How does soundproofing foam work? Will it help soundproof the room? If you ask the same questions, then this post is for you. Keep reading to learn more.
There are hundreds if not thousands of materials you can use to soundproof a room or living space. One of which is soundproofing foam.
However, if you are new to soundproofing, maybe this is your first time to learn about soundproofing foam. The fact that you are reading this post, I assume that like many of my readers you also have some questions about this material.
In this post, I incorporate all the things you might need or want to know how does soundproofing foam works.
I hope that this simple post will help you in deciding whether to buy soundproofing foam for your project or not.
Table of Contents
Understanding How the Sound Works
Before deciding whether soundproofing foam works effectively, we need to understand how the sound works first. This sounds like a scientific discussion. But don’t worry, I will try to keep everything simple here.
In the simplest explanation, the sound is a vibration of energy. In other words, vibration creates sound. Once a physical object vibrates, the surrounding air vibrates too. The vibrations travel through the air in the form of soundwaves. These soundwaves will reach in your air. The sensation they create is what the brain interprets.
The intensity of the sound depends on the medium it travels with. For instance, hard surfaces allow the sound to echo which in turn boosts the sound intensity.
In contrast, soft surfaces prohibit the sound from bouncing off thus minimizing the intensity of the sound. This is the main purpose of soundproofing – the process of absorbing or blocking the sound.
Sound Absorbing and Sound Blocking
In the world of soundproofing, sound-absorbing and sound blocking are two of the most common terminologies. And in most cases, these terms are used interchangeably.
But the truth is that these two processes are different from one another. Sound absorbing is the process of preventing the soundwave to bounce off thus preventing the echo from happening. This process involves the use of sound-absorbing materials.
Sound blocking, on the other hand, is the process of preventing the sound to enter the room. This process involves the use of soundproofing materials that will block all the outside noise.
The biggest mistake you can do is not knowing the difference between these two. This is also the reason most soundproofing projects fail. Knowing the ultimate goal of the project is the first critical step.
If your main goal is to protect your room from outside noise or sound, you are technically doing sound blocking. You need specific materials for this project.
However, if your goal is to prevent the sound from bouncing off, then you are doing sound absorption. Understanding the basics of how sound works is also vital for the success of the project.
How Does Soundproofing Foam Work?
Soundproofing foam works by absorbing the sound. What allows this foam to do its job effectively is its very structure. It is a softer material and more lightweight than sound blocking materials. It has an open and flexible structure that absorbs thus preventing the sound from bouncing off.
The effectiveness of this material also relies on the installation strategy. With a simple tweak, you can improve the quality of the sound using soundproofing foam. If you have been in a music studio before, you probably noticed this type of foam on the wall. Usually, the foam is cut in different sizes and shapes. Those are deliberate designs to maximize the effect of this material.
When to Use Sound Absorbing Foam?
Well, if you are bothered by the echo in your room, then you might want to install sound-absorbing foam. You can install it on the wall or ceiling. But in most cases, sound-absorbing foams are installed on walls than on ceilings.
Aside from soundproofing foam, acoustic tiles are great sound-absorbing materials for the floor. Like other soundproofing materials, acoustic tiles are great tools to absorb airborne sound from bouncing off.
The Sound Blocking Foam
Unlike soundproofing foam, sound blocking foams are designed to block outside sound or noise. You can also use this material to contain the soundwave inside the room. This is a great option if you want to soundproof a practice band room.
Sound blocking foams are usually thicker and denser than the sound-absorbing materials. The thicker and denser they get, the more effective they are in doing their soundproofing job.
If you are buying a sound blocking foam, make sure to choose the one that has the most density. As I’ve learned from my personal experience, denser materials tend to do better than their thinner counterparts.
When to Use Sound Blocking Foam?
If you want to keep your room quiet and free from any disturbing outside noise, then you probably need to use sound blocking foam to soundproof a room.
As mentioned, sound blocking foams are thicker and denser than sound-absorbing foams. In most cases, these materials are installed in the wall of the room to maximize the effect.
The key to successful soundproofing also relies on the thickness of the materials being used. What I found more effective is having multiple layers of soundproof foam panels. The more layers you have, the better your protection against the invading undesirable outside noise.
Does Soundproofing Foam Really Soundproof a Room?
Soundproofing foam is a great material for soundproofing purposes. It can greatly help your goal of making your room quiet.
However, what I found is that to completely soundproof a room (depending on the structure of the room), you need many soundproofing materials installed not only on the inside but also outside.
That said, the materials you need may be dependent on the amount of noise you want to fix. Poorly constructed rooms (those are built with weak materials) may need more soundproofing materials to completely make the room quiet.
But again, the key here is understanding what is it that you really want to accomplish at the end of the project. This will help you figure out what materials you need for your project.
To learn more about soundproofing, please feel free to read my Soundproofing Guide.