Installing Acoustic Insulation

Stopping the transmission of noise from one room in a house or business to another area can almost always be accomplished by using acoustic insulation. Although having good acoustic insulation is the answer to preventing the transmission of noise where it is unwanted, there is always another factor to consider: installation. There is more involved in acoustic insulation installation than simply stuffing fiberglass batting into a wall.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Flashlight or work light
  • Adhesive agent
  • Noise meter
  • STC Ratings Chart
  • Acoustical foam
  • Acoustical tile
  • Stud finder

Step 1 – Determine Need, Solution, and Availability

In considering your options for reducing or stopping sound transmission, consider the two methods usually available: absorption and reflection. Before attempting to install your sound insulation determine which of these two methods will work best for you.

Step 2 – Plug Holes, Gaps, and Hollow Spaces

No matter how effective your insulation may be, if there are spaces, gaps, or holes between the noise you wish to insulate and the space where you want quiet, sound—or noise—will travel through these spaces. Close openings in walls and ceilings with insulation or an adhesive agent that will absorb sound.

Step 3 – Use Noise Ratings and Acoustical Ratings

In choosing the acoustical insulation that will most likely work best for you, consider noise and acoustical insulation effectiveness ratings. Where possible measure your noise level with a meter that measures noise in decibels. Then, compare these ratings against STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings for various acoustical insulations.

Step 4 - Absorb or Reflect Sound Traveling through Ceilings and Walls

Hollow walls and ceilings provide an excellent pathway for sound. If you want to stop sound from passing through them, you'll need to insulate them. In walls, apply wool insulation or acoustic foam

Step 5 – Block Sound

Blocking sound, rather than absorbing or deflecting it, is a third option for soundproofing. In situations where you are unable to use absorption or deflecting, use a PVC vinyl sheet. This is an effective, but heavy, material that, because of its density, has been used effectively to block sound.

Step 6 – Installing Acoustical Insulation

A procedure for installation of acoustical insulation varies according to the type of insulation you install. For acoustic foam installed in closed walls, locate wall studs with a stud finder. Mark these locations with a pencil. If you can access the wall spaces from above the ceiling, insert the foam down through the openings at the top of these walls. Otherwise, through the drywall, make an opening large enough to insert the nozzle of your foam applicator. For open walls where drywall is not yet installed, tack batting onto your wall studs using a stapler and inserting staples every 6 to 10 inches. In installing acoustical ceiling tile, first install your ceiling grid. Then, slide your tiles into place.

Step 7 – Install Multiple Insulations

For maximum sound insulation install several types of insulation materials on the same wall, floor, or ceiling. For wall applications, for example, where you need to absorb higher db rated sounds, install fill wall cavities with foam and install insulation panels behind drywall boards.