Plywood vs Drywall Soundproofing: Which is Better?

Plywood vs Drywall Soundproofing
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Choosing the best material for soundproofing can be tough especially if you are brand new to this.

If you have been doing research on this matter, you probably noticed that some of the common materials being used as far as soundproofing goes are plywood and drywall.

For experts, the answer can be clear. But for the newbie, choosing between plywood and drywall can be difficult.

Plywood vs drywall soundproofing, which is better?

The truth is that every soundproofing project is different. But in most cases, drywall is often more effective than plywood. The reason behind this is that drywall is denser and has more mass that can block the sound more effectively.

But again, this is might depend on many underlying factors. In some instances, any soundproofing material can do the job just fine. Your creativity and determination will definitely determine the outcome of the project.

To give you a more visual comparison, watch this video from Odd Life Crafting and see which one wins between plywood and drywall soundproofing.

Is Plywood Really Good for Soundproofing?

If you are using plywood in your soundproofing project, you won’t see a better result. This is because this material, as its name suggests, is made of wood. And wood is a good sound medium.

This means that the sound can travel through it making it less effective in blocking the sound.

However, you can use plywood as a supplementary, not as the main material. But creativity is still key in any project. This means that everything is possible regardless of the type of material being used.

The good thing about plywood is its affordability. It is cheaper than other soundproofing materials making it one of the most accessible soundproofing materials.

Plywood is also a strong material for wall building. It can hold screws very well. It is also easy to cut with a hand saw.

But as I mentioned, you cannot expect better results as with drywall. However, if you are creative enough, you can combine these two materials (although I haven’t tried it personally though).

Instead of making multiple layers of drywall, maybe you can try one layer of plywood on top of another layer of drywall.

This way you can minimize expenses in your project. But like what I said, I haven’t tried it yet. I don’t know exactly whether or not this technique really works.

How Do You Build a Better Soundproof Plywood Wall?

If you want to use plywood for your wall, it is totally fine. However, as mentioned, plywood is not a very good soundproofing material.

This is because wood is one of the media that sound can travel. If you have back-to-back pieces of plywood, the poorer the wall in combating the sound.

The space in between the pieces contains air that will allow the sound to travel freely. The problem can be worse if you use thinner pieces of plywood.

The solution is to use stud-walls to mount the plywood. The stud-walls should be installed separately so that they will not touch each other. If they do, they become the vibration medium of the sound.

For the best results, I recommend that you should not choose cheaper plywood. You might already know that cheaper materials have poorer qualities.

If your budget is limited, or if you don’t want to spend additional money for it, you can use some alternatives.

And the best recommendation I can give is an egg crate. That is right, egg crates are helpful to help dampen the sound.

Just put egg crates in the air gaps. If done properly, you can have almost the same result as using expensive materials.

Successful soundproofing means paying close attention to every small detail. Every flaw must be resolved. Failure to do so may only jeopardize the project.

A small crack on the wall for instance, if not fixed, will produce noise as it allows outside sound to enter. A small mistake like these will accumulate problems later on.

Is Drywall Really Good for Soundproofing?

When it comes to building a living space that prevents outside noise to enter, drywall is undeniably one of the helpful materials you can use.

It is important to remember though that drywall is not made for soundproofing. It is a good quality building material. What makes it effective in soundproofing is its characteristics.

If you use drywall for soundproofing, the best thing to do is to create double layers. This means that you put another layer of drywall on top of another layer. This helps to achieve better results.

When you do this, I suggest that you use Green Glue (click here to see this glue on Amazon). This glue is made for soundproofing purposes.

Green glue does help dampen sound. Apply this glue in between the two layers of the drywalls for better results.

You can use any drywall. But what I found most effective are the thicker ones. It is great not only for soundproofing but also for construction or house remodeling.

If you are planning for building double-layered walls, then drywall is a good option. This material is moisture resistant it means that it can resist problem-related to water exposure.

Another good thing is that you can easily cut it with usual household cutting tools, unlike other materials. In fact, you can cut into pieces using a utility knife.

One of the things that I like about drywall is its lightness. This feature allows you to work in the project easily even without any help.

How Do You Build a Better Soundproof Drywall?

This guide is clearly based on my personal preference. But you can use this for your project too if it fits.

Building soundproof drywall comes in several simple steps. But first, let me share with you the materials that you might be needing.

  • Framing supplies
  • Insulation material
  • Green Glue
  • Caulk gun
  • Drywall
  • Screws
  • Building tools (rock knife, masking tape, drill, ruler)

First Step: Framing the Wall

The first thing you need to be doing is building the frame wall. The width or size of the frame depends on the area you want to cover. Use a standard insulation stud for better results.

Second Step: Insulating the Wall

After the first step is done, the next thing you should do is to apply insulation. But before doing it, make sure that you wear your protective gear.

Third Step: Cut the Drywall into the Required Sizes

After taking accurate measurements, the next thing is obviously to cut the drywall. you can use a rock knife or hand saw to do this. Then stick the two pieces together using green glue. Just make sure that the pieces you want to pair have equal sizes.

