Are your neighbors loud? Do their children keep throwing tantrums all day and you can hear every word that is said next door? There are two things you can do in such a case- either call the residential management helpline and ask them to convince the neighbors to manage their noise levels or create your own peace and quiet by creating soundproof walls.
We have all learned in school that sound waves reflect from hard surfaces such as concrete walls. But if the walls are thin enough, then it conducts airborne noise into transmitting through its structure. This is known as structural transmission of sound. This is also why you are being forced to hear everything from next door, worse still- they can hear you too.
If you do not wish to tear down your wall to rebuild it with good acoustic solutions or spend a lot of money on soundproofing then do not worry, there are methods of wall soundproofing that can be accomplished within a tight budget.
12 Cheap Ways to Soundproof a Wall
Not everyone can afford to spend an exorbitant amount on a project to treat a wall with acoustic solutions. Sometimes we have to make do with techniques and hacks that are both cheap and easily done.
Let’s have a look at some effective and mostly DIY methods to soundproof a wall cheaply.
Place Furniture Along The Walls
If you are lucky enough, then you will have only one noisy wall from where a world of noise enters your room and if that’s the case, then an easy way to reduce noise is by covering the walls with heavy furniture so that the sound has to travel through a thick barrier in order to be within hearing range.
This is of course applicable where the intensity of the sound or sounds is not very loud and a little noise reduction is enough to maintain a quiet room.
Upholstered furniture serves as the best absorber of sound as its surface serves as a barrier for the sound waves and the soft fabric absorbs sound thus killing its intensity.
Bookshelves against the wall
This is another hack for cheap soundproofing for walls. Bookshelves filled with books also add mass to the walls by increasing the distance the sound waves need to go through.
Oftentimes, converting a full wall into a large bookcase is an architectural and aesthetic choice for soundproofing a wall already built without having to tear it down for renovation.
The pages of the books act as natural sound absorbers because of their porous structure and are a good choice to reduce noise coming through a particular wall.
Mass Loaded Vinyl is a very popular sound-proofing material. It is made from Calcium Carbonate or Barium Sulfate which offers the material its soundproofing characteristics. It also contains PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride which makes MLV flexible and functional for a wide range of purposes.
MLV is a very heavy material as it is penetrated and filled with metal particles and thus is a perfect choice for making walls soundproof by adding mass to it. The chemical composition of MLV makes it so that when it faces vibrations of any kind, it absorbs them and retains its shape. Thus it is a great material for both airborne noises and impact noises.
MLV can be used on its own or with other soundproofing layers such as drywall or plywood on top of it. If not, you can simply cover the wall with enough MLV and then cover it with a wallpaper of your choice.
Adding a layer of drywall to your wall is a good long-term solution to soundproof interior walls but it is going to cost you a bit more than a simple MLV. That said, drywall is a much more effective alternative to cheap hacks such as covering walls with acoustic blankets or soundproof blankets and such.
By adding drywall on top of the already existing wall, you make it thicker and thus the sound waves cannot travel by structural transmission. The best way to add mass to a wall with drywall is to stick it with a green glue soundproofing compound which is a sound dampening compound by itself.
Decoupling measures to Soundproof Your Wall
At the very outset, you should know that decoupling a wall involves tearing down its upper layer to separate two layers from being in contact with each other. By doing this, the two layers separate and vibrate independently when in contact with sound vibrations and the lack of contact does not allow them to create reverberations or escalation of the sound volume.
This procedure is effective for dealing with hollow percussive airborne sounds which is why it has been included in this list despite it being expensive and also because you should be aware of every measure for soundproofing walls before you make up your mind and choose one.
Drywall is often used for decoupling. What is done in decoupling is that a second layer of the wall is constructed over the existing wall but the two layers are separated by either attaching the second layer with screws or by fitting studs between the two layers, isolating clips, etc.
Here are a few good options you can try for decoupling a wall
- Double stud wall
- Staggered stud wall
- Resilient clips and a hat channel
The very purpose of acoustic foam is to offer acoustic solutions to various surfaces. The thick surface of the material deals with sound waves by reducing their amplitude for noise reduction.
It is also great at absorbing the sound as well.
