Does soundproofing a wall really work, Building Design Tips, Online Advice

Does Soundproofing Really Work

24 Nov 2021

Does Soundproofing a Wall Really Work

If you ever have been on the receiving end of your neighbor making continuous noise and it reaches you through the shared wall, this article is for you. Since quieting down your neighbor is out of the question, you may have stumbled onto soundproofing solutions online. But does it work, though?

In this article, we will be exploring whether soundproofing a wall works and the cost-effectiveness of the solution. We will be looking at different solutions available in the market and how it is implemented.

Does Soundproofing a Wall Really Work?

Without a doubt, it can be said that soundproofing can work and with high efficiency if done right. But it depends on many factors, including careful analysis of the problem, the budget, and the solutions implemented.

Soundproofing, to a large extent, depends on adding mass. Sound is a wave, and it can be converted to energy. Adding on more mass means that the sound has to travel through bulkier substances and hence gets more attenuated on the way through your walls. You can add a bookshelf filled with books on your shared wall, and it can also provide soundproofing properties. However, there are exceptions, such as the foam panels, which depend on the sound waves reflecting and are effective mainly for one-way soundproofing.

The key to success in any soundproofing method is in product selection and implementation. There are a lot of materials and solutions available in the market that can easily overwhelm beginners and persuade them to make bad decisions. If you know your requirements and the products in the markets, you can have soundproof walls with the efficiency required at a low budget.

More often than not, problems with shared walls or thin walls can be solved using the “disconnection and density” formula. The sound we try to reduce can be of two types, namely, acoustic and vibrational. Acoustic sounds are sounds that can be heard normally. As the name suggests, the vibrational type tends to have a physical form, as it vibrates the surface of the walls. These waves tend to travel through matter and pass through the walls to reach you.

Acoustic sounds can be reduced to high efficiency with soundproofing materials. Soundproofing materials like MLVs, fiberglass, soundproofing curtains, and foam panels tend to absorb these sounds and reduce noise through walls. But the vibrational sounds from the bass or construction happening near you can’t be solved by adding a carpet to your wall. In such cases, you have to physically separate your wall from the vibrating surface to eliminate the vibrations.

Implementing the right solutions for the right problem is very important while soundproofing walls, as shown above. You have to consider the efficiency with which you want to soundproof your walls and the efficiency of the products used. Even though it is impossible to obtain 100% soundproofing at any surface, you can block out most sounds and nearly all normal sounds using commercially available soundproofing materials.

In some cities like New York, the shared walls of residential buildings must have an STC rating of 60. Sound Transmission Class (STC) measures the effectiveness of sound reduction through walls and is an important metric to consider while shopping for soundproofing materials. For better understanding, the STC chart is given below:

STC Level of Soundproofing Provided
25 Normal speech can be heard and understood
30 Normal speech can be heard, whereas loud speech can be heard and understood
35 Loud speech is audible but not intelligible
40 Loud speech audible as a murmur
45 Loud speech heard but not audible
50 Loud sounds faintly heard
60+ Good soundproofing; most sounds do not disturb neighboring residents.

You have to understand that sometimes, standalone soundproofing solutions for your wall actually won’t be enough if the sound is loud. In such cases, you may have to combine two or more soundproofing solutions to compound the effects. This can be effective in most cases and can provide you with amazing results.

Let’s take an example. Suppose you have installed acoustic panels on your wall to soundproof it from outside noise. But, it won’t matter if you have a window on the wall as it will be the weakest link and will be the prime source of sound leakage. In such cases, for effective soundproofing, you can also add soundproofing curtains or fiberglass panels on your windows to block out the sound.

Finally, don’t fall into myths by marketers. Do your research online or from trusted professionals before implementing a solution. You can’t expect products like soundproof wallpaper with a minimum level of foam to soundproof your room all by itself. Such solutions may reduce normal sounds but will be rendered useless and ineffective against sound lying in the lower and higher end of the spectrum. There is a huge difference between sound reducing and soundproofing materials.

Final Thoughts

Soundproofing your wall can help you reduce incoming and outgoing sounds if done properly. If you have noisy neighbors or heavy construction or traffic outside your home, it is high time you consider soundproofing for a quieter ambiance in your home. As mentioned earlier, soundproofing consists of a wide variety of solutions, and you have to select from the multitude which is best for your home or hire a professional.

Soundproofing your walls is not hard and is a worthwhile investment for your mental health and a peaceful atmosphere. It is necessary to decide on your budget and plan on soundproofing solutions and how to implement them. Installing most soundproofing solutions doesn’t need expert advice, and you can save money on that if you are ready to learn about it. However, disconnecting your walls requires specialists, so make sure to consult one.

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