After moving into my new home, everything seemed perfect at first. However, I noticed within a few days that the traffic noise was much louder than I was used to, and it was disturbing my concentration for work. Since I didn’t want to tear apart my new home, I needed to find ways of soundproofing existing interior walls without removing drywall.
Through my research, I discovered 15 ways to soundproof your home without removing drywall. These are the most effective ways to soundproof existing walls from my list.
- Add Insulation
- Install a Second Layer of Drywall With Green Glue
- Use Resilient Clips & Channels
- Add Mass Loaded Vinyl
- Build a New Wall in Front of Existing
- Install Acoustic Foam Panels
Some of these options are more effective than others. While a few of them may be pretty simple to implement, some will be much more extensive and require more work. Let’s discuss what each one entails and how effective it will be at helping to soundproof your interior walls.[toc]
Important Principles of Soundproofing Existing Walls
Before you jump into trying out different methods of soundproofing, it’s essential to understand how soundproofing works. If you know the techniques used to stop the transfer of sound, you’ll be better able to implement these soundproofing methods yourself.
Sound is transferred through vibrations. When a sound wave hits a hard surface, it must create movement within that surface for the sound to transfer.
Heavier, larger things are harder to move than smaller items. Increasing the overall amount of material on an object will make it heavier and larger. This will, in turn, make it more difficult for a soundwave’s energy to transfer through the surface.
Essentially, you are putting more solid material in between the sound source and the environment you wish to keep quiet.
Some materials can absorb and negate the energy produced by a soundwave. The fiberglass insulation in the walls of your home is a great example of absorption sound reduction.
Absorption works best with higher frequencies. Lower frequencies contain considerably more energy and will need much more absorptive material to kill the momentum of the wave and stop it from transferring.
As we’ve mentioned, the sound is transferred through vibration. One of the most effective ways of reducing how much noise is transferred is by decoupling the surfaces.
Vibrations are easier to pass through two touching surfaces. By eliminating contact points and adding rubber decouplers where surfaces meet, you can drastically reduce how much energy is allowed to pass through.
Soundproofing Interior Walls Without Removing Drywall
1. Add Blown-In Insulation
Blown insulation is loose, low-density cellulose insulation that is made mostly from recycled newsprint. With an STC rating of 44, it can be very effective at helping to soundproof both interior and exterior walls. It can be added into walls after construction, a task that is very difficult with other types of insulation.
Adding blow-in insulation into your existing walls will increase their sound absorption abilities. The cellulose traps little pockets of air, which then trap sound waves and drain their energy, nullifying the noise before it reaches the other side.
Because it is blown-in, unlike other forms of insulation, the cellulose insulation can fill all of the little nooks, crannies, and holes. Otherwise, they would be points of entry for outside soundwaves to make their way in.
Cellulose blow-in insulation provides several advantages. It is a very cost-effective way to help soundproof your interior walls. Also, it can be installed by many homeowners by renting the machine from a local home improvement store such as The Home Depot.
Finally, cellulose is a very “green” insulation, being made up of more recycled material than any other type of insulation that’s commercially available.
Blow-in insulation is available in a few varieties. It comes in loose, wet, and dense pack options. For more information about blow-in insulation, read my article about soundproofing insulation.
2. Seal the Cracks and Outlets
Sound waves will seek out any available points of entry on a surface that they can squeeze through. Cracks or holes in your walls, the caulking around your windows, or even just the dead air space around outlets are all noise leaks waiting to ruin the quiet of your peaceful room.
By closing up all these entryways, we can significantly reduce the amount of outside noise that seeps its way in.
To start, you’ll want to seal all of the corners of your walls and windows. This will include all four edges of each wall, so be thorough. Be sure to use acoustic caulk instead of the standard latex caulking you’ll find at your local hardware store.
After caulking all the edges, it’s time to seal up your electrical outlets and light switches. The easiest way of doing this is to use wall plate insulation gaskets such as these from TradeGear.
These pieces of styrofoam fit precisely around your outlets and switches, and behind the covers. They will block all of the open areas around your outlet and will stop soundwaves from slipping through the space. They are inexpensive and come in large quantities for convenience.
3. Install Another Layer of Drywall With Green Glue
Earlier in this article, we discussed mass as one of the principles of soundproofing. Adding another layer of drywall on top of our existing wall is one of the easiest ways of accomplishing this.
