I was a rebel teenager when I became a huge fan of death metal.
Day and night, I would be in my room, playing my favourite songs at full volume.
But my parents couldn’t stand it (obviously).
And I hated it whenever I was told to turn off the music.
One day I stumbled on this article on the internet which suggested using egg cartons for soundproofing a room.
I was instantly hooked and so, I asked myself…
‘Can I soundproof my room with egg cartons’?
Well, here was a cheap and easy way I could soundproof my room. And I set about plastering my room away with egg cartons.
Need I say the results were not pretty? My walls looked horrible. But the more important question is, did all my efforts to soundproof a room with egg cartons work?
A quick search online for ways to soundproof your room will throw up many cheap DIYs. Some of these are:-
Carpet The Floor
It is true that hardwood floors and concrete floors allow sound to travel more easily. However, a carpet or a rug can only offer some amount of sound absorption and no soundproofing.
This will help in reducing sound echoes in the room but will not keep sound from travelling through the walls and the floor.
Hang Heavy Mattresses On The Walls
Some would argue that since mass is a key player in soundproofing an area, increasing the mass of the walls this way would help a lot.
Though this does offer some amount of absorption as well, it is far from an effective way of soundproofing a room. Not just that, it is such a pain to get those mattresses on the walls.
Apart from these usual suspects, some of the sites also suggest glueing empty egg cartons to the walls. Now before you spend a whole Sunday trying to paste egg cartons on your walls, let’s see if egg cartons can really make a room soundproof.
But first, we need to get the concept of soundproofing right.
What is the science behind Soundproofing?
We know that a room is soundproof if no sound leaks out. But it is equally important that that sound does not leak in either.
Time for some technical stuff 🙂
We need to find ways to control the vibrations created when sound waves interact with the walls, ceiling and floors.
Let’s think about it this way. Sound travels from one point to another through the particles in its path. On touching another particle, the sound energy makes it vibrate. This particle then relays the energy to the next particle and so on. In this way, sound moves from one point to another until it reaches our ears.
Just like we can stop cars on the road by putting up barriers, we can stop sound from travelling. Or at least slow it down enough so that it can barely be heard.
So our aim is to make the walls of the room act like barriers (mostly). Practically, perfect soundproofing is not possible. However, we can find ways to make a room virtually soundproof.
The Elements Of Soundproofing
Many people think it is not that difficult to soundproof a room. They are wrong. Soundproofing is not an easy job. A fair deal of knowledge about the right techniques is required to make a room soundproof.
In most of my articles on this site, I mention the four elements of soundproofing. Because these are very critical if you want any meaningful results. Here they are again.
Now let’s see how egg cartons perform on these four.
Materials which have a higher mass are more difficult to move. To a certain extent, this is true for sound.
It is more difficult to hear sounds from across a thicker wall than a thinner wall. This doesn’t mean that heavy concrete walls will make a room soundproof because concrete is a good conductor of sound.
Drywall and MDF are some good materials as they are heavy and poor conductors of sound as well.
Egg cartons are flimsy and have next to no mass. Some people suggest stapling them together to increase mass. This actually a stupid idea.
It is a common belief that egg cartons can be used in professional studios to increase sound absorption.
Nick Colleran, the Vice President at Acoustics First, conducted some experiments with egg cartons. He wanted to find out if egg cartons could be used to absorb sound.
Nick Colleran found that egg cartons have a Noise Reduction coefficient of 0.40. This did not matter because it did not give the same results at all frequencies.
So, egg cartons are not good at absorption.
In damping, the aim is to make it difficult for sound waves to move beyond the walls. To do this, a viscoelastic coating is used which converts the sound energy to heat energy.
These become dead panels for sound waves. Damping compounds are special materials which reduce the sound vibrations of walls. A reduction in vibrations of walls implies that less sound is transmitted through them.
Egg cartons do not provide any advantage in this process either.
Decoupling requires the creation of an insulated air chamber between two layers of heavy mass.
Again, egg cartons do not have a great mass, to begin with. Moreover, air trapped between two egg cartons is not going to be significant.
Not to mention the additional problems associated with building and installing two layers of walls built with egg cartons.
Verdict On Soundproofing A Room With Egg Cartons
So, egg cartons are not really good at soundproofing as many would like to believe. Egg cartons have very little mass and are quite porous.
These are not the features of a good soundproofing material. Their wavy shape is similar to the professional grade of acoustical panels. But, they hardly absorb sound, maybe just a bit.
But they are definitely not the right option for soundproofing a room. Besides, pasting so many egg cartons in your room is dangerous. They are a potential fire hazard.
Do not lose heart though. It is possible to soundproof of a room with ways that give good results. Some of the things you could do are:-
Hanging Soundproof Curtains Over Windows
It is easy to see how windows make your room less soundproof. The glass panes have a lower mass than concrete walls and allow sound to travel with ease.
While installing soundproof curtains, make sure that the curtains cover the windows completely and reach the floor.
Covering Up Doors With Soundproof Blankets
The doors also provide a good path for the sound to travel. It may not be possible to buy a soundproof door as they are really expensive. You can use soundproof blankets to help block sounds coming from across the door.
These blankets can also be hung on the walls. Blankets will not work as well as a professional solution but are a good stop-gap solution.
Placing Speakers On Anti-Vibration Pads
If you have really loud speakers, you can try placing them on anti-vibration pads. These will not break the bank and can be found easily in hardware shops.
Anti-vibration pads are effective for washing machines but can also be effectively used with sound equipment.
Installing Draft Stoppers On Doors
The chink of space between the door and the floor is enough to cause sound to spill in and out of the room. Draft stoppers do not cost a lot of money.
By installing these for doors, you can gain sound isolation. Make sure to install them in such a way that they glide over the surface of the floor.
It is clear that cheap DIY can never substitute professional soundproofing. But, we can achieve a decent amount of sound isolation by using the right techniques smartly.
Trying to soundproof a room with egg cartons is a waste of time and effort. So, rule this one out.
Thanks for reading! Before you go, take a minute out and check out my top recommendations for soundproofing products.