Many people think that soundproofing a room is a very expensive project. However, with the right knowledge of cheap soundproofing materials, it really doesn’t have to be.
I regularly get people asking how to soundproof a room on a budget, and I’ve produced many guides to explain this in more detail.
One thing I don’t often talk about, however, is cheap soundproofing materials. Getting the best value for money in a soundproofing project will require a bit of shopping around, but this list should give you a good idea of where to start.
The best cheap soundproofing materials
In this article, I will list out and explain which soundproofing materials are best amongst the cheap ones available in the market.
I will not be explaining how to use them in your soundproofing project but instead will focus on why the product is useful. However, I use all of these in other articles, so you’ll find plenty of information on how to use them elsewhere.
1. Sound clips
Sound clips are an effective (and inexpensive) way of achieving the same results as decoupling. They’re essentially small clips that you attach to support joists and then you hang the drywall from them.
The reason they’re so effective is because they have a rubber foot fitted that stops sound vibrations from passing through the structure. So, rather than completely decoupling the wall, sound clips isolate the drywall from its support joists, which breaks the transmission chain of sound waves.
You can find sound clips easily online, including on Amazon. These are regularly used by soundproofing experts when decoupling walls in already built spaces, as they prevent the need to completely rebuild the structure.
Obviously to achieve the best results you’ll need to take down one side of the wall to fit them. However, doing this also gives you chance to fill the cavity with insulation, which will further improve soundproofing in the room.
2. Mass loaded vinyl
Mass loaded vinyl (MLV) is one of the best products for soundproofing a space because it’s inexpensive, readily available, and is designed specifically for this purpose. The product comes in different densities and roll sizes, but you can find plenty here on Amazon.
The base material is vinyl (hence the name) but most manufacturers include other materials with high density, such as barium sulfate. The type of MLV you choose will be dependent on many factors, but remember that the denser the material, the more it reduces noise transmission.
MLV is so effective at soundproofing because it’s limp mass. This means that, along with being heavy and dense, it has almost no elasticity. A lack of elasticity means it’s harder for sound waves to transmit through the material because it doesn’t really move when the sound waves reach it.
One of the biggest benefits of MLV is that it’s also fairly easy to work with. It comes in a big roll that you can cut to size and fix to a wall with little issue, although you might find it easier to have some help because it’s obviously heavy.
3. Green Glue
Green Glue (see it on Amazon) is a brand name for acoustic sealant, which is useful for damping sound waves in a space. I recommend using it to fill any gaps in the room you’re soundproofing, both before you start and as you go along.
This video explains in more detail how to best use the product, but it can be used both for sealing gaps and sticking things together. For this reason I’d recommend using it instead of glue whenever you need to fix things, as you get the added bonus of sound wave damping too.
Unlike normal caulk, which is liquid and then dries solid, acoustic sealant retains a level of elasticity when set. This not only allows it to convert sound waves into heat energy, but also prevents it from cracking if the building moves at all.
Having this feature is useful when soundproofing because it means any gaps you fill won’t reappear later down the line. While normal caulk will crack if the building settles, acoustic sealant will move with the structure.
4. Weatherstripping Material
If you’ve done any research into soundproofing, you’ll know that doors and windows are problem areas. This is because of their purpose and structure, and for the most part there’s not much you can do about improving their sound blocking qualities.
However, one thing you should address is any gaps around the window and door frames. Sound waves act much like heat energy (and water) in the sense that they can fit through the smallest gaps, meaning these are definitely worth addressing as part of a soundproofing project.
Weatherstripping is designed for filling small gaps around external windows and doors to improve a space’s heat insulation. However, as we’ve established, soundproofing follows many of the same principles.
Another benefit is that it’s incredibly inexpensive and really easy to install. You can buy it on Amazon, or pick it up in your local DIY store. All you need to do is peel off the adhesive strip and then stick it in place.
5. Rockwool cavity insulation
Rockwool is a brand name of cavity wall insulation that’s designed specifically for acoustic management. Unlike normal wall insulation, which is usually made from fiberglass, this is made from mineral wool, which also makes it fire retardant.
It works by absorbing sound waves and trapping them in its open structure, which is also how thermal insulation works. I’d definitely recommend using Rockwool alongside plenty of mass, as this is the best combination for blocking sound from a room.
One of the biggest benefits of Rockwool is that it’s really easy to work with. While it’s one of the more expensive products on the list, it’s worth it for this reason alone. It comes in sheets that can be cut to size with ease, and it’s fairly light so can be fitted easily too.
