Best Sound Deadening Material

by Jennifer Porterfield | Last Updated: November 1, 2021
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In Search of Silence? Check Out These 5 Amazing Soundproofing Materials

Silence may be golden, but, these days, it seems far rarer than any mineral that can be mined from the earth. With perpetual traffic, endless construction, and tons of noisy in-house appliances, modern life can be a real headache.

Best Sound Deadening Material

Whether you’re a student trying to find a quiet zone to study, a night worker trying to catch some ZZZs before your next graveyard shift, a musician trying to clean up your recordings, or, well…anything really, silence is essential.

Without it, the student fails, the night worker falls asleep on the job and gets fired, and the musician can’t record the music that could potentially change lives.

Yep … without silence, the world stops turning, but with the right sound deadening materials, you can acoustically treat your environment and get it spinning once again!

Green Glue Noise Proofing Compound

Green Glue Company 10730 Noiseproofing Compound, 12 Pack,...

Similar to caulk, Green Glue is a compound that arrives in a plastic tube, but instead of simply using it to seal off edges and fill in cracks, you can coat an entire panel of drywall before fitting it in place, providing an effective damping layer.

This amazing polymeric formula works by converting soundwaves into heat, so not only will it solve your acoustic issues, but it may even help you save a few bucks on the energy bill too.

Green Glue will take the STC of any soundproof wall up 10 classes, meaning, hypothetically, you can take your residential grade wall to a pro-grade sound barrier simply by adding a layer of the good green stuff.

It’s particularly good at reducing the transmission of low frequencies.

You’re supposed to use a full two tubes of Green Glue per sheet of drywall, so it can wind up being pretty expensive, but it genuinely works, it’s easy to use, and in less than 20 years, it’s achieved legendary status in the soundproofing industry. 

Pros

  • Infamous — It’s a trusted name in the industry.
  • Ease of Use — Just drizzle it on, then fit the wall panel back in place.
  • Ups STC by 10 — Boosts sound isolation.

Cons

  • Price — Green Glue can be pricey, as it’s supposed to be applied generously.
Green Glue Company 10730 Noiseproofing Compound, 12 Pack,...
263 Reviews
Green Glue Company 10730 Noiseproofing Compound, 12 Pack,...
  • Sold in cases of 12 (29oz.) tubes per case.
  • Each case comes with installation instructions (in English and Spanish) and data sheets.
  • Better results for low frequencies
  • Item package weight: 27.2 pounds

MDF Chipboard Sheets

20 Pack Blank Wood Boards for Crafts, 1/4 Inch Thick Square...

Okay, so this one’s not as exciting as the amazing Green Glue, but MDF still deserves some love on this list for being an affordable, workable, and effective option for smaller-scale soundproofing projects.

That’s right, folks; even though that “MD” stands for medium density, these boards are still far denser than other DIY craft woods, and when paired with a few sheets of MLV, it really works a treat.

MDF has a density of roughly 720kg/m3, which equates to an STC rating of around 32–34, meaning it’s a more efficient sound barrier than solid wood.

If you’re planning on making a noisy generator a soundproof enclosure, then MDF is the only way to go. It’s one of those rare materials that performs incredibly well but doesn’t cost the world — we salute you, MDF!

Pros

  • Easy to Work With — MDF is perfect for small projects such as soundproof boxes.
  • Affordable — This stuff doesn’t break the bank.
  • STC 32–34 — Better sound isolating qualities than wood.

Cons

  • Indoor Usage — Not great for soundproofing rooms.
20 Pack Blank Wood Boards for Crafts, 1/4 Inch Thick Square...
150 Reviews
20 Pack Blank Wood Boards for Crafts, 1/4 Inch Thick Square...
  • Fiberboard Wood Sheets: Use these blank mdf boards for crafts to express your creativity using paint and embellishments to create signs, book covers, or decorative boxes
  • Reliable Material: Each mdf wood board is made from quality medium density fiberboard; intended for indoor use only, not weather resistant
  • Multi-Purpose: These blank wood boards for crafts can be used as a backboard for painting, or they can be engraved and made into a variety of DIY art projects
  • The Perfect Size: Our mdf wood board 1/4 inch thick for painting and crafts measures approximately 12 x 12 x 0.25 inches
  • What’s Included: Includes 20 wood chipboards sheet

TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl

TMS Sound Proofing Padding for Wall – 4 x 10 Feet Mass...

Mass-loaded vinyl is probably the most versatile soundproofing material on the market, and this hefty roll from TMS is as quality as it gets. 

You can use this stuff as a soundproof layer on your dry walls, you can lift your carpet and use it to boost your underlay’s impact absorption, you can even use it to make some makeshift soundproof curtains and block sound entering or exiting through the window.

