Wallpaper For Soundproofing: Fact or Fiction?
Soundproof wallpaper seems to be a simple way to soundproof your home. Made from several layers of materials, this wallpaper is designed to absorb sound waves. Because you want to use the most effective soundproofing methods, we’re here to answer the question: does this actually work?
Let’s talk about soundproof wallpaper, its effectiveness, and some alternative methods.
Fact or Fiction – Does Soundproof Wallpaper Work?
Unfortunately, soundproof wallpaper is one of the least effective soundproofing methods. Even though it is thicker than normal wallpaper, it is not thick enough to block sounds.
Wallpaper is usually made of one layer of paper. Soundproof wallpaper is meant to be a less bulky soundproofing alternative, but its layers of paper cannot make a major difference in soundproofing. It is simply too thin to offer proper insulation.
Does Wallpaper Absorb Sound?
Soundproof wallpaper is made of multiple layers of paper. Instead of having one sheet of thin, patterned paper, it has extra layers for soundproofing. Some even have a layer of acoustic foam for added insulation.
The goal of soundproof wallpaper is to disrupt sound waves as they enter your home. They aim to add insulation to your walls, making your home a quiet space.
However, layers of paper just don’t work as well as other methods. It may remove some low, ambient sounds, but will not absorb high-frequency sound waves. You will still be able to hear loud noises from outside, but you might not notice your neighbors’ conversations.
Even if the wallpaper contains acoustic foam, it won’t absorb sound. Acoustic foam can only control the internal echoes of a room, not dampen high-frequency sounds. Soundproof wallpaper won’t be extremely effective unless you use it with other options.
Soundproof wallpaper will not absorb much sound by itself. But don’t worry, you can combine this with other solutions to actually soundproof your walls.
Best Soundproof Wallpaper Options
You might want to install wallpaper because of its low cost, variety of designs, ease of installation, or resistance to fire. Although it’s not ideal for soundproofing, it can improve the acoustics of a room.
Soundproof wallpaper can work well when paired with a few other soundproofing steps. Fortunately, most of these items are inexpensive. Soundproof wallpaper is much cheaper than other soundproofing materials and it is easy to install.
Even though a manufacturer might claim that its wallpaper is resistant to noise, it will likely have many limitations. For the best results, combine the use of wallpaper with either acoustic paint, acoustic tiles, mass-loaded vinyl, or drywall.
1. Acoustic Paint + Wallpaper
While soundproof wallpaper may not be effective on its own, it can work well when paired with acoustic paint.
Acoustic paint is known to be much more effective at soundproofing than normal paint. It is much denser, having ceramic microspheres and sound-absorbing fillers. These fillers have the key to soundproofing: thermacels.
Thermacels are vacuum-sealed cells with soft pigment inside. This functions similarly to a car’s suspension system. When sound waves try to travel through a wall, these thermacels move and absorb that sound energy. With soundproof paint, much less sound can enter a home.
Now, just one coat of paint won’t be as effective. After layering a few coats of acoustic paint and a layer of soundproof wallpaper, it can significantly reduce background noise.
Keep in mind that the thicker the paint, the more it can absorb sounds. We’d recommend painting three layers before using wallpaper. Make sure you cover the entire wall with paint because any gaps will lower its effectiveness.
After pairing these two methods, you should notice a difference in internal sound quality. This can dampen mid-range sound waves, although this is still minimal protection from loud sounds.
2. Wallpaper + Acoustic Tiles
You can also layer soundproofing materials on top of the wallpaper. The combination of soundproof wallpaper and acoustic tiles can not only dampen sounds but also add to the style of your home.
After you apply your soundproof wallpaper, you can add some acoustic tiles over it. These are 100% polyester, with a hexagon shape. They are designed to be very suitable for recording. If you are planning to create a home studio, this may be a great option.
Acoustic tiles can absorb sound energy and reduce reverberations, echoes, and mid to high-frequency noise. They not only work effectively but also look great. You can use them for decoration on your wall, choosing to arrange a few panels in a specific design, or completely covering the area.
These tiles are incredibly easy to install. All you have to do is apply double side tape to the corners of a panel and stick it to the wall. Then, you can repeat this process, placing panels wherever you’d like. You can order panels in black, white, or navy to perfectly coordinate with your interior design.
Although wallpaper is not ideal for soundproofing by itself, it can be layered with acoustic tiles for maximum sound absorption.
These tiles are also very affordable. You can get a pack of 12 for less than $50.
3. Mass Loaded Vinyl + Wallpaper
Mass-loaded vinyl is a great material for soundproofing. If you are concerned about the effectiveness of soundproof wallpaper, you can install MLV and then use the wallpaper over it.
MLV is specially made for soundproofing. It not only is a sound barrier but also absorbs noise. Unlike many soundproofing materials, it is flexible and durable. This makes it very versatile, being able to soundproof a variety of places.
This material can be difficult to install, so you might need a second pair of hands. Mass-loaded vinyl comes in a large roll which can be hard to handle by yourself.
You’ll need to measure the wall and cut the mass-loaded vinyl as needed. Then have one person hold the MLV in place on the wall while you use an adhesive, screws, or nails to secure it.
After you’ve installed the MLV, you are free to add wallpaper or paint. Mass-loaded vinyl is still effective underneath these materials. When paired with soundproof wallpaper, it can make a room much quieter.
The only downside of using MLV is its price. It can cost between $1 and $2.50 per square foot. When you’re covering the walls of an entire room, this cost can add up quickly.
4. Drywall + Green Glue + Wallpaper
One of the best ways to soundproof a wall is by adding a second layer of drywall. The extra thickness of the wall will block more sounds than before. After you add new drywall, you can use soundproof wallpaper for more protection.
Purchase sheets of drywall that are around 5/8 inches thick. The thicker the drywall, the more it will be able to absorb outside noise.
Use a stud finder to find the studs in the wall. Mark these areas with a pencil. Then screw the new drywall onto the wall, making sure to attach it to the studs.
To seal the edges of each drywall piece, use green glue noise-proofing compound. Apply a layer of this in between the drywall, especially near the ceiling and wall edges.
Green glue is a soundproofing compound that was made to reduce all levels of noise. It comes in either a tube or a bucket, depending on how much product you need. If you don’t use this to seal drywall, sounds could leak through the cracks, disrupting your quiet living space.
Once you have hung the drywall and waited long enough for the green glue to dry, you can apply soundproof wallpaper. Make sure that the surface is completely smooth, or you may have bubbles in the finished result.
Soundproof wallpaper, when used by itself, doesn’t do much to block unwanted noise. To get the best results, you’ll need to combine it with other methods.
You can use acoustic paint, acoustic tiles, mass-loaded vinyl, or a new layer of drywall to maximize the effectiveness of soundproof wallpaper.
If you like the idea of using soundproof wallpaper in your home, remember that it is too thin to insulate a wall. It can only reduce low-frequency noise and improve sound quality when layered with other materials.