Secrets Unveiled: How Soundproofing Works & Its Top Benefits

soundwaves diagram

Silence is golden, but it’s a gift you’ve been deprived of for far too long. It’s time to take the silence back with soundproofing, the perfect panacea for boisterous neighbors and booming pets.

How does soundproofing work, anyway? And which solutions are right according to your home, budget, and soundproofing needs?

These questions will be answered ahead, so join us on a fascinating uncovering of soundproofing technology.

The Science of Soundproofing

Before we get into all that, it’s time for a little science lesson.

Sound is comprised of energy created by vibrations. As a sound emanates, the sound waves travel, affecting a medium’s–such as air–particles. Sound waves will travel as far as their energy will take them.

That’s how sound can travel in many directions, but the reason why it doesn’t go on forever. The intensity reduces as sound loses energy and stops when it has none.

Cool, right? Now, we can adequately talk about soundproofing.

Soundproofing has four elements, which explains why it works as well as it does. They are as follows.

Adding Mass

The most straightforward element of soundproofing is adding mass. Sound waves can travel through mediums, as you’ll recall, and wood is one of them.

So, what does that tell us? Even if you’re sitting in your house, if there’s not a lot of mass between the wooden walls and you sitting on the couch minding your own business, you will hear street noise, and outside voices, and everything, really.

Sound travels through mediums by moving them. It’s only by the least imperceptible amount, but it happens. The more mass, the harder it is to move, which means the sound doesn’t travel that far.

From drywall to foam panels, mass is great.

Damping

The next element of soundproofing is called damping.

You know how the further a sound wave can vibrate, the more energy it has, so the further it can travel? Not anymore.

Sound damping reduces (and sometimes absorbs) vibrations. Not only will your rooms have less reverb, but they’ll be noticeably quieter with damping products like glue.

Decoupling

Decoupling also affects vibrations. As the name suggests, decoupling involves separating a material by its sides, like ceiling and wall framing. Creating a sound absorber between the two limits how far the vibrations can get.

Absorption 

That brings us to absorption, the last soundproofing element.

If you have hollow walls or doors throughout your home, the air cavities within will collect vibrations, allowing the sound to travel more readily into your home. Even decoupling isn’t enough to stop this, which is why insulating air pockets is such common practice for serious soundproofing.

Types of Soundproofing Materials

With soundproofing achieving so many objectives, the materials you can choose from run the gamut. Here’s an overview to show you what I mean.

·  Acoustic foam: Acoustic foam panels are one of the most versatile soundproofing solutions, as you can cut and place them in nearly any part of the home that needs it. The foam within the panels reduces sound wave bouncing and absorbs the sound, quieting your home. You can get your hands on these panels with prices starting at $15.

·  Mass-loaded vinyl: MLV will make a major impact in how quiet your home is. This sheeting features metal particles throughout, bolstering its mass. The MLV panels then attach to your ceilings and/or walls to thicken them up and soundproof them. MLV pricing begins as low as $25 for a one-pound roll.

·  Resilient channels: You may consider resilient channels if on a tight soundproofing budget. As a sound dampener, a resilient channel extends the space between the insulation and wall, reducing sound intensity. A resilient channel system can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars to install.

·  Soundproof curtains and blinds: Although not every set of blinds or curtains is suitable, soundproofing home décor is a low-key solution for less noise that can drive up your property’s curb appeal. They’re less effective than the other measures but can reduce moderate sound. These soundproofing draperies start at around $60 and can cost several hundred.

·  Weatherstripping: Weatherstripping, whether a door snake or replacing the rubber or seals around doors and windows, is another small but impactful way to put a dent in outside sounds. You’ll also appreciate how less outdoor air gets into your home, improving the efficiency of your HVAC system. Most weatherstripping is cheap, with prices beginning as low as $10 up to $900 depending on the type.

·  Insulated drywall: A strong sound dampener, insulated drywall provides what your walls were missing: insulation. You can add further insulation as you build up the walls, increasing their mass and sound-deadening capabilities. Insulated drywall can cost up to $5,000.

Natural Cork roll on the floor, a Substrate for a Laminate

·  Acoustic underlayments: Underlayments are installed beneath your floor but above your home’s foundation or basic structure. The additional layer lessens sound impacts, especially footsteps. This type of soundproofing can majorly benefit apartment-dwellers and condo owners. Prices can start as low as $10 per square foot of roll.

