Loud neighbors, busy streets, and untreated walls make a terrible combination.
Wall soundproofing is an option, but you may not be sure about how much it costs to soundproof a wall. So, this article is all about the cost breakdown for the same.
The cost of soundproofing an average-sized wall can go from $900 to $2000. This estimate is exclusive of the cost of installation as it varies with the kind of soundproofing you’re going for. Costs also vary depending on the quality of material, size of the wall, and your desired level of soundproofing.
It’s important to know here that soundproofing is entirely different from the acoustic treatment of a wall. Both treatments differ in their purpose as well as costs.
Soundproofing aims only at blocking the passage of sound waves through your walls, while acoustic treatment controls the reflection of sound within a room. Let’s explore what and how costly are the elements that you need for sound blocking.
Types of Soundproofing Treatments for Walls
There are tons of ways you can soundproof a wall. Almost all of these soundproofing systems can be classified into two main types:
First, the direct-to-wall soundproofing.
Second, the independent stud clip/wall soundproofing.
Direct to Wall Soundproofing System
Direct to wall type of soundproofing system works to block airborne noise by isolating the walls completely.
This system effectively blocks all the “everyday” noises, like the noise from people talking in the other room, TV, radio, dogs barking in the street, music from neighbors, etc.
Direct to the wall soundproofing system uses a combination of high mass materials to block off all (low, mid, and high) frequencies of sound. These high-mass materials need a layer of dampening substance to numb down the vibrations from traveling through them.
For instance, two gypsum boards fixed directly to the wall will be quite insignificant at noise reduction, whereas using a dampener or acoustic soundproofing foam between the boards will show improvements. However, this system won’t be much effective to mask low frequencies of sound or impact noise.
Independent Stud Wall Soundproofing System
This system has proven to be more effective than direct wall soundproofing. Stud wall system performs better with loud and extreme levels of noise.
This system is great if you desire complete blockage of sound due to its decoupled construction from the existing wall. The space between the existing and the independent wall (around 120mm to 150mm) doesn’t let vibrations pass into the soundproof structure.
They are also covered with resilient bars that further add to the sound-blocking capability of the wall. Independent stud wall system is recommended for recording studios, home theatres, or music studios where noise levels are high.
How Much Does It Cost to Soundproof a Wall? Cost Breakdown
Undoubtedly, walls are one of the hardest parts of the room to soundproof. There are several ways to achieve your desired level of soundproofing, and with every different material, product, and technique the total cost of your project changes.
Materials Used for Soundproofing a Wall
Here comes the question of choice, most people make the choice of the soundproofing material or product based on the final aesthetics of their room. After all, walls do cover most of your room, you always have to consider the aesthetics and décor to some extent.
Some of the most effective materials for walls are:
- Mineral wool batts
- Mass loaded vinyl
- Acoustic panels
- Textured panels/paint
Let’s take a look at the cost of each of these soundproofing wall solutions. This will help you get a clearer picture of the budget involved in soundproofing walls. Starting with:
Mineral Wool Batts
You may have heard about mineral wool batts by the name of Rockwool batts. This material offers the best sound-blocking quality in abundance i.e., density and mass.
The thicker and denser a Rockwool or Mineral wool batt is, the better it will be at combating noise.
However, you can use it only during construction. They are installed between joists to add more mass to the wall. This additional mass will absorb and dissipate sound waves before they reach the other end of the wall. They reduce the transmission of structure-borne noise in the steel stud interior of the wall.
You may try and install it post-construction as well, but it will drastically increase your costs and take up a lot of your room space.
Mineral wool batts also act as an extra insulation layer against heat and cold and their fire-resistant properties make them more reliable.
Mineral wool batt soundproofing is about 10% more expensive than other forms of insulation. It costs about $1 to $1.70 per square foot for a 2 x 6 wall. This goes somewhere around $625 for a 360 square foot area of a room.
Mass-loaded vinyl is perhaps the most favored and popular product for soundproofing as it is capable of blocking both impact as well as airborne noise.
It can absorb any frequency of sound, gives a finished look even if left uncovered, and is super affordable.
This product is made of high-density organic salts, sand, and tiny particles of metal. Due to this composition, it can combat both types of noise.
The density works against impact noise and the absorptive nature of the vinyl reduces reverberation and echo in the walls.
The best part? You can use mass-loaded vinyl on as well as inside the wall. They don’t take much space and keep the walls looking presentable even if applied post-construction. The average cost of MLV soundproofing is in the range of $100-$200 for 50 square feet.
Acoustic panels are usually found in audio recording studios more than in domestic spaces.
There are two types of acoustic panels available – Fiberglass panels and Foam panels.
Fiberglass Panels can handle very high levels of sound. They are made from a strong polyester resin that’s reinforced with fiberglass to make a flexible plastic panel. You can use these soundproof wall panels to treat the walls as well as the ceilings. You can directly install these panels over drywall, concrete block, wood, or any other such surface.
They are pretty expensive as compared to foam panels, almost three times their cost. A pack of 12 panels in size 1” x 12” x 12” costs roughly somewhere around $70. (We recommend checking out this one on Amazon.)
