Music studios, even the ones at home and your home theater, and living room, should have their soundproofing features. To do this, you can install soundproof foam. However, properly installing soundproofing foams is integral for them to work.
There are three methods you can use to install soundproofing foams:
- Impaling Clip
- Adhesive Square.
Using an adhesive is the easiest. The Z-clip will make your foams removable. Meanwhile, impaling clips will require you to use screws to install the foams.
Also read: Can You Paint Soundproofing Foam?
Installing soundproof foams is beneficial. However, such is not as easy as you may think. If you incorrectly mounted them on your home studio’s walls, your soundproofing foams will be useless.
What are Soundproof Foams?
As the name suggests, soundproof foam is a porous foam used for sound absorption. The primary purpose of this material is to reduce and control background noises. It can weaken the soundwaves and echoes carried by air, thus reducing their noise level.
Apart from your home’s wall, you can also mount soundproof foams into your doors, ceilings, and any other part that would allow them to absorb noises, echoes, and vibrations.
Moreover, this soundproofing material requires a strategic placement so that it can effectively control the bouncing soundwaves around you.
Moreover, soundproof foams are also helpful for large rooms that have reverberative surfaces. Some examples are:
- Concert halls
Since these places have a huge interior, soundwaves can freely reverberate, which then results in echoes.
If a room is unmanaged with acoustic materials, sound waves will bounce around a room through walls. If this happens, the room will become noisy and disturbing. However, if the soundwaves will hit a sound-absorbing material, there will be an echoing sound. It will repeatedly happen until the noise is no longer audible.
The Science Behind Soundproof Foams
When you have your time at home, you would no doubt want to rest without any noise disturbing you. But this is not possible if the noises from the outside will keep on passing through your walls and windows.
On the other hand, if you are recording a song or podcast in your music studio, the vibration and sound waves you make will bounce around the walls. If this happens, your recorded audio will have low quality and be filled with background noises.
Background noises can pass through your walls, windows, and even doors. The various sounds can get in and out of your home, disturbing you within your premises. Fortunately, you can obstruct these annoying noises using suitable soundproof foams.
Whenever there are a sound saturation process, airborne and acoustical energy converts into heat. When acoustic foams absorb sound energy, they transform noises into heat, resulting in a reduced noise level.
The way of transmittance states that there are two types of sound that people would want to insulate:
- Airborne sound
- Solid borne sound
In soundproofing, the sound absorption complies with acoustic’s mass law. It states that a particular acoustic material’s soundproofing property relies on the ratio of its mass area. Meaning, the greater a material’s mass is, the more difficult it will be to vibrate this material. As a result, it becomes more efficient in insulating sound.
Most soundproof foams use air movement or molecular velocity to reduce sound. The air moves through the material that absorbs sound. The air essentially carries the soundwaves and vibrations that you hear.
When the air moves through the soundproofing panel, it processes heat, allowing it to absorb the soundwaves. As a result, there is a reduction in the amplitude of the noise. In addition, this process also weakens the noise reflection, causing the sound to become dull.
On the other hand, solid borne sound refers to the hitting of soundwaves into solid structures like walls. When these noises hit structures that do not have soundproofing properties, the sound reverberates, causing the room to have unwanted background sounds. If you install soundproof foams on these solid structures, the foams will absorb the sound, stopping its vibration.
The Pros and Cons of Soundproof Foams
If you work from home or record in a studio, you know how unwanted noise can cause a considerable disturbance. Fortunately, you can avoid these noises using soundproof foams. However, one thing worth noting about soundproof foams is that they cannot wholly block internal noises. Instead, they absorb sound waves to make them less audible.
Below are the significant benefits that soundproof foams can offer:
1. Improved quality of sound
Soundproof foams can excellently keep external noises out of your premises. But apart from that, they also work very well in improving the quality of sound you are making. For this reason, it is excellent for use inside recording studios. Installing soundproof foams will allow you to achieve a clear, crisp, and clean sound.
