What are good materials for soundproofing?

Written by carol ochs
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What are good materials for soundproofing?
Keep everyone happy with some good soundproofing. (Guitar player #1 image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com)

People soundproof for two main reasons -- to keep noise from escaping or to keep it from getting in. If you live near an airport, you may want to soundproof so you don't awaken to every take-off and landing. If you're a budding musician, you want to keep the neighbours happy by keeping those jam sessions from entertaining the whole street. Depending on the source of the sound problem, there are a number of soundproofing options. Some may require professional hep, but others can be handled yourself.


Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is one option. The Soundproofing 101 website says MLV can be used in many different ways to block noise but is not necessarily the cure-all it is sometimes advertised to be. The soundproofing professionals who run the site say consumers should remember "the principle of mass: if it does not weigh much it will not stop much." The site also cautions that putting several layers of MLV together may not provide a big improvement over a single layer.


If sound is leaking in or out because of cavities in the walls, sealing the holes can work wonders. Soundproofing 101 says stuffing the walls with pink insulation isn't the answer since most insulation doesn't do much when it comes to noise reduction. It recommends sprayed-on cellulose. Though the cost is higher, the cellulose is good at insulating and reducing noise. Check for holes around electrical plugs, pipes or any other openings.

Lead Lined Sheetrock

Some Sheetrock comes with a lead lining that helps reduce noise. Soundproofing 101 recommends using products with a 1/8-inch sheet of lead. It should be installed with the lead side facing the wall studs. Look for #2 lead. That means it weighs two pounds per square foot. Soundproofing 101 describes this Sheetrock as an "excellent noise reducer," but it's not cheap. Plan on spending £81 to £162 per piece.


Windows can be a major source of noise transfer, but Soundproofing 101 says replacing your old windows with dual-pane windows won't help much. It takes a second window to significantly stop noise. If you don't need the window for light, consider a wall plug that can be stuffed into the window opening. Soundproofing 101 says the plugs or pieces of Sheetrock may be a good temporary solution.

Materials to Avoid

The Super Soundproofing Company says there are a number of materials people think might be good for soundproofing but really are not. Some just are not very effective. Others, such as hay bales, can be a fire hazard. Among the materials to avoid: cardboard egg holders, foam rubber, rubber floor mats, old mattresses, carpet and plywood panels.

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