What should you keep in mind when selecting a soundproofing material? The cost is one of the most important factors, as you don’t want to blow your budget soundproofing your home.

The aesthetic also matters. Some forms of soundproofing are more visually appealing than others, like soundproofing curtains versus acoustic foam panels.

However, you can’t only consider how the solution looks, but how well it works. If it’s effective, you might mind less that it’s a bit of an eyesore.

The Benefits of Soundproofing

Soundproofing your home has the immediate benefit of a quieter abode. With enough tranquility in your life, you’ll realize how advantageous a soundproofing solution is to your short- and long-term health.

Here’s what you could experience.

Improved Sleep Quality

The only thing worse than a snoring spouse keeping you up all night is a noisy neighbor. At least you can kick a snoring spouse onto the couch in the living room, but you can’t knock at your neighbor’s door at 3 a.m., asking them to keep it down. Not if you want to keep the peace, that is.

Square image of content young African woman sleeping peacfully under a duvet in her bed at home in the early morning

Once you soundproof your property, you will sleep more soundly into the morning. No more earplugs, white noise machines, or YouTube playlists to try and drown out the sound. You won’t hear it.

Increased Productivity

Trying to work when you’re surrounded by audial distractions is the worst. This problem doesn’t only plague those who work in offices but at home as well. The disquiet of your day-to-day might be enough for you to consider going back to commutes and awkward work lunches with colleagues.

Soundproofing will restore the calm your home was missing, creating an ideal environment for working, whether that’s your job, a fun project, or housework.

Enhanced Privacy and Security

Many soundproofing solutions bolster the strength of your home’s foundation, especially acoustic underlayments, insulated drywall, and MLV. These solutions make your home stabler and more secure, while soundproofing curtains and blinds improve your privacy.

Even acoustic foam panels are good for privacy, as they cover the windows.

Better Home Theater Experience

You’ll never want to pay to go to your local movie theater again when you can recreate the experience at home without the long lines, sticky seats, and person in front of you who won’t turn off their smartphone.

The vocalist sings in the studio in a microphone. Man in headphones writes a podcast, an audiobook. Artist, recording an album, working with the label. Announcer records a speech at a radio station

Enjoying your home theater with family and friends won’t be marred by outside noise after soundproofing. Better yet, you can rest assured the loud, booming sounds of your favorite action flick won’t get outside, irritating your neighbors.

More Peaceful Neighborhood

We may never live in a utopia, but soundproofing your home is the next best thing. You won’t be down your neighbor’s throat because of their noisy dog. You can mend fences and be cordial with one another, making a more harmonious day-to-day living environment.

Soundproofing Installation Tips

As beneficial as soundproofing is, a lot can go wrong during installation. Don’t worry; that’s what I’m here for! This collection of tips and best practices will help you navigate your soundproofing project with aplomb.

DIY vs. Professional Installation

You may be the DIY type for life, but some soundproofing jobs are best left to the pros. Anything that involves you ripping down and replacing the foundation of your home should be reserved for contractors with years of experience and certifications in those kinds of tasks.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Soundproofing mistakes are as common as pigeons in a city. That doesn’t mean you have to make ‘em! Here’s the low-down on frequent installation errors and how you can skip them:

·      Using cheap materials: Listen, you can soundproof on the cheap, but use solutions designed for small budgets. Trying to take a big project and using cheap materials will lead to low-quality results.

·      Not using the right solution: You have to understand a bit about how sound travels to determine which soundproofing solution works for you, but you should know that info now. That will help you find the right soundproofing option.

·      Not soundproofing sufficiently: Some soundproofing is better than none, but a job well done should provide enough soundproofing that you’re not wanting for more. If you are, that’s a sign you didn’t soundproof enough.

Maintenance Practices

There’s not much you can do to maintain internal soundproofing besides keeping your home’s foundation in tip-top condition. As for weatherstripping and sealing, check the strength and efficacy of these solutions now and again, topping them off or replacing as needed.

Final Thoughts

You deserve more peace and quiet at home, and soundproofing will help you get it. Once you realize your ears aren’t filled with grating noise, you can breathe easier, sleep better, and feel more productive and happier.

Author

  • Vernon Morgan

    Hi there! I'm Vernon, the ‘Serene Specialist." I started this site to document my efforts in making my home a tranquil environment. Through tireless research and countless soundproofing projects, I found that peace I craved. I hope I can help you achieve the same

    Morgan Vernon

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