2. Undisturbed and quiet surroundings
Your neighbors, their kids, and even their pets can create unintentional noises from time to time. Some people live near the streets who are constantly bothered by the noises that vehicles make. It can be disturbing for people who are in a work-from-home setup. This noise is difficult to control. For this reason, it would be an excellent idea if you manage it.
3. Added privacy
Just like your neighbors, you may sometimes make noises that you do not know would disturb them. Even if you do not intend to disturb them, they will be able to hear the sound you make.
But you can prevent this from happening if you have soundproof foams around your walls. The soundproofing material will absorb the noise you make, making it a lot quieter once it reaches your neighbor.
The Disadvantages of Soundproof Foams
Soundproof foams are genuinely beneficial. However, just like any other materials, they also have their own set of disadvantages.
There are only two reasons why soundproof foams can be disadvantageous:
- The materials used to fabricate these foams is not safe in many ways
- They are not effective when not installed properly
Most soundproof foams have materials that are prone to burning. Polyurethane is the most common material in soundproof foams. When burned, polyurethane releases a high amount of smoke. For this reason, it is not ideal for installing soundproof foams in a kitchen or other places where you start a fire.
In addition, soundproof foams will become useless if improperly installed, including sealing the gaps between the panels. The acoustic foam will not absorb much noise and will allow soundwaves to reflect or bounce back.
Many homeowners who plan to install soundproof foams in their premises follow basic instructions that they find online. However, not all of the instructions you will find will teach you the correct method. For this reason, you need to ensure that the instructions you will follow came from a professional in the soundproofing industry.
How To Install Soundproof Foam
As mentioned, the proper installation of soundproof foams is essential if you want to achieve their full benefits. While you may think that it might be difficult, the right guide will make it simple for you.
Three steps to soundproof foam installation:
- Cleaning the wall
- Taking measurements
- Installing the foam
While that sounds easy, you need to ensure that you are doing them correctly. That said, below is a guide on how you can correctly install your soundproof foams:
1. Clean the wall where you will install the foam
When your walls are not clean enough, the adhesive you will use to install your foam will not adhere properly. For this reason, always start the installation process by cleaning the surface of the wall using denatured or isopropyl alcohol.
Use a clean rag or cloth to wipe the area and then wait for it to dry. It is important to note that using standard cleaning agents is not advisable because the ingredients in them may reduce the strength of the adhesive.
2. Measure and cut your acoustic foams
After choosing the walls where you will install your soundproof walls, the next thing you need to do is to measure the wall’s dimensions. Doing this will ensure that your soundproofing materials will evenly fit the walls.
Your soundproof foams do not have to cover the entire wall for them to absorb sound. But it would be better for you to cover them for better results comprehensively.
After getting the dimensions of where the foams will be installed, lay the soundproofing material on the floor and measure the length and width, they will cover. Once you are sure of the measurements, cut the soundproofing material using a carving knife or any sharp tool.
3. Install your soundproof foams
When you have done all the preparations, the only thing left to do is to install the soundproof foams into place.
Below are the methods that you can use to install your soundproof foam:
Using an adhesive spray
The easiest method to mount your soundproof spray on the wall is by using an adhesive spray. When doing this method, the first thing you need to do is to assemble the spraying area by covering it with old newspapers.
It will ensure that you will not accidentally spray the adhesive on the areas that are not supposed to be present. After this, spray the adhesive at the back of the foam. Next, stick it onto a cardboard sheet.
Put pressure on the foam to make sure that it will adequately adhere to the cardboard.
Once stuck together, set it aside and let it rest for an hour or two. Once you are sure that the adhesive is already dry and the foam will not move when you touch it, cut the cardboard in the same shape as the soundproof foam.
Moreover, it is essential to keep the area at a room temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) when mounting the foam using an adhesive spray. It will ensure an excellent adhesive function. In addition, the area should stay at this temperature for a couple of days after the installation as the adhesive needs to cure.
As an alternative, you can also use an adhesive square to complete the installation process. You can purchase adhesive sprays at your local hardware or in the store where you bought the foams.