Fourth Step: Install the Drywall

Now you can install the first layer of the drywall. Screw it to the frame you previously made. Then, randomly squiggle green glue sealant on the seam. This pattern helps sticks the two layers of drywall effectively. Attach the other layer while the green glue is still wet.

For now, you can let the sealant dries within 24 hours.

Fifth Step: Caulk the Seams

Caulking is the last step. You want to make sure that all the corners of the layers are sealed to block the outside noise. Doing this process correctly will give you a significant improvement.

For more quick tips, here is the video from Daru Dhillon. I hope this helps.

Are There Other Alternative Soundproofing Materials?

There are many soundproofing materials you can use for your project. Aside from plywood and drywall, there are other alternative soundproofing materials.

Most of the alternative materials though may not work for all soundproofing situations. Nonetheless, I want to share those materials just in case you need them.

The common materials that I am talking about here are the MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard, and the OSB (Oriented Strand Board).

These materials are both made of wood. They are not only good for soundproofing but also for other building applications.

Because they are made of wood, they are not as effective as the drywall. But they can definitely help you achieve your soundproofing goal.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) (click here to see this material on Amazon) is thick as drywall. This is the reason why the MDF could somehow soundproof a space but not as effective as drywall.

The other thing that you might consider a drawback is its price. MDF is a little expensive compared to drywall and plywood. It is also more vulnerable to damage when in contact with water.

MDF is also highly flammable. This means that you don’t want to install it near the furnace or the kitchen to keep everything safe from fire.

But this material is very good at trapping sound. This is the reason why MDF usually used in making subwoofer boxes.

The Oriented Strand Board, on the other hand, is similar to MDF in terms of structure. What makes the OSB different is its unique look.

Because the OSB is made of many pieces of wood, it has a more natural look than the MDF.

The OSB is as affective as MDF when used for soundproofing. But like the MDF, it is also vulnerable to moisture and water exposure. When wet, it takes time to dry out.

How to Make Your Soundproofing Project More Successful?

Although the soundproofing materials I shared above are not without flaws, it does not mean that they are useless when it comes to soundproofing space.

With the appropriate technique and other supplemental materials, you can achieve your soundproofing goal.

That said, in this section of the post, I will be sharing with you some of the supplemental materials you might want to use for your soundproofing project.

There are many materials you can use. But I will just share some of the most useful ones.

When applied correctly, the following materials could greatly help to soundproof a living space.

In addition, these materials are more effective when soundproofing a wall. I use these materials for all my soundproofing projects.

Without further ado, here are the materials you can for soundproofing;

1. Mass Loaded Vinyl

When it comes to soundproofing, the Mass Loaded Vinyl (click here to see this material on Amazon) is one of the trusted materials.

What this material does is that it protects the room from outside noise. In addition, it also absorbs sound that prevents it from bouncing off. If you want to eliminate echoes in the room, you probably want to apply this material.

Another good thing about MLV is its handiness. You can easily install it on the wall requiring no special skill to do so.

You just need to follow the instructions included in the product.

2. Use Acoustic Putty

Soundproofing a living space or a room involves sealing all the weak spots where the sound could pass through.

My experience taught me that no matter how good your materials are if the room is not correctly sealed, you can still hear the outside noise.

So when soundproofing, make sure to seal all the gaps in the room including the cracks on the wall, electrical outlets, HVAC ducts, etc.

And the best way to do this is by using Acoustic Putty (click here to see this material on Amazon).

This material is super easy to implement and user-friendly especially for beginners.

Use the acoustic putty to seal the small gaps on the wall and other noise entry points. You can buy this material from nearby Home Depot or order it online.

This material is not only designed for soundproofing but for other purposes.

3. Use Spray Foam Insulation

Another additional material that I recommend for soundproofing is Spray Foam Insulation (click here to see this material on Amazon).

Spray foam is a great wall treatment to maximize the soundproofing result. What this material does is that it completely seals all the gaps on the wall leaving no space for the outside noise to enter.

The only drawback that I can see is its price. This material is a little bit pricey compared to other products. But it is worthy to try. There is no price for having a quiet room.

But what this material can’t do is that it can’t totally soundproof a room on its own. It is a great supplemental material but definitely not as the end and all soundproofing solution.

Another thing that you need to be aware of before using this material is its installation guidelines. Make sure that you can do it or at least you have some sort of self-confidence to carry out the project.

If you can’t do it alone, then I suggest that you find someone who can. Pay a professional to do it for you.

Unlike the other materials I mentioned here, this thing might need at least familiarization to the application process.

But if you are bold enough, you can experiment just like I did when I was just starting.

Final Thoughts on Plywood vs Drywall Soundproofing

If you want more successful soundproofing, I recommend that you use drywall instead of plywood.

The reason is already discussed above. If you use plywood anyway, just follow my recommendations on how to dampen the sound when using plywood.

But I truly believe that the success in soundproofing does not really depend on the materials you use. It also depends on your creativity and how you implement things.

I hope that the simple tips I shared here help you to be successful in your project too.

For more info about soundproofing, you can visit my Soundproofing Guide page. 

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