How To Soundproof Thin Apartment Walls


Are you constantly worrying about noise intrusions coming into your apartment? Have these intrusions reduced your productivity and quality of life? Not to worry, you can prevent noise pollution by soundproofing your apartment.

This article will explain the concept of soundproofing, how to know the difference between soundproofing and sound absorption (important when buying materials for this project), soundproofing materials, and the different ways you can soundproof thin apartment walls. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Soundproofing Versus Sound Absorption

Two words that are usually mistaken for each other are soundproofing and sound absorption. Soundproofing simply means blocking out or decreasing to the barest minimum of sound waves traveling through different places. In contrast, sound absorption refers to using materials to scatter or absorb sound waves, limiting the space’s transference.

Therefore, soundproofing does not allow sound to go outside or come into a particular area. The room sort of holds the sounds produced; they do not escape. In comparison, sound absorption helps to control the reflection of sounds (echo), thereby improving their quality.

So if you’re looking for ways to block noise from other people’s apartments into yours or to block sounds such as noise from musical instruments from going out, then what you need is soundproofing.

Considerations For Your Project

In soundproofing a wall, you need to consider some critical questions such as:

  • What is the purpose of the room?
  • Do you want to block or eliminate sound, or do you want to control the echo?
  • What kind of noises do you want to block?
  • What is your budget?
  • Is it an old wall or a new one?

Answering these questions will help determine the steps you should take next and what is the best soundproofing solution for your thin wall.

Methods of Soundproofing

Since sound waves can travel through the air and/or cause vibration upon impacting the walls, we will be looking at different noise reduction or elimination techniques.

However, the medium we are focusing on in this article is sound traveling through a thin wall, which is a solid medium. Any of the soundproofing materials usually adopt one or more of these techniques:

1.     Absorption

This method does not refer to the use of absorbing materials on surfaces, rather it relates to the installation of insulating materials between walls to reduce vibration.

2.     Addition of Mass

This method describes the use of dense materials containing tightly packed molecules to block the passage of soundwaves. The usual practice is to use densely packed materials such as blankets, plywood, concrete, etc.

3.     Decoupling

This method refers to the erection of walls so that they are independent of each other. The sides of the walls do not touch; this helps to minimize the transfer of sound from one wall to the other. The use of Resilient Sound Isolation Clip (RSIC) or Whisper Clip helps to achieve this technique. The decoupling process is also referred to as the “room in a room” method.

4.     Dampening

This method uses solid, non-vibrating components inside the wall structures, such as constructing a concrete wall, to eliminate the free passage of soundwaves.

Soundproofing Materials and How To Install Them on Walls

Before we talk about different soundproofing materials and how to install them, first, we will address some of the ways by which you can soundproof your walls.

Soundproofing materials are usually built inside the wall as part of the construction materials. Some help to block holes inside a wall, while others can be hanged over walls.

You can choose to either soundproof your walls from the inside or soundproof your walls by installing your preferred soundproofing material directly on your wall surface.

How To Soundproof Your Walls From The Inside

The best soundproofing materials (with aff links to Amazon) to use are:

1. Rockwool Batts

The Rockwool Batt is an excellent option for soundproofing partition walls during the construction process. It makes use of the absorption and dampening techniques to block out sounds. It is also fire-resistant, which makes it an excellent soundproofing option.

How to Install Rockwool Batts:

  • Wall frames are pre-installed according to the width of the batt to be used.
  • The batts are cut in pieces and fixed into each panel, making sure to make allowance for spaces occupied by pipes fixed on the wall and wires and sockets.
  • The batts should be fixed snugly such that there is no space in between.
  • After installation, the wall can be finished off as desired.

2. Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)

MLV is a material developed solely for blocking out sound. It is also referred to as a Limp Mass Barrier. It is made up of two components:

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and
  • Barium Sulphate or Calcium Carbonate

The PVC gives MLV its bending properties, while the dense particles of the Barium sulfate or the calcium carbonate are responsible for the soundproofing effects. MLV is a preferred option for soundproofing mainly because of its versatility. The vinyl component is flexible which makes it easy to bend, fold where necessary, and use in any corner where needed, unlike the other soundproofing options available.

MLV is also a safe material because the Barium sulfate used is in its dormant or inactive state.

MLV usually comes in two colors; grey and black but if you need to apply paint on it, you can certainly do that with the MLV.

Another advantage of MLV is that it has a high Standard Transmission Class (STC) score. However, a significant disadvantage to being considered is its cost. MLV applies the absorption and dampening techniques for effective soundproofing.

