No matter what or who you have to deal with – it may be a noisy housemate or a neighbor, a busy street or other sorts of outside noise – they all make a home or office space challenging to live and work in. At this point, we usually start thinking that we need some sort of a soundproofing solution, preferably as fast as possible.
However, there are numerous soundproofing tips that are commonly believed to be helpful, but in reality, they are simply not true and should be ignored entirely.
These so-called soundproofing myths are mostly spread around in good faith. I’ve heard numerous stories from people who took advice from family members or friends and tried them, just to end up disappointed and with no results to show.
Make sure you are not one of those unlucky people. If you manage to avoid specific materials and techniques that don’t work (like egg crates, yoga mats, old mattresses,…), it can save you lots of time and money. So let’s call out these soundproofing myths before you start trying anything that is deemed to fail from the start.
Why Do People Fall for Soundproofing Myths?
The main reason why these materials and techniques are falsely presented as “soundproofing” is that they (or similar ones) often do help with absorbing and dampening the sound. But then people make a false assumption that sound absorption and soundproofing are the same thing.
Both sound absorption and soundproofing solutions have important benefits but the end results are entirely different. When we talk about sound absorption, we mean sound deadening materials and techniques that help improve the sound quality in a room, but they do nothing regarding stopping the noise from entering or leaving the room. And soundproofing materials and techniques, on the other hand, do exactly that. They isolate and block the sound inside a room or keep it out.
9 Common Soundproofing Myths
1. Egg Carton Crates
The valleys and ridges in egg crates look extremely similar to acoustic tiles. But contrary to popular belief, they are terrible at absorbing and even more at blocking sound. Egg crates are made out of low-density cardboard that helps protect the eggs.
On the other hand, the porous material does nothing at blocking the noise and easily lets it pass through. If you really like omelets, you can try and test how egg crates work as sound diffusers as some people say they are effective at higher frequencies. Just don’t forget that they are highly flammable, so think twice before experimenting.
2. Yoga Mats
Yoga mats and other similar products made out of foam rubber do have some noise absorbing properties, even though they are minimal. A good way to use them is to put them under a washing machine or computer case.
Doing this isolates the appliances from the floor and reduces the transmission of vibration through the structure of the house. Well, at least until the mat eventually degrades and becomes less efficient.
And just in case you’re thinking about sticking some yoga mats against the wall, trying to reduce the noise from next-door neighbors, don’t bother as this won’t work. Instead of spending money on yoga mats, you instead purchase some proper soundproofing products and materials that actually work. And lastly, note that just given a chance, the foam rubber will burn like crazy.
3. Ordinary Household Curtains & Drapes
Cotton, silk, velvet or polyester – no matter what the curtain is made of, these materials are just not dense enough to make any meaningful difference, either in terms of improving acoustics, either regarding blocking the sound.
In the last few years, a new type of household curtains arrived on the market designed to help with the noise problem – the so-called residential soundproof curtains. They are thicker and heavier than ordinary drapes. If you are wondering “do soundproof curtains work?”, then click on the link and find out!
Carpets have soft and fluffy surfaces that prevent the sound waves from bouncing around the room. That’s how they trick you into thinking that space is quieter than it actually is. Or differently put, carpets help absorb the sound created within the room, but they won’t prevent the noise from entering the room. They are decent sound absorbers but do little regarding soundproofing the room from incoming or outgoing noise.
5. Old Mattresses Against the Wall
This technique, if I can call it this way, falls into the same group as yoga mat soundproofing where you wonder “why would you want to do that in the first place”.
Stocking old mattresses against the wall just doesn’t sound right. Not to mention it doesn’t do anything about the noise coming through the wall. Plus they take up a considerable amount of space, look terrible and get even worse over time when they start accumulating moisture and mold.
6. Dark Colored Walls
Dark-colored walls may fool your eyes into thinking that the room is smaller and quieter, but they won’t fool your ears.
The color of the walls plays a vital role in how the place looks and feels, but it doesn’t affect the movement of the sound or its quality, and of course, it doesn’t block the noise either. So contrary to what you may have heard from friends, dark color has no place in soundproofing world.
7. An Extra Layer of Paint
Lets first see how thick is a layer of paint? According to some testings, an average coat of paint is somewhere between 4-5 mils thick when wet and 2 mils when dry.
For better understanding, one mil is 1/1000th of an inch which means that after the paint dries, it is only 0,002″ thick. It is hard to expect that 0,002″ of anything would do much to help with soundproofing. Even if you add another layer or two, or even ten, it would still be way too thin.
8. Soundproof Paint
Soundproof paint (read more) is supposed to help with deadening the sound; however, in reality, the results are minimal at best. Its thinness, the lack of ability to dampen or absorb anything on both ends of the sound spectrum, especially when related to its cost, make it an ineffective choice for soundproofing.
9. House Plants
Adding plants to your home brings plenty of benefits like cleaner air, easier breathing, less stress, or let’s just say better health conditions in general. Plants are also great for decorating as they soften the look of the room. But there is one thing houseplants won’t do, and that is help with reducing the noise.
On Soundproofing Myths
Many people recommend these easy soundproofing tips and tricks, but as we’ve seen, they are straight out myths. This means that even though they are collectively believed to be true and helpful, they have no actual basis in fact. So instead of wasting time and money on these wrong solutions, purchase and install real soundproofing and acoustic materials, and use proper techniques.