It’s only ⅛” thick, with a density of 1lbs per square foot, which means it registers at roughly STC 27, offering one of the most impressive thickness-to-STC ratios of all soundproofing materials.

It contains zero reground or recycled materials, which would usually be a bad thing, but with MLV, it’s essential, as reused materials can cause lumping or peeling, both of which would compromise the sound-blocking properties.

Some people complain that acoustic vinyl and foams bring a strange and potent smell with them, which, unfortunately, is sometimes true, but TMS vinyl is almost completely odorless, ensuring you don’t have to sacrifice olfactory harmony for auditory comfort.

Pros

  • STC 27 — Pretty good for material an 8th of an inch thick.
  • Odorless — No funny smells to battle with here.
  • Virgin Materials — Better quality noise cancellation.
  • Versatile — Can be used for all kinds of soundproofing projects.

Cons

  • No Adhesive Back — You’ll have to glue it in place yourself.
TMS Sound Proofing Padding for Wall – 4 x 10 Feet Mass...
276 Reviews
TMS Sound Proofing Padding for Wall – 4 x 10 Feet Mass...
  • 4 feet wide by 10 feet long - Best Seller - The Perfect Solution: Whether for walls ceilings, ducts or pipes, studio projects, movie theaters or residential applications, the TMS sound proof padding is a smart, affordable solution which creates a highly effective noise barrier without implying major costs, expensive handymen or your precious time.
  • Premium Quality Material: These vinyl sheets are made in the US with superior quality, highly durable extruded virgin material, weighing 1 pound per square foot, with 1/8” thickness and STC rating of 27. A heavy-duty, long lasting texture guaranteed to withstand the test of time without easily tearing!
  • Safety Comes First: The TMS soundproofing material contains no re-grinded or recycled material and avoids the use of dangerous chemicals, out of consideration for your health. No need to worry about weird odors affecting your comfort!
  • Professional Grade: This sound absorbing panel has a dual function depending on your needs, helping create a quiet environment as well as quieter machinery enclosures or products. Optimally balancing mass and stiffness, this MLV is a professional grade mass layer and damper for a wide variety of noises.
  • Easy DIY Installation: Unlike similar products on the market, this noise block allows a user-friendly installation without demanding additional costs. Our soundproof padding arrives with clear and easy to understand instructions. If you require further assistance, we are constantly at your service!

TRIM Audio Acoustic Foam

TRIM Audio Acoustic Foam 12-Pack -12'x12'x2' Studio Foam...

As long as you don’t mind your room looking a little like a recording studio, these acoustic foam panels will do a fantastic job of soaking up those pesky sound waves and preventing them from pinging around the room like sonic bullets.

Not all acoustic foam is made equal, but boasting 25kg/m3 density, these TRIM panels are the real studio-grade deal, capable of capturing a sound and preventing the dreaded echo, making them particularly handy in spacious rooms with very little furniture.

The ridges in the panels increase their surface area in a way that doesn’t hog space in your room, providing maximum sound absorption, but they also serve a pretty neat secondary purpose…

As a pack of 12, you may not need all these panels at once, but being that the ridges tessellate perfectly, you can store them in a space-friendly manner until you do.

They also feature adhesive backs, so installation is an absolute breeze. Just peel off the cover, line it up, press the panel to your wall, and voilà; you’re done!

Granted, they’ll work best when paired with other elements of soundproofing, such as mass treatments and decoupling (as any absorption product will), but they’ll still improve the audio quality of a song, YouTube video, or podcast tenfold.

Pros

  • Affordable — Great for sound busting on a budget.
  • Pack of 12 — More than you’ll need for a small space.
  • Ridge Design — More surface area means less echo.
  • Adhesive Backs — Easy installation.

Cons

  • Absorption Only — Not as effective as mass, damping, or decoupling.
TRIM Audio Acoustic Foam 12-Pack -12'x12'x2' Studio Foam...
53 Reviews
TRIM Audio Acoustic Foam 12-Pack -12"x12"x2" Studio Foam...
  • SELF-ADHESIVE - The sound proof foam has a self-adhesive tab covering the entire back that can easily stick to any surface, eliminating the need to buy other adhesives such as double-sided tape, spray adhesives, or command strips. Simply peel and place on any flat surface.
  • STUDIO-GRADE QUALITY - The sound proof panel is made from Dense 25kg/m3 studio-grade premium foam, which makes it perfect for absorbing sound and reducing unwanted echo for clear and crisp sound quality. Making it an essential recording studio equipment.
  • PACK OF 12 - 12-pack of wedge-shaped, charcoal black acoustic foam. Each piece is 12 X 12 inches X2 inches thick. The soundproofing foam comes compressed. It is recommended to let the panels sit out of the packaging for at least 24hrs before use so the foam can regain its natural size and shape.
  • FIRE RETARDANT AND ECO-FRIENDLY - The soundproof foam is fire retardant and is CA117 certified. The material used in making them is formaldehyde-free, which makes it non-toxic. It's also durable and is designed to last you a long time.
  • CREATE YOUR DREAM STUDIO - The sound absorbing panels are a great addition to your youtube equipment. They are perfect for podcasters, streamers, musicians, and at home recording studios. the wedge shape design improves the quality of your recordings by removing unwanted and excess sound from your room

Bubos Art Acoustic Panels

BUBOS Art Acoustic Panels,72“x48”inch Premium Acoustical...

