How to Soundproof a Wall

Insulation is the first layer of soundproofing for a wall
Insulation is the first layer of soundproofing for a wall (Image: Photo: livefreenh)

Soundproofing can be endless game of trial and error. It doesn't need to be. There are some simple, basic steps you can take for quick soundproofing. For those willing to go the extra mile, there are additional measures that can be taken. Read this short article for all the best tips.

Things You'll Need

  • Wall in need of soundproofing
  • Basic carpentry skills
  • Framing skills, for the extra mile

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Fix the simple things first. Holes in the wall, gaps under the door, or gaps around outlets should all be addressed first. Even a small hole can allow a great amount of sound through. Door weatherstripping and door sweeps resolve door gaps, expanding hole filler solves outlet gaps, and holes in the wall will require wallboard repair.

Add wall insulation. This is a must for any new wall construction. If there is no insulation in your existing wall, and the sound coming through is not tolerable, you must add insulation. The space between the drywall is allowing sound to echo. Insulation resolves that issue. You may be able to blow insulation into the walls instead of removing drywall. If you have none of the problems in step one, and you have wall insulation, you are ready to move to step three.

Add sound deadening material to the wall and the rest of the room. Thick or heavy drapes can help absorb sound. Fluffy couches have a similar effect. Rooms with hardwood floors will echo without carpeting. Consider hanging thick carpets on the walls if not only on the floor. Believe it or not, many high-priced recording studios have shipping quilts hanging on the wall for this purpose. Sound absorbing tiles can be added to the wall. Simple stick on cork panels will work similar to professional versions. Does that wall need paint? Try Acousti-paint for a claimed 30% reduction in 'transmission and reflection' according to their website, which is linked below. For those who need to ratchet up further, move on to step four.

Add another layer of drywall. Leave a 1/2" gap between the drywall and the floor, ceiling and walls. Fill this space with silicone caulking. Need to get serious? Try step five.

Build a second wall. This is common in recording studios. Build this wall close to, but not touching the existing wall. By disconnecting the new wall from the old wall, sound cannot travel through the gap as easily than if they were touching. If space is available, make this wall thicker by staggering 2x4s in such a way that you can drywall one side of a 2x4, but the next 2x4 will hold drywall for the other side. You are basically building two walls. Fill the space completely with insulation. Attach the drywall using construction adhesive and as few screws as necessary. Leave a 1/2" gap at all corners and fill with silicone caulking. Paint the wall with acousti-paint and use all the tricks in step two.

The wall is one part of the room. Remember to address the entire room for the best results. This includes sound deadening flooring and ceiling coverings.

If you need more soundproofing than this, you will need to contact a professional soundproofing company. There are systems they can introduce that will create a totally soundproof room, but this will come at a cost.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider the sound you are trying to soften. Maybe its just easier to address the noise and not the wall.
  • Soundproofing does not need to be ugly. There are many options for hanging carpets on the walls... why not a handmade quilt?
  • Follow standard building codes at all times.
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