6. Cheap Floor underlay
Hard floors are a big issue when soundproofing a room. They offer a large flat surface that’s perfect for reflecting sound waves around a room. Similarly, a hard floor creates issues for the room underneath because of the impact noise of footsteps.
Choosing the right underlay (here is my recommendation) will reduce the issue of impact noise and will also remove any potential space under the floor, which can create echoes within the room and underneath it.
While you can buy soundproof floor underlay, the normal product should be fine if it’s thick enough. I wouldn’t go any thinner than 3mm, but this will depend on how much space you have under the floor.
Underlay is also a good idea under carpet, simply because it also improves the thermal insulation of the room. Providing you take the floor up with care you should also be able to relay it after installing the underlay.
7. Resilient channels and hat channel
Resilient channels are a similar idea to the sound clips mentioned earlier. They’re designed to achieve the results of decoupling a wall without having to completely rip it down and rebuild it.
These are basically strips of metal that you attach to the stud, fix the hat clips on, and then hang the drywall from these. In essence they cut off the path of transmission for the sound waves by isolating the drywall from its joists.
You can also use resilient channels to isolate a ceiling if you want to create a completely soundproof room. One of the main benefits of these is that they’re really inexpensive to buy and easy to get hold of, making them a brilliant alternative to a full decoupling project.
8. Sound deadening mats
Another one of my favorite budget soundproofing are deadening mats. While these are designed for use in vehicles, there’s no reason they can’t be used in a house. Their purpose is to soundproof the vehicle’s cabin from engine noise, while also providing a level of thermal insulation.
One of the main brands is Dynamat (Amazon link), which is readily available online. They’re made from butyl rubber, which is well known for its insulation properties, but is also useful for soundproofing because it’s another example of limp mass.
The reason I love sound deadening mats for a home soundproofing project is because they’re so easy to install. They have self-adhesive backing, which you just peel off and stick down and smooth into place. It’s as easy as that!
Different categories of soundproofing
Soundproofing is the process of blocking sound from entering (or exiting) a space. It differs from acoustic treatment, which is the process of reducing echo and reverberation to improve the audio quality within a space. Acoustic treatment is common in large spaces such as churches or restaurants, and isn’t what we’re focusing on here.
In short, the process of soundproofing can be broken down into 4 distinct categories that all tackle the problem in different ways. These are:
This is exactly what it sounds like and is the most common method of soundproofing. Adding more mass to a structure simply makes it heavier, which makes it harder for sound waves to pass through.
While mass is fairly effective at combating airborne noise, it’s not as effective at reducing impact noise, as this usually requires more than making the structure heavier.
Decoupling is arguably the most effective method at soundproofing a space, and is commonly used in places such as recording studios that need to be as soundproof as possible. Properly decoupling a room isn’t really something you can do on a budget, but there are ways to achieve the same results.
Basically decoupling involves isolating parts of the path through which sound waves are transmitted. For example, the most common solution is separating the two sides of an internal stud wall to prevent sound waves from passing through.
This effectively involves having each side of the wall on its own separate joists so there’s no connection between them. This means that sound waves transmit into one side of the wall but get stopped as there’s nothing for them to pass into.
Damping is very helpful for soundproofing but should never be used on its own, but rather as a way of improving other methods. It basically involves reducing the resonance in a room, typically by absorption or dissipation. Everyone’s favorite Green Glue is an example of damping, as it turns sound waves into heat energy.
All we need to know for this article is that damping prevents the sound waves from building up and turning into sound, but this article from Mascoat explains damping in much more detail.
The final principle is sound absorption, which is fairly self-explanatory. Materials in this category absorb sound waves to prevent them from echoing around a space. While this makes up one of the principles of soundproofing, it’s important to remember that this isn’t blocking sound, but absorbing it.
Acoustic foam is the best example of this kind of material, and as I mentioned earlier shouldn’t be used on its own in a soundproofing project. In fact, unless your space is fairly large, it’s unlikely you’ll need too much of this. That said, sound absorption materials are useful inside wall cavities to prevent sound transfer.
Some final thoughts
As you can see, there are plenty of inexpensive products for soundproofing your home. The best advice I can give is to use this article to gauge your budget, and then plan around that. There’s no reason to spend a fortune, and planning everything in advance is the best way to understand the overall cost.