If you live in an apartment, condo or old house with thin interior walls, noise from neighbours, traffic or your own activities can easily transmit from room to room.
This lack of noise insulation can disrupt sleep, concentration and privacy. Fortunately, there are affordable DIY solutions you can install to soundproof thin walls and significantly reduce noise.
This article provides step-by-step instructions for using key soundproofing materials properly to block the noise coming through interior walls and ceilings.
With simple upgrades using acoustic sound panels, heavy noise-blocking vinyl, specialized caulking and sound-absorbing paint, you can effectively soundproof thin walls and start living with less noise disturbance.
Why soundproof thin walls?
Thin walls are more common in apartments, condos, and other shared living spaces. They can also be found in older homes and offices.
Thin walls can be a problem because they can allow sound to travel easily from one room to another. This can be disruptive and annoying, and it can also make it difficult to have privacy.
Benefits of soundproofing thin walls
There are many benefits to soundproofing thin walls, including:
- Improved privacy: When your walls are soundproof, your neighbours won’t be able to overhear your conversations or activities. This can give you a greater sense of privacy and peace of mind.
- Reduced noise pollution: Soundproofing can help to reduce the amount of noise that enters your home from outside, such as traffic, construction, and neighbours. This can create a more peaceful and relaxing environment.
- Improved sleep quality: Noise can disrupt sleep, so soundproofing your bedroom can help you get a better night’s rest.
- Increased property value: Soundproofing can make your home more attractive to potential buyers and increase its resale value.
How To Soundproof Thin Walls – DIY Soundproofing Methods
Add Acoustic Foam Panels
Installing acoustic foam panels is a popular and easy way to absorb noise and reduce echo/reverberation on thin walls. Here is how to use them optimally:
- Cut panels to size using a large serrated knife or electric carving knife.
- Apply panels to wall/ceiling areas using construction adhesive. Can also use screws.
- For corners, cut panels to fit the angled shape. Leave no gaps.
- Space panels evenly for full coverage. Offset panel joints.
- Use 1-4 inch thick panels depending on budget and needs.
- Paint panels before installing if desired to match your wall colour.
- Focus on applying panels to problem sound areas first.
Pro Tip: Stagger the panel layout randomly rather than in orderly rows to improve sound dissipation.
Apply Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
Mass-loaded vinyl is a heavy, dense vinyl material that reflects noise when applied to walls and ceilings. Here’s how to work with MLV:
- Measure the area and cut MLV panels slightly larger than your wall dimensions.
- Use acoustic caulk to seal MLV seams and edges fully with no gaps.
- Apply MLV directly over wall studs and insulation using adhesive or screws.
- Use Green Glue between layers for extra damping if doubling up MLV layers.
- Finish MLV wall with drywall or furring strips. Seal edges again.
- For ceilings, apply MLV directly over joists then install drywall.
Pro Tip: Overlap MLV panel seams 4-6 inches and caulk overlaps to create an airtight noise seal.
apply Green Glue
Green Glue is a patented damping compound that converts sound energy into heat. Here is how to apply it:
- Use between drywall sheets or MLV layers to create a noise-dampening sandwich.
- Apply Green Glue adhesive evenly across the entire drywall or MLV surface using a caulking gun.
- Use screws to fasten layers together after allowing glue to set partially. Do not overtighten screws.
- Can also apply Green Glue to studs or joists before installing drywall for extra soundproofing.
Pro Tip: When using on ceilings, install crown molding around edges to help secure panels after Green Glue is applied.
Heavy soundproof curtains over windows can significantly reduce outside noise entering through glass. Here’s how to install them:
- Use a sturdy overlapping curtain rod or traverse rod to handle heavy curtains.
- Hang rod just above window trim for full coverage. Measure window height.
- Curtains should overlap at least 4-6 inches past window edges on all sides.
- Seal edges with velcro or overlapping blackout liners for light and noise blockage.
Pro Tip: Use soundproof window plugs inside window frames for added noise reduction if air gaps are present.
Applying layers of soundproofing paint adds texture that further absorbs noise and sound vibration. Here are application tips:
- Lightly sand walls first to improve paint adhesion if needed.
- Use a paint roller with a 1/2 or 3/4 inch nap for best texture application.
- Roll on two coats using overlapping ‘W’ strokes and allow to fully dry between coats.
- A paint sprayer can also be used but requires thinning paint to proper consistency first.
Pro Tip: Combine soundproofing paint with acoustic panels or MLV for added noise reduction on existing drywall surfaces.
Use Soundproof Drywall
Using special soundproof drywall containing noise-dampening properties boosts wall soundproofing. Here’s how to install it:
- Use in place of regular drywall for all interior walls/ceilings needing soundproofing.
- Cut boards to fit wall dimensions as normal. Stagger seams between layers.
- Double or triple up drywall layers for increased effectiveness.
- Apply Green Glue between drywall layers to dampen noise further.
- Seal all seams and edges with acoustic caulk for sound containment.
Pro Tip: Combining staggered stud walls with multiple soundproof drywall layers creates the ultimate noise barrier for thin interior walls.
How much does it cost to soundproof thin walls?
The cost of soundproofing thin walls will vary depending on the size of the area being soundproofed, the materials used, and the complexity of the job. For a DIY project, you can expect to spend around $1-$2 per square foot. For a professional job, you can expect to spend around $3-$5 per square foot.
Can I soundproof thin walls myself?
Yes, you can soundproof thin walls yourself. However, it is important to do your research and choose the right materials and methods for your needs. If you are not comfortable with DIY projects, it is best to hire a professional soundproofing contractor.
The most effective way to soundproof thin walls is to add mass to the walls. This can be done by adding a second layer of drywall, using mass-loaded vinyl (MLV), or building a soundproof room. However, these methods can be expensive and time-consuming.
If you are looking for a more affordable and less time-consuming option, you can try using acoustic foam panels, soundproofing curtains, or soundproofing paint.
These methods will not be as effective as adding mass to the walls, but they can still make a significant difference in reducing noise levels.
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