To begin with, this process, mark the wall where you will position the soundproof foam using masking tape or pencil. Remove the paper liner from one side of the adhesive square and stick it at the back of the foam.
Press it firmly for about 30 seconds to ensure that the adhesive will stick tightly on the soundproof foam. Finally, please take off the paper from the other side of the adhesive square and carefully mount it on the wall that you marked. Once again, apply pressure for about half a minute.
If you are not sure about the number of the adhesive squares that you need to buy, take a look at the reference below:
- 1 inch of foam – two adhesive squares
- 2 inches – three adhesive squares
- Three and four inches – four adhesive squares
Using a Z-clip
We can describe Z-clips as a pair of construction fasteners. Using this, you will be able to hang your soundproof foam without causing any damage to your walls. Additionally, this installation method will let you remove and re-mount your soundproofing material anytime you want.
Before installing your soundproof foams using z-clips, the first thing you need to do is to add markings on the wall where they will be mounted. Prepare the number of z-clips that you need for the size of your foam and screw them on the wall where you added markings.
Next, find the corresponding pair of each z-clips and use construction adhesive to adhere them onto the walls. Once you are sure of placing the z-clips on the walls, screw them on and hang your soundproof walls.
Using an impaling clip
The most traditional method of soundproof foam installation is the use of an impaling clip. But one thing worth noting is that the foams you have purchased need to have a protective layer underneath them.
You need to check the foams that you chose before finally buying them. Or, if you already have your soundproof foams at home, you first need to check if they apply to this installation method.
To begin with, installing your foams using impaling clips, use a pencil to mark the walls where you will position them. Make sure that your markings are accurate, as they are where you will screw the clip.
Next, screw–on your impaling clip about four inches from where you will position the top of the foam. Depending on how large the foam is, you may need more than one clip. Then put some construction adhesive on the sides of your impaling clip.
Once the adhesive is enough, press your foam onto the wall and put pressure on it. It is going to make sure that the impaling clip is penetrating on it correctly.
Firmly pressing the foam will also make sure that it will hold in place while the adhesive is still wet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I hang my soundproof foam without damaging the walls?
If you are living in an apartment, then chances are you cannot use a z-clip or an impaling clip to mount your soundproof foam. Using adhesive squares and sprays is also not recommended as they can leave residue on the wall once you have removed the foams. However, there are still two installation methods that you can choose from:
- Using 3M command strips – a type of adhesive commonly used on picture frames. 3M command strips do not leave residue on walls.
- Mounting the foam on other surfaces – To leave no damage on your wall, you can first stick your soundproof foam on plywood or thick cardboard. After putting them in place, hang them on the wall. Not only will this trick prevent damage to your wall, but it will also allow you to move the foam around.
Is soundproof foam effective?
Acoustic foams do work. However, there is a common misconception that this material is used to block noises. But in reality, soundproof foam only absorbs soundwaves to make them sound quieter. It cannot stop a sound entirely.
Using soundproof foams is an effective method to reduce the noises that you hear on your premises. But this material must be mounted on your wall correctly so that it can effectively absorb echoes and soundwaves. If you installed soundproof foam and the sound you hear is still loud, then chances are you missed a step during the installation process.
- Acoustic Foams — Sustainable or No?, Triple Pundit, https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2015/acoustic-foams-sustainable-or-no/33601/
- Acoustic Foam, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_foam/
- P.S. Liu, G.F. Chen, General Introduction to Porous Materials, Science Direct, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/sound-insulation/
- Jonas Brunskog, Structure-Borne Sound, DTU, https://www.act.elektro.dtu.dk/Research/Research_fields/Structure-borne-Sound/
- Andrew Kan, Install Acoustic Foam Fast! Without Damaging Your Wall!, Medium, https://medium.com/@AndrewKanFilm/installacousticfoam-5ea0d6dddd45/
- Why Does Foam Absorb Sound?, Soundproof Cow, https://www.soundproofcow.com/foam-absorb-sound/