How to Install Soundproof Drywall
Why do you need soundproof drywall? Well, why do you need privacy? Why do you need peace and quiet in your own home? Learn how to install soundproof drywall to give yourself privacy, block the outside world and make your home a little bit more custom.
Anyone can learn how to use their DIY skills to install drywall and upgrade any room. If you want to know how to soundproof a wall the easy way, this is it.
Why Use Soundproofing Drywall?
In order to make your home quiet from outside sounds, soundproof drywall installation is the answer. This drywall provides a layer of acoustic barrier around any room, making it quieter within the space because everything else is muffled.
Meanwhile, the noise you create inside the space bleeds out less into the world beyond. You can be loud or quiet, and the rest of the world won't know the difference.
Because sound is made up of vibrations, the theory behind soundproofing works on the principle that if you can dampen the sound, you can actually reduce the volume. Soundproof drywall takes that theory and uses a technique called constrained layer damping.
There’s actually nothing new about this but there are changes in the way the theory has been applied. Previous applications were restricted to industrial or construction fields, such as reducing the noise of bridges over highways or the sound of airplane engines. It’s now being applied to make soundproof drywall.
What is Soundproof Drywall?
So how do soundproof drywall panels work? They are made with an inner layer of gypsum, viscoelastic, and ceramics inside. This reduces the transmission of sound waves. However, you will pay extra for this special soundproof construction.
Soundproof drywall cost averages around $40 or more per sheet. Standard drywall is about $10 per sheet. Is soundproof drywall worth it? That depends on how much you're willing to spend on privacy, peace, and quiet.
How to Install Soundproof Drywall
You can install soundproof drywall right on top of existing drywall or use it instead of drywall. Soundproof drywall is available in 3/4 inch, 5/8 inch, and 1/2 inch thickness. Soundproof drywall panels are extremely similar to standard drywall panels.
Installing these panels is very similar to installing standard drywall panels, in fact. Working carefully and steadily, you can get this project done without a lot of time and trouble. Once you start to get the hang of hanging drywall, this job will start to go more quickly.
Step 1 - Plan
Are you installing soundproof drywall on top of existing drywall? Will you be ripping out old drywall to replace it entirely? Or is this a totally new construction room where you're working with framed walls?
The beginning stages of your project will vary based on the plan you are going to follow, but the basic installation of the drywall itself is pretty standard for any situation, even when you're adding soundproofing walls without removing drywall that is already in place.
Step 2 - Measure
No matter how you're going to be installing drywall, you need to measure the space precisely, so you know exactly how many drywall panels you need to cover the space. Measure the height and width of each wall. Write down every measurement.
There are drywall calculators online and professionals at the home improvement store that can help you use this data to mathematically figure out how much drywall you need to completely cover your space. You will cut out windows and doors later, so don't remove these spaces from your measurements.
Step 3 - Mark the Studs
Using a pencil, mark where all the studs are on the floor and ceiling. If there is no drywall in the room, this is a pretty quick and easy task. Otherwise, you will need to use a stud finder in order to locate the studs and then mark them accordingly.
If there is drywall in place, use chalk lines to quickly mark where the studs are located on the wall. If you need to rip out existing drywall, do it at this time and then mark your studs.
Step 4 - (Optional) Install the Resilient Channel
If you are working in a space where there is no existing drywall present, you need to install the resilient channel. This is a lightweight framework that is secured to the wall studs. The drywall panels will be attached to this framework and not to the wall studs. If you are installing new drywall on top of existing drywall, skip this step.
Starting at the ceiling and wall corner at the top of the room, secure the resilient channel to the wall studs with 11/4 inch drywall screws. You will work downward from there, spacing each channel 24 inches apart or less going all the way down the room. Channel should be placed with the drywall flange facing up.
Slightly overlap the end of each channel as you work your way around the room so that the channel acts as one long, continuous piece. The channel will wrap around the room horizontally. You can cut channels with standard metal shears. This is very easy material to work with. Use a level to ensure you’re installing the channel straight across the room.
Step 5 - Installation
Hang the drywall, screwing panels directly into the flange of the channel. You want to use 11/4 inch drywall screws, placing them at least 12 inches apart. Make the edges of each panel fit as closely as possible. They should butt right up against each other without any space in-between. Do your best to get the panels absolutely flush.
Hang drywall all the way around the room. Place screws into the channel and not into the studs. All the studs are marked so you can avoid them easily.
Step 6 - Make the Cuts
Use a drywall saw to cut out areas where the doors and windows are located. Cut just into the drywall, not cutting too deeply, and you can snap the drywall easily off, removing pieces as needed.
