How to soundproof a room

Don't disturb the neighbors, soundproof your noisy room.

Loud music, bathroom noises and laundry room humming can all be silenced--or at least muffled to tolerable levels--using the techniques and materials below. Keep in mind that soundproofing is more effective, easier to install and less expensive when installed in new construction.

Have all the electrical wiring and plumbing in place in the walls to be soundproofed.

Hang drywall on one side of all the stud walls of the room to be soundproofed, so that the room is closed in but you still have access to the interiors of the walls. (The side you choose to leave open will vary--you want to leave open the side that will offer the easiest access to apply the soundproofing material.)

Apply fiberglass insulation batting to the walls. The batts can be packed in fairly tightly--the denser the material, the more sound you stop. But remember that for actual insulation purposes, the insulation loses value if it's too tightly packed. Hang the drywall as usual.

Alternatively, call in a professional insulation company and have it blow in foam or cellulose insulation that provide great sound deadening and a high insulation value. Hang the drywall as usual once the soundproofing is applied.

As another alternative, hang manufactured soundproofing wall coverings--such as Pyrotek or Super Soundproofing products--which are sold as rigid panels or in rolls. You can purchase these at home improvement centers, lumberyards, insulation contractors or drywall supply houses. Hang the covering according to the manufacturer's directions, then hang the drywall as usual.

Remove the drywall from one side of the walls to be soundproofed. (Strip the side of the wall that strikes a balance between offering the most work space and causing the least amount of damage.) Then choose one of the options listed in Section 1.

Alternatively, cut small holes in the drywall near the ceiling, between the studs. Fill the space between the drywall with cellulose or expandable foam insulation. You can rent the machine for applying blow-in insulation at most lumberyards or rental centers, or where you purchase your materials. Expandable foam can be purchased in small spray cans or large containers that resemble propane tanks for your barbecue grill. Patch and refinish the drywall.

As another alternative, hang manufactured wall covering materials (described in step 5 above) over the existing walls (as opposed to behind the drywall). Many come in a variety of colors or are paintable (you'll pay more for the "finished" products than you will for the kind that go on behind the drywall). These products take up very little space and work well. Choose from panels, acoustic matting and vibration barriers.

Install double- or triple-hung vinyl-framed windows in new construction, or replace old windows with upgraded units in existing rooms.

Or make "plugs"--custom-fit coverings the size of the window, made from one of the manufactured products described above. You can make these yourself by purchasing the material and cutting it to fit.

Alternatively, purchase stylish sound-deadening drapes. These are more expensive than window plugs but much more pleasing to the eye.

Soundproof ceilings by applying sound-deadening matting (as described above) or hanging a suspended acoustic tile ceiling; extra sound dampening can be obtained by rolling out batts of thick fiberglass insulation on top of the suspended ceiling.

Apply sound-deadening mats to upstairs floors to cut down on noise levels. These can be applied under carpeting and often have padding built in.

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