Using Drywall for Soundproofing: Is it Enough?
To begin, here’s a little context. The projects my customers call me about run the gamut. I talk to folks with small budgets and noisy neighbors who want to soundproof a room so they can sleep. I also work with professional studio owners who are going to spend whatever they need to record virtuoso musicians. Regardless of who I’m talking to though, it’s not uncommon for them to ask about drywall. They want to know if this common building material is enough for soundproofing, and they often ask about the best drywall for soundproofing.
The answer, as I often tell people, depends on their goals. Do they want to completely block the sound from their child’s drum set, or do they simply need to reduce the sound of a living room television seeping into a nearby office?
To choose the best drywall for soundproofing, you need to understand the options, including their costs, installation methods, and final results.
Soundproofing with Drywall: Your Three Options
When someone asks about the best drywall to use for soundproofing, I’ll tell them about three basic options…
- Regular drywall, only thick sheets or double-layers: While it does not bring the most soundproofing, it is possible to use sheets of typical building drywall to create better sound resistance. This can either be a thicker piece (such as 5/8” instead of 1/2”) or a double layer of drywall, such as two 5/8” sheets.
- Drywall manufactured specifically for soundproofing: Many manufacturers create drywall made specifically for blocking sound. The biggest name is QuietRock, which is essentially a piece of drywall with a steel core that helps stop sound.
- Two sheets of drywall with Green Glue adhesive: Green Glue is a “viscoelastic” compound that is laid between two sheets of drywall. This creates a barrier between the two sheets, allowing one to vibrate while the other does not.
The details may change, but these are essentially your three choices for using drywall as a soundproofing barrier.
Soundproofing Selection: What’s the Cost?
I understand that everyone has a cost concern, so it’s often the first issue I address when talking to customers. The exact prices will vary, but in general simply adding regular drywall will be the most cost-effective. If you want a budget-friendly solution, and only need minimal sound reduction, using 5/8” regular drywall or a double layer will provide a reasonable solution.
The most expensive will be soundproof drywall such as QuietRock. It can be effective, however, the overall cost can be $20, $30, even $40 more per sheet when using this material. Over the course of a large remodeling project, this can mean thousands of dollars in total additional costs.
Green Glue provides a budget-friendly solution, which is why I often recommend this product to customers. Even when using two sheets of drywall and the Green Glue, this option remains more affordable per square foot than most soundproof drywall products.
Soundproofing: Installation Process
Although my customers may not install the drywall themselves (some will), it’s important to understand the installation process, including the ease or general challenges created by each type.
Using regular drywall is obviously the most simple, especially if the installers are only using one thick sheet of drywall. If they are using two sheets, the only difference is the fasteners; longer screws will be needed to ensure a lasting hold.
Installing soundproof drywall can be more of a challenge because of the metal core. The steel core makes it difficult to cut, and mounting the material requires special fasteners that can drive through the metal. (These special fasteners, by the way, may also drive up the price.)
The installation process when using Green Glue is fairly straightforward. Essentially, the first drywall sheet is mounted and secured properly. Next, the Green Glue is applied using a specific method. (More on the importance of following the method below.) Once the Green Glue is applied, the final sheet can be installed.
Using Green Glue? You MUST Follow the Installation Guide
Personally, I believe Green Glue is the most effective option when using drywall as a soundproofing barrier. It provides excellent soundproofing results, comes with a fair price, and requires a simple yet essential installation process.
I have helped multiple people select Green Glue for their home soundproofing project, and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of following the installation method outlined in the product description.
I won’t wear you out with the details, but I will share two stories that highlight the importance of proper installation…
First is an example of doing the installation incorrectly. I once had a homeowner who called back about three months after installing drywall with Green Glue for a home studio. He said it wasn’t quite working, and he had half the order left over. I ran the numbers again and found the customer needed the exact amount purchased. After a bit of digging, I discovered the contractor only used half the amount that should have been used. Unfortunately, this meant the entire project had to be ripped out and restarted from the beginning.
When installed correctly, however, the results can be amazing. I had another homeowner who built a music studio in his home, and he followed the installation method precisely. He installed two layers of drywall with the appropriate amount of Green Glue in between. In his studio, he can now have a rock band playing at over 100 decibels (about the sound of a rock concert), yet the noise is virtually imperceptible outside the house.
So…Is Drywall Enough?
All this brings us to the final conclusion. Is drywall good for soundproofing? The answer truly depends on your goals. If your goal is to dampen regular sound between two rooms, such as moderate television noise entering a home office, then yes, it can be a useful material.
However, if you want to keep loud, low-frequency noise from leaving a home theater, regular drywall won’t be enough. In this case, you’ll need something more significant, such as Green Glue or drywall made specifically for soundproofing.
I’d love to talk with you about your soundproofing needs. Please feel free to contact me at any time and I’ll share my knowledge about soundproofing materials like Green Glue, fiberglass panels, and other convenient soundproofing options. Contact the experts at Acoustical Solutions today or give me a ring at 800-782-5742!
To learn more about how Acoustical Solutions can solve your noise control problems, use our contact form, call one of our Acoustical Sales Consultants at (800) 782-5742, or visit us on the web at acousticalsolutions.com.