Noise is all around us. Whether we’re trying to relax in front of the TV or driving to work in the morning, we can be really distracted by unwanted sounds. Fortunately, there are ways to fix this, and using DIY sound deadening material is one of them.
But what is sound deadening? You may be familiar with soundproofing, but are soundproofing materials and sound deadening materials the same? And what are the best types of sound deadening materials?
Even if you’ve never heard of sound deadening materials before, or don’t know the difference between these and soundproofing ones, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered! Below we will explore everything there is to know about sound deadening and the best products you can use, so you can get your car and home operating as quietly as possible.
Main Principals Of Soundproofing
When we talk about soundproofing a space, we’re not talking about wanting to block out all noise. The term soundproofing refers to any means of reducing the sound pressure with respect to a specified sound source.
However, there are different factors that affect how sound travels. For example, frequency; low frequency noise is harder to block than high frequency noise, which is down to the fact that sounds lower in frequency will penetrate a surface more easily than sounds with high frequency.
If a room is soundproof, it means it is impervious to sound. However, the truth is, being in a completely soundproof room would be uncomfortable for us as humans, because we are so used to hearing some sort of noise in our day to day life.
However, with soundproofing material, we can help to minimize annoying noises, such as our neighbors upstairs, a construction site nearby, or the sound of our fridge buzzing.
There are four main principals of soundproofing that we need to know about before we attempt it. Individually, they work pretty well to reduce unwanted noise in a room, but together they are most effective.
Simply put, noise travels as sound waves and will travel through anything it can get through. The thicker the object is, the less likely it is to travel all the way through. This explains why if the walls a house are thin, you’re much more likely to hear the people next door than you are in a house where walls are thicker.
Adding mass to a surface will increase it’s thickness and then less sound will be able to travel through it.
Sound waves can be absorbed to help reduce the distance they travel or reverberate. You can use insulating materials to do this, but unfortunately it only works for mid to high frequency waves, and not low frequency sound waves.
Damping acts as a shock absorber to a structure or system by eliminating vibrations caused by sound waves. By reducing the amount your room or car vibrates, it also reduces the amount of sound that is heard.
Mechanical Decoupling (Mechanical Isolation)
Mechanical sound travels through the connected structural parts of a building, for example, a water pipe vibrating. This can be difficult to combat, but by using mechanical decoupling and isolating the mechanical path, you can isolate the noise, too.
Types Of Soundproofing Materials
It is often thought that soundproofing and sound deadening and damping are the same. However, this is not true. There are actually many different types of materials that can help a room or space become completely soundproof. Here are some of the most popular types of soundproofing materials.
Sound Dampening and Deadening
Sound damping and deadening materials are the type of materials we are looking at in this article. These materials prevent or reduce vibrational movement, which inhibits noise movement through a surface. These materials are usually dense and help to block sound movement, and are great for cars and homes.
Sound insulation is often the same as thermal insulation in homes, and helps not only with the movement of heat and cold, but also sound. If the insulation material is dense, it will trap sound vibrations and convert them to heat.
Acoustic decoupling prevents sound from travelling from layer to layer, usually in construction, by separating layers and preventing vibrations from travelling.
Sound absorbing materials are similar to sound insulating materials. They trap sound vibrations and reduce the intensity by converting the energy to heat. This is why many sound absorption materials are thick, such as heavy curtains or blankets. They can also help to reduce echoes and reverberation.
Soundproof barriers can be used to wrap pipes and ducts or in planes and cars and either permanently or temporarily block or damp sound wave vibration and energy. They are usually made from layers of fiberglass, foam or vinyl.
Door Seals and Sweeps
A door seal or sweep is a great way to prevent sound from seeping through a door, providing that the door is not hollow and letting excess sound through that way.
What Is Sound Deadening And How Is It Different To Soundproofing?
As we mentioned above, sound deadening is not the same as soundproofing. Easily put, if a room is soundproof, it is impenetrable by sound. The biggest difference between soundproofing and sound deadening is that soundproofing is the process of blocking noise from entering a room while sound deadening is the process of reducing the vibration of sound waves within a room.
If you want to soundproof a room, you’ll probably need to use multiple sound deadening and sound dampening materials, along with other types of soundproofing materials, such as sound absorbing materials, sound insulating materials and door seals and sweeps.
