Best Soundproofing Insulation to Reduce Noise at Home

Have you ever entered a room and felt the kind of serenity that only comes from complete silence and lack of external noises?

If you have, you know how fulfilling the experience can be; and if you have not, think about how many times you have thought to yourself "oh, would the neighbor's dog just stop barking!", or been worried about the upcoming party you were about to throw.

Living in your home can be much more comfortable with proper soundproofing. Whether you are an engineer planning your next building project or just someone who wants to improve their own living environment there's a soundproof system available. And for all of you DIY enthusiasts, most of the products aren't that difficult to put up.

Best Soundproofing Insulation

Soundproofing Insulation

Soundproofing insulation refers to any and all of the products that act as a sound barrier that prevents sounds to be transferred between rooms and between your home and the outdoors.

There are many types of acoustic insulation available, the choice of which will depend on your needs. They come in a variety of sizes and materials such as mineral wool, fiberglass, cotton, etc.

When choosing the right acoustic insulant for you, it is important to consider various aspects: the need for thermal insulation (for example, mineral wool doubles as a great thermal insulation), whether you need it as inside or outside insulant, the frequency of sounds you want to block/absorb, and so on.

You can use soundproofing materials on ceilings, floors, and both inside and outside walls which will result in creating a peaceful environment for you to rest, study or even party, and it will also increase the overall value of your home.

Types of Soundproofing Insulation Materials

Here I will give you some of the most common materials and their best use option.

  • Sound Insulation (mineral wool, rock wool or fiberglass)- batts of those materials fit between wall studs and fill the airspace and in that way, they help absorb sounds.
  • Acoustic Foam - also known as Studio Foam, can be put up on walls or ceilings. They come in panels made of pyramid shaped foam.
  • Acoustic Panels/Boards- aside from their soundproofing role, they can also be very decorative since they come in different patterns and colors.
  • Acoustic Fabrics- are used in theatre curtains or studio blankets. Acoustic fabrics are thicker and chunkier, all in all, more massive than other fabrics.
  • Acoustic Coatings- Materials similar to rubber (like Mass Loaded Vinyl- MLV). Mass of the material poses as a sound barrier.
  • Floor Underlayment- Cork, felt, and polymer sheets are put under the tile or hardwood floors to weaken the noise.
  • Architectural Soundproofing- this group consists of anything used in the building construction.

There are some of the most commonly used products in soundproofing your home. If you are thinking about starting the project in your home the links for purchase will be provided in the text, as products are available online.

Best Soundproofing Insulation Materials

Soundproofing Insulation is used in buildings and homes to reduce the sound transmission from one room to another. In other words, they keep the sounds from coming in the room, or out of the room.

The most common materials are mineral wool and fiberglass as they are relatively easy to use and not too expensive. They are of firm structure which makes them easy to cut in order to fit around electrical outlets. They are available in cases of multiple panels.

Multi-Purpose Mineral Wool

Multi-purpose Mineral Wool can be used for both acoustic and thermal insulation in your home.

Its NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) ranges from 0.8 to 1.1 depending on thickness of the panels. The size it comes in is 24” x 48” x 2” and 4” thick.

Researching I picked three slightly different products:

The Rockboard 60 and 80 mineral wool products are rigid and easy to cut in order to fit your walls. They are fire resistant  and also hydrophobic .

Rockboard 60 is preferred at absorbing high-frequency sounds (a whistle, child's voice, a flute, etc.), while Rockboard 80 is more appropriate at low frequencies (bass sounds-distant thunder, drum base, church bell- anything that we experience as vibration as well as sound). They can be used inside to soundproof walls but also on the outside as a thermal insulation.

With it, you can also make your own acoustic panels; or you can choose Roxul Acoustic Fire Batts (AFB) which are cheaper, softer and more flexible. What you would need to do is build a wood or steel frame and fit the boards or batts in. In the end, get creative and cover them with a fabric that you like.

If you feel this is something for you, you can make a purchase here.

High-Performance Mineral Wool

This Roxul product is best used for acoustic insulation on inside walls, ceilings, and floors. It does not have a thermal insulation feature so it cannot be used outside in contrast to Rockboard.

The Roxul Safe’N’Sound product is a exquisite high-performance substitute for Rockboard since it is also fire and water resistant.  One of its major advantages is that is good for sounds of both low and high frequencies.

The problem with Roxul Safe’N’Sound is that is not available online and also very hard to find in stores. Luckily, the availability of other Roxul products that were mentioned before is much higher. 

Fiberglass Soundproofing

Fiberglass and mineral wool have similar sound absorption features. The difference is that mineral wool is a natural material while fiberglass is artificial. In addition to that, it is more expensive than mineral wool.

Again, I chose three products to compare in this category. They come in a package of six panels.

This is maybe the most popular material, usually covered with fabric and put up on the walls. Owens Corning 703 performs the best for high-frequency sounds so it is best used for making panels for home theatres and studios. 

Its NRC is 1.0 beginning at 300kHz, and the size it comes in is pretty standard- 24” x 48” x 2”.

ATS Rigid Fiberglass is an exact replacement for Owens Corning 703 since the NRC and the sizes are the same.

The third one is slightly different:

Owens Corning 703FRK has a FRK (Foil Reinforced Kraft) surface covering that allows some of the mid and high frequencies to reflect but low frequencies get absorbed. This is why it is often used for making bass-traps.

The size it comes in, is once again very standard - 24” x 48” x 2”.

An important note you should have in mind when using fiberglass products: Since fiberglass is artificial and can cause skin and mucous irritation, you should use protective clothing and other equipment like goggles and gloves if you decide to cut the boards.

Cotton Soundproofing 

Cotton Soundproofing is best used for smaller projects like building your own soundproofing panels. The very nature of cotton is that it is soft so cotton soundproofing sheets need to be fitted in a frame.

The main upside of using cotton as soundproofing material is that it is really affordable. Another thing that it is made from natural material and in that way it is non-toxic and eco-friendly with soundproofing traits similar to those of mineral wool or fiberglass.

Other ways you can Soundproof your home

In addition to sound insulation, you can make some other adjustments to your home to make it more comfortable for you and for your family.

For example, you can place a floor underlayment to reduce the sound transmission between floors. (Really, why do you have to listen to the clickity-clacking of your daughter's heels when you are trying to watch your favorite show?)

how to fix squeaky hardwood floors from above

If you are up to a bigger project and want to redecorate in addition to soundproofing, you can purchase acoustic panels. They come in various patterns and colors, so they can double as a decorative wall.

Be sure to take care of your windows and doors as well. Adhesive foam strips that easily fill the spaces on door frames are easy to use and not at all expensive.

There is an option that you can install soundproof windows. They usually go right over the top of the existing window and significantly diminish outdoor noises. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, hanging a heavy curtain reduces outside noises but can also be a stylish addition to your room.

soundproof curtains

Soundproofing your basement can be a good decision if you want to join a growing number of families that have their own home theatre. Placing some moisture resistant panels in your bathroom would make a wonderful oasis to rewind in after a long day at work.

And, remember the neighbor's dog from the beginning? Wouldn't it be nice if you could sleep in on weekends and wake up well rested in your own peace and quiet?

Final word: On the Best Soundproofing Insulation

Have you decided which room you want to soundproof?

Now that I have listed and compared the most popular sound insulation materials I think it will be easier to determine your needs, find the best materials considering their usage and create a better home for yourself and your family.

We've also asked 26 industry experts their opinions of the best soundproofing materials. See their answers here.

What is left now is to roll up your sleeves and get to work.