Selecting the right soundproofing strategy for your project

Soundproofing doesn’t need to be complicated, but there are several considerations and different materials to work with when thinking about soundproofing. Determining what to do to soundproof your space depends on 3 factors. The noise itself, where the noise is originating from and how much soundproofing or sound dampening is required.

There are two types of noise, airborne noise is as it sounds, noise travelling through the air. These include noises like a home Theatre, a dog barking or your neighbours having a rather loud debate about who’s washing the dishes. Airborne noise is the type of Noise that can, in most cases, be stopped with SONOpan combined with some standard other materials including insulation and drywall. The other type of noise is impact noise which is more difficult to deal with. Impact sounds are caused by vibrations in a building material through direct contact, such as heavy footsteps or chairs moving. There are several options available but to truly eliminate impact sound it has to be removed at the source by a membrane of some sort creating a separation between the floor and sub-floor. The second factor to be considered is how much sound dampening is desired. Simply installing SONOpan behind drywall in your basement ceiling will help dampen noise, while a double wall assembly may be required in a duplex scenario for sound and fire codes.

To determine the best strategy in your project, let’s look at what each product in this assembly image does including the value it brings vs. purchase and installation cost. From the image here we have insulation, SONOpan, drywall and resilient channels.

Let’s start with the drywall, because that’s likely what you’re going to be installing anyway. One sheet of 1/2” drywall will only give you minimal sound dampening performance, but it will do something and in most single family homes this is satisfactory. The benefit of ½” drywall is the weight, it’s also easier to cut and is less expensive than a 5/8” sheet. The ideal density of drywall for soundproofing is 2 sheets of 5/8” drywall, which will also meet code for a one hour burn time if required for neighbouring walls. When most people think of soundproofing materials, resilient channels also come to mind. These metal channels secure to the studs or joists on one side and the drywall on the other. They have louvres in the middle essentially allowing the drywall side to “float”. Resilient channels are beneficial in situations with heavy vibrational sounds. They are also the best option to reduce impact noise from the ceiling below because they do create that physical break however, don’t expect the impact noise to be completely gone. The catch is that resilient channels have a very high error rate when it comes to installation. If the screws are too long or driven too far into the material they create a connection short circuiting the channel. This renders the resilient channel completely useless when it comes to soundproofing. Insulation is beneficial because it stops echoing in the cavity and helps reduce certain sound frequencies. On its own insulation isn’t great at absorbing sound though, even the claimed “soundproofing” insulations only do so much. Noise will still travel through insulation and through the studs or joists. So what does SONOpan offer that these other materials don’t? SONOpan creates a solid continuous barrier to stop sound. It installs on top of studs and joists and below the ductwork. It also absorbs a wide range of sound frequencies through Noise STOP Technology. The varying densities within each panel absorb a wide range of sound frequencies from low bass to that high pitched squeak from that small dog next door.

So what’s right for your space? If it’s a single family home basic insulation, SONOpan and one sheet of ½” drywall is often enough. If you’re renting a space or building a home theatre that you want to contain then adding resilient channel or isolation clips can help. If you need to meet fire code then go with 2 sheets of 5/8” drywall, but if not it likely isn’t worth the extra effort. Having said this, each situation is different and these are very general suggestions. For the best option in your space, contact our experts at SONOpan and we’ll help you figure it out!