Step 7 - Caulk
Caulk around the edges to seal all the cracks. This means joints, corners, ceiling, and floor. Use a putty knife to scrape away excess caulk and create a smooth finish.
Step 8 - Finishing the Walls
Apply a thin layer of mud or drywall compound to all of the joints and apply tape over all the joints. Fill in all the screw holes with the compound as well. Wait for the walls to dry completely.
All the compound will turn white. When it does, sand all the compound down so that the walls are smooth everywhere, even in the corners and the joints. Touch up any areas as needed to fill in cracks and holes and create a smooth, uniform finish all over.
Step 9 - Make It Pretty
Wipe down the walls to remove any dust and debris from the sanding and from all your work. With clean walls, you can start to add all the finishing touches that are going to make it look pretty. Add your primer and your paint to complete the look of the walls. Add any baseboard and trim as desired.
Complete the Door
If there's a doorway, and there certainly should be if you're in the room, you will need to complete this area as well. If the doorway is already framed out, you can skip to the end of these steps. If you have to add a new door, follow all of the steps.
Step 1 - Measure Your Door
Decide where the door will be and measure it out completely using a tape measure. On average, a door is 32 inches wide and 80 inches high. To make room for the door frame, it is best to add two additional inches to each. The area to mark out will be 34 inches by 82 inches.
Step 2 - Find Your Studs
Using the stud finding tool, you need to see how many studs are going to be in the way of your door. On a typical stud design wall, the studs are 16 inches apart, so there should be two. It is important to determine if the wall you are adding a door to is a load-bearing wall.
If it is, you will need to take additional steps to support the load before you cut out the stud beams.
Step 3 - Make Your Cuts
Cut the studs out. Use a circular saw to begin and the reciprocating saw to get the rest of the cuts made.
Step 4 - Install the Frame
Cut the lumber that you need for the vertical beams on each side as well as the wood that will go across the top of the door. The side beams should run from the floor all the way to the ceiling to provide some support that you removed from the studs. Nail these beams into place to create the door.
Step 5 - Cut the Opposite Side of the Wall
To cut the opposite side of the drywall out, use the reciprocating saw with a wood cutting blade and follow along the outline of the door frame you installed. Prior to doing this, you should nail the outside wall into the door frame to keep the wall from breaking apart while you are cutting.
The drywall can be more difficult to cut since it is soundproof. It will have additional layers to have to cut through but can still be done with patience.
Step 6 - Install the Door
Once you have the opening cut into the wall, you are ready to finally install the door itself. Get it into position and nail it into the frame to hold it in place. Once it is securely in place, you can install the trim around the outside and you have your door.
Installing Soundproof Drywall
With tools and materials, anyone can install soundproof drywall in any situation, with a room in any state. Even beginner DIYers can complete this project fairly affordably and without taking too much time to do it.
Soundproof Drywall FAQ
Does Soundproof Drywall Really Work?
Soundproofing is measured by a sound transmission class (STC) rating, which measures how much sound passes through a wall. A rating of 40 is generally deemed to be soundproof.
With soundproofing drywall, the STC rating usually runs between 50 and 55, which is well above the standard soundproof level. This shows that it does the job very well. At that level, you wouldn’t be able to hear someone speaking on the other side of the wall.
In other words, soundproof drywall works. It works very well at muffling sound and providing privacy, which is exactly what you want in soundproofing.
What Kind of Drywall Do You Use for Soundproofing?
There are many different brands that offer soundproof drywall. QuietRock, SilentFX and SoundBreak are among many other options that are available.
How Much Is Soundproof Drywall?
On average, soundproof drywall costs about $40 per sheet or more. It's about four to five times more expensive than standard drywall. The rest of the materials used to install soundproof drywall, however, are all the same.
The caulk, the drywall compound, drywall screws, primer, paint, and the related tools are all the same whether you’re installing standard drywall or soundproof drywall.
Is Thicker Drywall More Soundproof?
Sometimes, thicker drywall may provide more soundproofing than other designs because it has more layers that absorb sound. To know for sure, look to see how many layers were used to make the panels. This will tell you if the thickness truly adds more soundproofing.
How Do You Soundproof a Wall Cheaply?
Soundproof drywall is one fairly affordable way to add soundproofing qualities to any room, as compared to some other options. Soundproof insulation is another option, but this could be costly.
Many other soundproofing options are available, and all have different price points. Soundproof drywall is one of the better options to create affordable, fairly easy soundproofing.
5 Tips for Soundproofing Drywall Ceilings
Drywall Installation for Beginners