You screw an additional piece of sheetrock on top of your existing wall. Thicker drywall will block more sound, so go with ⅝” if possible.
As we mentioned, though, adding mass by itself is not going to produce the sound reduction results that you’re looking for. To achieve more drastic soundproofing, we’re going to add a layer of Green Glue noiseproofing compound in between our drywall layers.
Green Glue is an incredibly effective and inexpensive way to soundproof your interior walls. It’s an easily applied liquid that comes either in a tube or a bucket. As a soundproofing compound, it is effective at reducing all types of noise.
If you want to kill vibrations, Green Glue creates a dampening layer between your sheetrock that absorbs and dissipates vibrations, effectively stopping incoming noise.
Apply the Green Glue to the back of your new drywall, then screw it to your existing wall. You can then finish the drywall as you normally would.
Make sure to finish by caulking all of the edges of your wall with acoustical caulk. Then seal the outlets and switches as we mentioned in suggestion 2 to make sure that your wall is completely sealed off to outside noise.
4. Use QuietRock
The execution of this method is the same as in method 3. The big difference here is in product selection. In the last technique, we added an additional layer of drywall to our existing wall. In this one, we’re going to add a layer of QuietRock instead.
Never heard of QuietRock? It’s a fairly new special type of drywall built for acoustics. A single sheet of QuietRock is as effective at sound reduction as 4 sheets of regular drywall!
Since they work the same as regular drywall, QuietRock panels are also installed the same. Screw your QuietRock sheet on top of your existing drywall and you will have seriously reduced the amount of noise that gets through.
For maximum sound reduction, you should still apply the Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound between layers of drywall. Just apply a coat to the back of the QuietRock before attaching it to your existing wall.
Once again, be sure to seal the corners, electrical outlets, and light switches as discussed in soundproofing method 2.
To learn more about the benefits of QuietRock, check out my article QuietRock vs Double Drywall: Which is Better for Soundproofing?
5. Second Layer of Drywall Decoupled With Resilient Clips & ChannelsLike we discussed, adding drywall to your existing wall will increase the mass of the wall, helping to reduce sound transmission. But we also know that it is not enough to soundproof our interior walls.
By decoupling our new drywall layer from the original wall using resilient clips and channels, we can eliminate most impact noises, and even seriously reduce many of the airborne sounds as well.
The resilient clips feature rubber backs that will help decouple them from the wall they’re attached to. You will mount the clips to your existing wall by drilling screws through your existing drywall and into the studs behind.
The resilient channels will be mounted horizontally and fastened to the clips. Your second layer of drywall will then screw directly into the channels.
Unfortunately, when installed on existing drywall, resilient clips and channels do lose a lot of their effectiveness. However, this can be remedied by adding some R-6 insulation once the channels are installed and before adding the drywall. The channels will hold the insulation in place for easy installation of the drywall.
6. Add Mass Loaded VinylMass loaded vinyl (MLV) is a soundproofing material that comes in thin, rolled sheets. It is infused with metal particles to achieve a high density that gives it soundproofing capabilities.
When installed between two layers of drywall, MLV can stop the vibrations between them, dampening the entire wall. This will help to absorb and dissipate external sound sources.
MLV can be nailed directly to your existing drywall. Overlap the seams of each piece by 2” and cover with vinyl tape.
Carefully, cut tightly around any outlets and switches. The MLV will block these open-air spaces where sound can penetrate, which will eliminate the need for outlet insulation gaskets.
Once mass loaded vinyl is installed to your existing drywall, it is time to add your additional drywall layer. You can use regular or drywall, or for maximum soundproofing, you can use the QuietRock acoustic sheetrock we mentioned in method 4. Just screw your new drywall layer into the studs through the original layer.
If you want to truly negate all sound coming in through your existing walls, you can also install resilient clips and channels. These would be mounted on top of your MLV. You would then hang QuietRock on the resilient channel and be certain to seal up all the edges with acoustic caulk.
7. Install Acoustic Foam PanelsAcoustic foam panels are designed to absorb and nullify sound waves. They are so superior at this, in fact, that they are used in recording studios worldwide to absorb sound and create clean recording environments. They can serve the same purpose in your home, as well.
