Soundproof paint, also called acoustic paint, dampening paint, insulating paint, or sound deadening paint, is one of the lesser-known soundproofing options. It is a quick and easy method; all you have to do is apply the paint on your wall, and you have a fully functioning, soundproofed room.
Like many people, you may be wondering whether it is truly effective. Well, it is to some point. It works best in tuning out background noises and works even more effectively when combined with other soundproofing methods.
Today, we will look at everything concerning soundproof paint and how to use it in your house. Let’s dive in!
How Soundproof Paint is Made
Soundproof paint is made using sound-absorbing fillers combined with ceramic microspheres. This combination results in a paint that is thicker than regular wall paint and has sound-absorbing properties. The paint is water-based and has a more heavy-bodied feel.
The sound-absorbing fillers in the paint have tiny vacuum-sealed cells that are filled with soft pigment. They are called thermacels and are responsible for the sound dampening feature.
How It Works
The thermacels are the key ingredient in creating soundproof paints. The pigment found in the cells vibrates when hit by sound waves, enabling it to absorb sound energy.
Sound transfers mainly by bouncing and echoing off surfaces, including walls. Thermacel pigments stop the sound from bouncing off the walls, reducing the amount of sound energy transfer. The pigments also help reduce the echo in your room and stop sound from traveling through the walls.
Although it is called soundproof, the paint is not completely foolproof. It reduces mid-frequency sounds by about 30%. This keeps away relatively faint background noises such as conversations from other parts of the house.
Because of the paint’s lower performance, it is less effective in dealing with louder noises, such as construction or loud TV noises. You can, however, use it together with other soundproofing methods like acoustic panels to help reduce sound interference.
What Sounds Can Soundproofing Paint Block
No matter how many coats you apply, soundproof paint is not super effective; it doesn’t work as an impenetrable shield blocking all sound. The paint’s effectiveness heavily relies on your environment.
Some of the situations in which soundproof paint can actually make a difference include:
- Faint TV or radio murmurings that can disturb your sleep
- If you want to record or play music at night without disturbing your neighbors
- Creating a quiet atmosphere for a baby who is a light sleeper.
The paint is a good investment if you live in shared apartments with relatively thin walls. Applying the paint will stop that annoying neighbor from constantly knocking on your door complaining about loud noises coming from your room and vice versa.
You will, however, need to be quieter if you want the paint to do its job better. Lower your voice when speaking, turn the TV or radio down, or practice your music with less noise to improve the paint’s performance.
Since soundproof paint works better with low-level noises, what are some of the situations in which it can be completely ineffective?
Such situations can include:
- Close, loud traffic
- Impact vibrations, such as someone using a hammer
- A barking dog
- Someone playing the drums or electric guitar
- A crying baby
Tips for Applying Acoustic Paint
You do not apply acoustic paint the same way you would apply regular wall paint. They both require a roller or paintbrush. Most of the other painting equipment is also similar, but that is where the similarities end. Acoustic paint has several unique points that you need to be aware of.
Buy Enough Paint
Acoustic paint is very thick. Because of this, it is not easily spreadable and doesn’t provide wide coverage. A gallon of paint covers only about 100 square feet of the wall, so you will need to buy a lot more paint to cover a wider area.
Thickness of the Paint
Thicker soundproof paints are more effective than their counterparts. Buy the thickest paint you can for better results. If you cannot find one, apply at least three layers of the regular soundproof paint to get the desired soundproofing quality.
Acoustic paint takes longer to dry than normal oil-based paints. It can take up to 16 hours before drying. Applying the paint when the temperatures are high is better because the paint dries faster than in lower temperatures.
Heat the room before painting to speed up the drying process if you paint in the colder months. You will also need to allow more drying time, ideally a minimum of 32 hours, before applying a second coat. Don’t apply a second layer until the first one is completely dry to avoid messing up the thermacels.
The paint is not only super thick, but it is also rougher than you would think. While regular paints have a smoother finish, acoustic paints have a more abrasive feel. You can paint over the acoustic paint with a different paint if you don’t want the rougher finish.
There is no telling if applying regular paint over acoustic paints reduces its effectiveness or not. However, there are no tangible reasons or proof that it impacts its performance negatively. Just make sure all layers are completely dry before applying additional paint.
Make sure you cover the entire wall for effectiveness. Gaps can let air pass through, which in turn causes the sound to enter. Cover all gaps in the paint and any possible air bubbles to prevent making the paint ineffective.
