Soundproofing a room can be an expensive, tedious process. There are a lot of options available, and it can be difficult to decide what options would fit your needs and budget. This article outlines cost-effective solutions for your soundproofing project, complete with projected estimates so you can make the best choices for your needs.
The best type of door to use for a soundproof room is a solid-core door. Solid-core doors are doors with an outer wood veneer, filled with wood or wood composite material.
Compared with a hollow-core door which has a cardboard interior, the solid-core door provides high insulation against sound and has an STC rating of 30.
A solid wood door would provide even better sound insulation, but they are expensive and prone to warping, making the solid-core door a preferable option. Prices for these doors start at around $100-200.
If the cost of solid-core doors exceeds your budget, or you would not want to install a new door, soundproof blankets are another option. You could hang these over your door to absorb or dampen sound. They can also be used over walls and windows and have the advantage of being portable. The price varies according to product specifications, but a moderately priced option is the Audiomute blanket which costs around $80 ($2.22 per square foot).
A DIY alternative to soundproof blankets is moving blankets. This heavier blanket provides basic sound insulation and costs a little under $20 (about $2 per sq ft) on Amazon.
Even with the material of your door insulated against sound, sound waves can still pass through the gaps between the door and its frame. You could address this with weatherstripping.
Weatherstripping involves sealing gaps in doors and windows to prevent air from coming in. This is an effective sound insulation method because sound waves are transmitted through the air. If air is blocked out, then sounds can be effectively blocked out too. Some weatherstripping techniques are:
Door sweeps cost about $10 – $30 and are used to seal gaps between the bottom of the door and the threshold, blocking sound from passing through such spaces.
Foam tapes or door seal strips are placed along doors to seal gaps between the door and frame and block air out, effectively providing sound damping and insulation. They cost about $0.4 per foot.
Remember that weatherstripping is only effective secondary to other soundproofing measures.
Double or triple-pane windows naturally block out sound, but if you do not have these installed, here are cost-effective ways to block out or dampen the sound coming in through your windows:
Windows, like doors, have gaps that could let air in even when shut and thus allow for the transmission of sound. Weatherstripping is also useful in soundproofing windows. Use weatherstripping or acoustical caulk to fill in gaps and cracks around the windows. Green Glue acoustical caulk costs about $20 for a tube, and a tube will cover about 40 – 50 linear feet.
You could place an extra layer over your windows to block sound out, especially if you have single-pane windows. Good materials for these are mass-loaded vinyl, safety film, or glazing sheets.
Regular mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) is great at sound insulation but also prevents light from entering through the windows, which might make these unsuitable for residential purposes. It is often used in places like recording studios instead. Clear mass-loaded vinyl solves this problem, as it is transparent but still fulfills the purpose of sound insulation.
Regular MLV costs about $4.44 per sq ft, and clear MLV costs about $4.14 per sq ft.
Safety film provides sound insulation by reducing the ability of vibrations to pass through the glass panes, thus effectively damping sound waves. This safety film costs $1.88 per square foot, making it a more budget-friendly alternative to mass-loaded vinyl.
Glazing sheets are used as a cheaper, more resilient alternative to glass. They are lightweight and also have clearer optical properties than glass. Using these to add an extra layer to your windows is a great, easily reversible way to add mass and insulate sound without compromising visibility. These acrylic glazing sheets cost $8.99 per sq ft.
Adding mass to surfaces involves using dense or heavy materials to prevents sound waves from passing through. This could be achieved with:
This is a thin and flexible material, which makes it great for adding mass without adding bulk. Its sound blocking capacity is also fairly high, with an STC rating of 27. This product costs about $2 – $4 per square foot, depending on the size being purchased.
A big bookcase
Placing a big bookcase against the wall is a good option if you already have a bookcase in the room. The bookcase will dampen sound waves coming in through the walls, reducing the noise entering the room.
Heavy carpets or blankets
Hanging heavy carpets or blankets on the wall will add mass to the walls. Moving blankets are a good option for this purpose, and they cost about $3 per square foot or less. If these are not available, old blankets or comforters could fill in.
A good material for soundproofing panels is fiberglass. Fiberglass has an NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) rating of 0.9 – 0.95 out of 1. This unfaced fiberglass insulation costs $1.5 per square foot, and these fiberglass panels cost roughly $6 per square foot. The unfaced fiberglass insulation would obviously need to be covered with some dense fabric to avoid the small particles from flying around (and for aesthetics!) Having said that, you can also check out my top 6 recommended soundproofing panels for walls.