These foam panels come in thicknesses from 1” to 4” depending on how much sound you need to absorb. For aesthetic purposes, they also come in a variety of colors which you can choose to complement your current color scheme.
Acoustic foam panels are easy to install. A special adhesive spray is made specifically for the simple installation of these panels. There will be no mess, no special tools are needed, and it takes only a few minutes.
These panels will not only block the sound coming in through your walls, but they will also help your room acoustics sound amazing too. This is particularly beneficial if the room you’re trying to soundproof is also where the TV is housed since it would benefit greatly from the improved sound provided by the acoustic foam tiles.
8. Hang Acoustic Fabric PanelsAcoustic fabric panels are a great way to reduce the external noise coming into your room, while also being aesthetically pleasing. They are offered in a variety of colors to match the current color scheme of your decor.
As a bonus, they also vastly improve the acoustics inside your room by absorbing reverberations and echos. This makes movies, music, and even conversations sound much better. These are used in professional applications for this effect.
With an NRC rating of 1 out of 1, panels such as these from ATS offer superior sound absorption. They can be easily hung in many configurations and will help to prevent a lot of airborne noise from reaching your home’s interior.
This is one of the simplest methods of soundproofing your existing walls, and it won’t leave lasting damage in case you have to move out again.
Also make sure you check out my post about DIY acoustic panels.
9. Use Soundproofing BlanketsIf the noise you’re trying to reduce is not overpowering, you may be able to use some simple and inexpensive soundproofing moving blankets to curb the excess noise. These are very thick, absorptive blankets that do more to absorb sound than repel it, similar to the acoustic fabric panels mentioned in technique 8.
One of the advantages of soundproofing blankets is that since they are absorptive, they will improve the acoustics inside of your room. By reducing the flutter echoes and reverberations, these blankets can give your room a nice dry sound that makes everything sound much more crisp and clear.
Soundproofing blankets are very easy to hang and can be done with nails, screws, or even thumbtacks. They are machine washable, so if you need to move them around, you don’t have to worry about them getting dirty.
If you’re considering soundproofing blankets, these high-quality ones are worth a try.
For more information on blankets for soundproofing please see our article Soundproof Blankets for Windows.
10. Put Up Soundproof CurtainsSoundproof curtains offer a very attractive way to eliminate exterior noise pollution without creating any damage in your home. They are cost-effective and very easy to hang for any homeowner. They also come in many beautiful color options to match your current decor.
The soundproof curtains are hung on standard curtain rods, which can be mounted to the ceiling or the walls. One of the biggest benefits of these curtains is that you can add as many as you need to cover a space of any size without really adding much extra labor or time. When you don’t need them, you can slide them out of the way.
These are especially useful for covering windows, a common point of entry for soundwaves from outside to make their way in. Whether using them just for windows or as a room divider to separate one room into two, these soundproof curtains from NICETOWN will be an aesthetically pleasing way to improve the sound of your home.
11. Cover Walls With Sound Absorbing Fabrics
If curtains and soundproofing blankets don’t seem to spark your interest, you might consider covering your walls with sound-absorbing fabrics. These fabrics are mounted on a track system that runs the span of your wall. The tack systems can be manufactured from PVC or metal.
Sound absorbing fabrics can be delivered in lengths of up to 100 yards without a seam. This means you can have a solid, seamless wall that is covered in a beautiful acoustical fabric.
You can choose any print, color, or pattern that matches your personality for completely custom and unique looking interior walls that sound as great as they look. If you want an eye-catching way to silence the outside world, sound-absorbing fabrics may be the unique option available.
12. Build a New Wall in Front of Existing
If you’ve got the space for it, one of the most effective ways of soundproofing your interior walls is by building new ones inside of them. These walls will not be attached to the existing walls, meaning they are completely decoupled. Because of this, they will not transfer sounds from the original wall.
Your second wall will be attached to the floor and the ceiling instead of the original wall. You can start by framing out your new wall, then adding insulation for sound absorption.
Next, you will install MLV over the frame of the wall by nailing it to the studs. Make sure to get full coverage from floor to ceiling, but it’s important that the MLV does not come into contact with either.
Once your MLV is installed, you can fasten the resilient clips to the studs with screws. Then you can attach the resilient channels to the clips.
