Soundproofing is all about controlling the sound entering or exiting your room, you shouldn’t have to tear a wall down or damage it to do so.
The best way of soundproofing a room without damaging its walls is to combine sound dampening measures and adding mass to the walls. You can add mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) or MDF, extra layers of drywall, and spray Green Glue before installation on walls or ceilings.
Other than that, resilient channels or clips and acoustic foam installations are also helpful. And if you have the budget and ownership to do so, you can build a whole new wall in front of the existing one.
Some of these options will be more effective, some more expensive, and some simpler than the others. Let’s take a deeper look at the most practical ways of soundproofing a room without damaging its walls.
Soundproofing A Room Without Damaging Walls (Without Removing Drywall)
Here are a few options for soundproofing your already-built room.
Install Acoustic Panels And Acoustic Foam
Editor’s recommendation: When it comes to soundproofing quality, acoustic panels will always work better than foam. For someone who wants the best option available, I’d recommend the ones made by ATS. Check it out here.
Acoustic fabric panels are a great way to mitigate noise, echoes, and reverberations in a room. Acoustic fabric wall panels are preferred greatly over acoustic foam panels as they have a rather pleasing outlook in the room.
You can pick a color or art that goes with the theme of your room from a large variety available. They can easily be installed on the walls that bear most of the reflection points in the room without much long-lasting damage.
This is amongst the easiest ways of dampening sound in a room. However, as easy and cost-effective as it may seem, you need to use acoustic panels in combination with some other soundproofing elements. This is because acoustic panels will mainly improve the acoustics of a room, which entails reducing echoes and unwanted reflections from the air inside.
On the other hand, acoustic foam panels are comparatively better at nullifying sound waves in their path. They are used in recording studios worldwide to absorb unwanted sound from space and create a balance sonic environment.
You can choose from 1” to 4” of the thickness of these panels according to the space in your room. The foam at the core of these panels absorbs sound waves and converts their kinetic energy into heat energy. Meaning, you can also use foam panels as insulators.
Just like acoustic fabric panels, foam panels are also easy to apply to the walls. You can use Green Glue or any other adhesive to stick them to the wall.
Hang Soundproof Blankets
Editor’s recommendation: for soundproof blankets, the Audimute Sound Absorption Sheet is our evergreen recommendation. Learn more about it here on Amazon.
This is amongst the cheaper ways of soundproofing the room without any damage to its walls. Soundproofing blankets are made from thick and dense materials. They block the noise coming in from the outside as well as noise going out from inside.
To protect your walls from any permanent damage, you must consider buying soundproof blankets that come with grommets. Grommets are small eyelets that help you to hang the blankets on the wall.
A soundproof blanket will also act as an effective insulator in the room because of its thick and heavy material that won’t let air pass through. The thicker your blanket is, the better!
They are easy to hang, machine washable, and pretty useful. You can also choose the color, size, and design according to your room’s aesthetic.
Seal All Gaps and Cracks
Sound waves can manage to flow in through the smallest of openings in your walls, around the doors and windows. They can use any hole, crack or opening as an entry point and make a huge difference in your room’s environment.
By sealing these entryways, you can significantly control the amount of noise coming into the room from outside. That too, without damaging any wall.
Start by sealing the corners of windows and walls. You can use acoustic caulk in place of the standard latex one to make sure the corners of your room are not leaking any sound and maintaining a good sonic environment.
Take care of all the light switches and electrical outlets in your room. The most efficient and easiest way of soundproofing them is to use wall plate insulation gaskets. They are Styrofoam pieces that will fit perfectly around switches and outlets.
Once you seal all the other gaps and cracks in your wall, you will block large quantities of sound from bleeding in or out of your room. You will notice a major difference in your room’s environment.
Install Another Layer Of Drywall
As mass is one of the important principles of soundproofing if you install another layer of drywall to the existing wall of your room, it can easily double the mass and increase its sound-blocking ability.
Drywall or sheetrock comes in varying thicknesses. The thicker the drywall is, the more sound it will block. The ideal thickness is 5/8”. To enhance the soundproofing capabilities of the wall further, you can also incorporate another sound-absorbing element called the Green Glue.
You can add a layer of Green Glue between the drywall layers and this noise-proofing compound will work to reduce all kinds of noise transferring through the wall. Green Glue creates an additional dampening layer between the layers and dissipates vibrations effectively and quickly.
Make sure that you caulk all edges of the wall after you screw drywall onto the existing wall. Also, seal the outlets and switches as mentioned above.
Add Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass-loaded vinyl is a popular soundproofing material out there. It comes in the form of thin sleek-looking rolled sheets. It is infused with small metal particles for high density.
You can install MLV directly onto the wall with adhesive glue or, for best results, between two layers of drywall. MLV is excellent at dampening vibrations, it has a limp mass that can absorb and dissipate sound waves. Avoid nailing it to the wall as it can damage the wall.
You can cut and apply MLV around switches and outlets as well. It will effectively act as a barrier for sound waves trying to pass through open-air spaces. This will eliminate the need for outlet insulation gaskets as well.