How to Install MLV:

  • Measure the perimeter of the wall and cut the MLV into sizes.
  • Install furring strips to raise the surface level of the existing wall and act as frames.
  • Attach the mass-loaded vinyl on the strips (you will need help in doing this) and secure the strips with screws or staples.
  • Continue this until the entire wall is covered.
  • Cover with another drywall and finish the wall as desired.

3. Green Glue

This is a viscoelastic material used as an adhesive or a sealant to close up gaps and joints created by joining two walls or the ceiling’s intersection with a wall. It is also added around wall sockets to block out any opening. Green glue dries out fast, and paints can be applied over it. It has excellent soundproofing property alongside its adhesive property.

How to Use Green Glue:

  • Clean the surface to be sealed.
  • Attach the tube holding the glue content onto the caulk gun.
  • Use the gun to apply the glue to the surface where it’s needed.

How To Soundproof Your Wall By Installing Materials On The Surface

Some of the soundproofing materials to use are;

1. Thick and Heavy Soundproof Blankets

This method uses the blankets’ density property to act as a soundproofing material.

How to Hang Heavy Blankets:

These heavy-duty blankets are usually pinned to the pre-installed wall frames from top to bottom. This method is more like a temporary fix to the soundproofing problem because it may not add to the wall’s aesthetics. It also makes the room hotter.

2. Fiberglass Panels

A fiberglass panel is a type of plastic that has been reinforced with glass fibers. Fiberglass can be made into sheets or fabrics and can be used as components of other building materials. For example, fiberglass panels are often used in paperless drywall.

Fiberglass products such as the Blue fiberglass acoustic Home Studio Deco have been manufactured to be used for soundproofing and add to the aesthetics of the wall it is attached to.

Soundproofing Thin Walls By Drywalling

Having discussed the techniques and materials used for soundproofing, it’s also important that we address drywalling. Drywalling is the term used to describe the process of installing drywall on a structure. Drywall, also called sheetrock or gypsum board, is a rectangular piece made of gypsum used majorly in interior walls and ceiling constructions.

Drywall is often used for the interior of most walls in offices, partitioned rooms, shops, etc. Drywalls can serve as coverings for insulated walls. All drywalls come in a standard width of 48 inches, while the length and thickness vary.

Types of Drywalls

Different drywall types are dependent on the additives added to the gypsum and where the drywall will be installed. Some examples of the different types available are;

1. The Basic or Regular drywall

This is the primary type containing only gypsum and no other form of additives.

2. Greenboard drywall

This is a moisture-resistant type of drywall. This drywall type cannot be used in places where water will touch it because it is not waterproof.

3. Soundproof drywall

This drywall type is heavier and thicker than the regular one due to its composition of more wood fibers, gypsum, and polymer. This makeup helps this drywall to have a high STC score and also its dampening effect.

4. Type-X drywall

This is fire-resistant drywall used mainly in building apartments, garages, etc. It is thicker than the regular one and infused with some special fibers that are fire-resistant.

5. Purple drywall

This is a type of mold and moisture-resistant drywall used in places with a higher moisture content level.

6. Paperless drywall

This is a type of drywall that is different from the regular one. It is not covered in paper as the standard drywall is but covered with fiberglass. This, therefore, makes it suitable for places like the bathroom.

Tools used for drywall installations

  • Screw gun
  • Drywall screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Utility knife
  • Green Glue
  • Caulk gun
  • Drywall Tapes
  • Drywall compound
  • Grit sandpaper

How To Install Drywall

  1. Measure the perimeter of the wall.
  2. Cut the sheets into the required size with a utility knife.
  3. Turn the drywall’s backside to face you and apply green glue with a caulk gun in a zigzag manner.
  4. Lift the drywall and screw in place with the drywall screws at about 12 inches spacing.
  5. Install the remaining sheets as before.
  6. Fill the seam with drywall compound and cover with drywall tape.
  7. Sandpaper the surface until it’s smooth with the other surfaces and finish off the wall as desired.

To Conclude

From our discussions so far, it is evident that soundproofing a thin wall is doable. Of course, which method and materials you will need to use depends on the scale on which you want it done and the amount of noise you’re dealing with. Looking forward to reading about your soundproofing projects in the comment section below. Good luck and talk to you soon!

Luka Baron

Soundproof expert and a staunch opponent of noise. This website is a free source of information on how to 'keep it down a notch'. I update the content regularly to keep up with advancements in the soundproofing industry.

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