Soundproofing, also commonly known as sound blocking, sound dampening, noise absorption, and noise reduction, is the means by which a room or structure is insulated from noise. This is done to prevent exterior noise from entering an area, as well as from sound exiting an area, common in offices and meeting rooms where confidentiality is needed.
There is no “set” method or material that is the automatic ‘go-to’ when it comes to sound dampening rooms or structures. Depending upon the needs of the customer, interior and exterior noise considerations, and perhaps other variables, different means can be taken to effectively make the area soundproof. This can involve treating walls, floors, ceilings, and other areas with sound baffling panels or materials that are specifically manufactured with noise reduction as its major function.
Effective Soundproof Materials
If drywall is used as the main component in sound dampening, then sound-engineered drywall (or SED) should be used for the walls and ceilings. SED is similar to regular drywall, but it has been treated with sound reducing material and can be installed over the room’s existing drywall. A special drywall adhesive is applied to connect the layers of drywall. This adhesive may have the ability to reduce impact noise as well.
When the floor is to be soundproofed, application of mass-loaded vinyl is performed, placed between the final top layer and the existing floor.
Another highly effective means of soundproofing, popular in both residential and commercial soundproofing, is installing sound insulation material. When looking for sound blocking materials, the Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating must be considered. In the STC scale, the higher the number, the more effective that insulation is at sound blocking.
STC, the decibel reduction in noise the given material can provide, varies from room to room, and depending on the needs of given areas, can change in rating needed. Some other popular and effective soundproof materials in common use in residential and commercial soundproofing include:
1. Acoustic Blanket and Sound Curtain Noise Barriers. Very common in large scale industrial and heavy construction applications, these are very easy to install and are highly effective. Blankets can come in door panels and portable screens and can be customized for size and color to fasten to any wall, surface, or ceiling.
2. Noise Barrier Wrap. This is particularly effective in industrial facilities, helping to stifle noise from duct work and noisy pipes. Delivering STC ratings of 26 to 30, this comes in a variety of sizes and colors and complements other sound dampening methods very well.
3. Mass Loaded Barricade Noise Barrier (Vinyl Sound Barrier)-MLV.* This thin, high-density soundproofing barrier is constructed of high temperature fused vinyl, non-reinforced, with no lead filters. Very effective at blocking noise through walls, ceilings, and floors, its application is also popular as a duct and pipe wrap. This is available with an STC rating of 27 in 1″ and 2″ rolls.
Other means of noise reduction materials used include Barricade Ceiling Tile Noise Barriers, made with melamime foam and aluminized mylar facing; and Noise Barrier Composites (and Foam Composites), which comes in sheets or rolls .25″ to 2″ in size.
Effective Soundproof Panels
Based on specific sound absorption and noise control needs, there are a wide variety of soundproof panels, in a wide range of material options, to choose from. Among the very effective and most popular are acoustic panels, which include:
- Acoustic Fiber Wrapped Panels– these are Class A fire rated, using a mass vinyl sound barrier septum. Available to customize with designs and artwork, they are popular sound barriers in more publicly-viewed areas (restaurants, conference rooms, offices, lobbies, churches, etc.)
- Acoustic Panel Room Kits– these install quickly and help absorb sound, improve speech intelligibility, and reduce echo. Popular in areas in any environment that needs an effortless and quick acoustical solution.
- Cotton Acoustic Panels– Class A fire rated, these panels are cotton recycled, high-performance panels used to reduce excessive reverberation in rooms and ambient noise level reduction.
- Foam Acoustic Panels– available in a wide variety of surface patterns, colors, and thicknesses, these lightweight panels commonly used in private and public facilities easily mount to existing walls or ceilings using adhesive and are an excellent option for added sound absorption.
- Metal Acoustic Panels– these are colored panels, custom-sized and mounted to walls and ceilings using z clip fasteners. Backed with encapsulated acoustic fill, they are popular in very noisy environments such as gymnasiums, industrial areas, swimming pools, and pump rooms.
Other popular soundproof panels include:
- Ripstop Wrapped Acoustic Panels
- Raw Acoustic Boards