If you liked the idea of wall-mounted acoustic panels, but you want to keep your room looking bougie, then you need to check out these artsy acoustic panels from Bubos.

Crafted from super high-density polyurethane foam, they’re far more effective than traditional acoustic foam, which is how Bubos gets away with making their tiles so elegant and thin.

All you need to install them is some double-sided tape, so you can have them mounted in minutes. They have an NRC rating of 0.8–0.9 which is about as good as it gets within human hearing range.

I think Bubos needs to work on the visual aspect of these art panels, as some of the designs are pretty garish, but even the strange-looking ones can keep sound transmission to a minimum without ruining the aesthetics of a home cinema, piano room, or parlor.

Pros

  • Ultra High-Density NRC 0.8–0.9 Construction — Amazing sound-absorbing properties.
  • Slimline Design — Elegant, close-to-the-wall fit.
  • Easy Installation — Double-sided tape is all you need. 
  • Arty Graphics — Panels look like wall art.

Cons

  • Graphics — Some graphics are a little out there.
BUBOS Art Acoustic Panels,72“x48”inch Premium Acoustical...
552 Reviews
BUBOS Art Acoustic Panels,72“x48”inch Premium Acoustical...
  • ❤️THE ACOUSTIC TREATMENT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR -- If you are serious about acoustic treatment, stay away from acoustic foam. Our Premium Acoustical wall panel exceptional sound absorption minimizing reverberations and echo. A step improvement in your sound experience and recordings and room decoration. Definitely a better use of your dollars. For home & professional studios, home theaters & more. Excellent NRC rating for dampening sound. Be aware of fake NRC ratings out there.
  • ❤️THEY LOOKS GOOD --- Modern Design with elegant pattern& beveled edge. Get creative and form good-looking decorative patterns with BUBOS Acoustic Panel.Reduce your primary reflections for superior sound experience.
  • ❤️WALL DECORATION --- Which allows you to leave countless beautiful memories in a comfortable environment.Stylish design doubles up as a decorative wall art in your favorite space. It can be used in recording studios & KTVs & offices, home theaters theaters etc .Compared with ordinary acoustic materials, it is hard to imagine any reason to reject this perfect art acoustic!
  • ❤️EASY TO INSTALL --- Just easily attach it with ,glue or 3M adhesive taps.Easy to shape and cut to size, altering won’t affect performance,no special tools or materials are needed for installation.
  • ❤️MONEY BACK GUARANTEE --- If you are not satisfied with our products, please do not give us a 1 star review, our professional acoustic engineers will analyze the specific situation for you If it cannot be resolved, we will provide a 100% refund, no problem! Click Add to cart above to get it now!

Buyer’s Guide

It’s hard to put your finger on what it is exactly that makes a good soundproofing material. I mean, obviously, the ability to reduce sound transmission is a no-brainer, but how do we know if a material is capable of such a thing?

And with the masses of different options on the market, how do we know which material is right for the application we have in mind?

Well, fret no more, silence seeker, for all will be answered below.

STC

STC stands for Sound Transmission Class, a scale used to measure the efficacy of soundproofing materials in preventing noise traveling from one space to another.

The STC of a material is expressed as a number. The higher this number is, the more effective the material is at isolating sound.

An STC of 38–42 is considered an acceptable level of soundproofing for residential applications, but if you’re after true room-to-room isolation, you’ll need materials with an individual or combined STC between 50–65.

If you’re trying to keep sounds you’re making from reaching others, then you should prioritize STC.

For example, if you’re a prolific DIY-er, and you’re using power tools most of the day, you’ll need to isolate your noise-making to keep your cohabitants and neighbors happy.

You should also search for a high STC material if you want to keep noises from outside the room worming their way through to you.

NRC

NRC stands for Noise Reduction Coefficient, and it measures the sonic absorbency of a material. The NRC scale spans from 0 to 1, with 0 being not absorbent at all, and 1 being completely absorbent.

The general idea here is to choose materials that rank as close to 1 as possible, thereby weeding out the most sound waves before they bounce off the wall and back into your ears.

