Reducing The Noise – How To Soundproof Walls

Do you feel like you are drowning in noise? Kids or neighbors too loud? Can’t seem to catch a moments peace no matter what room you are in? Soundproofing your walls is a great way to catch some kind of a break. I have never really had a problem in a house with noise so I never thought about soundproofing until we added on our master bedroom and bath.

A contractor friend of mine said to be sure I insulated the walls of the bathroom so the shower noise wouldn’t bother my wife. I never thought about insulating interior walls before because I just thought insulation was to stop heat transfer to the outside. He said that actually lots of high end homes are now insulating all the walls for its sound deadening effect.

I did add 3” of insulation and the sound from the shower is really cut down. An added benefit is the heat stays in the bathroom better on a cold, winter morning.

Quick Soundproofing

If you do not have the time or money required for extensive soundproofing there are quite a few little things that you can do to help reduce the noise coming through your walls. Many people are under the impression that even to reduce the noise just a little bit, major steps need to be taken but fixing the smallest things can actually make the biggest difference.

One thing many fail to realize is that even a tiny hole can let through a huge amount of noise. Look at the wall you are considering soundproofing and see if you can find any holes in the wall. These holes can be around outlets or even holes in the wall itself. Gaps in door frames are also a big problem. Weather stripping the door and adding floor sweeps is a good start to reducing the sound, but the door is not the only source of noise. Outlets also allow for incoming noise so they should be filled using an expanding hole filler, which can be found at most local hardware stores and even big box stores.

Detailed Soundproofing

While those above methods might work to help lower the amount of noise coming through your walls chances are they will not be enough to drown out all the sound. However, before you go out and spend hundreds of dollars on materials needed to soundproof walls you will want to keep in mind that there are a variety of methods available. Not all methods are going to work as well as others, so you have to decide on the method that is right for you based on how much sound you are looking to drown out. Some people even find that combining a variety of methods is the best choice to block out as much sound as possible!

Wall Insulation For Soundproofing

Of course, if you are wondering how to soundproof walls you need to know that you will get the biggest bang for your buck by insulating the walls. Obviously, this is easier to do when building a new wall, but can also be done with an existing wall. Adding wall insulation is the most basic thing involved in soundproofing because it helps absorb the sound waves coming through the room; most people find that rooms without insulated walls are often intolerable because of how noisy they are. This is due to the empty space inside the walls allowing the sound waves to echo.

With new walls as soon as one side of sheet rock is up you can add the insulation directly between the framing and the sheet rock. Once the insulation is added simply complete the rest of the wall. With existing walls, you have two options. Your first option is to rip out one side of sheet rock to add the insulation. This option requires you to put up new sheet rock, which can be time consuming. Your other option is to blow in insulation, which requires special tools. Blowing in the insulation requires very little repair work, all you have to do is plug and mud the holes and then repaint to match the rest of the room.

Soundproof Sheetrock

If you are building a new wall or are willing to tear down the old wall to install insulation you can use soundproof sheet rock to help minimize the noise. Even better, you can apply soundproof sheet rock over your old sheet rock, less mess and you get an extra layer. Soundproof sheet rock looks and acts just like regular sheet rock. The difference is that soundproof sheet rock has undergone a treatment process so that it will absorb and muffle sound.

When hanging the soundproof sheet rock you will want to measure the area that needs to be covered, this ensures you purchase enough materials for the job. When hanging it work from the ceiling down to the floor and always make sure the end of it reaches a stud. Nail or screw the soundproof sheet rock to the stud, putting one in every six to eight inches. Hang the next piece starting where the last piece ended on the stud. After it has all been hung, you will need to tape and mud the seams to blend them in for a smooth finish. For proper sealing, apply mud enough mud to fill the entire crack, apply tape to the wet mud, and apply a thicker layer of mud to hide the tape. Allow the mud to dry for at least 24 hours. Using sandpaper sand the mud until the wall is smooth.

Soundproof Wallpaper

Soundproof wallpaper is another option for soundproofing your walls. Soundproof wallpaper is not simply blankets thrown up on the walls to help drown out the sound, although that is also a viable option. Soundproof wallpaper is real wallpaper that has been treated to help muffle the noise, but will also help spice up the décor!

Soundproof wallpaper is as easy to hang as regular wallpaper, it is a lot of work, but the silence is worth the outcome. First things first you have to fix any holes you have in your walls, including the pinprick ones. Make sure the walls you will be papering are either painted or primed; this allows the paper to stick to the paste. Thoroughly clean the walls, allow them to dry, and remove all electrical plates.

Now you are ready to start papering. Remember your starting point is also your ending point so you want to begin in an area that is not as noticeable, doorways or corners are the best starting points. Measure from the doorway or corner an inch or two shorter than the width of your paper and lightly mark the spot. Use a level to lightly draw a line from the ceiling to the floor, this line is where the paper will be lined up.

Cut the wallpaper about 4 inches longer than the height of the wall. Apply paste to the back of the wallpaper unless you are using pre-pasted wallpaper. If using the pre-pasted kind refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for hanging. Begin at the ceiling, allow two inches of play at the ceiling and baseboard, and apply the wallpaper to the wall, making sure it is lined up perfectly with the line you drew. Use a smoother to smooth the paper against the wall. If you run into a wrinkle, pull the paper away from the wall until the wrinkle has been removed and smooth the paper back into place. Once the paper is attached to the wall begin smoothing out the bubbles from the middle, do not press too hard or you will rip the paper. Once the bubbles are gone trim the top and bottom edges of paper and apply the next piece.

Soundproof Wall Panels

Soundproof wall panels can be hung directly onto the sheet rock to help block out sound. One thing to keep in mind is that simple wood panels can be used because it adds an extra layer to absorb the sound, but they are not considered soundproof panels. Acoustic wall panels are the perfect solution for soundproofing your walls, but that will depend on the overall look you desire. Soundproof panels can be used in conjunction with soundproof sheet rock to achieve almost 100% noise reduction.

Green Glue applied to new drywall and placed over the existing drywall is another option for soundproofing your walls. If using Green Glue to dampen sound you will want to use two 29-ounce tubes per each 4 x 8 section of drywall. Heavy drapes, old moving blankets, or even thick carpet can be hung onto the walls to help absorb sound. Soundproof glass panels can be used for French doors to further reduce the noise coming from other rooms.

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