Are you getting a lot of unwanted noise coming from outside? Looking for a peaceful environment? Using the right but cheap ways to soundproofing walls will give you the results that you want.
For some people, any form of noise can be overwhelmingly irritating. I am one of them, and it drives me crazy.
If you are the kind of person that does not tolerate outside sounds and those from music systems, television, slamming doors, traffic and laundry, then I might be able to help you create a quiet and more tranquil indoor environment.
In also love some privacy, so soundproofing interior walls is a must. I do not wish to be heard by my neighbors when things get cozy. Or when I decide to exceed the permissible sound levels.
I took the necessary steps to soundproof my existing walls to help reduce potentially harmful outside noise.
There are eight steps that I think are by far the cheapest ways wall soundproofing.
The solutions are not perfect, but they are less expensive when faced with fines resulting from civil or criminal lawsuits and leaked information. Soundproofing existing walls cannot, therefore, be guaranteed by a single action. You will achieve best results if you combine all of the steps in your soundproofing project.
01. Blow-In Insulation Into Your Wall Cavity
Air pockets or cavity in your walls will allow sound transmission through. I tried wall insulation and found that creating a small penetration is way much cheaper than removing the wallcovering to insulate the wall cavity and decoupling the building structure.
I proceeded with locating the studs. You can use a tape measure to locate the studs if you know their spacing on-center (16 or 24 inches). I used a magnetic stud finder to locate the center of the stud and any horizontal blocks behind the final walling surface.
With the help of a drill and hole saw, I created a hole between each pair of studs, just at the top. If your existing wall has horizontal or diagonal blocks, you will have to make an additional penetration beneath the block.
I used a rented insulation blower to blow in the insulation material between the studs. I had two options for the insulation material, Fiberglass or Cellulose, and if I am not wrong, cellulose fiber is the cheapest in the list.
Some stores may not charge you for renting their blower if you happen to buy the insulation from them.
After filling the cavities, I patched the discs back to the holes I made earlier. If your existing walls were insulated before, you would have to vacuum the old compacted insulation before blowing in the new insulation.
Now I do not have to worry about trapped air in the cavities resonating; the blow-in insulation will easily absorb the sound.
02. Consider Hanging Soundproof Drywall on Your Existing Wall.
Depending on where you are from, you can call it drywall, wallboard or plasterboard. Since I care more about the aesthetics of my wall, I enjoyed the entire process of fitting the panels on my walls.
I decided to use drywall because it thickens and adds weight to the existing walls. The heavier the walls, the less it will vibrate.
I used two layers of 5/8″ sheetrock over the existing wall giving it a greater mass.
Make sure you buy extensions for your electrical outlet and light switch boxes and jambs because they will be short with the size of drywall you pick. As for me, they were 10/16 short.
First, I had to remove the baseboard fix it back after the installation; If you have chair rails, and crown moldings on your walls, then you will have to carefully remove them c and re-cut to match the new perimeter of the room, that’s if you do want to use them again.
Using my magnetic stud finder, I located the studs and made marks underneath the wall and ceiling. I applied construction adhesive with a caulk gun on the existing wall surface and installed the drywall sheets horizontally, starting from the top.
Once in place, I fastened the sheets into the studs with drywall screws. Don’t forget to countersink the screws. It is fairly straightforward to Installing the second layer of drywall: screwed it directly over the existing layer.
Next, I had to tape and mud the drywall before finishing off with a coat of paint of soundproofing effects.
03. Form A Constrained Layer Damping System
For additional soundproofing, add a layer of viscoelastic damping compound can in between the two drywall layers.
What it does is, it converts sound that passes through the upper drywall into heat, which is a positive thing due to its thermal effect.
The damping compound not only lessens the amount of sound that penetrates through your walls, but it also keeps your room warm.
04. Plug Every Possible Entry Point
Sound travels easily through the air, and it can also do so if there are openings on your wall. These opening can be in the form of crack or seams left after drywall installation.
After tapping the edges and seams when hanging the drywall, I used a joint compound to fill all screw holes, edges, and joints.
I later applied an acoustic sealant at the seams between adjacent drywall panels, and also joints between panels and the ceiling or floor.
Did you know that sound can travel through your electrical outlets and switch box on your existing wall? Where air can travel, certainly sound can also travel, so the penetrations on your wall ought to be addressed.
First, you can reduce the number of wall penetrations and then install acoustical putty pads.
Putty pads are stretchable and mouldable, you can install the pads by hand because they can easily conform along with the sides of the outlet box. It is as simple as pulling off the release liners or protective film from both sides of the potty pad and then rolling it around the electric box.
