Homemade and professional tricks to make friends with your neighbors, even when you practice the difficult passages
We are living more than ever at home, and we have also been restricted when it comes to moving to rehearsal spaces. Rehearsing at home is great, but as it is almost the only option, let me give you some tips to soundproof your room. Neighbors will love you more. And you will also love them.
The basics to absorb noise and music
What is the key to SOUNDPROOF a room? That the sound vibrations do not pass to the common construction elements, such as partitions and structure.
How do you get it? Creating a “FLOATING” space within the room.
The floating space ensures that vibrations are not transmitted to the building. For this, it is necessary to insulate walls, ceiling, floor and carpentry. And that the walls and ceilings of that space do not directly touch the room.
Then, a layer of insulation is placed between the pre-existing room and the new floating space. There are different ways of doing this, but they all have in common the covering of surfaces with absorbent materials.
What is an absorbent material?
It is the one that transforms sound energy into heat inside. They are always porous materials, there are several types and qualities.
What is the best material to absorb sound?
- Vegetable fibers: paper, cardboard, straw bales, but also more sophisticated products such as Kenaf (a plant that grows in Italy)
- Mineral fibers: rock wool is the most common, although natural acoustic insulators, such as mineral wool or cellulose, are being introduced now. These natural acoustic insulators are characterized by a high absorbent capacity. Ecological insulation has good acoustic and thermal performance, but is also natural, recyclable and compatible with the environment.
- Expanded Polystyrene. It is a foamed plastic material, derived from petroleum and used in packaging and construction. Hygienic and moisture resistant.
- Polyurethane Foam. This product, combined with other materials (such as natural rubbers), is very effective in reducing the transmission of sounds, damping vibrations and eliminating resonances.
- The cellulose foam material has an acceptable thermal insulating power and is a good sound absorber. 100% fire retardant, white and quick to install.
These materials are combined with plasterboard to give the final finish, on walls and ceiling. This is how the famous Pladur, also called plasterboard, is formed. The higher its density, the more it insulates.
Each plasterboard supports a certain weight, generally no more than 15 kilos, and its average price per square meter is € 15-20. In addition, there are specific Pladur plates for acoustic soundproofing (with perforations).
What materials are not used to soundproof a room?
Non-porous finishes. For example, cement, glass and concrete. They normally absorb less than 5%, especially at low frequencies.
Homemade cheap tricks
If you don’t want to invest a lot of money and need to improve the acoustic transmission a bit, apply these ideas. They won’t isolate you acoustically, but they will dampen a bit the noise you make / the music you play.
- Carpets: Carpets act as an obstacle to prevent sound from penetrating and bouncing off the floor. Perhaps it is the easiest and cheapest solution. You know, the thicker they are, the more they insulate.
- Wall shelves full of books. After all, paper is a very porous material: a high percentage of it is air (from 15 to 70% depending on its type). The more books we have, the more the sound will be muffled. It is also very useful to place cabinets or furniture from wall to wall, or fill them with mirrors or pictures that act as a barrier.
- Curtains and rugs made of consistent fabrics (velvet, very thick linen, corduroy) help absorb sound waves. Some brands of “acoustic” curtains have a special technology that reduces outside noise by 7 decibels.
- Acoustic insulation glasses. The cheap version for soundproofing windows is thermal blankets.
- Acoustic fabrics. They are characterized by having an absorption as a function of frequency. The greater the thickness, the density and installation distance with respect to the walls, its insulating power increases. The thicker thicknesses cover a wider frequency range (from high-pitched to low-pitched sounds). The smaller thicknesses act more efficiently towards the treble, dropping their performance in the bass. So high-pitched sounds are more easily absorbable than low-pitched sounds.
- Insulation paint created by NASA, is based on latex and water. This paint contains microspheres, resin and filters, which create a membrane capable of reducing sound by 30%.
Muffle the sound in your home with curtains, rugs, and books. Photo: El Mueble magazine.
Insulate the room in a professional way
As we have already mentioned, it is about creating a floating room within your rehearsal room. A floating cube that does not touch the building, so that it cannot transmit vibrations. There are several ways to do it, and a lot of materials. It all depends on the investment you want to make.
Regarding setting prices, it is complicated, since it depends on the materials and labor in each city. If you want to do something like this at home, I recommend you ask for several estimates from specialized companies in your area.
Summary: What are the keys to soundproofing the room where I rehearse?
- Choose the appropriate materials.
- Avoid the transmission of vibrations to the building.
- Line walls and ceilings with porous and dense materials.
- Verify that the insulation is continuous.
I think a lot about what I say, and even more about what I write. Therefore, before publishing the article, I have passed it to my friend the architect Estíbaliz .
Thank you very much for your wisdom Esti. And to you, for reading this far :)
Speaking of rehearsals, read the following article and find out about the latest news to rehearse with wind instrumentalists.