Each of these soundproofing materials have different uses. Let’s take a look at some of the best sound deadening materials for your home and car below.
Best Sound Deadening Materials For Home
Our home is our safe space, and we want to be able to live in it in peace, without being able to hear our neighbors, someone in the next room, or the annoying hum of any electrical appliances.
So, let’s take a look at some of the sound deadening materials you can use around your home to ensure you can enjoy the quiet life.
What To Look For In Sound Deadening Materials For The Home
Whatever materials you choose to soundproof your home with, you’ll want to make sure they are of good quality. Not only will better quality materials be more durable, but they’ll also be better at sound deadening because they will be manufactured to a higher standard.
While these quality materials may be more expensive, you’ll find this beneficial in the long run because you’ll achieve much better sound deadening with them.
This is simple — the thicker the materials, the better the sound deadening is going to be. Depending on the type of room you are trying to reduce noise in, you’ll probably want to go for the thickest materials possible so you get the best results.
You’ll want the materials you pick to be easy to apply to the surface you are trying to quiet. The likelihood is that you’re going to be installing the materials yourself, so you don’t want to end up causing an injury, or causing damage to your home.
If you are trying to deaden sound your basement or garage, the look and design of the materials might not be so important to you. However, if you’re trying to reduce the noise level in your living room or bedroom, aesthetic will be a factor you’ll need to consider. Otherwise, you could end up with sound deadening materials that don’t match your decor at all!
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
MLV is one of the most effective materials when it comes to sound deadening. It is a heavy polymer that is very dense, so even a thin layer of MLV does just as well as a thick layer of foam. It can be expensive, but it is worth every penny.
You can add this to the ceilings and walls of the room you are trying to reduce noise in. MLV can be tacked, nailed or screwed and is extremely durable. You will need to ensure you overlap the edges when installing MLV so the room is completed protected.
There are two main types of floor underlay — felt and cork. Both can be placed between flooring and subflooring to help absorb vibrations and therefore dampen sound and effectively soundproof your floor.
Felt underlay can easily be cut to the right size and is very inexpensive. It also sometimes comes self-adhesive. Cork is also easy to install with scissors or a utility knife and does not need to be glued down. Both of these floor underlays can be used under stone, ceramic, concrete, laminated or hardwood floors.
Sound Deadening Paint
Sound deadening paint is a water-based paint that can be used to deaden acoustic noises in a room. The paint has microscopic ceramic particles and other fillers that absorb and decrease sound movement, and it is basically odor free and very easy to apply.
The paint is quite thick, with one gallon covering around 150 square feet (sq ft). It is a finishing coat and can be used on metal, wood, plaster and ceilings.
Another effective sound deadening material is foam. It can be cut into many different shapes and sizes and again placed on the wall or the ceiling like MLV. It can also be placed around different appliances that may be making excess noise.
Acoustic foam comes in either flat and sculpted textures, and foam with ridges can trap and dampen sound. It works well to control mid to high-range frequencies, and the thicker and denser it is, the better it works as sound deadening insulation. It is particularly useful for rooms such as recording studios or movie theaters, as echoes are also controlled, but sound-quality is actually improved.
Green Glue can reduce noise by 70% to 90% and can be used between sheets of drywall or other panels in your home. It works to dampen both low frequency sound as well as mid to high frequency sound. It can be used in a caulking gun and is easy to apply, and, although it is expensive, it is very effective when used as a caulk. It can even be used to stick MLV onto the walls or ceiling of your home.
Acoustic caulk is an elastic sealant that can be used to fill cracks, gaps and holes to prevent sound from leaking through. Like Green Glue, it can be used between drywall or around windows and doors. It is also paintable, so can be used around light fixtures or other appliances in the home.
Caulking works by preventing sound vibration movement. There are many different brands, but most are water-based and very easy to use. They’re also very durable.
Anti-Vibration Mats and Pads
Anti-vibration mats and pads are made of recycled rubber and can be used under many noisy appliances to help isolate impact and transfer vibrations to help with sound control. For example, you can use an anti-vibration mat under your washing machine or fridge, or use anti-vibration pads under the feet or wheels of your dryer or exercise equipment.
