Last Updated: December 5th, 2019
There are a number of reasons why you might want to soundproof the walls in your home. Thin walls in many apartments allow you to hear everything your neighbors are doing. If your home is located close to high-traffic streets, next to where noisy children play or near an airport, soundproofing your walls is a very good idea.
Even if you only want to soundproof one room, whether it be your bedroom for a sound night’s sleep or your own recording room, soundproofing your walls is an appealing idea. Yet, you might be reluctant to do it. Maybe you don’t have any idea how to soundproof walls, or you aren’t sure if it’s affordable. Don’t worry! There are ways to soundproof a wall cheaply and efficiently!
How to Soundproof a Wall Cheaply
1. Focus on the Weak Points
Before you start to buy any materials, you should take the time to look at all the weak points that might be there. Is there a window or door that you could possibly soundproof?
If yes, you might want to start focusing on that area first. Soundproofing areas like these shouldn’t take much investment or time, since they’re smaller areas.
The windows and doors are the two main culprits when it comes to noise leaking. All you’ll need to do is seal all the gaps you can find between your doors and doorframes, and the same thing goes for the windows and window frame.
For this, I highly recommend using a weatherstripping tape. It’s relatively cheap and should get the job done without any hassle. You can simply place it on the bottom of your door to cover some holes.
Another effective method you can try on your windows is adding soundproof curtains. These curtains contain a layer of soundproof material that will drastically reduce most of the noise coming from outside.
2. Furniture as Soundproofing
One of the easiest ways to soundproof walls cheaply is by using the furniture you already have and adding a few more useful pieces. Place tall furniture items like bookshelves, closets and breakfronts against the walls which let in the most noise. Such walls are, for example, those that separate you from neighboring apartments or walls facing a noisy street. If you don’t have enough of these furniture items, you can purchase them. The least expensive options here would be yard sales, flea markets and eBay.
Another reason to add furniture is that empty rooms tend to echo, while rooms filled with furniture suppress echoes. If you want to soundproof one particular room, check to see what’s on the other side of its walls. If televisions or any other noisy appliances are located against an adjoining wall, see if you can move them.
3. Soundproof With Decoration
Another way you can soundproof walls cheaply is by decorating critical walls. Plan your room decoration so that critical walls receive the most attention. Paintings or other artwork on thick canvas or other surfaces are a good way to block noise. If you don’t want to spend any money on art, do it yourself! All you need is some canvas, and wood for the frame and paint. And if you get tired of one motif, you can always paint over it!
If you’re renting and your landlord doesn’t want permanent artwork, you’ll only need to attach the frame to the walls with some brackets that can be easily removed when you move out. Instead of canvas, you could also use thin boards. Another option is to buy decorative quilts or rugs that you can hang as tapestries. You can stretch them over a frame or just hang them where the wall and ceiling join together.
You can even use heavy blankets in the same way. Those that offer the best soundproofing are moving blankets (you know, the blankets movers use to protect furniture). Because they’re so good at it, they’re also called “soundproof blankets” or “sound blankets.” You can price and order these online, but you should pay close attention to their dimensions. Some of these blankets come with grommets (those metal rings that form holes along the side).
Grommets can make it easier for you to hang them: you’ll just need to install hooks or rods on the wall. Keep in mind that the thicker or denser your wall decoration is, and the more space it covers, the better it will block noise. Soundproofing is even more efficient if there is some space between the wall and the decoration. That’s why using a wood frame, as described above, is a good approach.
4. Hang Soundproof Curtains
Soundproof curtains offer another way to soundproof walls cheaply. An obvious place to hang them is in front of windows or glass doors that face noisy areas. But you could also hang them on long stretches of the wall, with or without windows. In order to hang them, you’ll probably need to install curtain rods. You can even hang soundproof curtains in the middle of a room as dividers. As with furniture, this will serve to muffle sounds and eliminate echoes. This approach is also ideal for your bedroom, as you can draw these curtains around your bed for a quiet night’s sleep.
5. Soundproof With Foam Panels
Using foam panels is another way to soundproof a wall cheaply. It will involve some cost, but foam panels aren’t expensive. And despite what you might think, installing foam panels isn’t very complicated. If you’re really serious about effective soundproofing, especially if you want to record sound, you should really consider this option.
One of the nice things about using this approach is that foam panels are available in many patterns and colors. Among the makers of foam panels, some of the better-known ones are SoundTrax, Izo All Supply, Foamily and Mybecca.
Foam panels are typically up to 4 inches (about 10 centimetres) thick. Thicker panels will soundproof better, but will also cost more. Prices start at around $3 per square foot, for 2-inch (about 5-centimetre) thick panels. You can order foam panels online; however, it might be a good idea to go to a DIY store, look at an assortment and get some advice before purchasing.
There are also a number of ways to attach panels to your wall. If you’re worried about damaging the wall’s surface, you can even use non-permanent adhesives or Velcro strips. Foam panels can’t, however, be washed. The best you can do is vacuum them.
6. Acoustic Fabric Panels
This is a somewhat more expensive—and more effective—way to soundproof a wall. But it’s not much more expensive! Acoustic fabric panels are usually based on a wood frame stuffed with various materials, and then wrapped in micro-suede or burlap. Fabric panels offer a larger range of sizes, shapes and colors than foam panels do. The larger dimensions allow for faster installation.
Among the best-known makers of fabric panels is ATS Acoustics Panel. Prices start at about $7 per square foot, for 2-inch thick panels. Mounting/installing acoustic panels is a bit more complicated than installing foam panels. Again, you’ll want to get some advice if you’re going to install the panels yourself.
Panels are usually delivered as kits, complete with all the hardware you need to mount them. As with foam panels, you should visit a store that carries these panels and inform yourself before purchasing them. Fabric panels tend to be thicker than foam panels, but you can actually remove the fabric from the panels and wash them.
7. Install Drywall
Most walls today are thin, which is why installing drywall is one of the best options when it comes to soundproofing a wall. The only problem is that it takes far more work than installing foam or curtains, and it’s also a bit more expensive than the previously outlined methods, but it’s surely worth the investment.
Installing drywall requires some construction, so you’ll probably have to hire a professional to do it for you.
The first step is to buy the drywall, but before buying, make sure you measure the length of your wall and purchase your drywall accordingly. Before you start the installation process, pay close attention to your existing walls.
If there are any holes and cracks, make sure you fill them up by using green glue. I’ve been using green glue for a very long time, and I’m always happy with the results. After you’re finish filling up the holes, put drywall against the wall and use screws to secure it.
As you can see, there are a large number of ways to soundproof a wall cheaply. Some of them cost nothing—or next to nothing. Others involve a bit more money, but most are entirely affordable. Just take a good look at the areas you want to soundproof, and let your imagination take over!
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. You can also check out my other articles on the site if you have the time. If you have any questions, feel free to let us know by leaving a comment in the comment section down below.
image: Olger Fallas Painting