How to soundproof a room cheaply? (A DIY Guide)

This blog post will answer the question, “What are the methods to soundproof a room cheaply?” How sound can infiltrate in a room, what you should know before soundproofing a room, the benefits of soundproofing a room.  

How to soundproof a room cheaply?

Image 1

There are several key methods to where one can soundproof a room on the cheap.

  • Sealing the all the gaps in the Doors, Windows & Ceiling
  • Acoustic Caulking
  • Acoustic Curtains,Blinds, rugs, carpets
  • Rearrange Furniture
  • White Noise machines
  • Double Quilted Fibreglass panels
  • Increasing the thickness of the glass pane or using Laminated or Triple Pane Glass

There are 2 ways in which sound can permeate through a room:

Noise can permeate into a room in two ways:

Airborne Noise: They are sometimes referred to as ambient noise are sounds transmitted through through the walls, floors & ceiling. This can include a general conversation between people, TVs, pets, musical instruments and so on and so forth. 

Thus, the sound vibrations through these sources travel through the interstitial spaces between the floorboards and can diffuse into the adjacent floor space causing disturbance or reducing privacy.

Impact Noise: This type of noise is generated when some object or person directly makes contact with the wooden floor boards. There are several examples, feet stomping, falling objects, objects being dragged across the floor.

Benefits of soundproofing a room

Below are the benefits of soundproofing sliding doors:

  • Makes the room isolated from unwanted noise   which can disturb activities such as studying or sleeping.
  • Reduction of ambient wind noise that can take place from airborne transmission.
  • Improves room comfort and a general level of cosiness.
  • Reduces outdoor contaminants and/or pests and cold draughts from entering the enclosed space improving thermal isolation (although may not be applicable for all forms of soundproofing).

Things you need to know before soundproofing a room

The prevention of sound waves passing in or out of a room resulting in acoustic isolation of the designated space is known as soundproofing.

These are fundamental aspects of Sound Proofing:

Image 2

Deflection

Deflection of sound waves is achieved by adding dense non porous materials to any structure. This kind of material is very effective at deviating or deflecting noise made through airborne transmission. 

The additional bulk helps to dissipate soundwaves by creating a longer path and therefore higher energy requirement to diffuse into any given space.

However, blocking impact borne transmission is not as effective. It is a higher power, pressure and vibration class than airborne vibration.

Absorption 

Absorption is the phenomena by which sound pressure waves are distributed across a surface with interstitial airspace that prevents transmission through vibration of solid molecules.

Thereby soaking up acoustic energy. Materials such as this  are usually installed in open cavities where the depth of material can be tolerated.

In addition, this kind of material can also prevent additional resonance, reverberation and amplification of sound waves that could be created had the cavity been left empty.

There are 2 types of Absorbers:

Porous absorbers:

Porous open cell foams are highly effective noise absorbers across a broad range of medium-high frequencies. Performance can be less impressive at lower frequencies. The absorption profile is dependent on a number of factors such as:

  • Cell Size
  • Tortuosity
  • Porosity
  • Material Density 
  • Material Thickness

Resonant Absorbers:

Resonant absorbers also called Helmholtz Absorbers work by damping a sound wave while reflecting it. The absorption of a resonant soundwave works only over a low-medium frequency range

Reflection

The comparative distribution of sound pressure variations throughout a given space, or the process by which a soundwave is distributed in the space. If sound pressure is uniformly distributed throughout the space, the sound is said to be well diffused

Diffusion

If a specular reflection from a hard flat surface is giving a problematic echo then an acoustic diffuser may be applied to the surface. It will scatter sound in all directions. This is effective to eliminate pockets of noise in a room.e applied to the surface. It will scatter sound in all directions. This is effective to eliminate pockets of noise in a room.

For more information please visit the following links:

https://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-3/Reflection,-Refraction,-and-Diffraction
https://www.acousticalsurfaces.com/blog/acoustics-education/what-is-sound-diffusion-and-absorption/

Decoupling

Decoupling is a method to reduce the area of direct mechanical linkage between structure and substrate. Such as walls and the applied finishing materials.

This process interrupts flanking transmissions that tend to travel through a structures’ own rigidity and connectivity from start to end.

Damping

It is the process of reducing resonance in an enclosed structure by absorption, reflection or diffusion. Absorption will reduce the overall sound level of the structure and redirection reduce the coherence thereby making the unwanted sound harmless.

