Do You Need To Cover A Whole Wall To Soundproof?

Sometimes, soundproofing is needed for certain parts of your home where you want to lessen the surrounding noise or make it completely quiet. But do you need to soundproof the whole wall to do that?

You don’t need to soundproof the entire wall. To soundproof a wall, you apply soundproofing material to 15%-30% of the surface area to block out a decent amount of sound. It is recommended that you start at a lower percentage. 

Do You Need To Soundproof the Entire Wall

Soundproof the Entire Wall?

Depending on how much you want to soundproof a room, you can work your way up and apply more soundproofing. This article covers how sound can leak in or out of a room, what you can do about it, and how much you need to soundproof a room based on your needs.

Also read: How Much Does It Cost to Soundproof a Wall?

Can You Soundproof Part of a Wall?

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You can soundproof part of a wall and achieve adequate soundproofing. You can do this by applying soundproof materials like acoustic panels to 15%-30% of the room’s surface area. However, your soundproofing material should not be your only consideration.

If you’re soundproofing a space with many flat surfaces where sound can reflect and echo (like a gymnasium or dance studio), a good rule of thumb is to soundproof around 50% of the surface area.

For a space that needs to keep both sounds in and noise out (like a home theater), the 50% soundproofing rule also applies.

For regular soundproofing, it’s a good idea to start with 15% soundproofing and work upward depending on your needs. This way, you won’t spend an excess amount on materials that may not be necessary.

How Sound Travels

Before I delve deeper into the specifics of soundproofing, it’s important to understand how sound works.

There are two types of sound you need to consider when thinking about soundproofing a room:

  • Airborne sound: As the name implies, this is sound traveling through the air. Examples include the sound of someone talking in the next room, music from a radio, or a dog barking outside.
  • Impact sound: This refers to the sound when an object hits a surface of the structure. Vibrations travel through that structure and transmit sound. A couple of examples are slamming doors or footsteps on the floor. 

Airborne sound and noise work like water. They can leak into a room from the outside or come from inside a room through the smallest of holes and cracks in the wall.

Additionally, noise can pass through the gaps of light switches, holes in the wall made for hanging pictures, and even windows and doors.

How To Soundproof the Entire Wall

Since sound and noise can come from almost anywhere, achieving adequate soundproofing can be challenging. Luckily, there are ways to ensure that your next soundproofing project is effective and stays within your budget.

Find Where the Sound Is Coming From

As you can imagine, soundproofing an entire wall can be pricey. When you have a wall that’s already pretty soundproof, the noise that manages to leak into a room may be coming from the gap under a door or even a window.

If your door or window is the problem, adding soundproofing materials like acoustic panels to your wall won’t make sense. You might need to use soundproof curtains or door weatherstripping instead of wall soundproofing.

To test where the sound is coming from, you can use your phone to play some loud music in the other room. Then you can walk through the space you want to soundproof. This way, you can get a solid idea of where the sound might be leaking.

When you’re thinking of applying soundproofing solutions and materials, finding these “weak spots” should be at the top of your list.

Soundproof Where the Noise Is Coming From

As a general rule, you should always soundproof the side of the wall where the noise is coming from. For example, if you’re trying to block the noise of the living room TV from getting into your home office, you apply soundproofing to the living room side.

If your kid and their friends practice their instruments in the garage, you want to keep the loud music from disturbing your neighbors. Therefore, you soundproof the inside of the garage.

When it comes to a home theater, you want to keep the sounds of your movie from getting out and block any outside noise from coming in and ruining the theater experience. In this case, you’ll need to apply soundproofing inside your home theater and on the outer wall.

Soundproof Depending on the Type of Wall

Soundproofing your wall mainly consists of sealing gaps where sound can leak. It also involves adding some kind of mass to your wall to better absorb and disperse sound vibrations. You can apply soundproofing materials to walls that are being constructed or already completed.

Soundproofing for Walls Under Construction

Fill the gaps/airspace between the drywall. Use batt insulation for this. Leaving the drywall hollow inside leaves space that can easily transmit sound and amplify it due to reverberation. On the other hand, this air space won’t be a problem for solid walls like those made of brick or concrete. Plaster walls still have that air gap, but the layers of plaster are thick enough to dampen a good amount of sound, such that loud music can barely be heard through it.

Soundproofing for Existing or Completed Walls

When you’re soundproofing for walls that already exist or have been completed, you’ll need the following materials.

  • Acoustic panels/ foam: You can install it on 15% of the wall surface and work up from there. These Ruonin x 6 Pack Decorative Art Acoustic Wall Panels (from Amazon.com) have a lovely painting design that looks classy in your living room while providing some soundproofing.
  • Soundproofing caulk/ tape: Use these to seal holes or cracks in your wall where sound might leak from. I recommend this Green Glue Acoustical Caulk (available on Amazon.com) because you can easily paint over it after it dries.
  • Double drywall: Installing an extra layer of drywall gives your wall more mass to dampen and absorb sound.
  • Soundproof wallpaper and paint: Though these materials can dampen some sound, they may be too thin to truly block out noise.

Final Thoughts

You don’t need to soundproof an entire wall to achieve adequate soundproofing. Applying soundproofing materials on 15%-30% of your room’s surface area can dampen noise sufficiently. The above range is a good number to work up from, depending on the amount of soundproofing you need.

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