Soundproofing walls is essential to create a peaceful and quiet environment, whether you live in a bustling city or want to enjoy some tranquility at home.
While traditional methods involve removing drywall, this extensive guide will explore alternative techniques that allow you to soundproof your walls without the need for major renovations.
As I’ve always stated, there are two types of sounds we always aim to block in any soundproofing project.
There are airborne and impact sounds.
Impact sounds travel through solids while airborne through the air (Source)
Structure-borne noise (impact noise) is transmitted in the form of vibration. For example, neighbors’ stomping/ footfalls or bass vibrations fall in this case.
On the other hand, airborne noise travels through air- for example, the noise coming from neighbors’ yards is airborne.
Now that you’re familiar with the two main types of sound let’s have a look at how soundproofing walls without removing drywall works.
1. Talk to Your Neighbors
I’m guessing you’ve probably tried this method and failed.
However, if you haven’t, why not first have a chat with them?
Your neighbors could be considerate people, and you’ll be surprised they’re not aware they’re being noisy.
If this method fails, you have two options: annoy them (here’s my guide on how to annoy noisy neighbors) or soundproof your house.
2. Seal all the gaps and cracks
The most important step would be to seal all the cracks and gaps on the existing walls.
Sealing these gaps and cracks will help prevent airborne sounds from traveling across the walls.
The best approach to sealing is using a product known as green glue soundproofing sealant.
This product is specifically designed for soundproofing against both airborne and impact noise.
It simply converts sound energy into heat energy- the heat generated in this case is negligible.
If you can’t find green glue in local stores or online stores, why not try out some of my most recommended Green Glue Alternatives?
3. Installing Acoustic Foam Panels
Acoustic foam panels are my favorite when it comes to soundproofing against airborne and impact noises.
They help in soundproofing and help in absorbing echoes and reverberations in a room, resulting in high clear audios from your stereo.
For these reasons, you will find acoustic foam panels in recording studios, drum halls, cinema halls, theaters, and nightclubs.
Acoustic foam panels come in different colors and thicknesses ranging from 1″ to 4″.
If you’re dealing with the two types of noises mentioned above, I’d recommend you pick the thickest one for maximum effectiveness.
They are easy to install even though they require precise installation for the best results.
I have written a guide on installing acoustic foam panels without damaging walls. Check it out.
4. Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass-loaded vinyl is a flexible, affordable, and effective soundproofing product.
Like acoustic foam panels discussed above, this product is great for use in movie theaters, studio projects, and residential applications.
Also known as Limp Mass Barrier, this product comprises of two main ingredients, which include:
Vinyl gives the product its flexibility; Limpness, a high mass element that gives the product soundproofing characteristics.
It’s a nontoxic material and often used in soundproofing projects where a layer of drywall is added.
Hang it over your existing layer of drywall to help in sound absorption.
Unlike acoustic foam, MLV comes in gray or black color only.
However, you can change the color- simply buy a latex paint of your desired color, paint, and voila!
If mass-loaded vinyl isn’t your thing or isn’t available in your country, why not check out my article on some great mass-loaded vinyl alternatives on the market today?
5. Soundproofing Curtains
Soundproofing curtains are not your typical curtains.
They are made using thick and dense material, hence reducing the amount of noise that comes into your house.
Additionally, these curtains are also known as blackout curtains as they completely block out ultraviolet sun rays.
However, it’s important to note that these curtains won’t magically make sounds disappear.
These curtains absorb significant amounts of incoming outside noise, reducing the amount of noise that makes it into your house.
Curtains are highly effective in reducing high-frequency noise and not low-frequency sounds like a bass.
You can expect up to 75% airborne sound absorption from the noise reduction curtains.
6. Rearranging Furniture
One of the cheapest and yet effective soundproofing walls without removing drywall involves rearranging the furniture in your house.
The rule is simple.
First, inspect the source where the noise is coming through.
Secondly, move your heavy furniture like bookshelves or portable closets next to the wall.
You can stack up the bookshelves with books or the closets with clothes to ensure that there’s more mass which equals to better sound reduction.
This method is highly effective in dealing with both airborne and impact noises.
Rearranging the furniture is also another method of soundproofing a house with household items.
7. Acoustical Wallpaper
You’ve probably heard of wallpapers but never heard about soundproofing wallpapers.
Well, acoustical wallpapers help in absorbing echoes and reverberations in a room.
They also help in reducing high-frequency sound but least reliable when it comes to impact sounds.
Acoustic wallpapers are made from acoustic materials and have multiple layers that help achieve maximum sound reduction.
Use Acoustical Sealant
Soundproofing a wall with acoustic sealant can be an effective method to reduce noise transmission. Acoustic sealants are designed to fill gaps, cracks, and seams in walls, ceilings, and floors, thereby minimizing the passage of sound waves. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to soundproof a wall using acoustic sealant:
- Assess the wall: Start by examining the wall to identify any cracks, gaps, or holes that might allow sound to pass through. Look for areas around windows, electrical outlets, baseboards, and any other potential entry points for sound.
- Prepare the surface: Clean the wall surface to ensure it is free from dust, debris, and loose particles. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the area and allow it to dry completely before applying the sealant.
- Select the acoustic sealant: Choose a high-quality acoustic sealant specifically designed for soundproofing purposes. Look for products with good noise reduction capabilities and high acoustical ratings.
- Apply the sealant: Load the acoustic sealant into a caulking gun. Starting from the bottom of the wall, carefully apply a continuous bead of sealant along the gaps, cracks, and seams you identified earlier. Ensure thorough coverage and try to achieve a consistent application.
- Smooth the sealant: After applying the sealant, use a caulking tool or your finger to smooth the sealant bead. This helps to ensure proper adhesion and a neat appearance. Wipe away any excess sealant with a damp cloth.
- Let it cure: Allow the sealant to cure as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Curing times may vary, but it typically takes a few hours to a day for the sealant to fully set. Avoid touching or disturbing the sealed areas during this time.
- Repeat if necessary: If you still notice sound leakage after the first application, you may need to repeat the process or consider using additional soundproofing methods in combination with the acoustic sealant. This could include adding layers of mass-loaded vinyl, installing acoustic panels, or using soundproofing insulation.
On Soundproofing Walls Without Removing Drywall
Soundproofing your walls without removing the drywall is a practical and cost-effective solution for achieving a quieter living space.
By employing various techniques such as decoupling, adding mass, damping, and absorption, combined with the right materials, you can significantly reduce noise transmission.
Remember to follow the step-by-step process, use high-quality soundproofing products, and implement additional tips for enhanced results. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a peaceful and soundproof home environment.
Hi, my name is Todd R. Bressler and I am the founder of this soundproofing blog. I’m a DIY enthusiast from Cincinnati, the city that just beat New York for the City That Never Sleeps Award in 2020. (Original) I have been in the DIY soundproofing industry for close to 5 years, running a YouTube channel and a Podcast show every Saturday. I started Crafty Soundproofing to help you learn the basics of “self defending yourself against noise”
Have an idea worth sharing? Please contact me and I’ll be happy to respond ASAP.