Are you thinking of how to soundproof your existing walls but then you’re just renting the place so you can’t really do much about the noise you’re stressing about?
Or maybe you just don’t want to take the drywall down because it can be very expensive, and you don’t want to spend much on soundproofing?
Well, the good news is that you can soundproof your walls without having to remove the drywall.
What’s even better is that you don’t even have to spend much with the options we will give you today.
Renting shouldn’t make you feel like you can’t get rid of the noise coming from the other side of the wall; your neighbor’s place.
While a lot of landlords are strict when it comes to renovation, it’s going to be impossible to take down your walls and have it replaced by thicker and soundproof ones.
Here are six ways for you to effectively reduce or deaden the noise that’s getting through your thin walls.
1: Using Acoustic Foam or Soundproof Panels
If you’re wondering what an acoustic foam or soundproof panel is, think of how music studios usually look. These are foam panels with tiny and pointed wedges on its surface.
This is made from polyurethane foam or polyester and is very lightweight.
This is more popularly used on music studios, but some churches, cinemas, theatres, and concert halls for multiple reasons.
However, they are mainly used to reduce noise from the outside of the room and also the echoes inside a room.
How does Acoustic Foam Work?
The acoustic panels work as sound absorbers, but it could also accentuate the sound in your room itself.
This means that it could improve and enhance the quality of the sound that is in your room itself but prevents sounds from the outside of your room from coming in.
Aside from absorbing the sound waves coming from the outside, it also dissipates them to heat, which makes these foam panels have an insulating effect.
How Do You Use Acoustic or Soundproof Panels?
Acoustic panels come in different form, shapes, and sizes to make it easy for you to match not only your walls.
We say this because these panels can even be used on your ceiling, doors, windows, and even floor. It also comes in a different color if you need it to match your interiors. How convenient!
Here we’ve come up with a few easy steps that you can follow to install acoustic panels on your walls.
1: Figure out what type of sounds you are trying to block. If you’re only after mid-frequencies, then it’s not necessary to get really thick acoustic panels.
The importance of taking this into consideration is that it helps you decide how thick and firm the panel you need is.
2: Take the necessary measurements – as mentioned, these panels come in different sizes and so before purchasing them, it’s best to measure the area of your walls first. This will make it easier for you to figure out the size of what you are going to get.
3: Once you get your panels, tailor fit it on your walls. You can have an overview of how the outcome will look like by temporary putting the acoustic panels up. You can do this by getting a double-sided tape.
Just make sure you get the ones that are not too strong and to only have a small portion of it to avoid the panels from tearing if in case you want to uninstall and reinstall them.
4: After figuring out how you’ll want the panels placed on your wall, you can now have them applied. There are multiple ways to do this, but as much as possible, avoid using regular glue. Regular glue contains acidic compounds that could melt the foam away.
Try to get foam tack to have the panels installed. This is specifically made for foams and so it won’t damage your panels in any way.
Other than that, you can use adhesives like a double-sided tape. It’s just like how you tested applying them using tapes, but this time, you can put more and use stronger adhesives.
2: By Putting Up Soundproof Curtains
If you’re wondering if this actually works, a straight answer would be yes, it does work. Soundproof curtains are not really just made for windows. You can have this installed on your walls as well.
You can observe how cinemas and theatres gave big and heavy curtains their walls have. They have those installed not only for aesthetic purposes.
How Do Soundproof Curtains Work?
There are different varieties of soundproof curtains that you can choose from, but these are made with polyester.
Usually, soundproof curtains are thick and heavy so that it could be powerful when it comes to blocking and absorbing sound waves
The general rule of choosing the right soundproof curtain is to get them thicker and wider than your walls.
Fortunately, there are stores who would let you customize the size and color of the soundproof curtain that you need.
Extra Tips When Installing Soundproof Curtains
- Use ceiling brackets instead of wall brackets - this will make coverage better
- Getting a soundproof curtain wider than your walls – this will let you pleat the curtains and pleating helps block sound waves better
- Get drape-like soundproof curtains – since coverage matter when it comes to how effective it will be, it’s best to get curtains that could stand from the ceiling to your floor.
3: Install Mass Loaded Vinyl for Soundproofing Walls
This pretty much works like the acoustic panels. Instead of a foamy material, a mass loaded vinyl resembles a wallpaper.
It’s made up of vinyl that’s infused with metal particles to increase its mass. Generally, it is heavy and smooth in texture.
How Do Mass Loaded Vinyls Work?
Originally, this is applied in between a drywall. So even if you decide to take down your drywall, you can still have this installed in between the layers of your drywall.
Mass loaded Vinyl will act as another layer on your wall and gives it additional mass.
It will prevent sound waves from going through your walls and also prevent vibrations that could intensify noise from the outside.
How To Use Mass Loaded Vinyls
As mentioned, application of this is a bit similar with applying acoustic foam on your walls.
