COMMON SOUNDPROOFING MYTHS
Save time by avoiding these common soundproofing errors!
As a service to those doing their own analysis, noise control planning and sound proofing, we’ve prepared this list of Don’t. We can’t explore every aspect of doing a good soundproofing job, but avoiding certain materials and processes can save you lots of time and money. Don’t waste time and money on ineffectiveness. If you have lots of time and wish to experiment with different techniques and unknown materials, please do so! (and let us know how it comes out!). Many people have made the errors mentioned here and some have been kind enough to pass them on to us for inclusion. Please feel free to contribute!
If you have anything but a simple problem and the solution isn’t obvious, get help! No need to figure this out all by yourself, it’s too easy to make expensive mistakes. There ARE many experts doing work in this field. Most states require them to be licensed. You can find help in the local yellow pages under “Acoustics” or check with your local building code department or state contractors license board. For a contractor to work under your direction, locate one using the contractor locater service, such as “Improvenet.com“, listed at the bottom of our pages. At least read everything on this site and better, get the EPA manual we sell here.Unless you have time and money to waste: DON’T experiment! We’ll help you- call us! Or we’ll even call you! (See the sidebar).
Read up on other’s experiences: see the sidebar for the “FORUM”. Maybe your situation has been dealt with there!
Some materials to avoid are:
- common “Eggcrate” cardboard egg holders. You have no idea the number of people who tell us their trials and tribulations to find quantities of it, buy it and install it only to find it does little or no soundproofing! This appears to be because it is frequency “holy”. That is, it has characteristics where sound at certain frequencies passes freely through it! Some have told us that some sound transmissions seems to be somewhat enhanced!
- foam rubber of the common sort, such as that of which rubber mattresses are made. While this has some possibilities, other disadvantages don’t, (such as it’s durability:), the cost isn’t all that much different than “made for soundproofing” products when so much more of it is needed to be the equivalent of professional materials. Lastly, and maybe most important is that it will burn like crazy!
- rubber floor mat. One would think a rubber material would be a good soundproofer and perhaps it is if properly used, but simply laying it on the floor will do little against noise coming in (or going out). Rubber and Neoprene are in the same class here.
- old mattresses nailed to the walls. This technique has it’s followers, but unless butted well together with no spaces, caulked edges, and only if you are willing to put up with the possible odor, mold and moisture they have or can accumulate, not to mention unwanted rodent critter type “guests” that may take up residence – are they a possibility.
- dark paint? Yes, a lady called to check with us if what she was told was true: that painting her hallway with a dark color would perform a soundproofing job. She had been assured it would.
- cellulose- the kind that they “pump” into walls. Some people make a living doing this- how? While it’s not useless, it’s not very effective. When you pay big money to have this done, you would want to see some serious results, not have someone say “Well, I THINK I can tell some difference!” (Spray-on wet cellulose over opened walls may be a different matter).
- carpet - Old or New. Doesn’t make much difference, it will all deteriorate and begin to stink. The newer will take longer, that’s all. Same problems as with the Mattress as explained above. Carpet WILL increase the acoustic absorbency of a room, but do little in the way of soundproofing. (Blocking sound coming through).
- common fiberglass insulation: makes a great thermal insulator, but not a very good acoustical insulator. (Really!) Contrary to the hyped Lab Reports of the drywall manufacturers!
- plywood panels/ particle board are not good for soundproofing as wood transfers sound very well.
- hay bales Yes, these make fine soundproofing units, but are rather temporary, subject to fire, critters and vandalism and obviously for outdoor use. Plastic covering can make them more hygienic.
- Now, our favorite myth- wires in the ceiling!? Check this out!
Sound control is sometimes not easy to understand. Some things that make logical, perfectly good sense don’t seem to work well in practice. Laboratory results don’t always prove out in the field. Field techniques can’t always be duplicated in the lab. One area of misunderstanding is wall space inside a wall. Dead air space works for you, better than filling it up with something like styrofoam, etc.! If you do, sometimes packing stuff in can make the sound transfer worse! A larger air space is superior to several smaller ones. This means a wall with 6″ studs creating a 6″ air space is superior to a wall with 4″ studs and a extra layer of drywall with 1″ air spacing on each side.
Don’t blindly accept the experiences of others who have done soundproofing before, there may be newer materials and techniques that cost less and provide more newly available.
There are standard ways of dealing with walls, floors and ceiling, but each case is different. Because of this, different material combinations are required. Run your plan by us, we’ll point out if it can be improved. Use the email link below.