NRC ratings are more important to those who are trying to reduce the noisiness inside a room. For example, if you’re building a home studio, you only want the microphone to pick up the instrument being played, right?

Well, if your soundproofing materials have a low NRC rating, the room will color the sound of the instrument with unwanted sonic artifacts such as reverberation.

Absorption vs Damping vs Decoupling vs Mass

Did you know that there are four main principles of soundproofing? These are absorption, damping, decoupling, and mass.

  • Absorption refers to the soaking in of sound, preventing it from traveling any further, and it’s the least effective means of soundproofing. Soft, spongy items make the best absorbers.
  • Damping materials restrain vibratory motion, killing off sound waves. Green Glue is a classic example of a damper.
  • To decouple something is to separate any connective areas of two discrete sections. The idea is that the gap between the solids interrupts the sound waves, reducing its momentum.

Think of the tin can phones you made as a kid. The stream between them provided a conduit for the sound to travel from one can to the other. Snip that string, and the sound can’t travel.

Decoupling follows the same principles, and it’s the most effective soundproofing method.

Decoupling is more of a structural endeavor, so sound deadening materials won’t help you on this front, although, once the decoupling is complete, filling any gaps with absorbent insulation will significantly reduce sound transmission.

  • Mass stops sound in its tracks, which is why it’s a good idea to place lots of solid furniture up against a noisy wall. You may also consider installing a layer of mass-loaded vinyl beneath your drywall or under your carpet.

Closed vs Open Cell Foam

Foam is one of the most commonly used materials in soundproofing due to its ability to absorb sound waves, but the cell structure plays a big part in how effective it can be.

Generally speaking, open cell foam is more affordable, and it’s great for reducing the transmission of low frequencies, but closed cell foam provides a much more robust defense against a wider audio spectrum.

Application

When you’re acoustically treating the exterior of a wall, foam panels are the perfect sound stopper, but if you’re treating a floor, you’ll need something flatter, such as rubber mats or mass-loaded vinyl.

Some materials, like acoustic mineral wool, are great for filling large cavities, while others, like acoustic caulk, are best used to seal small gaps and cracks in a soundproofed zone.

Soundproofing materials come in all shapes and sizes, so, before you buy any, you’ll need to think carefully about what it is you need them for and where they’re going to go.

Installation

Once you’ve decided on what sort of soundproofing materials you need, you should consider how difficult they’re going to be to install.

For instance, if you’ve settled on some foam wall panels, do they have adhesive backs, or are you going to have to glue them in place yourself? 

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we go our separate, silent ways, let’s run through a quick soundproofing materials FAQ.

What Principle Of Soundproofing Is The Most Effective?

Which element of soundproofing is the most effective depends on what you’re trying to achieve and with what materials, but technically speaking, absorption has the smallest impact on vibration transmission of the four.

Decoupling is the most effective.

What Fabric Absorbs Sound The Best?

Mass-loaded vinyl is one of the most effective absorption materials used to acoustically treat an area of a room. It can be used in or on your walls to block airborne noise or beneath your carpet to reduce the sonic force of impacts too.

Are Thicker Sound Deadening materials better?

Thicker sound deadening materials tend to have greater density and mass, making them a fantastic way to kill soundwaves off before they reach your ears.

How Much Sound Deadening Material Do I Need?

How much sound deadening material you need depends entirely on your soundproofing goals, but it’s sort of a more the merrier situation. The more you have, the more sound waves you’ll be able to exhaust.

Why Are Sound Deadening Materials So Expensive?

As you’ll have noticed on this product list, sound deadening materials don’t always break the bank, but sometimes, they do seem to carry a high price tag for what they are.

The reason for this is that sound deadening materials are specialist items and there’s a sizable market for them.

Is MDF Good For Soundproofing?

MDF is a fantastic material for making soundproof enclosures for things like generators or pumps, as it’s far denser than alternative materials such as OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and plywood.

Do Egg Crates Work For Soundproofing?

While egg crates may indeed combat the echo of a room and slightly reduce the resonance of certain frequencies, they’re not an effective means of soundproofing. Acoustic foams are far more effective.

Is Cotton Good For Soundproofing?

Cotton is a surprisingly effective acoustic material for more or less the same reasons foam is; it’s soft and porous; however, like egg crates, it’s no substitute for specialist soundproofing materials.

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered a lot of ground here today, so, hopefully, there’s something on this list for everyone, no matter your goals or the scale of your soundproofing project.

The most effective way to bring some silence back to your life is to consider all four elements of soundproofing, so don’t settle for just one acoustic treatment.

My advice is to combine a few to optimize the STC and NRC of the room. These materials might set you back a few bucks, but trust me, they’re worth their weight in gold silence.