These panels could come in squares or rolls, so it’s up to you to decide which one would work better for you. You can just follow the steps for the application of acoustic foam.
What’s different here is that you can already use glue to have this installed. To make it even better, you can also use green glue or soundproof glue for soundproofing to be more effective.
Just be careful when it comes to applying this on your wall with green glue. Green glue dries out pretty quickly so make sure you get it right the first time.
4: By Using Sound Deadening Paint Reduce Sound Through Walls
This could also be one of the popular options out there. If you’re considering to use a soundproof paint, you have to consider that type of noise that you are blocking.
You need to know that soundproof paint can only work well with certain levels of noise – particularly mid-frequencies.
This means that it could only dampen the noise you’re trying to block.
To give you a number, it could only reduce 30% of the noise that you are trying to block.
How Does Soundproof Paint Work?
Soundproof paint is thicker and has more texture than a regular paint. It is usually made with latex and ceramic microspheres to help with soundproofing. It’s also rubbery in texture.
What’s nice about using a soundproof paint is that it’s available in different shades, so you could easily match it with your interiors.
You may also use soundproof paint on your ceiling as it’s versatile. It could work on plastic, wood, and metal.
How to Use Soundproof Paint
Using soundproof paint is fairly easy and is pretty much the same with how you use regular paint. What we recommend is for you to use it with a primer, base, and finishing soundproof coat. Here are the easy steps you can follow if you’ll be painting your walls with these:
- Prime the wall that you will paint – priming the wall will help your base coat stick better.
- Apply base coat – make sure the prime layer is already dry. For better results, add another layer of base coat about 40 minutes after the first layer dries off.
- Apply the soundproof paint of your choice. Remember to stir the paint thoroughly as soundproof paint is really thick and has quite a texture. To achieve the best results, you may apply 2-4 layers of this. Just make sure that you add each layer every after 40-60 minutes to ensure that each layer has completely dried off.
- Lastly, finish it off with your finishing coat or layer. You may only apply this once.
Those are the easy steps to follow when painting your walls with soundproof paint. It is time-consuming but worth the effort.
A smooth surface may be hard to achieve with this, but you can always mix this option up with other options, like finishing it off with a mass loaded vinyl. That would help soundproof your walls better.
5: Using Soundproof Blankets
This is a quick solution that doesn’t require much planning. It will work best if you’re only thinking of a temporary solution before you remove your drywall.
The idea of using soundproof blankets is the same as using soundproof curtains. A soundproof blanket is also thick and can absorb sound waves.
Overall, this is a versatile solution as you could easily install and uninstall this. When it comes to how you can put it on your wall, you can have it hung or you may use adhesives.
Just make sure that no matter how you choose to apply this on your wall, the adhesive or brackets you’ll use should be sturdy enough as this could also be heavy.
6: Soundproofing Walls By Adding Drywall
This may be the most cost-efficient option in our list. It could cost more than the other options we’ve already provided but this is something that would work great if you want something that would be a hundred percent effective.
If you can’t or don’t want to remove your drywall, then adding another one would work almost same as taking it down and installing a new one.
What’s good about this option is that you can even combine it with an acoustic panel, mass loaded vinyl, or soundproof paint.
You can build a wall as you want to, but make sure that this is carefully planned.
It may take up quite a space so make sure that you get your measurements right and that you are fine with giving up a bit of space in your room.
Are Any of these Worth the Try?
Certainly, the options we’ve given are worth the try, especially if you’re desperate to do something about the noise you’re trying to block out but can’t really remove your drywalls and build new ones.
While you can easily choose one of the options we’ve given, it’s best to at least partner each option with another one so that you can ensure a noticeable change.
Soundproofing Existing Walls A Few More Tips and Reminders
If you’re a renter, make sure that you still check with the landlord if the soundproofing option or method you chose is acceptable. You wouldn’t want to get I trouble after all the effort, right?
After soundproofing, it would also help to rearrange your furniture. If you still have a lot of space, getting new furniture would also help.
As you already know, sound waves have more chances to spread if the room is spacious and they won’t have anything to go against.
You can lean a bookshelf or cabinet against your wall so that they could also serve as reflectors or blockers.
Lastly, soundproofing can really take quite an effort and could even be expensive, so before you jump into starting a soundproofing project, make sure you do your research and plan well.
Remember that soundproofing can be a fun DIY project, so enjoy!
Jessica is a Acoustical Engineer, currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. After graduating from her degree in Master of Engineering degree in Acoustics from Solent University in 2014, Jessica worked for a few companies before She will be blogging about her past and current experiences in the studio and sharing her journey as she pursues her career goals. She enjoy the balance of work inside and out of the office, solving practical problems on a daily basis as every project is different and requires a different solution, the variety of work (sound insulation testing, background noise survey, mechanical plant commissioning, external plant assessment, plant room breakout assessments) and the mix of independent and team work.