In this blog post, we will focus on, “How to soundproof with cork?”, and will explore in detail the characteristics of cork. We will also discuss how cork helps in soundproofing and why use cork for soundproofing. Lastly, we will shine a light on the acoustic features of cork and give you three ideas for soundproofing with cork.
How to Soundproof with Cork?
There are countless applications of cork as a soundproofing material. Here are the top three;
- Soundproof Cork Wall Tiles
- Acoustic Cork Underlayments
- Soundproof Cork Flooring
What is Cork?
Cork is an impermeable, buoyant, cellular material composed of air-sealed cells with a honeycomb design. It is made up of the cork oak’s bark and is an excellent sound insulator. Its unique structure gives it elite sound insulation characteristics as the cells effectively absorb sound vibrations and restrict its passage.
Perhaps the most amazing quality of this material is that you don’t need to cut a cork oak tree to get one. This makes the material environmentally-friendly and sustainable.
How does Cork help in Soundproofing?
Cork is a natural sound-absorber whose structure makes it hard for sound waves to transmit noise. It helps in soundproofing by providing natural sound absorption. It is one of few soundproofing materials that are adequate on its own. Even a thin 3 mm piece of cork can effectively block up to ten decibels.
To understand how it does so, you need to understand the basics of sound and the science of soundproofing. Sound travels in waves and strives to maintain these waves and transmit through mediums. However, disrupting their passage muffles, dampens, and even eliminates the sound.
What cork does is breakdown the sound waves through its unique structure. Traveling through the cork, the sound waves get absorbed in the cell walls and ultimately diffuses.
Cork can effectively absorb about 40% of noises produced in the frequency close to the human voice. That’s the reason why it is widely used to insulate and soundproof walls and floorings. The natural sound-deadening characteristics of cork deaden the sound transfer and effectively stops the waves from bouncing off the solid surfaces.
Why Use Cork for Soundproofing?
Besides its incredible soundproofing characteristics, cork is also a highly versatile material that’s available in different types and thicknesses. From underlays to wall panels and ceiling tiles, there are countless soundproofing applications of cork in a home.
Add to this, it is also recyclable, renewable, and lightweight. Not to forget, it is inexpensive, safe, healthy, and its durability is among the best. These are some of the many reasons why cork is perfect for soundproofing. Let’s dive deeper into details to understand why;
Durable and Inexpensive
Durability and inexpensiveness don’t often go hand-in-hand. However, it is the case with cork as it’s highly durable yet inexpensive.
Available in tons of different sizes and thicknesses, a cork underlay is as cheap as 70 cents per square foot. However, cork panels cost somewhere in the range of $8.50 per square foot and that’s still relatively cheaper.
Good for Health & Hygiene
This is one characteristic you won’t easily find in other soundproofing materials. Cork is water-resistant and anti-microbial. This is a great feature for a soundproofing material to have as it slows down the growth of mildew and mold.
Besides this, it is also antistatic which means toxins and dust won’t stick to it. It is ideal for people with allergies as it has limited off-gassing. Cork is naturally a good insulator and it is also valid for electric current.
Good Fire Resistance
This shouldn’t come as a surprise as cork is a natural thermal insulator. Cork can easily sustain incredibly high temperatures. Even if it catches fire, cork creates less smoke than vinyl, rubber, and other soundproofing materials.
Environmentally-Friendly & Easy-to-Clean
One of the many reasons why you must use cork for soundproofing your home is because it is environmentally-friendly. It is harvested from trees every 9-14 years and there is minimal loss of material during manufacturing.
Besides this, it is also easy-to-clean and requires simple maintenance. This is the reason why cork makes perfect floorings. The soft, cushion-like surface dampens impact noise from transmitting to the ceiling below.
Acoustic Features of Cork
Cork is naturally-gifted when it comes to insulation and is efficient against both sound and thermal insulation. In terms of thermal insulation, felted wool is the only material that provides better heat insulation.
As for acoustic insulation, it ranks second only to solid rubber. This portrays the incredible insulation characteristics of cork. It is widely available in tiles, planks, underlayments, and panels to satisfy the home’s insulation needs. Not to forget, it is also lightweight and easy-to-install.
The three best acoustic features of cork include sound absorption, noise reduction, and acoustic insulation.
Cork is a natural sound absorber because of its unique honeycomb cell structure and the presence of air spaces. Its structure and air cavities trap and absorb the sound, preventing it from transmitting to the other side or bouncing back to its source.
A cubic centimeter of cork has over 40 million cells and this is the secret behind its incredible sound absorption characteristics. These cells disrupt the natural flow of sound waves and effectively traps, dampens, and absorbs them.
