How to Soundproof a Room

Cut down on the noise coming into or going out of your living area with these proven sound-dampening materials and techniques.

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Time

Multiple Days

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

Varies

Introduction

Cut down on the noise coming into or going out of your living area with these proven sound-dampening materials and techniques.

Tools Required

  • Caulk gun
  • Dust mask
  • Screw gun
  • Taping knife
  • Tin snips
  • Utility knife

Materials Required

  • 1/2-in. plywood
  • 5/8-in. drywall
  • Acoustical dampening adhesive
  • Cellulose insulation
  • Door gasket
  • Door sweep
  • Drywall screws
  • Electrical box extenders
  • Fiberglass insulation
  • Joint compound
  • Resilient channel
  • Silicone caulk
  • Whisper clips
  • Wood transition strip
  • Work gloves

About Soundproofing Walls

In almost every way, the modern drywall-over-studs wall is better than its timber-and-masonry and plaster-and-lath ancestors. It’s fast and easy to build, lightweight and makes the most of inexpensive materials. But when it comes to stopping sound, the modern wall is a flop.

This article will show you how to make these walls (and ceilings) block sound better. Soundproofing walls involves ripping the existing drywall off the walls (and perhaps the ceiling), filling the walls with fiberglass insulation, attaching metal strips called “resilient channel” to the studs, and fastening new drywall to the channel.

This straightforward project to make your room soundproof doesn’t require specialized tools or high-level construction skills. Anyone who has experience hanging and taping drywall, along with a little carpentry and electrical know-how, can soundproof a room.

However, soundproofing is a messy, labor-intensive project. To minimize household havoc, it’s best to focus on one room at a time. The room might be a place that you want to keep sound out of—a home office, for example. Or it may be a room you want to keep sound in—like a home theater.

This project is also one of our home theater design ideas.

Project step-by-step (10)

Step 1

Sound-Reducing Materials

Resilient channel acts as a spring between the drywall and studs. When sound waves strike a wall built with resilient channel, the drywall can vibrate independently without transferring the vibration to the studs. The metal channel is available at some home centers and all drywall suppliers.

  • Fiberglass insulation batts are available at home centers. Although “acoustic batts” are available, plain old unfaced R-11 thermal insulation works just as well. Don’t spend more for R-13 batts; a higher R-value may actually cut the STC rating slightly.
  • Type X 5/8-inch drywall is available at lumberyards and home centers. Type X drywall is meant for fire-resistance, but since it’s denser than standard drywall, it also stops sound better, especially when used with resilient channel.
  • Acoustical sealant is available at drywall suppliers, but silicone caulk found at home centers is also a good choice for sound proof caulk. With either type, you’ll need lots of it and will probably save a few bucks by buying a big caulking gun that uses the more economical 30-ounce tubes.
  • For attaching the channel to studs, use 1-1/4 inch screws. For attaching drywall to channel, use 1-inch screws. Fine-threaded screws grab on to resilient channel better than the coarse-threaded versions.
  • Door gaskets, door sweeps and transition strips are available at home centers.

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Move Electrical Boxes

  • Turn off the power at the main panel before working on electrical systems.
  • Move electrical boxes that share the same stud cavity so that they’re separated by at least one stud.
  • To allow for the 1/2-inch resilient channel and 5/8-inch drywall you’ll use later, mount boxes so that the outer edge of the box is 1-1/8 inch from the stud.
    • Pro tip: Boxes that don’t need to be moved can be repositioned so they protrude 1-1/8 in. Or you can use box extenders. 

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Step 2

Seal the Boxes

  • Use acoustical sealant or silicone caulk to seal around electrical boxes that serve adjacent rooms.
  • Seal openings in the boxes, holes through studs and plates, and any openings in the drywall or framing.

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