It is advisable to use a pressure spraying system when applying the paint. Paintbrushes do not cover every available surface and might need you to constantly go over the same area to get full coverage. Rollers are also less effective as they require a lot of dipping, resulting in limited coverage.
A pressure sprayer can handle the paint’s density and doesn’t involve dipping. The sprayer can only slow down if the paint runs out or the pressure drops, which you can easily fix. You will, however, need to be more careful with a sprayer painter to avoid accidentally spraying other surfaces.
Soundproofing Methods to Pair Acoustic Paint With
Since acoustic paint doesn’t give full coverage, you will need to pair it with other soundproofing methods. Find low-cost methods that won’t need you to strain your pockets and can still give you great results.
Below are some of the more affordable methods you can pair acoustic paints with.
Adding more mass to your room, especially to the walls, effectively stops sound penetration. One of the ways you can add mass is by using wall panels. These make it hard for vibrations to pass through, creating a denser wall that makes sound transfer hard.
Depending on your budget, you can buy more affordable plasterboard panels or go all the way and get more expensive, thick acoustic panels. Both methods are effective as they all work to add mass to the wall. They are also easy to install and don’t need much work.
Find where your wall studs are and screw the panels into them. Make sure you securely fix them to the walls to cover all possible spaces. Cut the panels to your desired length and screw them to the wall. Once you are sure they are fully secure, cover them with acoustic paint. Paint all visible surfaces to prevent sound from penetrating.
Strategic Furniture Placement
Furniture placement is also another way of adding mass to a place, and the good thing is that you don’t need to use any money to apply this fix.
You only need to rearrange your room décor, placing the heavier furniture in the loudest areas and putting the lighter ones in quieter areas. You can also add more things, such as books and files, to the furniture to create a greater mass barrier.
They are another affordable method. They are also easy to install. The curtains work best in low-level sound environments, so they can be great for your room or a study. You can find soundproof curtains in most retail and online stores easily.
Make sure you get thick curtains that cover all the surfaces in your window. Thicker curtains have less sound penetration than thinner ones.
Measure your window to get the precise fit that covers the window perfectly. It would also be great if you could find curtains with several layers as these are more effective at deadening sound waves.
Carpets and Blankets
Much like the curtains, you want to get thick carpets. The carpets block sound vibrations from the floor, effectively absorbing them to create a quieter environment. Carpets are ideal if you have a noisy downstairs neighbor or if you use equipment with strong bass or sound output.
You can also get thick moving blankets and pin them on your wall or place them on the floor. The blanket’s thickness adds more mass, reducing sound disturbance. No matter which of the two you get, make sure they cover a wide area for better soundproofing.
As the name suggests, ceiling tiles go on your ceiling. You can use them hand in hand with carpets, acoustic paints, and panels to get full coverage. The tiles block sounds from the upper floors. They are also effective in deadening sound vibrations.
It is best done around doors and windows. Weatherstripping helps seal any gaps or holes in your door and window frames. The sealed gaps prevent air penetration and any airborne sound.
Weatherstripping gives you the best value for money and is effective against louder noises like road or construction noises.
You can use weatherstripping, acoustic paint, and any of the above soundproofing methods to create a completely soundproof environment.
Soundproof paint is a great way to soundproof a room. Nevertheless, its sound dampening properties only work well with low-level background noises, so you might need to pair it with other soundproofing methods to get the best fix.
Apply multiple coats of the paint to get better coverage and make sure the paint dries completely before applying an additional layer. Use at least three coats of acoustic paint for better results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where can I apply soundproof paint?
A: Apply the paint strictly on walls. You might be thinking that applying it to the ceiling gives you better results, but that is not so. Ceilings are subject to a lot of impact vibrations, especially if someone lives above you. Even thick soundproof paint will fail under loud and heavy impact sounds.
Q: Can I use regular paint to soundproof a room?
A: Applying multiple coats of regular paint will not help soundproof a room. Regular paints don’t have the sound-absorbing thermacels that soundproof paints have. Standard paints dry down to around 0.2 cm thickness. This size is too thin to produce any soundproofing benefits.
Q: Will dark paint soundproof a room?
A: Despite what most internet forums say, dark paint has no soundproofing properties, nor does it claim to. The paint can, however, give the illusion of quietness. This is because dark paint makes the room appear smaller and quieter than it actually is, which fools some people into thinking it is soundproof.
No color, shade, or layer of regular paint has any soundproofing qualities. If you want to find paint with those qualities, only go for those bluntly stating that they are soundproofing paints. Do not expect miraculous results from any other kind of paint.