Despite popular belief, sticking foam and egg cartons on your walls in an attempt to perform your own DIY soundproofing is a pointless exercise. It doesn’t look great, and they do very little to soundproof a room. However, if you want to lower your noise pollution, we have some easy and more effective DIY soundproofing solutions below.
You may be a musician looking to set up a home studio, or you could be a homeowner looking to cut out pollution from traffic or noisy neighbours. Unfortunately, professional soundproofing can become very expensive when you factor in installation costs and materials, but there are some DIY options that are not only effective but inexpensive and easy to install yourself!
What is soundproofing?
When understanding soundproofing, the key is not to confuse it with sound absorption. Sound absorption reduces the amount of sound that travels in an area, lessening the echo. Soundproofing, on the other hand, is about blocking sound from entering or leaving a room.
There are four main soundproofing elements to consider:
- Mass: as the more mass a structure has, the less sound is able to enter the space.
- Decoupling: which is the process of separating two sides of a wall, making it harder for sound to pass-through
- Absorption: which is about reducing echo and the distance a sound can travel (not blocking sound completely)
- Damping: which is about reducing resonance with materials that convert the kinetic energy of sound waves to heat
Understanding how to achieve effective soundproofing
Absorption and diffusion help with echoes, but as we’ve mentioned, soundproofing is how you block outside noise. Soft materials absorb sound waves more effectively than hard materials, and surfaces with lots of angles are a great way to diffuse sound waves. This is why lots of recording studios are covered in soft angled foam.
To soundproof effectively, you have to stop the sound waves from entering the room. This requires dense materials, and if possible, should be considered during construction. It is much easier to reinforce a room at this point rather than after it’s finished.
Six inexpensive DIY soundproofing methods
An inexpensive way to soundproof a room is by adding mass, like heavy household items (far more effective than egg crates). Let’s dive into six ways to DIY soundproof your room on a budget, starting from the cheapest to the more expensive.
Method #1: Adding furniture in the room
This is the easiest method as you’ll probably need some furniture in the room anyway! The heavier the piece, the more mass in the space, which in turn improves soundproofing.
Just as when you empty a room, you hear sounds echo more, and things get louder; the reverse happens when you fill a room up. Lightweight, flat-pack furniture made of inexpensive materials are no good here; instead, opt for things like:
- Sofas and armchairs
- Wardrobes, armoires, and dressers
- Bookcases full of books (a great sound-absorbing mass)
Furniture adds mass to a room and will dampen and absorb sound, stopping echoes and reverberations. So basically, leave your minimalist designs for another room!
Method #2: Carpets and rugs
Soundproofing the floor should be a consideration as it is just as important as the walls (especially in apartments or if your floors are made of concrete). Noise that travels through the floor is known as impact noise; people walking around or building work are examples.
Combat this with heavy carpets or rugs, which improve the heat insulation of a room as a bonus! This easy-to-install option will reduce impact noise as carpets and rugs have excellent sound absorption qualities.
If you want to take this one step further, adding underlay can improve an already effective solution. While underlay is designed to improve heat insulation, it also adds mass and improves soundproofing.
Method #3: Door Seals
Loads of sound leaks under doors, especially when they don’t fit properly into their frames. DIY soundproofing a door just requires some acoustic sealant tape which is a roll of tape with a rubber seal that can be stuck onto a door.
Perfect for blocking small gaps, you can use the tape on the door’s bottom, sides, and top. You can also install a mounted seal that attaches directly to the door with a drop-down seal made out of metal and rubber. Another option for door soundproofing is switching to a heavier door to reduce noise pollution.
Method #4: Acoustic sealant
Windows are another source of noise pollution, specifically because of the seals (much like doors). Acoustic sealant is a great way to make your own DIY soundproof window inserts as it is specifically designed to soundproof a room, offering a more effective barrier than standard caulk as it remains flexible, moves with the building, and keeps a tight seal.
Simply apply it anywhere there’s a gap to make things more soundproof. You can also apply the sealant around electric fixtures and lighting, which have small gaps that can be a source of noise pollution.
Method #5: Weather stripping
Weather stripping was originally designed to stop drafts and air leaks, but it also blocks noise pollution. Air is a carrier of sound, so reducing the amount of air also helps to provide a soundproof barrier.
Weather stripping is available in various forms; the choice depends on how permanent you want it to be and what it is made from. Most external doors already feature weather stripping, but adding it to interior doors will help soundproof a room.
The most common weather stripping material is EPDM rubber, a thermoplastic mix that is very effective at blocking sound as it is very dense. These strips sit between the door and the frame to stop air from escaping.
Method #6: Soundproof Curtains
There are many soundproof curtains options that help to shield windows (a weak spot for soundproofing). Unlike walls, windows don’t have a lot of mass, meaning there isn’t much that you can do about them apart from sealing the joins as mentioned above.
Enter soundproof curtains, which much like the furniture; the heavier, the better. Aim for options that have several layers of material, which will also be good at insulating the room.
Frequently asked questions
What materials can block sound?
Some of the best soundproofing materials include:
- Mass-loaded vinyl sound barriers
- Acoustic mineral wool insulations
- Acoustic sealant
- Soundproof foam panels
- Soundproof blankets
- Green glue soundproofing compounds
- Resilient sound channels
- Soundproof drywall
How can I DIY soundproof a room?
Some easy ways to achieve DIY soundproofing are as follows:
- Add more furniture to the room
- Put down carpets and rugs
- Add door seals
- Use acoustic sealant for windows
- Add weather stripping
- Add soundproof curtains
What is the cheapest way to soundproof a room quickly?
Three cheap and efficient ways to soundproof a room involve using furniture and decor:
- Use curtains which serve as a great barrier thanks to their sound dampening abilities
- Add area rugs to reduce noise generated by the floor
- Add thick upholstered furniture
How can I make a DIY soundproof wall?
An inexpensive way to soundproof a wall yourself can include any of the following:
- Fit bookshelves to the walls and fill them with books which are great sound absorbers
- Fill empty spaces to prevent echoes
- Hang drapes along the walls (the thicker, the better)
- Hang heavy drapes over the windows
- Fit an extra layer of drywall
- Add acoustic foam around the room
Be as loud as you like with these cheap DIY soundproofing methods
The methods provided above all put emphasis on sealing gaps or blocking possible air leakages. They are inexpensive and effective ways of soundproofing a room on a budget. Just remember the rule that good soundproofing means adding mass to the space, and you should be fine!
If, however, you want to take things to another level, you can find a range of very skilled Taskers who can offer some professional soundproofing services. If you really want to turn those amps up, or you live in a particularly noisy part of town, this may be the best option for you.
Once you are all set with a soundproofed room, it’s time to make some noise! Check out our blog on how to tune a ukulele, then plug it into an amp and turn it up a lot because ukuleles aren’t very loud to begin with. Rock on, young uke player, rock on.