The sealing of the outlet box, adds mass to it which is recommendable in any soundproofing works.
05. Apply Specially Formulated Acoustical Paint
In pursuit of aesthetics and soundproofing, I decided to apply acoustical paint on my existing walls. I learned that it could reduce noise passing through it by up to 30 percent.
This addition happened to be a cheap solution and offers a great adventure when using it.
You will need a paint roller to apply the paint on the larger areas and angled paintbrushes to access the corners and edges. You will be surprised as to how fast the acoustical paint dries quickly, and this tempted me to added another coat; I hear it offers good soundproofing results.
When applying the paint make sure that the area is free from dirt, debris or dust. Also, ensure that you are in a well-ventilated area, you do not want to risk damaging your health; this also applies when using acoustic caulk or sealant.
06. Fix Some Sound-Absorbing Wall Coverings or Wallpapers
Using acoustic wallpapers or coverings will contribute to your soundproofing, although the effect is small, it is better than having none.
To me, it looks like the easiest way to soundproof an existing wall. There are very creative and amazing wallpaper hanging ideas on Pinterest.
The process of fixing wall coverings or wallpapers is as simple as applying an adhesive on the back and laying it on the wall.
The best way to do it, without forming bubbles or wrinkles, is by aligning the edge of the wallpaper with the ceiling and then make a smooth move over it as you go down.
To make sure that sound does not leak, I applied a spackling paste or compound along the joints. When the paste dried up, I added a coat of acoustical paint to finish it.
In case you have normal wallpapers, not designed for soundproofing, that should not worry you much. I was in the same situation and what I did was to combine mass loaded vinyl with my wallpaper.
This addition makes the wall covering thick and heavy giving it enough mass to block sound.
I have heard about guys using egg cartons as wall hanging. Well, it is true they also have an absorption quality for soundproofing. I would recommend egg cartons if you are a student of arts. However, I would rather you use heavy curtains if you are not into the idea of displaying egg cartons on your wall.
I have tried hanging floor-to-ceiling soundproof curtains in my bedroom, and I can confidently say that they work like a charm, and the room remains quiet, warm and colorful.
If you think hanging a curtain is weird, then you have not tried two layers of rags. Hanging carpet on the wall looks a bit odd but it does absorb some sound frequencies and bounce others, but you should be ready for regular vacuum cleaning.
07. Hang Some Acoustic Foam Panels
I have come to appreciate the decorative ability of acoustic panels, but in our case, we are killing two birds with one stone.
Most soundproofing foam panels in the market are affordable. They come in different colors, shapes, patterns, and sizes that can be organized on an existing wall to create a nice piece of artwork.
The acoustic foam panels look difficult to hang, but trust me; they are not. It took me a few minutes to cover my existing walls with the panels. The process of hanging Acoustic Foam Panels is quite simple- you need some clips or Velcro.
Check out my post about Best Acoustic Foam Panels (Soundproof foam) 2019
08. Invest in Interior Decorative Wall Hangings
If you are into interior décor and art, then wall hangings like paintings or photographs will add a little soundproof as it keeps the looks of the room more appealing.
You can attach a piece of sound-absorbing foam underneath your wall hangings to help dampen the sound, even though for a small amount. This way, the sound will bounce off the hard-flat surface of your wall hangings thus restricting the sound to your room.
I used a couple of them on my walls, and they look just perfectly well, though I am not a fan of decors, it will still do fine. You can choose to add layered, woven wall-hangings to your wall hangings.
Apart from paintings and photographs, you can push a bookcase against the existing wall and fill it with your reading material and unique collection.
In case you do not have enough books to fill up a bookcase, then a hanging or floating bookshelf will also do the magic.
The best part of the soundproofing project is that by the end you will have reduced sound passing through your existing walls by a significant amount. You will also be adding style to your walls and improving the comfort in the room.
It took me less than a week to make it happen, but you will have to part with your interior space to get the best results.
You can choose to follow all the eight steps as listed or pick some that may work for you. It took me less than a week to finish the project. My rooms are not as quiet as a grave, but the soundproofing is enough for me to enjoy a peaceful haven.
The rule of thumb of soundproofing existing walls using the cheapest ways is to increase mass, absorption, and damping. If I were building a new wall, decoupling would be most definitely be the first step.
I’d love to hear how these eight cheap ways have helped you soundproof existing walls and anything you have learned from the adventure. In the meantime, let me embrace this sacred moment.