Distance

The further away an object or a space is from a sound attenuating source the more isolation or blocking it will have from incident sound waves. 

This is because soundwaves lose energy while travelling through any media and therefore dampens by diffusion, reflection & absorption over a finite distance.

Mass

Adding dense material for soundproofing can help reduce transmission by increasing the material molecules present. 

Soundwaves will have to expend more energy through dense substances thereby reducing its impact on the space which requires sound proofing.

Performance Metric

STC (Sound Transmission Class) and NIC (Noise Isolation Class) are standardised metrics that can help to compare materials which are used to soundproof the elements in a room . 

The Table 1 as shown below can help you comprehend what rating of STC corresponds to what can be heard or how much sound leakage there is. This gives us a good understanding before setting out to soundproof a room.

STCs by audio distinguishability
STCWhat can be heard
25Normal speech can be understood
30Loud speech can be understood
35Loud speech audible but not intelligible
40Loud speech audible as a murmur
45Loud speech heard but not audible
50Loud sounds faintly heard
60+Good soundproofing: most sounds do not disturb neighboring residents.

Table 1: STCs by audio distinguishability

Methods of soundproofing a room on the cheap

There are several key methods to soundproofing a room cheaply:

A.) Seal the interstitial gaps: It is imperative to seal all the nooks and crannies without affecting the sliding mechanism

This involves:

  1. Brush Weatherstrip: It contains tiny bristles as in a normal toothbrush and bend, twist and contort when the window is slid. This gives it longevity as well as preventing infiltration of dust particles and pests.
  1. Acoustic Caulk: It’s basically a paste type of solution which is also commonly referred to as an acoustical sealant. It helps in sound dampening all those areas where gaps are found.

Image 3

B.) Acoustic Curtains: Hanging soundproof drapes increases the overall mass of the window. 

The drapes can be folded at will as and when effective sound isolation is needed. The blankets should have grommets for hanging on a rod.

C.) Carpets, Rugs, Sound Pads: Plush carpet, rugs, and sound dampening pads can help absorb sound, along with wall hangings, upholstered furniture, and even plants. These materials also lessen the sound of footsteps and objects dropping within the apartment, minimising the echo and absorbing the noise.

D.) White Noise Machine: This machine plays broad-band noise signals constantly in the background. They help to divert attention by masking any disruptive noises in your immediate environment.

E.) Soundproof Window Inserts: Installing soundproofing inserts as a DIY can help to prevent external sounds from leaking into the desired space. 

They are basically sliding transparent panes that go over the interior side of the window.

Also Window plugs work in much the same way however they are cheaper and do not slide over each other. In addition, it is cheaper than window inserts.

D.) Acoustic Blinds: They are as the name suggests and function just as normal blinds when hung against a window or a door. They do, however, have thicker material to dampen high amplitude sound vibrations.

E.) Laminated or Triple Pane Glass: These are as far as it gets bar using non glass paned doors and are often a costlier option. However, triple paned glass sliding doors have dead spaces or air pockets that are very effective at blocking high and low frequency sounds. 

An ancillary benefit of these is that they also act as good thermal insulation and prevent high amounts of heat transfer into adjacent spaces.

Increasing the thickness of the glass pane: Although not as effective as using double or triple paned glass, it still goes a long way in soundproofing the sliding doors. 

Some of the things that need to be considered are glass thickness, overall thickness, air space, door construction–wood, vinyl, aluminium, fibreglass, and the ability to change glass stops and still have an operating door.) Following Table 2 is a quick look at STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings of glass.

STC Ratings for Glazed door pane
Single glazed (one pane of glass)as high as 35
Laminated Single Glazedas high as 40
Dual Glazedas high as 40
Dual Glazed (one clear lite/one laminated)as high as 45
Triple Glazed Clearas high as 45

Table 3: STC Ratings for Glazed window pane

Image 3

F.) Attach sound dampening foam: depending on your aesthetical preference you may or may not want to go with this option as it involves simply affixing some foam to the window.

G.) External/Internal Shutters: Typically consist of two hinged panels placed on the outside or the insides of the window.

It is preferable that the shutters do not have any louvres, although this may block off the fresh air that might seep through the window. 

