If you are soundproofing on a budget, you may be tempted to look at using some everyday items around the house for soundproofing rather than using specially made soundproofing equipment. This could be potentially fraught with danger. Often the materials we use in place of the real stuff turns out to be unwieldy, short-lasting, and almost as expensive. Here are a few common materials that people will try to use for soundproofing, but really shouldn’t.
- Egg crates – This is probably the most common “soundproofing” material that people will try to use. They will go to amazing length to procure large quantities of this stuff, but unfortunately it does diddly squat. Egg crates have no sound blocking ability. They may have some sound absorption activity, so the sound in the room may sound nicer, but they won’t stop any sound from annoying the neighbours. Being made out of cardboard, they are not very durable either. Any moisture and they will begin to get mouldy, becoming smelly as well as being inefficient.
- Mattresses – Nailing mattresses to the wall is another commonly recommended budget option for soundproofing. Strangely enough, this could actually work in some circumstances – if you have covered the entire wall and acoustically sealed in between the mattresses, then they will have some sound blocking ability. Of course, the downside is that they are bulky, ugly and relatively expensive.
- Regular foam – Again, this may provide some benefit in sound reduction. But you are better off using the specially designed acoustic foam. Regular foam is more likely to break down and perish, while not being as effective as the proper materials. The amount of money you would save by using this product would be lost in the extra soundproofing needed, and the need for replacement as the material perished.
- Carpet – Nailing carpet to the walls is another way to achieve little at great effort and considerable expense. Carpet has no soundproofing abilities at all. It does provide some acoustic enhancement by absorbing reflections, but you will achieve no soundproofing from using this product.
- Cellulose Foam – Filling your walls with this foam will have negligible benefit. It might seem like filling your walls with insulation is a guaranteed improvement in soundproofing, but this is not necessarily so. An empty “dead” mass of air (i.e. well sealed) is actually a very effective sound blocker. Filling this with foam will probably not improve your results at all, and in the worst case scenario could hinder it. If you do want to use insulation in your walls, then a specially designed product such as Rockwool will give you the best results.
When it comes down to it, it is a lot smarter to use proper soundproofing materials rather than repurposing materials that just aren’t up to the job. You will get better results, it is easier to do, and your efforts will last longer. Unless you are really strapped for cash, have access to a very cheap supply of one of the above materials and don’t mind things going pear-shaped, you should stick with the proper materials. It will save you money and headaches in the long run. The best cheap soundproofing is the kind that you only have to do once.