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What is the Best Soundproofing Material?

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Working in the field of soundproofing, acoustics and noisy neighbour solutions, a question we are frequently asked in relation to noisy neighbour problems is, “What is the best soundproofing material?” You’d think this would be an easy question to answer. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

For one thing there is no single type of nuisance noise. There are two types of noise transmission: impact and airborne; each of these variants call for a particular solution or soundproofing treatment.

You'll find a handy table at the end of this blog, explaining which is the best soundproofing material for each noise type.

If you haven't got time to read our blog post, why not watch our short video precis:

 

Airborne Noise

Put simply airborne noise is noise that travels through the air. It sounds like I’m stating the blindingly obvious, but we often think of air as nothing (consider the phrase “thin air”), whereas air is made up of atoms and molecules, and sound is a vibration of kinetic energy passed from molecule to molecule.

The best way to reduce the transmission of airborne noise is with dense materials. Although sound moves faster through a solid than it does a liquid or a gas, the density of the noise-inhibiting material is crucial. A substance that is more dense per volume has more mass per volume. Usually, larger molecules have more mass. If a material is more dense because its molecules are larger, it will transmit sound slower.

 

Best Soundproofing Materials for Airborne Noise

Construction materials with the necessary density to combat airborne noise include:

  • Cement Particle Board
  • Rock Fibre Slab
  • Chipboard
  • MDF Fibreboard
  • Gypsum Board
  • Plasterboard
  • Mineral Wool
  • Polymer Membrane
  • Vinyl
  • Weight Enhanced Barrier
  • Mass-Loaded Vinyl

 

Impact Noise

Impact noise is more accurately referred to as structural-borne noise, and is noise that is transmitted through the physical elements of a building. A commonly experienced type of impact noise is the click-clack of footfalls on the hardwood floor in the room above.

 

Best Soundproofing Materials for Impact Noise

Construction materials to combat impact noise tend to be ‘softer’ and more absorbent. They are sometimes referred to as resilient materials, and include:

  • Woodfibre
  • Chip Foam
  • Visco Elastic
  • Cross-Linked Polyethylene
  • Closed-Cell Polyethylene
  • PUR Foam
  • Cork

 

Soundproofing Materials for Airborne and Impact Noise

When soundproofing a party wall against the noisy shenanigans of an inconsiderate neighbour, you will generally be looking for a means of combating airborne noise. So: chipboard, rock-fibre slab, mass-loaded vinyl. If you’re looking to soundproof a floor against a noisy neighbour below, again, you’re looking at a dense material to reduce airborne.

If, however, you’re looking to reduce the amount of noise coming from the room or apartment above, the most effective solution is going to be a product applied to the floor of the space where the problem originates that tackles both airborne and impact sound. This is why it always pays to be on good terms with your neighbours… even if they are inconsiderate blighters.

Soundproofing products that combat both impact and airborne sounds are usually created from combinations of materials.

For example, a soundproofing product comprising chipboard, visco elastic strips, OSB and chipfoam would successfully combat airborne and impact sound. You can find an example of such a product here.

Similarly, a soundproofing product that comprised EVA-rubber-injected, closed-cell polyolefin foam sandwiched between two layers of weight-enhanced barrier would deliver both airborne and impact sound resistance. Click here for an example of such a product.

Which is the best soundproofing material

Take a look at our soundproofing materials table below: 

Soundproofing Material Soundproofing Material Type Noise Type Treated
Cement Particle Board Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Chip Foam Resilient Impact Noise Transmission and Vibration
Chipboard Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Closed-Cell Polyethylene Resilient Impact Noise Transmission and Vibration
Cork Resilient Impact Noise Transmission and Vibration
Cross-Linked Polyethylene Resilient Impact Noise Transmission and Vibration
Gypsum Board Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Mass-Loaded Vinyl Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
MDF Fibreboard Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Mineral Wool Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Plasterboard Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Polymer Membrane Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
PUR Foam Resilient Impact Noise Transmission and Vibration
Rock Fibre Slab Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Vinyl Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Visco Elastic Resilient Impact Noise Transmission and Vibration
Weight Enhanced Barrier Dense Airborne Noise Transmission
Woodfibre Resilient Impact Noise Transmission and Vibration

We hope you found this blog post useful. If you have any questions or can think of anything to add, please leave a comment below.

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