Polystyrene is one of the most versatile materials available. It can be used for so many different things, from keeping drinks hot or cold to insulation for various building structures. It comes in a vast assortment of shapes, sizes, textures, and even compounds. Polystyrene can take on just about any form imaginable. So, let’s examine one of these uses of polystyrene
Polystyrene can be used for the purposes of dulling noise or providing a barrier for sound to travel outside of its immediate space. However, Polystyrene is not ideal for soundproofing professional environments like a music studio, but it is effective in the simplest form of soundproofing.
There are a few factors to consider in the relationship between soundproofing and polystyrene. Let’s dive into these and get to the bottom of exactly how to make any space a little less rowdy by using this multifaceted and fairly inexpensive material.
Polystyrene for Soundproofing
We will soon get into the basics of soundproofing and polystyrene. But let’s first talk about how this material can help fit the bill for dulling and dampening sound. As we know, it’s not easy to completely soundproof a room.
Why Use Polystyrene for Soundproofing?
Sound is essentially vibrations. Since polystyrene is an effective insulator, it can actually absorb the vibrations or sounds. If you want to test it out, try putting your phone in a regular old polystyrene cooler, turn on some tunes, and close the lid to see what happens.
Of course, there are all kinds of different products created from polystyrene that can be used for effective soundproofing. They are all meant for different applications and different levels of protecting against sound coming in or preventing sound from going out.
Polystyrene is an easy choice for soundproofing because it’s widely available. Most home improvement and big box stores carry polystyrene products that can be used for soundproofing.
Easy to Make
Polystyrene is a man-made material that’s fairly easy to produce. There are places all over the world that make polystyrene products. While some of the facilities are dedicated to other polystyrene products, there are many that make materials needed for soundproofing.
Soundproofing, especially for a professional space, is very expensive. But polystyrene is an option that doesn’t cost as much. Also, the fact that it’s so easy to find and mass-produced makes it even more affordable.
Easy to Work With
Unless you’re starting from scratch or adjusting something structural, adding polystyrene to soundproof a room is a fairly simple move. In most cases, you’re just adding something to an existing wall, ceiling, or even floor.
How to Soundproof with Polystyrene
There are a few easy ways that you can soundproof with polystyrene. Some are a little more in-depth and might require more effort than others. But, if you’re looking to add an extra layer of sound protection, one of these will do the trick.
If you’re in an apartment, or other close space, foam ceiling tiles (Amazon) might be a viable option for soundproofing an area. Naturally, just this one action alone won’t soundproof an entire area all on its own, but it can help.
This isn’t the most traditional of methods, but it will help to reduce the sound that comes out of your space or help with paper-thin walls that let sound leak in. Putting foam polystyrene cups on the wall will help do just that.
There are actual polystyrene sheets that are made just for insulating walls, although this is something that should be done by a professional. Unless, of course, you’re experienced with drywall. These polystyrene sheets are installed behind the wall itself. This is possibly the best method of soundproofing with polystyrene.
This is one of my favorites because it looks really neat when it’s done, and it uses leftover polystyrene. You can also use large pieces of polystyrene foam and cut them down into bricks. The goal is to have enough polystyrene foam rectangles to piece together, creating a skyline effect. When you’ve gathered enough of these, add them to a piece of foam board and install them on the wall.
What is Soundproofing?
Ok, so we’ve talked a bit about how you can use polystyrene to soundproof. But let’s get into the actual soundproofing aspect of it all. Soundproofing is basically keeping sounds in the area that they originated, i.e., whatever room they’re in. On the other hand, soundproofing is also a means of keeping noise from entering a certain area.
So, if you have neighbors, either in an apartment building or just living really close to your home, soundproofing is essential for helping to keep any of their noise from seeping into your home. Or, to prevent any of your sounds from leaking into theirs’. Other places, in addition to residential areas that need soundproofing, are:
- Music studios
- Movie theaters
- Restaurants, bars and nightclubs
- Gyms & yoga studios
Soundproofing is also important to do within a home. If you’ve ever tried to put a child to bed while your husband is watching “Die Hard,” you’re aware of just how much you need some sort of soundproofing in your house.
Although it’s hard to make something 100% soundproof without using professional materials, as you might find in a musician’s studio, you can do light soundproofing to at least dampen the sounds coming and going. Installing soundproofing materials in the walls, ceiling, and floors is the best way to do this.
Common Soundproofing Materials
There are lots of soundproofing materials available in a wide price range, and each one has its pros and cons. They’re also created to work with different spaces and building materials. Some of these materials are also better in certain environments.
While we’re mainly focused on polystyrene as a soundproofing agent, knowing the different materials out there can help you get a better overall idea of what kind of soundproofing you might be looking for, so when we’re all done here, you’ll be able to decide whether or not polystyrene is your best option. Here are some of the other common materials used for soundproofing:
- Mass-loaded vinyl sound barrier
- Acoustic mineral wood insulation
- Green glue soundproofing compound
- Resilient sound channels
- Soundproof drywall
- Acoustic caulk
- Soundproof blankets
- Soundproof curtains
- Soundproofing window kit
- Door seals and sweeps
- Soundproof floor underlayment
- Anti-vibration floor mats
- Acoustic partitions
- Soundproof wallpaper and paint
What is Polystyrene?
And now on to the polystyrene part of our discussion. Polystyrene is a versatile material that’s made from a polymer or synthetic styrene resin. It’s usually used as thin foam or film like you might see in a leftovers container from a restaurant. You might also hear it referred to as “Styrofoam,” but this is the actual brand name for a specific polystyrene company.
Uses of Polystyrene
If there’s something to be made from a lightweight but firm plastic or foam, then polystyrene is often the go-to choice. It’s affordable, easy to make, and of course, fairly durable. Not like, run-it-over-with-your-car durable, but a drop-you-leftovers-and-they’ll-survive durable. Here are a
few of the places that you’ve probably seen polystyrene:
- Plastic cutlery
- Shipping and packing materials
- Insulation in buildings
- Food packaging
Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of applications for polystyrene, but these are a few of the places that you’ve most like encountered the material. And, the different uses and applications really speak to the versatility of polystyrene. It’s hard to envision a product that can go from food storage to soundproofing, but it’s true!