If you’re aiming for a completely soundproof room, you can also install resilient clips and channels with the drywall/QuietRock. These would mount on top of the mass-loaded vinyl layer. MLV will add mass to your existing wall and ensure maximum transmission loss.
Build A New Wall
Perhaps the most effective way of soundproofing the room without any damage to existing walls is to build a room within a room, or a wall in front of the noisy wall of your room. This is of course effective only if you have the ownership to do so and the space for it.
The newly built wall will not be attached to the existing wall at any point, which means it will be completely decoupled. Decoupling walls will provide no point of transfer of noise from the existing wall to the new one. And since the wall cannot transfer sound, you will have a completely quiet room on the other side.
The new wall should only be attached to the ceiling and the floor of your room. You must add insulation to the new wall for the best results. Install MLV on the frame of the wall by nailing it to the studs. Cover fully from floor to the ceiling and make sure the MLV is not in contact with either.
After installing MLV you should fasten the resilient clips to the studs with its screws and attach resilient channels to the clips. After this, you can install your 5/8” drywall and seal all the corners and edges with acoustic caulk to make sure no sound slips in.
Add Blow-In Insulation
Blow-in insulation is a low-density, loose cellulose insulation material. Typically, it is recycled from newsprint and has an STC rating of 44. Both interior and exterior walls can be soundproofed with this material without damaging them.
Though effective, this option of soundproofing your room is quite difficult. You can add blow-in insulation to all kinds of walls after construction, and it will drastically increase their sound absorption abilities.
The cellulose structure traps tiny pockets of air inside it where the air that’s carrying sound waves then exhausts all its energy. This will nullify all sound before it reaches the other side of the wall. Unlike other options of soundproofing, you won’t have to worry about filling or covering all the nooks and crannies of your room.
Since it is blown in, it can easily reach all the points which are otherwise difficult to reach. It is cost-effective, eco-friendly, and a great way of blocking sound. You can choose from wet, dense, and loose pack options.
Other Cheap Ways To Soundproof Without Any Damage
There are some ways you can cheaply incorporate the three principles of soundproofing in your room; Mass, Absorption, and Decoupling.
You can re-align the furniture in your room in a way that most of it is covering the problem-causing wall or add cushions, throws, or blankets into your décor, making everything a little more fabric-y.
You can also cover hard exposed surfaces with acoustic fabric to make them more absorptive. Wall hangings with fabric covers and fronts will also make a huge difference.
You can also use soundproof paint or acoustic wallpaper on your walls. Both these products are loaded with mass and are great at keeping noise out.
Soundproofing Principles For Existing Walls
Soundproofing works on the principle of absorption of sound. You need to incorporate some fundamentals into your soundproofing projects, such as mass, decoupling, and absorption.
Sound travels from one place/object to another through a medium. The transit is in the form of vibrations. When a sound wave, made up of vibrations is traveling through air, solid or liquid, and hits a hard surface, they move that surface with the same vibrations to transfer sound.
Larger, heavier, and denser objects are harder to move from this vibration than smaller objects. Thus, if you increase the overall amount of mass or material on an object and increase its density, it will make it harder for the sound wave’s energy to pass through them.
Simply put, you add more solid, dense material between the source of sound and the space you want to soundproof to stop the transmission of sound. Sound waves will get lost into the tightly packed fibers of the mass you add and no sound can travel through.
As discussed, sound waves travel through surfaces by transferring vibrations. One of the best ways to reduce these vibrations is the decoupling of surfaces.
Vibrations pass through surfaces more easily when two surfaces are touching. If you eliminate these contact points between two surfaces, you reduce the amount of energy that passes through.
You can decouple two walls by adding rubber decouplers at places where they meet and block the amount of noise coming into the room.
Some materials are formulated in a way that they can negate and absorb energy produced by sound waves. Mostly, fiberglass insulation in houses acts as an absorber. They reduce the amount of sound transfer by absorbing sound waves during their motion.
Absorption, however, works best with airborne noise and higher frequencies of sound. Lower frequencies of sound contain more energy as compared to higher or mid-range ones. They need much more efficient absorptive material to kill the momentum of the moving wave.
By adding absorptive material to the existing wall of your room, you can drastically reduce the amount of noise that travels in. This will also improve the overall acoustics of your room as reflecting high frequencies of sound get absorbed.
We’ve covered multiple useful ways of blocking unwanted noise from creeping into your room without damaging its walls.
You can either invest in acoustic panels, soundproof blankets, MLV or layer it up with drywall and insulation. Or you can opt for cheaper alternatives like re-doing the furnishing and décor of your room.
The key is to incorporate easy-to-install and easy-to-remove products that will add mass or decouple the walls without any deterioration.
The best method, however, depends on your budget and noise level. One of the most favored is adding resilient channels and drywall on your existing walls. Eliminating all contact points will effectively cease the transmission of noise from outside the room to in it.
All of the methods discussed above require little to no technical experience, you can easily DIY them all.