principles work independently, but they complement each other. So, if you have tried one method but you are still not satisfied with the noise reduction, think about introducing another one. The combination of these elements will bring the best results.
Top 10 Examples of Soundproofing Materials and Products
Now that we have learned what soundproofing and soundproofing materials are, as well as different techniques, it’s time to talk about specific products.
Here is the list of the top 10 materials and products that you could buy in order to reduce sound in your home successfully. All of them are at your disposal on Amazon.
1. Mass-Loaded Vinyl Sound Barrier
If you need a flexible sound barrier, mass-loaded vinyl is perfect for filling gaps, as well as for wrapping pipes, ducts, and metal columns. If you, however, need to soundproof walls, floors, and ceilings, there are cheaper alternatives.
2. Green Glue Soundproofing Compound
Green Glue is currently the most effective and affordable soundproofing product on the market. In addition, it is extremely easy to use. You can use it on any floor, ceiling, or wall to reduce sound transfer; simply add another layer. It takes a couple of minutes to apply it, and it will be completely dry in 48 hours.
You can reduce noise transmission by 100 times or more with Green Glue; it is one of the best soundproofing products. Moreover, it reduces both airborne and impact noise. It comes in 28-ounce tubes that fit into quart-sized caulking guns. It is easy to use and clean; all you need is some soap and water. You can also paint over it once it dries.
3. ACOUSTIC Sealant
Regular silicon sealants eventually harden and start cracking and shrinking. Acoustic sealants, on the other hand, remain flexible and adhere firmly to a building element. They can be used to seal the seams between drywall panels, where the wall meets the ceiling or floor, around windows and doors, etc. You can learn more in the link below.
4. Acoustical Fire Batts Mineral Wool
This AFB mineral wool is made from natural stone and slag and, as such, it is lightweight and semi-rigid. It has been designed specifically for interior use; it is mostly used on floors and walls. Being lightweight and non-combustible, it has amazing acoustical dampening properties. Furthermore, it is safe, as it provides fire protection, and it is also waterproof.
If you decide to do a DIY project with this product, be careful. It can cause skin, respiratory, and eye irritation. You should avoid any contact with skin or eyes as well as breathing in fiberglass dust. Also, wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing, gloves, and eye protection.
5. Resilient Sound Channels
Since they are 8’ long, the can be delivered to you, unlike many other soundproofing materials that are too big to be shipped.
You should install them horizontally at the top and bottom of your wall, and put one every 2′ or less in between. Proper installation is very important, so avoid DIY projects if you aren’t skillful enough.
Also, even though decoupling is very effective, it can actually increase the transmission of low-frequency noise by creating a new resonance chamber.
6. Soundproof Foam Panels
If you are a musician, or you have a loud hobby, these panels are ideal for you. They are perfect for radio stations, production studios, home entertainment centers, and practice rooms. You can expect moderate sound deadening. If you are looking for absolute deadening, you will need something more powerful.
Panels such as these are ideal to use on walls, ceilings, windows, doors, etc.
7. Soundproof Curtains
Soundproof, blackout curtains by Residential Acoustics are 100% duck cotton canvas made in the USA. These sound blocking curtains can reduce incoming noise from 70% up to 90%; they are the only sound blocking curtains that have an STC rating of 29. Instead of simply absorbing sound waves, these curtains actually divert sound waves as well.
Installation is quick and simple; all hardware is included in the package. Furthermore, these curtains won’t leave a mess when you remove them. They are perfect for any living space: your bedroom, nursery, campus housing, home office, etc. Another big plus is that they provide thermal insulation; your home will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
8. Soundproofing Window Kit
You can easily make some adjustments to your windows in order to stop any noise from coming through them. This magnet seal soundproofing window kit of magnetic tape and L-framing trim is easy to install, easy to remove, and easy to clean. If you own a screwdriver and you know how to use it, you will install this kit without hassle.
Soundproof windows work very well; in addition, they can save you both time and money. If, however, you have windows larger than 4×4, this kit will not be suitable. In that case, you would have to contact the manufacturer and try to order a bigger size. Keep in mind that the 1/4″ acrylic sheet that you’ll need to cover the window opening isn’t included in the package.
9. Door Seals & Sweeps
Maybe you aren’t aware of this, but your doors can be a major source of noise. Soundproofing them is an effective way to block sound coming in and out your home. Door seals work by reducing the air and sound transferred through an entrance. How do they do this? It’s simple – by lining the outer edge of doors with silicone and aluminum.
Door sweeps use aluminum as well; you should, however, install them at the bottom of your doors to block air and sound from escaping the room. You can use door seals and sweeps separately, but they provide best results when used together.
Basic tools are everything you’ll need to install door seals and sweeps. If you are mainly looking for ways to keep sound inside your room, they are perfect for that.
10. Flooring Underlayments
Flooring underlayments are particularly great because they treat both airborne and impact noise. These underlayment rolls can be used on natural stone, hardwood floors, laminate, LVT, engineered wood, genuine wood, and tiles. If your floor doesn’t fall into this category, there are other options; there are various types of underlayments, suitable for all types of home flooring.
You can attach this underlayment with a polyurethane adhesive, double-sided tape, staples, or nails. It will absorb sound more effectively than 12mm foam and 12mm cork. Also, it’s good for the environment; it is made from more than 80% recycled material.
Have You Found Your Perfect Match?
Soundproofing can be overwhelming, especially if you are just learning about it. Nevertheless, it is a topic worth exploring, since the results can be a real life-saver.
We hope that you’ve gained an understanding of soundproofing materials, as well as how they work. With the market being as big as it is, you will surely be able to find the best soundproofing material for yourself or the best combination of two or more materials.