Most Effective Soundproofing Materials
The most effective soundproofing materials depends on where you are trying to soundproof and what noise you are trying to soundproof. How do you use the space and how does noise impact your use of it? There are different processes for how to soundproof a room for music vs how to soundproof a home office.
The Two Types of Soundproofing
First, a disclaimer: you can't completely soundproof a space as long as there is air. Anywhere air goes, sound goes too because sound travels via air.
There are two types of soundproofing:
Sound reduction , which stops sound from entering a space. Sound reduction will help keep your space free outside noises such as weather, outdoor conversations, and traffic.
Sound absorption, which stops sound already inside a space from echoing and reverberating.
Use these two types of soundproofing to:
- Identify the weakest areas where sound will enter and treat those. Sound waves, like water, will travel the easiest path, so plug those up first.
- Isolate problem areas. Sometimes it's easier to treat the source before the sound waves reach the space you want to soundproof.
Best Soundproofing Material
Neighbors, barking dogs, cars – stop it before it reaches your ears. Adding these soundproofing materials or soundproofing products to your home or office will reduce the sound that breaks through easy entry points like windows, doors, and even walls.
Soundproofing Spray Foam
Definition: Foam sprayed from a can that can be added as insulation to walls for insulation.
Best for: Existing walls, floors (between levels)
Mass Loaded Vinyl Sound Barrier
Definition: Heavy, versatile material that reduces noise wherever it is placed.
Best for: Hollow doors, between walls, floors, and ceilings, around pipes.
Definition: Like regular caulk, acoustic caulk seals gaps in windows, walls, and doors and blocks air. Acoustic caulk has added noise blocking properties to stop sound vibrations.
Best for: Cracks in window frames, doors, walls, ceilings.
Acoustic Window Inserts
Definition: Soundproof window inserts that fit onto existing windows to air seal. Made from high-grade acrylic to both reduce and absorb sound.
Best for: Single-pane windows, historic windows. They work on double-pane windows, but you will get less noise reduction.
Definition: Decorative sound absorbing wall panels (yes, decorative, why should you settle for plain?) absorb noise within a space in an aesthetically pleasing way. They come prefabricated or available to customize with your own art.
Best for: Rooms where noise echoes – large, flat surfaces like walls with no windows.
Definition: Soundproof underlayment is a rubber mat that you can place underneath other flooring materials to decrease sound transmission between levels. It can also eliminate noise from footsteps.
Best for: Creaking floors, upper levels.
Acoustic Floor Tiles
Definition: Acoustic floor tiles absorb sound during impact and from nearby sources.
Best for: Echoing room.
Comparing Most Effective Soundproofing Materials
Once you know where you are adding the soundproofing materials and what products you want, how can you compare which brand is the best? The best soundproofing material manufacturers will back up their product with a phone call discussing which types of noise it blocks or absorbs.
Many products also list their STC rating. STC, or Sound Transmission Class Rating, is a system that rates how well an assembly of building materials reduces or absorbs sound. The higher a product's STC rating, the better it is at soundproofing. See this STC rating chart for relative noise levels. It's a great way to compare products across brands and types.
The prices below are average for that type of window and may include installation costs. For example, the double-pane window cost is taken from Remodeling and is based on a 3×5 window. We tried to find windows that would have comparative STC ratings.
Watch Effective Soundproofing Materials in Action
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The inserts provided immediate results for the better. The inserts a virtually invisible which was better than expected. The biggest challenges were getting the accurate measurements which I Dow was helpful with and repositioning the blinds. Everything has worked out. We are planning to do this with other windows
We were excited to receive our Indows, but once we got them in, we were blown away! They match our woodwork almost perfectly. Installing them was far easier than we had anticipated, and we were immediately impressed by the noise reduction, as well as the ability to reduce the impact of the windows on our indoor temperature! Couldn't be more pleased and very excited to be able to add "custom" shapes for the top of our lancet windows.