After you’ve installed your resilient clips and channel, you can install ⅝” drywall. Drywall is preferable to QuietRock here because the soundproofing effect of the QuietRock with the resilient channel provides negligible results over just resilient channels or QuietRock alone.
Once the drywall installation is complete, make sure to use acoustical caulk to seal all of the edges and corners. Finally, add the outlet and switch insulation gaskets to ensure there are no points of entry for rogue soundwaves.
For ultimate effectiveness and to control the acoustics within the room, you can hang acoustic fabric panels from method 8 on this list on your new wall.
For more information on building a second wall, please see our article How to Build a Soundproof Room-Within-a-Room.
Other Cheap Ways to Add Some Soundproofing to Existing Wall
13. Use Decor to Your Advantage
Space gives sound waves plenty of room to jump around and expend energy, which makes them seem even louder than they are. By using the furniture and other items that are already in your home, you should be able to make a pretty noticeable difference to the noise coming in through your walls.
Around the perimeter of the room, you want to place your largest, hardest, heaviest furniture. This is the place for dressers, armoires and the like. These items will do the most to repel incoming sound waves and stop them from reaching inside the room.
When you’re placing your heavy furniture around the outer perimeter of the room, be careful not to allow anything actually to come into contact with the wall. If that were to happen, vibrations would easily transfer from the wall to the furniture item and may amplify the initial sound volume. Not the effect we’re looking for here!
Once you’ve got the hard and heavy furniture placed around the room, it’s time to use the softer furniture to absorb the loose waves that make it through our initial barrier. Anything soft you can add will help reduce the noise. Pillows, blankets, curtains, couches, anything soft is great.
14. Paint the Walls With Soundproofing Paint
If you’re looking for a way to minimize the sound of the world outside while sprucing up your home with a fresh coat of paint, soundproofing paint could be an option for you to explore.
This very thick paint is easy to apply the same as traditional paint. However, it will also keep your home quieter by helping to absorb outside noises.
This will not be a comprehensive solution, though. If you have loud external noise problems that you need to mitigate, you may want to look at one of our stronger solutions, such as adding QuietRock or MLV.
You can make this sound dampening paint more effective by applying multiple coats. The thicker you can layer on the paint, the more pronounced its effects will be.
15 Apply Acoustical Wallpaper
Acoustic wallpaper has been gaining popularity recently. It creates no damage, it’s easy to install, and it’s very cost-effective. On top of this, it’s also visually appealing, so many people have opted for this easy way of lowering the volume on your neighbors and the world around.
Acoustic wallpaper is not made from paper like a standard wallpaper is. The top layer may be regular wallpaper, but underneath you’ll find latex or other acoustic materials.
By using multiple thin layers together, sound-reduction is improved, making this wallpaper much more effective at blocking noise than the patterned paper your grandparents had in their home!
Hanging acoustic wallpaper is not going to silence noisy traffic or low-flying helicopters. But it will help to eliminate the sound of your neighbor’s TV or dinner conversation from entering your private space.
Final Tips and Things to Keep in Mind
When soundproofing your interior walls, it’s important to remember that they are not the only place that noise can enter your home. Soundwaves will find the weak spot to penetrate. Whatever part of your exterior has places for sound to enter, the noise will seek out those spaces and become a nuisance.
If you want to silence your home inside, don’t forget some of the other important areas to soundproof.
Doors are a major culprit of noise leaks. Interior doors especially are hollow core and allow plenty of sounds to pass through. Even exterior doors can often be a source of much noise pollution. By replacing regular doors with soundproof doors, you will notice a huge difference.
The ceiling is also a place where a lot of noise can seep into your home. You can hang acoustic panels on your ceiling, or even build a drop ceiling to reduce the noise.
Conclusion: What’s the Best Way to Soundproof Existing Walls
We’ve covered many different ways for you to eliminate the sound that’s creeping into your home. All of these methods allow you to soundproof your interior walls without removing any drywall.
The most effective method will be to install resilient clips and channels with a second layer of drywall on top. To make this as truly soundproof as possible, you will also want to install a layer of MLV directly on top of your existing drywall before you mount your resilient clips.
Be sure also to use R-6 insulation to aid with absorption. With these methods combined, you will hear a drastic improvement in the level of noise breaking into your home.
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