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How to Soundproof a Room

Room Soundproofing Stop Sound from Entering or Leaving a Room

Whether you are interested in stopping the sound from noisy neighbours, or you want to soundproof a band practice room, follow these soundproofing techniques to soundproof a room.

Soundproofing a room aims to stop sound transmitting through a separating structure from a sound source into another room so it can’t be heard by the receiver. Most buildings have walls, floors and ceilings as the separating structures, the amount of sound that these structures block and absorb will determine the level of sound that will be heard between the rooms. If you are reading this article you probably want to know how to increase the sound insulation of a room to stop sound transferring between them? In this article you will find answers on how to soundproof a room in order to reduce the transfer of sound between the main separating structures of a building.

No one will hear you scream in space

There is a lot of truth to this; ‘no one will hear you scream in space’, why? Because there is no medium for sound vibrations to travel in space, on earth sound vibrates through the medium of air, because space is a vacuum it can not transmit sound because there is no air. Sound also transmits through solid objects that have more mass than air including walls, floors and ceilings, sound waves will vibrate along solid surfaces and resonate into adjoining rooms. So all you have to do to soundproof a room is create a complete vacuum to replicate the conditions in space. As this would not be possible use the following techniques to effectively soundproof a room.

Sound will take the easiest route to pass between rooms

If you imagine sound to be like water you will get a good idea of how it travels through a building. When you fill a bath with water the first thing you do is to put the plug in, then you turn the taps and fill the bath the plug is keeping the water contained; as soon as you pull the plug out the water will escape down the plug hole. The same can be said for sound transferring between rooms, if there are any holes in the buildings structure the sound will pour through the hole, it will not matter how well insulated the rest of the area is the sound will easily pass from one area to another. This is why it is important to make sure any gaps or holes in the separating structure are filled and sealed to ensure that no easy paths are left for the sound to transfer. Use an acoustic sealant to fill small holes and gaps in walls, floors and ceilings, for larger areas use suitable gap fillers.

Soundproof the surface of a separating structure by blocking the sound waves

As we know sound travels in waves through the air, transmitting through solid surfaces by vibration. When sound hits a wall some of the energy will bounce back into the room and some will transfer through the wall, by blocking more of the sound as it hits the wall we can reduce sound transfer from one side of the wall to the other, effectively increasing the soundproofing of the wall.

Adding mass to the wall will reduce sound transfer between rooms

The simplest method and one of the most popular ways to soundproof a wall is to use wall soundproofing panels that are fixed directly onto the walls surface. Wall soundproofing panels consist of high density materials combined with anti-vibration matting. The combination of the higher density plasterboard and mass loaded rubber vinyl will block sound and reduce vibrating through the panel, ultimately blocking the sound passing through your walls. There are a number of factors that will determine the level of sound that this type of soundproofing will offer, if you are trying to soundproof a room too stop lower level airborne noise such as conversation or television noise this solution will normally work very well, particularly when soundproofing party walls with an existing cavity between the two walls, this will be explained later. If you have a limited amount of living space in the room you are trying to soundproof the NSSW2 and NSSW2+ wall soundproofing panels combine the high density acoustic plasterboard and the mass loaded vinyl required for this type of soundproofing.

Reduce sound transmission by isolating solid surfaces

As explained earlier sound travels along solid surfaces by vibrating along the structure, in order to reduce sound transmission isolation is key to increasing the level of sound insulation in a room. Isolating solid structures from one another will reduce sound transmission through the structure. When you are installing a new wall or ceiling building an independent structure isolated from the existing separating surface will stop more sound than a new structure connected to the original.

It is not always possible to build a new stud wall with a gap between the new wall and the existing wall due to the loss of living space. Independent ceilings with no connection to the existing ceiling will reduce more sound than soundproofing the existing ceiling, but not every room can afford a large drop in ceiling height. If you can build new structures with as much isolation as possible from the existing surfaces you will achieve a higher level of soundproofing. Any gap between surfaces is better than none, so even if you can afford to lose that little bit extra room it would be worth doing. If you do build a new wall over an existing wall do not fasten into the existing wall as this will be another sound transmission path, sound will pass along screws and nails into the existing wall.

Create isolation using acoustic hangers

It is now possible to recreate the separation and isolation in wall and ceiling structures without losing valuable living space. Acoustic hangers are now widely used in the construction of walls and ceilings that are designed to reduce sound transfer. Soundbreaker bars are uniquely designed to work in two ways, absorbing vibration and reducing surface area contact between two surfaces. The bars are thin lengths of metal that are fixed to timber or metal frame studs and ceiling joists before you attach plasterboard or acoustic panels. Using the acoustic hangers will mean that you are incorporating an element of separation within the structure of the wall or ceiling, with only a minimal amount of space lost in the room, soundbreaker bars are only 15mm deep so space loss is minimal.

Use acoustic insulation inside cavities and voids and hear the benefits

Acoustic insulation is a vital part of room soundproofing when you are trying to stop airborne sound, acoustic insulation is used inside cavities or voids that are common place in a buildings construction. Stud walls, cavities between floors and ceilings, enclosures for pipes and party walls are all areas of a room that can benefit from acoustic insulation. Assume you are creating a new wall to block the sound coming through a party wall form a noisy neighbour, you have erected a stud wall, isolated from the existing wall by 25mm and you are going to add acoustic plasterboard to finish the wall, job done. Not quite, in principal everything you have done is correct so far but you can still improve the acoustic performance of your wall by adding DFM acoustic insulation. Acoustic insulation soundproofs a room better than thermal insulation due to the increased density compared to normal thermal insulation and because the product is made of a fibrous material so when sound waves hit the slabs the vibrating air is turned into another form of energy, heat. Transforming the energy of the sound into heat reduces the amount of sound that passes through the wall. Installing acoustic insulation inside your voids will have the same effect inside walls, floors and ceilings.

Stop impact noise through the floor from the floor above

All of the methods outlined so far in this article have been to stop airborne sound from transferring through the separating structures; floors have an added problem that is not prevalent when soundproofing a wall which is impact noise, noise generated when an item comes into direct contact with the floor. The sound generated by footfall is the most common type of impact noise; once the impact has occurred and the vibration has entered the buildings structure it becomes very difficult to stop the sound from transferring through the floor to other parts of a building, it is therefore better to stop the impact sound at the source.

To stop sound from entering the fabric of the building you should use an acoustic mat laid directly over the floor, this type of matting is designed to cushion the impact of footfall or when items are dropped on the floor, the NSSF7 and NSSF7+ are used to soundproof domestic properties where impact noise needs to be reduced. Most floor finishes can be laid over the top of the acoustic matting including carpets, laminates, wooden floors and tiles, for an increased level of floor soundproofing floating floors can be used. Floating floors are used in new build and conversion properties to comply with Building Regulations and also inside cinema rooms and music studios that require higher levels of sound insulation. A floating floor will consist of a dense subfloor material combined with a resilient layer to isolate the floor from the existing floor or floor joists, this type of flooring should not be mechanically fixed into place as this can increase the chance of sound transmission along screws and nails.

Be realistic about what soundproofing can achieve

Can you completely soundproof a room in your home, probably not, can you limit the amount of sound transferring between the rooms, and can you stop the sound from noisy neighbours disturbing you, or keep your noise in, yes. Careful planning, using the correct materials, installed correctly will mean you can silence noisy neighbours, soundproof your home or build a recording studio.

If you require any more help or advice regarding soundproofing a room please contact us alternatively give us a call to discuss your requirements 08451 306269.

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