The acoustic indow window worked better than I expected at blocking out noise. The only thing I didn't like was the shipping company (T-Force Freight). The shipping company was difficult enough that I decided to rent a U-Haul and pick it up at their warehouse.
Indow solves my noise problem due to highway traffic. I recommend this company for noise reduce solutions.
The process was simple and easy. I was a little nervous having to measure everything myself...but I got the inserts and they fit in our windows perfectly without any hassle. 1000% recommended.
As always with internet purchases, I was holding my breath on my recent purchase of inserts! However, everything suggested by everyone I spoke to via telephone, email and text, was verified when I received and installed my inserts!!! Nothing short of phenomenal; fit, sound deadening qualities, (yet to discover energy savings), and customer service is excellent!! I highly recommend this company and product!!
Good quality window inserts. Easy to install. Unfortunately, doesn't do much to block road noise that I was hoping it would help with. Website is clear on the uses so I can't say it was false advertising, just buyer error.
We ordered 4 Indow Window inserts to see how they worked on our steel casement windows. We are very pleased with the fit and finish, and especially the improvement in wintertime comfort. Steel casements present challenging issues when trying to improve efficiency. The only downside for our installation is it required the removal of the locking and operating hardware to work in concert with our window treatments. The attached photo is during installation with Indow inserts installed on the two left pair; not yet installed on the two right pair. Pretty minimal visual difference! I'm now ordering 17 more inserts for the rest of the house.
Our acoustic window inserts have definitely reduced the amount of street noise coming into our apartment. While we can still hear the train as the engines pass by the noise from the train cars is very muted. Likewise we still hear the drunken club patrons yelling, but it no longer seems like they are in the room with us. Our big negative would be that the blinds we enclosed in the space between our single pane and the insert melted and warped within the first week. I don’t think there was any mention in the directions about the possibility of heat build up and potential consequences. That might be good for people to know.
Finally, a solution that doesn't break the bank and allows you to keep your existing windows. We bought ours primarily for additional soundproofing as our builder used dual-pane glass. It makes a measurable difference - 20 dB. The bonus is the insulation value. It's been a mild spring and our main bedroom at the front of the house facing the morning sun is much cooler. I suspect it will be warmer in winter as well. If you follow the self-measure and installation instructions to the letter, they go in easily. We have floor-to-ceiling windows, so we had massive inserts, but it was still manageable for two people.
The measurement process was overly complicated - I understand the desire to get a tight fit into not perfectly square windwos, but a 17 page manual for something you can accomplish with math felt unnecessary. I also found the interface to be a bit challenging to work with when inputting fractions that necessarily had to be rounded but the system didn't like my entry. Otherwise, the inserts themselves fit well, very tight, noticeable noise reduction. I am so satisfied with them that I am considering placing another order (depending on whether I want to also spend the money to change window treatments).
What a great option for old homes with drafty windows! Our home's windows are so drafty that the curtains in our bedroom would move/blow when it was windy out. The communication with Indows was excellent, and our questions were answered promptly. We thought the measuring process would be a pain, and we were worried we would not be accurate enough, but the kit they sent along with the instructional videos made it very easy. The Indows were delivered in a large wooden crate, and they made it through shipping unharmed (just some dirt marks on the silicon tubing, most of it came off with Castille soap, but some dark smudges did remain on the white tubing--our only disappointment). Our windows are huge, so we installed the little safety chain provided and inserting them was a 2 person job. There was a little bit of a learning curve with the first Indow, but we can take them in and out fairly easily now. The fit was perfect, and we noticed a difference in the temperature of our home right away. Our house stayed warmer, our furnace ran less, and our curtains are no longer blowing in drafts. The product looks great, and blends right in with our woodwork! We will definitely order more for the few windows we didn't do, and we would recommend this company and product to anyone.
They really work! While I still hear traffic (mostly trucks and motorcycles) normal car traffic is virtually silenced. I'm still not able to sleep in the room because we get so many trucks I am able to use this room as an office space now, which was my goal. This room was once the noisiest room in my house and now I enjoy coming up here to watch tv. Thank you!