We’ve been in the world of soundproofing for well over a decade. In that time we have seen many soundproofing mistakes and a whole range of phony soundproofing hacks! The 5 biggest soundproofing mistakes people make can leave people with a big bill and a bag solution.
So, I’ve created a list of my top 5 soundproofing mistakes – taken directly from the customers we help every day! Soundproofing is confusing, so get these 5 common issues straight.
1. Using curtains and fabrics to soundproof a room
Using curtains or fabrics to soundproof a room will NOT work! I get asked this all the time…The reason is simple: to soundproof a room, you need to add mass. Mass will insulate your space and prevent sound from getting in or out. Do not confuse ‘insulation’ with only soft squishy materials, this is thermal insulation. Sound insulation means that sound cannot escape a space and this can only be done with high-mass materials.
When I’m in a room full of soft materials it can sound quiet, because the reverberation is so low. It sounds warm and cosy, but this is not soundproofing. For example, my lounge has a thick carpet, long curtains and plenty of soft furnishings but I can still hear everything outside the room! Those materials don’t block noise, they treat the noise that is already inside the space.
Use soundproofing panels like the MuteBoards on walls and heavy soundproofing vinyl like MuteMats on floors. These materials will block noise from your neighbors and soundproof your room!
2. Using soundproof panels directly over your wall or ceiling
Using soundproof panels directly over your wall or ceiling without having removed the original surface is terrible for soundproofing! I find that this is usually met with confusion, but if you don’t expose the cavity spaces in walls, floors and ceilings, then you are open to the drum effect. In this short video, I explain what the drum effect is properly. In short, though, it leads to the original noise being amplified!
Any cavity space will allow sound to reverberate around and this will amplify the original issue. It’s like shouting down a tube; the sound becomes loud and fuzzy. This means that the noise which needs to be blocked is far louder than normal and your soundproofing system will not perform half as well. Pack cavity spaces with acoustic-grade mineral wool.
3. Using foam panels on a wall
Using foam panels on a wall will not be able to soundproof your room! Much like the curtains, foam does not have a high mass and cannot possibly reflect noise. Think about holding a piece of foam packaging; it feels light and you can see holes for air to pass through. Sound can travel through the air very easily, so this material is pretty useless for blocking noise!
4. Incorrect soundproofing installation
I had to include incorrect installation because even with the right materials, a system can go wrong without correct planning. Luckily, we provide full installation guides that cover every step and prevent you from making mistakes!
When I’ve been talking to customers, often people don’t think they need acoustic sealant or isolation strips. However, I would say these are just as important as your pricier materials. These materials are able to connect your new soundproofing partition to the adjacent walls, floor and ceiling, without creating a pathway for sound to travel through.
Acoustic sealant doesn’t set firm, so it can dissipate vibration energy instead of passing it along to the next structure. Isolation strips are needed for a new stud frame to rest on, or a subfloor to sit atop of. I explain how isolation strips work, in detail, in the following video.
5. Ignoring flanking transmission
Ignoring your flanking transmission is a huge soundproofing mistake that we, at iKoustic, see every day. Flanking transmission isn’t something you’ll likely know about, without expert advise, but it’s vital to solve!
The easiest way for me to explain this, is that sound doesn’t just take one route, i.e, through your wall. Sound from room A can use many different routes to get to room B; holes for fixings in walls, pipes between the rooms, back-to-back electric sockets and so on! In short, sound can go over, under or around a soundproof wall because there are alternative routes.
You should identify possible flanking transmission routes before you start soundproofing as they often need addressing early on in the process. I have a short video with more about flanking transmission and how to stop it below.