Acoustic foam is especially recommended if you wish to keep the sound inside your room, which is why almost all sound recording studios have walls lined with acoustic foam. It comes in various thicknesses, colors, and designs.
The differently shaped grooves on it also contribute to sound reflection and cheating unique acoustic effects thus enhancing the sound quality of recordings.
Green Glue Soundproofing Compound
This is a non-toxic water-based compound that is often used in soundproofing projects because of its sound dampening characteristics. A 0.55 mm thick layer of green glue can reduce a sound by at least 6 decibels.
The application of this compound is done as an adhesive to attach other soundproofing materials such as an additional layer of drywall on top of the existing wall or attaching a layer of MLV. Green Glue can also be used to attach soundproof wallpapers on the wall, which however is not as effective as MLV or Drywall.
Green Glue basically transforms sound waves into heat when in contact with sound waves.
Spray Foam Insulation
It is a well-recommended insulation material for walls that also acts as an excellent solution for noise reduction. It is made up of two chemical compounds- isocyanate and polyol resin. In essence, it acts as a sound deadening measure.
Spray foam insulation is costlier than other types of insulation but saves your money on other aspects such as weatherproofing your wall and caulking.
Put Paintings & Tapestries on the wall
In functionality, these are closer to acoustic foam that absorbs noise but the degree of absorption in this method is much lower. The purpose of such a thing is to keep sound in a room while not compromising the aesthetic quality of the room.
When sound waves traveling in straight lines hit the surface of the soft fabric of a painting or a tapestry, their intensity is immediately killed and their volume reduced.
Sound Dampening Paint
Also known as acoustic paint, insulated paint, this type of paint has the chemical properties to dampen the sound waves that hit its surface. This is much thicker and denser than regular paints as it is a heavy-bodied-water-based paint which is made from ceramic microspheres and sound-absorbing fillers. These fillers consist of thermacells, which are small vacuum sealed cells filled with soft pigment.
When sound waves hit these thermacells, it undergoes a wobbling motion and absorbs the waves thus reducing the speed of structural transmission of sound through the walls. While this paint cannot make your wall completely soundproof, but it does go a long way in making it so.
Acoustic caulking puts green glue to other uses rather than just attaching objects/being an adhesive. It uses the soundproofing compound to fill cracks or holes in walls that make a wall susceptible to transmission of airborne noise. This is a method that provides cheap soundproofing for walls and you can do it yourself without any professional skills.
All you have to do is to get hold of a caulking gun and load it with green glue. Then you have to use the gun to seal the cracks with green glue so that the chance of sound traveling through them is gone.
Other acoustic sealants can also be used but green glue is recommended because of its inherent sound dampening capabilities.
Take Care of Windows and Doors on a Wall
Doors and windows on a wall are essentially large gaps that can make it vulnerable to noise. Chances are that a major portion of the noise that you deal with makes its way through either of these areas. You can stop the doors and windows from conducting noise by these methods:
Ill-fitted doors and windows that have a gap between themselves and the frame make a wall dangerously vulnerable to sound. So, if the problem wall has a door or a window with a gap in its frame, you should seal it with weatherstripping. Weatherstrips are thick ribbons of a soundproof and weatherproof material that is applied along the edges of doors and windows to stop sound leaking.
Windows that are made of glass are quite vulnerable to loud sounds as they conduct the vibrations caused by those sounds through its glass structure. Covering glass windows with sound-proof curtains is a good way to stop those vibrations which could potentially crack the glass if the sound is very loud.
Soundproof curtains are thicker than regular curtains and are made from multiple layers of materials. That said, these curtains will not offer your room a complete isolation from loud sounds but will dampen the intensity of the sound and make it appear muffled by the time you hear it.
Install a Door-sweep Under the Door
Another way to stop the door from making a wall susceptible to noise is by installing a door sweep under it. Many doors leave a gap between themselves and the floor and sound can freely travel through it. So, installing door sweep can block the gap and block sounds completely.
The Bottom Line
Unless you can oversee the construction of your house yourself, it is very much likely that you will be facing the problem of a thin wall, be it in a bought house or an apartment.
Well, the good thing is now you know exactly how to solve them without spending a lot of money and quite easily.