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Soundproof Insulation Problems: Know this Before You Buy

injection foam insulation

Soundproof Insulation Problems: Know this Before You Buy Blog Feature
Amanda Ringler

By: Amanda Ringler on July 25th, 2018

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You want to soundproof your home, but you could end up with more problems than solutions if you don’t do your research first.

You’re tired of hearing your neighbors, kids playing, or traffic. Any noise, whether it’s coming from inside or outside, is annoying and you’re ready for some peace and quiet.

Some people think that adding insulation will soundproof their home, but the honest truth is insulation material is not made to soundproof and soundproofing material is not made to insulate. The two types of materials don’t do the same thing.

Foam insulation can deaden sound by up to 80 percent, but you will still get some sound transmission. RetroFoam of Michigan has been helping homeowners dampen sound in their homes or pole barns since 2002, so we understand how the transmission of sound works.

In our continued efforts to educate homeowners, we want to be transparent and help you make the most informed decision when looking to completely cut out or reduce the sound in your home.

Soundproof Insulation Problems

The number one problem homeowners run into is buying the wrong material to soundproof rooms or their homes as a whole.

The first thing to think about is the difference between soundproofing and sound deadening. Soundproofing a room means you are making it impervious to sound, while sound deadening reduces the sound transmission into the room. For example, insulation can help with sound dampening, and more specifically injection foam in your walls can reduce that sound transmission.

The expectation is usually the problem. If you buy regular fiberglass batts hoping to soundproof the kids' room, you will be sorely disappointed when you can still hear everything that is happening. The same goes for foam insulation. While these materials work to deaden the sound, if you’re expecting 100 percent noise reduction and get anything less, you will be disappointed.

Measuring Sound Transmission

Another thing to consider is the Sound Transmission Class (STC) of a material. The STC is a single number rating used to indicate the effectiveness of an entire construction assembly, like a partition, wall, floor, or ceiling, in resisting the passage of airborne noise, according to the Insulation Institute.

Basically, the higher the STC rating, the better soundproofing performance you will see. Let’s look at the numbers provided by the Insulation Institute and what that means about the sound of loud speakers that can be heard from the other side of a wall.

  • STC  25 – Easily understood
  • STC 30 – Fairly understood
  • STC 35 – Audible, but not intelligible
  • STC 45 – Must strain to hear
  • STC 48 – Barely audible
  • STC 50 – inaudible

Soundproofing materials are very expensive, so it’s important to know what you are buying. Just because something has a high STC number, it doesn’t mean they will work the way they are promoted. Also, if you add a material in your walls that have an STC of 27, that doesn’t mean you are adding that much more to the assembly, as it could only be a couple of points, according to Trademark Soundproofing.

Lastly, if you’re looking to soundproof just a room or your entire home, then you are going to have to do some remodeling and that’s not something most homeowners expect. A lot of the materials used in soundproofing like mass-loaded vinyl, acoustic panels, and sound deadening duct wrap will require the drywall to be taken down.

All-in-all, the biggest problem homeowners see when trying to soundproof is that their expectations haven’t been met and it’s a lot more work than they anticipated.

Sound Dampening Insulation as an Option

If you don’t want to remodel your home, you have another option that can at least reduce the noise you are experiencing in your home.

Both spray and injection foam insulation can dampen the sound you are experiencing. While it won’t cut the sound completely, it can make a difference. This coupled with thicker curtains, rugs in your home, and even a solid door can make your home quieter, not to mention more comfortable and energy-efficient.

If you’d like to learn about some of the other benefits of foam insulation, check out the Learning Center on our website.


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About Amanda Ringler

Amanda previously has worked as a breaking news and crime reporter, TV news producer, and editor in Flint and Detroit. Throughout her career as a journalist, she has won several awards from The Society of Professional Journalists - Detroit Chapter and the Michigan Press Association. As part of the RetroFoam of Michigan family, Amanda uses her experience as a journalist to write content that will help educate homeowners on the benefits of foam insulation. When Amanda isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and rescued huskies. She also loves knitting, making art, cooking, and hosting dinner and a movie night for friends and family.