Acoustic panels, home-made

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In summary, a cheap and effective acoustic paneling solution involves framing thick fiberglass, wrapping it in decorative fabric, and hanging it on the wall. This solution is effective at blocking noise from the bedroom wall, but may not be effective at blocking lower frequencies. Additionally, experts advise adding an extra layer of drywall to the wall facing the sound source in order to improve the sound barrier.
  • #1
I've been doing some research on how to create cheap yet effective acoustic paneling for the purpose of blocking out sounds from the bedroom wall in my apartment. The walls are so "thin" that I can hear my neighbor snoring. I'd also not like my neighbor hearing me giggity.

The best thing I've come up with so far is to frame some thick (2-inch) fiberglass, wrap some decorative fabric around it, and hang it. This seems like a great option since it can pass as mere decoration (and I do want to keep this solution as classy as possible).

One concern I have with that solution is that I'm not sure if it blocks lower frequencies effectively. I'd specifically like to minimize vocal ranges (my voice is pretty deep) as well as my neighbor choking on his own fat in his sleep (:

Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!
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  • #2
I feel for you. I had big deep voiced barking dogs next to my bedroom for a while. Thankfully they have moved away.

The cheapest, most effective and unobtrusive thing I would suggest is extra layers of drywall. It will be work, especially if you have much trim or electrical to deal with. And your landlord might object, assuming you don't own the apartment. But it will certainly help. If you have a common attic space you might consider extra layers on the ceiling as well. As a simpler but less effective solution for a common attic space, you could use a rockwool insulation. But continuous drywall is better.

Fiberglass and fabric won't do much. You need mass.
  • #3
.Acoustic celing tile is designed to deaden sound. It is supposed to be installed in a suspended manner, not glued or nailed onto a hard celing. Perhaps you can attach acoustic tile to rigid vertical substrate using spacers at corners of the the tile hold the tile away from the substrate. Or perhaps you could put something fluffy between the substrate and the tile.

I have the impression that alternating layers of dense and light materials are more effective at blocking sound than one homogeneous layer. Does any expert know if this is true? A dense material used by itself can resonate like a speaker diaphragm.

Rigid sheets of foam insulation are easy to work with. They are fragile so they aren't good to use for something you bump into or move around a lot.
  • #4
Thanks for your input, guys. I've made up a small list of materials to buy some small samples of to try. Something is better than nothing, and I figure if there are only two sheets of drywall in the wall (and there are), then adding two more would make it twice as quiet (granted these are not going to cover the whole wall).

The materials I'm looking at is a sandwich of: plywood, cork board, pegboard, aluminum foil, drywall, cardboard, possibly with air space in between some of the materials. It'd also be nice to find some kind of rubber such as that used in old mouse-pads.

If I shouldn't even bother anyone of those materials, do say so.

Thanks again, and still curious for more input.
  • #5
If the wall is of standard construction, check to see whether noise is being conducted in some other way that through the wall. Is there a heating duct that connects your apartment to others? Does the apartment have suspended celing?
  • #6
Soundproofing a room is really difficult. Take into account that if you just use absorptive materials inside your room you will reduce the reflection (reverberation) inside the room and will reduce the sound levels in general (also for sound generated inside the room), but not much. You mostly need isolation, and that is achieved adding a massive wall between the sound source and the room as montoyas7940 suggested. But sound propagates very well through solids, so it is likely that sound will propagate through the ceiling, floor and other walls.

In cases where you want a room with a very effective isolation (be it from sound outside or to prevent the sound inside to propagate outside) a complete set of walls with ceiling and floor is built inside the original room that is connected with dampening elements to prevent mechanical coupling. Also, absorptive material is installed between the walls. Of course this is very complicated and expensive.

In your case you could try installing an extra drywall at the wall facing the sound source as montoyas7940 suggested, but I’d add a layer of rock wool in between. Sound waves will have to cross the absorptive layer and a good fraction of the energy will be absorbed, and then another fraction of the energy will be reflected by the new drywall layer. As I said, still some energy will travel through the ceiling, floor and the other walls, and of course some fraction of the sound will cross the rock wool and drywall.

Further measures could be to add a dropped ceiling and carpeting the floor.
  • #7

I think the cheapest, yet most effective barrier would be building an entire new temporary two-sided wall slightly away from the existing wall. I would use 1/2 inch thick drywall because of economy. Use 2"x2" vertical studs and space them wide, perhaps 4 foot on center. A flattened 2x4 will make joining butted sheet ends easier.

Glue a 2 inch thick, 2'x2' wad of foam rubber centered on drywall between the sparse studs to absorb panel vibration and fill the rest with fiberglass bat. The rubber foam inserts will absorb mid-panel vibration and convert it to heat. Pre-wedge the 2x2 frame around the perimeter with foam rubber gasket strips and glue the last inner sheets into place on the studs with liquid nail by pulling them into place or place the wall in two pieces by folding it straight, edges against the right and left sides. The outer sheets (your exposed wall) can all be screwed on and finished smoothly. No permanent attachment is needed if the new wall is properly wedged, and sealed, in place and I recommend it can be disassembled and discarded when you move.

Seal all exposed seams with drywall compound so that no air pathway can conduct sound. If you wish to salvage the outlet on the buried wall, you may add a new outlet to your wall and plug into the original with an adequate gauge short pigtail plugged-in to power it. Don't leave an open hole for wire... and sound.

Good luck.


1. What materials are needed to make acoustic panels at home?

To make acoustic panels at home, you will need materials such as wood, insulation, fabric, staples, and a staple gun. You may also need additional tools like a saw and measuring tape.

2. How do acoustic panels work?

Acoustic panels work by absorbing sound waves and reducing the level of reverberation in a room. The panels are made of porous materials that trap sound waves and prevent them from bouncing around the room.

3. Do homemade acoustic panels work as well as professional ones?

The effectiveness of homemade acoustic panels may vary depending on the materials and construction methods used. Professional panels are typically designed and tested for optimal sound absorption, but with proper materials and techniques, homemade panels can also provide significant soundproofing.

4. Where should acoustic panels be placed in a room?

The placement of acoustic panels will depend on the specific acoustics of the room and the purpose of the panels. In general, they should be placed on the walls and ceiling in areas where sound is likely to reflect and cause reverberation, such as corners and flat surfaces.

5. Can acoustic panels be used for both soundproofing and sound absorption?

Yes, acoustic panels can be used for both soundproofing and sound absorption. Soundproofing involves reducing the amount of sound that enters or leaves a room, while sound absorption focuses on reducing the level of sound within a room. Acoustic panels can help with both by reducing sound reflections and absorbing sound waves.

Suggested for: Acoustic panels, home-made