Can You Soundproof An Existing Wall?

If you’ve had to deal with acoustics or acoustic management then you’ve obviously come across soundproofing.

Soundproofing is important in maintaining and controlling acoustics in a room.

Sound travels via air therefore knowing how to control it within a room requires some precision and a good working understanding of acoustics.

Soundproof experts will soundproof various parts of a room when it calls for it.

This post will discuss whether or not its possible to soundproof an existing wall because newbies to sound engineering pose this question to me.

Therefore, this post will give you some decent knowledge and understanding into this.

With that said, Can you soundproof an existing wall?

The short answer is Yes.

Not all walls are made the same, some walls aren’t able to completely block out noise, which is why most soundproof experts apply soundproofing to existing walls that are incapable of keeping noise out on their own.

Options for soundproofing existing wall

It’s important to know what options you have when looking to soundproof an existing wall.

There are a lot of different techniques out there and you can find most of these on various websites.

However, I’m going to discuss some of the techniques that are recommended by Pro level expert soundproofers.

Mass

As you obviously know sound travels through air and is transferred through vibrations.

This is one of the reasons why adding mass to an existing wall is a great way to soundproof it….

because when a sound wave hits a hard surface, it should create movement within that surface for the sound to transfer.

Things with mass that are heavy are pretty difficult to move as compared to smaller things.

Therefore, adding mass to a wall will make it not only heavier but also larger which in turn will make it that much harder for sound wave energy to transfer through the surface.

Absorption

Using absorptive material works best for soundproofing higher frequencies. Lower frequencies contain a lot more energy and need more than absorptive material to stop a soundwave from transferring.

Structural Decoupling

If you’ve read this post up to here then you know that sound is transferred through vibration.

One of the most effective ways of reducing how much noise is transferred is by decoupling (separating) the surfaces.

Vibrations can easily pass through two touching surfaces.

Decoupling therefore allows you to eliminate this surface to surface issue by getting rid of contact points and adding rubber decouplers where one surface meets another.

This can significantly reduce how much sound energy is allowed to go through.

How to soundproof a drywall

Below are some ways you can soundproof a drywall.

Insulation

Using blow in insulation into your existing walls will increase their ability to curb sound energy.

 The cellulose in the insulation is able to trap little pockets of air, which in turn is able to trap sound waves and significantly reduce their energy, thereby taming the noise before it reaches the other side.

Cellulose is good because it is blown-in, which means it can fill all of the little spaces like nooks, crannies, and holes. Which is good because left untreated, these seemingly small things could allow sound energy to penetrate.

The use of cellulose blow-in insulation has several advantages and is very affordable. It’s also not very difficult to install.

Cracks and power outlets

A sound wave moves like the way pressurised water moves, that is, it looks for any available entry points on a surface that it can squeeze through.

Small, big cracks or holes in your walls or the regular caulking that’s around your windows, or even just the dead air space around power outlets are all susceptible to noise leaks.

Closing up all these possible entry places allows you to reduce the amount of outside noise that can possibly seep its way in.

Therefore, ensure that you seal all of the corners of your walls and windows. Including all four edges of a wall.

Replace regular latex caulk with acoustic caulk that you can pretty much pick up at a hardware store.

In sealing cracks and outlets ensure that you take your time and be as thorough as possible so you don’t miss any crucial parts.

Quiet rock

QuietRock is fairly new.

It’s basically a specialized type of drywall that is built for acoustics.

One sheet of QuietRock is as effective at sound reduction as 4 sheets of regular drywall.

Quiet rock panels can be pretty much installed the way you install your regular drywall.

So in adding to your existing wall all you to do is screw in a sheet of QuietRock on top of the existing drywall.

This will be enough to block out sound energy.

Applying the Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound between layers of drywall is a way to ensure maximum soundproof abilities.

All you have to do is simply apply a coat to the back of the QuietRock before attaching it to your existing wall.

Mass Loaded Vinyl

Mass Loaded vinyl or MLV is a soundproofing material that comes in thin, rolled sheets. It is basically infused with metal particles in order to achieve a high density that gives it soundproofing capabilities.

When you install it between two layers of drywall, MLV can stop the vibrations between them and therefore dampening the entire wall.

This is a great way to absorb and dissipate external noise.

Acoustic foam panels

Acoustic foam panels are popular in most recording studios because of their sound absorption properties. They are basically designed to absorb and tame sound waves.

They do a pretty good job of this, which is why they’re used in most recording studios to ensure a noise free environment.

New wall

WARNING: This requires some space to do!

With that said, a great and effective way of soundproofing your existing walls is to build a new wall inside them.

These walls are not supposed to be attached to the existing walls.

They have to be completely decoupled as this would enable them not transfer sound from the existing wall.

Sound absorbing fabric

Sound absorbing fabric can also work wonders. You can use sound absorbing fabrics that have to be mounted on a track system that can run the span or length of your wall.

Soundproofing blankets as well as curtains can also work if you don’t mind having them on your existing wall.