If you share your living space with others or find the noise coming from a neighbouring room or apartment annoying, the following steps can significantly reduce the amount of sound that is being transmitted through the wall. Following these suggestions will help make your home a quieter and more peaceful place to live, work, and enjoy time with your family.
You may be considering adding acoustic panels to the room, but even though acoustic panels can help make the inside sound better by absorbing the sound and reducing echo, they will not block sound coming through the wall from another room.
Before You Begin
Before taking on the labour-intensive task of removing the existing drywall and adding additional soundproofing material to the inside of the wall, you should try these cost-saving tips.
One product that is typically mentioned when it comes to soundproofing is Green Glue (Amazon). Green Glue is a compound used to reduce sound transmission through walls, ceilings, and floors.
It is a viscoelastic material, meaning it has the viscosity of a fluid and the elasticity of a gel. It is typically applied using a caulking gun between two layers of drywall to create a soundproof barrier.
Green Glue can be expensive, especially if a large amount is needed, however, as described later in this article, there is a comparable product that is a fraction of the cost: carpet glue.
The key to blocking unwanted noise that occurs when sharing an interior wall is adding mass. Adding a high-density material to the wall has been proven to dramatically reduce the transfer of sound.
At a fraction of the cost of some more traditional soundproofing measures, adding mass is an effective way to soundproof a wall.
There are a few ways you can do this:
1. Add an Extra Layer of Drywall
Adding an extra layer of drywall is a far easier and cheaper solution than ripping out the existing wall and adding insulation.
Instead of using ½” drywall, which is the industry standard in the construction of most modern homes, a better option is 5/8” drywall or drywall designed specifically for soundproofing.
If you are serious about soundproofing, make sure you use acoustical sealant (Amazon) around any electrical outlets.
If there is a gap between the drywall and outlet box, keep in mind that even just a crack can let half of the noise back in.
If you are looking for an alternative to acoustical sealant, you can try using indoor caulking that stays rubbery over time. Something similar to what is used around bath tubs and sinks.
2. Add Mass Loaded Vinyl
Another option is to use a specialized soundproofing material, such as Mass Loaded Vinyl (Amazon). Mass loaded vinyl (MLV) consists of a combination of minerals, fillers, and vinyl, which gives it a high density and mass, making it an effective sound barrier.
MLV is readily available in different thicknesses, rolls, or sheets, which can be cut and installed with relative ease.
The trick is not to order a lot more than you need, even though buying it in bulk is the more cost-effective option.
If you order a lot more than you need for your project, you are looking at having to mobilize hundreds of pounds since most mass loaded vinyl weighs 1 or even 2 lb/ft^2.
Regardless of your level of experience, it is important to have help when moving and installing mass loaded vinyl.
The reason mass loaded vinyl is a good option is that it works as both a sound blocker and sound absorber. If you go with 2 lb/ft^2 with no gaps, you will notice a significant improvement in noise reduction.
As mentioned earlier, carpet glue (Amazon) can be used as an inexpensive, but comparable, substitute for green glue.
You should add one layer of mass loaded vinyl with carpet glue and then add one or two layers of 5/8” drywall.
3. Exterior Windows
Another factor that you may want to consider is whether the room has an exterior window where unwanted noise is coming in.
In fact, addressing the sound coming through a window would be a better place to start before investing in drywall or mass loaded vinyl since perhaps the noise is coming through the window rather than the wall.
Replace With a Double or Triple Pane Window
One option is to replace the window entirely and purchase a double or triple paned window. Unfortunately, replacing the window is not an option you will be able to pursue if you are renting a living space.
If it is your home, then replacing a single pane window will make a big difference in the amount of noise coming through from outside.
If you’re renting, you can add a window panel. I did a review on my YouTube channel of a window panel from Indow Windows.
As you can see in the video above, if you have a single panel window, adding a window panel will make a big difference in the amount of noise transfer from outside.
One good thing about an Indow Window panels is that they’re removable, and if the window’s a common size, you’ll be able to use it on a window in your next home.
Sealant & Curtains
A second alternative is to simply seal any visible cracks around the window and windowpane with acoustical sealant or weatherstripping.
If replacing the window is not an option, you can reduce noise coming through the window by installing sound deadening curtains.
Although not specifically designed for soundproofing, 3 layer or “blackout” curtains can be used to reduce the transfer of noise to some degree. These curtains are made with two layers of fabric with a layer of black felt in between.
Although blackout curtains are typically used to block out the sun and provide privacy, they can also deaden outside noise and may even make the room sound better inside.
Ensure the curtains are larger than the window by 6 inches on the sides and bottom. Also, if possible, you should purchase a single panel large enough to cover the entire window so there is no crack between panels.
Keep in mind that adding mass is the one of the best soundproofing methods for dealing with airborne noise. For impact noise, a resilient channel system, if installed correctly, is a more effective option.
Keep It Simple
Before investing in a time consuming and expensive project like removing drywall and adding soundproofing material to the inside of a shared wall, try adding an additional layer of drywall or mass loaded vinyl to the wall instead.
Before starting your project, it is also worthwhile to identify the source of the sound, since it might be coming through an exterior window.
If it is coming in from a window, try filling in any visible cracks and/or installing a single blackout curtain panel.