Sound absorption and sound deadening are widely associated with corks. However, it is also good at reducing noise vibrations and blocking sounds.
Cork doesn’t block sound but rather traps them in its complex cell structure. The sound waves get lost in their complex structure and only a few find their way to the other side. This dampens the sound and minimizes the noise transmission. Cork is effective in damping both the airborne and impact-noise vibrations.
As cork is good at both absorbing and reducing sounds. It is widely used in the construction industry as an acoustic insulator. Many elements from floors and walls to underlayments and ceilings are insulated with cork to reduce noise transmission and improve sound absorption.
Generally, cork can easily absorb or dampen sounds in the range of mid to upper frequency. It effectively prevents noise transmission and cuts down the reverberation of sounds.
3 Best Ways to Soundproof with Cork
We almost know everything there is to know about cork and it’s time to talk about the best three ways to soundproof with cork. Its applications are limitless as a building insulation material and its benefit exceeds beyond insulation.
- Soundproof Cork Wall Tiles
- Acoustic Cork Underlayment
- Soundproof Cork Flooring
Soundproof Cork Wall Tiles
Soundproof cork wall tiles are available in different thicknesses, colors, styles, and textures. They are equally effective and aesthetically-pleasing. Above all else, they provide both acoustic and thermal insulation and are an excellent add-on to add to your out-of-fashion drywalls.
The idea behind adding cork wall tires is to cut down the noise transmission from one room to another and minimize echoing. Thermal insulation is an added plus while these tiles also purify the air and are anti-microbial.
A thick, high-density cork is highly effective in soundproofing homes and effectively absorbs vibrations, repels dust, and resists molds, fire, and insects.
Acoustic Cork Underlayments
Acoustic cork underlayments are cost-friendly and effective solutions to insulate rigid floorings. Reducing sound transfer and minimizing echoing, cork is an incredible soundproofing underlay that lasts for years and requires minimal maintenance.
Their natural ability to repel dust, resist insects, mold, mildew and toxins make them a perfect material to have underneath your flooring.
Normally, thick sheets of cork panels are used as an underlay and they are perfect to insulate laminate, ceramic, hardwood, porcelain, stone, and marble flooring. It lessens the echoing in the room and also blocks sound waves from traveling to the ceiling below.
Soundproof Cork Flooring
Cork flooring is an excellent soundproofing solution that is available in rolled sheets, floating tiles, and planks. They perfectly cushion the floor to reduce echo and noise transfer.
Using a combination of cork flooring and cork underlay is the best way to soundproof your home from all kinds of airborne noises. Not to forget, cork flooring is highly durable and lasts over 150 years.
These floorings have a nonslip, soft, and springy surface and feel incredibly comfortable on the feet. One big plus is that they are also fire-resistant and easy-to-install. You won’t even need glue to install these floorings.
In this blog post, we talked about, “How to soundproof with cork?”, and explored in detail the characteristics of cork. We also discussed how cork helps in soundproofing and why use cork for soundproofing. We also shed a light on the acoustic features of cork and gave you three ideas for soundproofing with cork.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Soundproof with Cork?
Is cork good for soundproofing?
Yes, cork is among the best natural sound-absorbing materials and is only second to rubber. That’s why it is widely used in music studios where the need for noise reduction is high.
Its natural honeycomb-like cell structure traps and absorbs sounds and blocks their transmission from one side to another. Besides this, it is one of the most cost-friendly and durable soundproofing materials.
Can cork underlayment be used on walls?
You can use soundproof cork wall tiles on walls or even cork underlays. A natural sound-absorber, cork not only reduces sound echo but also blocks sound penetration. Available in tons of different textures, colors, thicknesses, and designs, it is a perfect soundproofing option to effectively insulate your walls.
How thick does cork need to be for soundproofing?
Normally, cork panels around 13/16” thick can effectively reduce sound transmission up to 30 decibels. A 9/16” and 7/16” panels can cut down noise transmission to 40 and 50 decibels respectively. It is one of the most effective, durable, and cost-friendly soundproofing materials.
How long do cork floors last?
Durability is a big bonus with cork and cork flooring can easily last 40+ years with proper maintenance. Their incredible characteristics make them a perfect long-term soundproofing solution and they even bounce back from furniture indentations.
Is cork flooring quieter than carpet?
Carpet is effective in dampening sounds and is one of the best flooring options. Similarly, cork flooring also has a smooth, soft texture and a natural ability to soundproof homes. They are most commonly used as an underlayment under other flooring options.