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Soundproofing: How to Successfully Block Noise at Home

3-Minute Read
Published on January 17, 2013

I’ve finally found a rental I, wait for it…really enjoy living in. Hardwood floors, a relatively new kitchen and a full backyard are just a few details that make this house a significant improvement from my previous missteps as a renter. As great as this place is, it still suffers the same problem that all of my past rentals had: the walls don’t block even the faintest of sounds.

Soundproofing is an often overlooked home improvement for many people simply because it can easily be trumped by issues like a toilet that won’t flush or a house that can’t keep heat in. Even when these issues aren’t a factor, the best sound blocking measures are costly and are usually done when a house is being constructed. If you’re a renter like me though, don’t think your only option of sound proofing is becoming that creepy man down the block with egg crates taped to his walls.

What Not to Do When Soundproofing

Just so you don’t deplete your funds right out the gate it’s important to understand the distinction between sound dampening and soundproofing or blocking.  Soundproofing and blocking products are used to eliminate outside noises, while sound dampening products are used in recording studios and home theaters to dull echoes that bounce around a room to preserve a crisper sound. That being said, sound dampening foams and products are a waste of money if the goal is to muffle sound.

There are plenty of ways one can go about soundproofing a house but follow this simple rule of thumb: if it looks cheap, it probably won’t work. As this post from Ezinearticle.com explains, the first things you would think to soundproof your house are often the worst things to use. Carpet, mattresses and egg crates can absorb sound but will not do a proper job of blocking out sound altogether. Plus, it’s hard to convince a date arriving at your house that you’re not a weirdo with mattresses lining your walls.

Where to Soundproof in the House

Many new homeowners and renters can’t afford to soundproof an entire wall, which is usually the most space efficient way to stop noise, so focus on tinier areas that are just as guilty.  Imagine sound entering your house much like cold breezes do in the winter—most of the time cold seeps in from windows and doors.  Sound works in the same way, so if you try soundproofing your door with the three products recommended here you’ve taken a leap in blocking sound from your house as cheap as $30 per door.

What Materials Should I Use to Soundproof My House?

If walls are the perpetrators of your sound problems, it can be a bit trickier. There are a number of products like mass loaded vinyl or spray-on cellulose that can be put in between the drywall, but unless your house is under construction or you can afford to tear down your walls to put this stuff in it’s not a viable option.

Those that have a slightly larger budget and are somewhat construction savvy should consider using Green Glue, a “noiseproofing compound” that is applied out of a caulk gun. As demonstrated here in a pretty fun Jackson Pollock looking fashion, you just shoot a bunch of the green glue on a piece of drywall and drill it right onto an existing piece of drywall. The more weight you can add to your walls the more sound will be muffled before it reaches your humble home, and nothing says “more weight” than a drywall Oreo with green glue as the icing.

Cost effective soundproofing is easier than most home improvement projects, but it’s still a significant alteration to your house so if you’re not hiring a professional to do the job for you, it’s important to research, research, and research what you’ll be adjusting in your house. It’s easy to understand the ambition behind soundproofing, but not as easy to explain to your friends why there’s an old, stained blanket covering a massive hole in your drywall.


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Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.