Foam Panels are popular in the music industry for their impeccable ability to control echoes and reverberations in a room. They work to absorb unwanted sound waves that randomly bounce around the walls and enhance the quality of speech and sound in a room.
They are pretty cheap considering the quality of soundproofing they offer. You can get a 12-panel pack in a 1” x 12” x 12” size for under $30. (Here’s our recommendation on Amazon.)
Drywall, again, is a great product for soundproofing walls. In fact, the perfect one if you are using it during construction.
There are two kinds of drywall – Regular drywall and Soundproof drywall.
Regular Drywall is an umbrella term that covers sheetrock, gypsum board, buster board, and plasterboard. Regular drywall is made of gypsum or calcium sulfate dihydrate which is pressed between two thick sheets of paper.
This type acts as an additional layer that defends and restricts the transmission of sound waves from one surface to the other by absorbing them midway.
The thicker your drywall layer is, the better it will be at dampening noise.
On average, a regular drywall for a 12 x12 square feet wall will cost around $600.
Soundproofing Drywall, just like a regular drywall, works to combat unwanted noise but at a much higher level.
Soundproofing drywall comes with an inner layer of viscoelastic, gypsum, or ceramics that raise their STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating.
Soundproofing drywall outperforms regular drywall by about 5 STC points. This type is effective for soundproofing against all frequencies and types of sound.
This product is best for structural soundproofing in areas or corners where other soundproofing techniques fail to reach as it’s easy to cut and install.
They cost almost twice a regular drywall. A 12 x 12 square feet room will require soundproofing drywall worth $1000-$1200.
Textured Wall Panels/Paint
Textured wall panels are available in a vast variety of patterns and colors. You can pick a design that goes with the aesthetic and décor of your room.
Aside from the visual appeal, textured wall panels effectively address unwanted sound reflections in a room. The “texture” includes small mounts and bumps that create a space for energetic sound waves to dissipate all their energy.
They can significantly reduce noise at a mere cost of $275/two 24” x 48” panels.
Textured Wall Paint is a cheaper alternative to acoustic panels. Obviously, it is not as effective as an acoustic panel but still manages to keep out a reasonable amount of noise.
These paints can be used on any surface, not just the walls, and are most effective at blocking out mid-level frequencies of sound. The paint usually consists of a resilient base with a mass-building finish coat. It costs $2.25-$3.5 per square foot.
Considerations Before Estimating Cost of Soundproofing a Room
There are certain things that you must consider in order to make the most accurate estimate of the cost for soundproofing a wall. You can answer some key questions that’ll help you get there.
What Type of Noise Are You Dealing with?
There are two types of noise. One, airborne noise, and the other, impact noise.
Airborne noise is the noise that uses air as its medium to travel from one place to the other. Noise from the street, children playing in the lobby, neighbors conversing, the thundering clouds and strong winds, etc., are all airborne.
Impact noise is the transmission of noise from one place to the other through physical impact on solid materials. Examples include noise from doors opening and closing, footfall, thumps, or movement of furniture. It is also known as structure-borne noise as vibrations from the sound waves travel through the whole structure of the building.
Noise entering through the walls of your room could be airborne or impact noise or a combination of both. Each type of noise requires exclusive treatment.
Thus, you need to know what kind of noise you’re dealing with. This will help you devise the correct soundproofing system for your wall.
How Loud is It?
You must consider the level of noise that is heard through a wall before spending too much or too little on the project.
Is the noise you hear is a muffled whisper?
Or is it loud enough for you to figure out what your neighbor’s watching on the TV?
Can you hear clear conversations?
The severity of sound you hear is directly related to the amount of soundproofing your wall requires. The louder the noise is, the denser the soundproofing material needs to be.
What Material is Used to Construct The Wall?
Different construction materials possess different levels of sound-blocking qualities. If you know what kind of materials have been used during the wall’s construction, you can determine the correct level of soundproofing that’s needed.
Walls are made of solid bricks, lightweight or block timber stud, cement, masonry, or rammed earth. Knowing which of these is used will give you an idea of how well your current walls are doing and how much more soundproofing they need.
Number of Openings in the Wall
More open spaces in the wall mean more openings to invite noise inside the room. Openings could be for air vents, fixtures, cables, or chimneys/alcoves.
Air vents can be noisy on their own, they need to be soundproofed along with the walls as well. Moreover, chimney breasts let in a lot less noise inside than alcoves; which can easily be attributed to the higher mass and architecture of chimney breasts.
Thus, every opening in the wall will let a different amount of noise in or out of the room. To make a better decision, also take this factor into consideration.
Most likely, the overall cost of soundproofing a wall will be somewhere around $1000-$2500.
Prices vary with the technique, quality, quantity of soundproofing elements used. Similarly, costs also increase or decrease according to the area you need to soundproof and also on the labor cost for installation.
Not to mention, it’s always worth consulting an expert to discuss what’s best for your walls and estimate your soundproofing costs accordingly.