H.) Rearranging the furniture: The cheapest and easiest method by far is to rearrange your furniture to completely block the window such as placing a bookshelf or a cabinet in front of it.

I.) Noiseproofing compound: It works in a similar way and can be considered as an acoustic caulk considering it can absorb 90% of noise and is suitable for application on either side of the floor.

J.) Green Glue Noiseproofing is a regularly used compound used for this purpose which can be applied between any two hard surfaces or between the studs and drywall.

It reaches its peak noise dissipation performance after 30 days of application.

Or if you value sunlight protruding in your room, then consider placing as much soft furnishings near the window to dampen the external noise

Conclusion

This blog addresses the ways in which sound can infiltrate through a room, the performance metric information an individual needs before opting for soundproofing a room. 

Finally, what are some of the main ways that an individual can soundproof a room cheaply and the effectiveness of each method.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

Frequently Asked Questions: How to soundproof a room

How can I soundproof my windows cheaply?

The most affordable way to soundproof your windows is to caulk them with acoustic caulk. Remove any existing silicone caulk and recaulk with a product that is specifically designed to block window noise. A tube of acoustic caulk costs about $20. Window treatments are another economical way to soundproof your windows.

How can I soundproof doors in my room?

Yes, there are many ways to soundproof sliding double doors using acoustic dampening materials such as foams, blankets, and caulking. In addition, use of wooden or PET doors instead of glass panel doors can also prevent sound diffusion into the adjacent space.

How do I stop wind whistling through a window?

We can fix it by simply removing the window from its track and then adjusting the roller screws by driving them towards the bottom. 

Finally removing the top window stop. Realign the window on the track, reinstall the top plate, and readjust the roller screws.

Can a sliding door to a room be as noise-reducing as a standard door? What is the best material?

Triple Glazing glass panelled sliding windows greatly enhances the sound dampening ability.                    

What is the best way to soundproof a wooden floor?

The best technique to reduce airborne noise between floors is to use DFM acoustic insulation around floor joists. With acoustic floor insulation, you can eliminate airborne sounds between timber floors. 

Use acoustic floor padding between the floor and ceiling beams to block airborne noises from passing through a wooden floor.

References

Everest Team. (2020, October 3 ). How to soundproof a room. Retrieved from Everest: https://www.everest.co.uk/how-to-soundproof-a-room/

Hales, D. (2021, December 9). Cheapest Way to Soundproof a Room. Retrieved from Modern Castle: https://moderncastle.com/blog/cheapest-way-to-soundproof-a-room/

Harris, M. (2021, May 6). 7 Easy Ways for How to Soundproof a Room Cheaply. Retrieved from Sounproofable: https://www.soundproofable.com/how-to-soundproof-room-cheaply/

Joe. (2019, July 15). How To Soundproof A Room Cheap & Quick – 7 Steps. Retrieved from Soundproof Silence: https://soundproofsilence.com/how-to-soundproof-a-room/

Medlock, E. (2022, January 7). How To Soundproof A Room Cheaply. Retrieved from Homedit: https://www.homedit.com/how-to-soundproof-a-room/

Pac Rad The Blog Team. (2020, December 30). HOW TO SOUNDPROOF A ROOM CHEAPLY FOR STUDIO QUALITY RECORDINGS. Retrieved from Pac Rad The Blog: https://www.pacrad.com/blog/how-to-soundproof-a-room-cheaply-for-studio-quality-recordings/

Sehgal, P. (2020, August 14). 10 ideas on how to soundproof a room cheaply – or even for free! – Soundproof Living. Retrieved from IT World Canada: https://www.itworldcanada.com/post/10-ideas-on-how-to-soundproof-a-room-cheaply-or-even-for-free-soundproof-living

SoundProof Living Team. (2021, April 28). 20 Ideas on how to soundproof a room cheaply. Retrieved from SoundProof Living : https://soundproofliving.com/soundproof-room-cheap-free-ideas/

SoundProof Panda Team. (2020, June 19). How To Soundproof a Room Cheap: 9 Foolproof Methods. Retrieved from SoundProof Panda: https://soundproofpanda.com/how-to-soundproof-a-room-cheap/

Weber, R. (2020, June 28). How to Soundproof A Room Cheaply – In 12 Ways Effectively. Retrieved from Solve Sonic: https://solvesonic.com/soundproof-room-cheaply