Are you fed up with noise pollution entering your home and disrupting your life?
You are not alone.
In recent years noise complaints have soared, and with national housebuilders using little more than timber and plaster to separate rooms, it’s no surprise that the soundproofing industry is booming, so to speak.
But how much does it cost to soundproof a wall? What options are there and how effective are they?
Whether your issue is with an external or internal wall, we think you’ll find our guide insightful.
On this page you’ll discover:
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Basic Principles of Soundproofing
There are two different types of noise:
Airborne Noise – This is a sound that travels from one room to another via air particles, high pitch noises such as children’s screaming and whistling tend you travel this way.
Flanking Noise – This is usually an impact sound that travels via the materials used in the construction of the home. Blocks, timber and plaster can vibrate and this allows sound waves to enter your home. This type of sound is often described as low pitch or bass-like. Washing machines, stamping and dropping items onto hard floors are typical culprits.
As a general rule of thumb; fibrous materials work well at blocking high pitch noises while rubber sheets and beads stop flanking noise.
These two materials only work as part of a properly constructed wall and should be used together.
Option 1 – The Most Effective Method
The best way to soundproof a wall is to create a second wall in front of the original and leave a gap of around 100-150mm between the two. This gap can be filled with sound absorbing materials such as foam, fibrous material and rubber sheets. To maximise the sound performance of the new wall, any contact with the old wall should be minimised – don’t forget that sound travels via vibrations.
One option is to secure the new wall at the floor and the ceiling, with only minimal contact points in the wall itself. This is often referred to as a floating or standalone wall.
Unfortunately, this type of wall requires a lot of work, and you’ll lose a minimum at least 100mm off the wall. The good thing about this option is you can fill the gap with plenty of loose fibrous material to absorb the sound waves.
Thickness: 100 – 150mm
Airborne sound reduction: 26-30db
Impact sound reduction: 24-28db
Another option, which is more popular although not quite as effective, is to fix a new wall directly onto the existing wall using steel bars or timber batons. A gap of around 30mm is filled with a fibrous membrane that is glued to the old wall. Two layers of special plasterboard are then secured to the bars with a rubber membrane sandwiched between the two.
This option isn’t as effective as the new plasterboard wall is in direct contact with the old wall (via the fixing bars) and vibrations can still travel through, although to a much lesser degree.
This is the most attractive option because it can be constructed with materials purchased off the shelf and you’ll only lose 55-60mm of the wall.
Airborne sound reduction: 20-22db
Impact sound reduction: 8-10db
Option 3 is to fix a thick (2cm) rubber sound absorbing mat directly to the old wall and fix two sheets of plasterboard over it. For extra protection, you can add a thin rubber sheet sandwiched between the two plasterboards.
This option isn’t as effective as the previous two options at preventing impact noise because the new plasterboard is in direct contact with the old wall and some vibrations will still pass through.
It works fairly well at blocking airborne noise though:
Airborne sound reduction: 12-16db
Impact sound reduction: 5-7db
Option 4 (stud wall only)
This option is ideal for those that cannot afford to lose any space in the room. It stops some airborne noise but does little to block impact noise.
The original plasterboard is removed and the void filled with an acoustic Rockwool.
Soundproofing plasterboard is then secured in place with a plaster finish.
Airborne sound reduction: 5-10db
Impact sound reduction: 1-5db
For improved performance, add a thin rubber membrane and an extra layer of plasterboard. This will increase the system thickness to around 20mm but will improve airborne sound resistance.
The Materials Used in a Typical Wall Soundproofing Project
While the exact list of materials will differ and depend on the option you choose, you may find this list of materials and links useful:
Soundproof rubber mats and membranes come in many thicknesses, and this is just one example.
Acoustic sealants such as this one should be used when sealing plasterboard gaps and joints.
Putty pads are used behind sockets to keep out the noise; they are flexible and fireproof. This is a well-known brand, they also have a datasheet on their website.
Plastic pipes such as those used for waste are very noisy, extra layers of insulation can reduce the noise transfer.
How Long Will It Take a Professional to Soundproof a Wall?
It’s very difficult to predict how long the work will take as every project is different.
Most of the work on a typical wall can be completed in one day with a plasterer needing to come back for a second day just to finish off.
You can expect the work to take longer if:
- You need more than one wall proofing
- The wall has lots of electrical sockets, wiring, radiators or pipes etc. that need to be re-routed or extended etc.
Cost to Soundproof a Wall
A local tradesperson will probably charge around £250 – £350 labour per day for a team of two, depending on where you live.
A specialist soundproofing company will probably charge closer to £600 or £700.
The price below is a price for a single wall approximately 5metres in length, it includes all materials and labour, but excludes painting/decorating.
|Option 1||£1100 - £1600|
|Option 2||£1000 - £1400|
|Option 3 + 4||£800 - £1200|
Is This Work Suitable For DIY?
The process of securing timber or metal rails to a wall and adding layers of insulating material and plasterboard isn’t a project that requires a lot of skill.
However, moving power sockets, extending wiring, removing and resetting radiators etc. might be too much for the typical DIYer.
Plastering is also an area that should be left to a pro as it can be difficult to get a neat finish.
Other Options To Try
Windows let in much more than just light, even double glazed units can allow an unacceptable level of noise.
You have a few options:
- Upgrade to a newer double glazed window that’s been sound tested.
- Change the window to a triple glazed unit – these let in much less noise than double glazed windows.
- A cheaper option is to install a secondary glazed window whilst leaving the original in place.
Thick rubber mats can be placed underneath white good such as washing and drying machines.
They block most of the vibrations from a typical washing machine.
These are very handy if you live in a townhouse, have converted a cellar or you have an “upside down” house – this is where the kitchen isn’t located on the lowest floor.
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We hope you’ve found our guide to soundproofing options and costs to be informative.
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