Not only do these mats and pads protect your home from excess noise, they’ll also protect your floors, counters and other surfaces from marks and scratches that could be caused by appliances moving as they vibrate.
Best Sound Deadening Materials For Car
Cars can be noisy. With lots of road sounds, clattering, vibrations and rattling, it can be difficult to enjoy driving anywhere. While you should definitely check there are no broken parts if you are hearing sound coming from your car, there are ways to help to reduce the sound heard with sound deadening products and materials. Let’s take a look.
What To Look For In Sound Deadening Materials For The Car
As with sound deadening materials for your home, you’ll want to make sure they are of high quality. The better quality they are, the better they are going to do a job of deadening sound produced. They’ll also last longer and usually be thicker and more durable, so spending a bit of extra cash on better quality materials is a good idea.
You don’t want anything too heavy when it comes to automotive sound deadening. Not only do you have to install the materials, but you’ll also make your car heavier. This will end up using more fuel when you are driving.
Cars go through a lot, so you’ll need to make sure the materials you use are durable. Not only do they need to be waterproof, but they also need to be oil proof and dirt-proof. Think about how messy your car gets both inside and out, and use materials that can withstand this.
Rolled vs. Pre-Cut
Some sound deadening materials, such as mats, can come pre-cut, so they are much easier to install. Others come rolled and you will have to cut them yourself. The downside to pre-cut materials is that you can’t be sure they are going to fit your space. Cutting rolled material can be difficult, too, but then you can ensure it is the right size.
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
Adding materials to the floor of your car is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of sound heard. This is because the floor is the largest area in the car and is also close to the wheels and the axle. MLV will provide as much sound deadening as a wall in your house, if it is thick enough.
Not only can MLV be used in the home, but it can also be used in the car. Again, it is expensive, but it is also worth it. It helps to reduce car noises, vibrations, road noise and rattling, and actually enhances the stereo system of your car at the same time.
MLV is flexible and permanently adhesive, and should be placed directly onto the metal body of the car and its trim will cover it, so it stays out of sight. You will need to make sure you apply it smoothly and without any wrinkles for it to work properly.
Sound Deadening Spray
Sound deadening spray is a rubberized material that can be applied inside the car doors, the trunk, engine compartment, wheel wells, and the underside of the car to help reduce noise that is heard. This is particularly useful for sound coming from parts of the car that you can’t quite get to.
It can take a little time to dry, but it is very effective. It is recommended that you do multiple light coats as this will cure faster than a thick coat. Once it is dried, it can be painted to match the rest of your car, so you don’t need to worry about the color.
Sound Deadening Mat
A car sound deadening mat can be made of MLV or rubber, cork or felt, and can be placed in the footwells and floor of your car to help with noise reduction. These can come rolled or pre-cut, but we recommend you buying rolled mats so you can ensure they will fit. They are more expensive, but cost-effective as you know you will be able to use them.
You can cut them yourself easily and either place them on the floor of your car, or stick them down with caulk. Make sure the mats are flush against the floor to prevent sound leakage, and you may wish to overlap them for further sound deadening.
Disadvantages Of Sound Deadening Materials
Unfortunately, as good as sound deadening materials are, they do have some disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the main ones below.
Doesn’t Block All Noise
Remember, sound deadening materials don’t block all noise. They drastically help to reduce sound produced by vibrations from a source, but you shouldn’t expect your space to be completely soundproof. If you are looking for a completely soundproof space, you will need to use extra soundproofing materials.
Sound deadening materials are not always the prettiest, and can completely ruin an aesthetic. It can be hard to find materials that fit in with your theme or decor, so keep this in mind.
Lots Of Materials Needed
It would be easy if we could just add one soundproofing material to a room and it solve all our noise problems. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. We often have to use multiple different soundproofing material to have any sort of effect, and you may find that using just one on its own really makes no difference.
You may also have to use a lot of a certain type of material to build up thickness and prevent sound waves from passing through, which can get expensive.
We hope this article has been useful in teaching you all about sound deadening materials and why they can be so useful. Sound deadening materials can be used both in the car and around your home to help reduce the amount of noise heard in your every day life, so, whether you are frustrating by clunking noises coming from your car or your washing machine making a racket, there are some tried and tested methods you can put in place to keep everything quiet. Which ones are you going to use?