Also, DIY soundproofing panels can be easily made from mineral wool batts/fiberglass using the following guide:
- Four 1″x 4″ x 8′ wooden boards (about $2 – $3)
- Wood screws and/or wood glue
- Porous fabric (e.g burlap) (about $7 per yard)
- 2-inch mineral wool boards ($1 t0 $1.10 per square foot)
- Hardware for mounting (e.g Z-clips, impaling clips, wall brackets) (about $2).
- Build out the frame with the wood and the wood screws/glue according to your desired dimensions.
- Cut insulation to the dimensions of your frame.
- Place the mineral wool batt in the frame. The batt should be flush with the edges of the frame.
- Ensure that you are using breathable, porous fabric. You can hold the fabric up to a light or breathe through it to test its porosity.
- Wrap the fabric around the front and edges of the panel and pin it to the back surface of the frame. Ensure there are no wrinkles or bubbles.
- Mount the panel using hardware of your choice. Keep in mind that leaving an air gap behind the panel will improve its absorption.
Drywall adds mass to the wall and dampens sound. It has high thermal and acoustic damping capacity and is composed of gypsum and other additives (such as plywood, wood-pulp, and asbestos-cement boards). The method and type of installation determine how effective drywall will be at sound insulation.
Soundproof drywall has an STC rating of about 50-80, but it is four to five times more expensive than normal drywall. Traditional drywall sheets cost about $0.4 to $0.64 per square foot, while soundproofing drywall costs about $2 – $3 per square foot.
If the cost of soundproofing drywall exceeds your budget, you could go with adding a layer of 5/8″ traditional drywall over your existing wall instead. However, this might present problems with electrical outlets and door and window trim. A more effective method would be using multiple layers of drywall, alongside resilient channels and fiberglass batt insulation. Fiberglass batts cost about $.65 per square foot.
Decorating your walls with materials like tapestries or soundproof wallpaper will contribute to sound blocking. This method will provide sound insulation and beautify the room simultaneously.
Tapestries, because of their thickness, will add mass to the wall and dampen sound. The prices vary but are in the range of $1.67 – $2 per square foot.
Soundproof wallpaper only works secondary to other soundproofing measures, but it is a cheap way to add a layer of sound insulation to a room. This wallpaper costs roughly $2.27 per square foot.
Acoustic paints are also sound damping but are minimally effective. If you only need to block out faint background noise, then these are a good fit. A good application would also be applying a layer or two underneath your soundproof wallpaper to increase its effectiveness. They are applied in the same manner as normal paints. A gallon of AcoustiCoat costs $45.95 on Amazon and covers roughly 100 square feet, which is about $2.18 per square foot.
Covering the floors with wall-to-wall carpeting or area rugs helps with sound absorption. On average, carpets cost about $3 per square foot, plus installation.
Placing rug pads and rubber floor mats under noise-generating appliances will absorb the vibrations and dampen the sound. 2-pack thick rubber floor mats cost about $18 – $25 on Amazon.
Options for soundproofing ceilings are:
- Fiberglass batts (cost about $.65 per square feet)
- Acoustic drywall (costs $.22 per square feet)
- Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) sheets (costs $2 -$4 per square feet).
I won’t be going through those individually because they were explained already in this article. 🙂
6. Other free/low-cost soundproofing methods
White noise machines
White noise machines are sound-masking devices. They generate calming sounds like the sound of electric fans or wind. These sounds mask unwanted sound, thus reducing the perception of sound. Their price is in the region of $30 – $50. This can be of great help if you have trouble sleeping or concentrating due to noisy neighbors or roommates.
Placing heavy furniture in front of or against doors, walls, or windows helps with damping external sound. Heavy furniture absorbs sound waves, thus reducing the transmission of sound from one room to another. Furniture upholstered with plush materials such as suede or velvet, give better soundproofing results than furniture upholstered with leather.
These low-cost methods and DIY alternatives should help reduce the cost of your project while getting the job done. Ensure that you seek professional help or advice where necessary. Also ascertain that you are choosing the right materials for your use case and having them installed properly; because re-installation would, in many cases, significantly increase your expenses. Good luck!