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How To Soundproof A Room

In today's world of home theatres and surround sound movie watching many people decide to sound proof these rooms or areas from other areas in their homes. This is usually a very good idea and depending on what level of sound proofing you are looking for there are a few options out there.

Tools Required

Difficulty Level
5 / 12

For the hardcore designated home theatre room this can become very technical, expensive and over most DIYers ability, so I would suggest hiring a professional. But if you are looking to develop a room in the basement or somewhere in your house that will act as a family/video gaming/entertaining/movie watching room, then there are some good economical ways to help lower the transfer of sound from that room into other areas of your home.

So the easiest way to add some sound proofing to any wall or ceiling is by first adding batt type insulation between the ceiling joists or wall studs. Any normal batt insulation will do or you can use "Roxul" safe and sound insulation. The "Roxul" can be ordered at any lumber store or home improvement retailer and most are now carrying it in stock in my area. You will need to know the spacing of your wall studs and or ceiling joists, the depth or thickness that you will be installing and as well the square footage of the area you will be covering.

Once you have the insulation you can begin to install it. It will be necessary to sometimes cut the pieces to width or length with a regular utility knife with a sharp blade. Always cut it about 1/2" larger then you measured the space to be. This will allow a better friction fit to help hold it in place. Do not pack it in tightly just gently place it into the space, you need the air spaces in between the fibers of the material to trap the sound waves and muffle them and if it is packed in to tightly or full the sound will easily travel right through .Adding spray foam around things transferring through wall or ceiling cavities will help as well.

TIP: If the insulation is wanting to fall out in the odd spot in the ceiling, then tacking the odd 3" nail into the side of the floor joist will help hold it up there.

If you are doing a interior wall you can drywall right over the insulation but if it is a exterior wall then you must install a proper vapor barrier between the insulation and the drywall (ask your local building supply sales person what your local building code requires you to use for a vapor barrier poly). There are sound deadening types of drywall out there that you could use but for most multi-use type rooms standard drywall is going to be fine.

TIP: If I was going to be doing this in a basement I would always suggest using a moisture and mould resistant drywall.

On the ceiling of a basement you have a couple of ways to finish it. If you will be using drywall as the finished ceiling and you want pot lighting as well then you must make sure that you use pot lights designed for a insulated area because regular renovation pot lights in that now insulated ceiling will cause a fire!

If you will be installing a suspended ceiling system (drop ceiling) then once you install the insulation you will want to use something to help keep the insulation from falling out and onto the top side of the suspended ceiling. You could install rows of 1"x2" strapping every 24", fiber mesh material or exterior house wrap stapled well to the bottom of the floor joists to do this.

TIP: Do not use poly sheeting as it will not allow air flow. It would only be used if the ceiling area was a exterior roof space that would need to have vapor barrier.

If the suspended ceiling is to have pot lighting you can use renovation pot lighting as long as you have enough clearance between the top of the tiles and the bottom of the insulation and barrier you used to help hold it up. Remember that over time that barrier may sag, so adding a 1/2" thick by 16" square piece of plywood over every pot light location would be a smart thing to do to prevent a fire. If in doubt at all use the pot lights for an insulated space!

So you can see that this job requires some thinking and planning ahead but most DIYers can probably handle it. The same basic practices could be used for other sound proofing tasks as well like sound proofing a basement suite, sound proofing a bathroom or even sound proofing a laundry room. Just think it through and pre plan!

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