Last Updated on June 28, 2023 by Norvan Martin
As a homeowner, there are many reasons why you may want to make your walls soundproof, especially your home theater. You don’t want your neighbors to call the police on you for the ear-splitting noise of special effects blazing from your home cinema and you don’t want outside noise disturbing your movie night either. In this article, we will explore how to soundproof your home theater with drywall.
Why Install Soundproof Drywall In Your Home Theater?
Firstly, it’s important to mention that each home theater configuration will have its own special acoustical challenges.
In fact, home theater soundproofing is not the only way to fix the noise problem and reduce your STC (sound transmission class).
Many people choose to use sound absorption materials instead. Sound absorption materials often used for soundproofing include absorbent acoustic panels and mass-loaded barriers.
Now, if you have a relatively modest audio setup, you may be able to get away with some cheap home theater soundproofing methods using these materials.
However, these materials may not provide the degree of soundproofing you require for a more powerful audio system as they may only decrease your STC rating by 3dB or so.
In such cases, you will need more structural changes, and installing proper drywall is a great way to improve your home theater soundproofing.
If you wish to keep out external sounds from your home theater or minimize the noise coming from the next room, you can create a drywall sound barrier.
Soundproof drywall barriers help you to contain the sound inside your home theater, allowing you to maintain that cinematic experience.
Keep in mind that sounds can easily go through standard drywall. That means it’s crucial for you to install a soundproof drywall barrier if you want to control the sound. This is why drywall soundproofing is important.
What Type of Drywall Do I Need?
Though there are various ways of creating soundproof barriers, installing special sound-engineered drywall is the best way to go about it.
One of the best sound-engineered materials currently on the market is QuietRock. QuietRock was the first and is still the best sound-dampening panel on the market. For entry level DIY use, the #510 QuietRock is the best choice.
You can find QuietRock and related products at your local Lowe’s or you can check the QuietRock website. We discuss QuietRock and its alternatives in the section “Drywall Soundproofing Materials” below.
They don’t necessarily require specialized skills and you can use them even without the knowledge of how they work. However, we will explain this below.
Why Is Drywall Decoupling Important?
Now you can’t just install your drywall as you would install normal drywall. If you do this, the studs on which the drywall is installed will still transmit sound to adjacent rooms.
The best way to fix this is by decoupling your drywall. Because of the decoupling, this is normally known as a “floating room” or a “floating wall”.
Here is the standard setup:
Level 1: The original wall
Level 2: 2×4 studs, and standard drywall (best to take down the original drywall though)
Level 3: A 1″ gap fully separating the two walls
Level 4: The decoupled wall will have a 2×4 framing. You can use acoustic panels
Level 5: An optional layer of ⅝” plywood and AcousticBlok vinyl mass
Level 6: Acoustically-engineered drywall on decoupled mounts.
Why? Because with this setup, you are looking at moving your STC rating from around the standard 34 STC rating to about 60 to 70 or even more.
Of course, this depends on how well you actually install the components. So, let’s get to the installation steps!
How to Install Decoupling Soundproofing Drywall
The installation process may take some time and require some DIY skill, but decoupling is one of the most effective methods of soundproofing your home theater. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install them:
(We have included links to products on Amazon where necessary)
- Measure Noise: The degree of drywall soundproofing you choose will depend on many things, including the amount of noise experienced in your house. Use a decibel meter app to measure the decibel levels in your house. Check out one of our decibel level chats to get an idea of the level of danger of the noise in your house.
- Check Walls: Before starting the installation process, you should check for any holes or cracks in your wall and close them. That’s because any space on the wall can allow a certain amount of sound to go through to the next room.
- Clear Room: Clear everything out of the room and remove drywall from both sides if the drywall is already there. You will find that some guides suggest splitting the drywall and replacing it. However, we recommend installing double-thickness drywall on each side. This is better because it means additional mass and so more soundproofing!
- Putty Outlets: Apply fireproof putty to any outlets in the room.
- Insulation Foam: Now that the studs are exposed, fill the void with some kind of insulation foam like the Loctite TITE FOAM Insulating Foam Sealant.
- Insulation Panels: You may need to install soundproof insulation such as this acoustic insulation absorption panel to create a little more distance between your wall and the external noise. The insulation will also help you to close any cracks or openings in the wall. Remember that the walls need to be as airtight as possible, for maximum results. Use a standard drywall knife such as this Drywall Axe All-in-one Utility Knife to cut the soundproof panels into functional pieces while installing. The boards are easy to cut, and you can install them the same way as ordinary drywall.
- Decoupling Mounts: Now instead of using regular drywall screws or resilient channels, install decoupling mounts where you intend to hang the new drywall. Decoupling mounts are absolutely essential components because they will basically prevent vibrations from passing through the studs and into adjacent rooms.
- Hang The Drywall: Now just hand the drywall on the decoupling mounts and you are almost done.
- Seal Gapps: After installing the acoustically-engineered soundproof drywall, you will need to check for any gaps or cracks in the wall and seal them using soundproof glue or acoustic sealant caulk. It’s essential to cover the entire perimeter of your wall, to ensure that only a minimum amount of sound can go through.
- Seal Outlets: You should check all the electrical cutouts on your wall and seal them. That means you have to seal switches and power outlets, to minimize unwanted sound leakage in your room.
- Paint: After installing the soundproof drywall, feel free to tape, mud, or paint your room and start enjoying the experience!
How Does Soundproof Drywall Work?
Before looking at how they work, it’s worth mentioning that soundproof drywalls are more effective than multiple layers of standard drywall.
These products are made of several layers of gypsum and other materials, depending on their expected level of performance.
They are also wrapped in thick liners of paper or rubber, to create a mass of drywall panels. The materials used work very well in creating a barrier to block noise through your wall surfaces.
Soundproof drywall panels quickly dissipate sound when hit, minimizing noise from the echo and re-vibration.
They also help to keep out other noises, but the results also depend on other materials used to create the wall.
However, soundproof drywall is your best option if sound leakage is your biggest concern. The installation process is also simple, but you may need a handyman if you’re not up to the task.
Drywall Soundproofing Materials
Though there are only a few soundproofing drywall products on the market, you can easily find something that will work for your walls.
If you can’t find special acoustically-engineered drywall, you can check out:
So we mentioned QuietRock before. To go further, QuietRock is a high-class product that is not only soundproof but also fire-resistant. It is made with lower quantities of materials, allowing them to take less space than other products.
The best part is that they are very good at limiting the sound in your room and you don’t need any special tools to install them.
If you don’t want to replace your wall with soundproof drywall, a quiet coat is just the thing for you.
This product is available in paint form, and it helps you to reduce the noise coming from your appliances.
You can apply them to various surfaces, but they are most suitable for rooms with electrical devices like computers, air-conditioning units, and others.
As the name suggests, this soundproofing product is made of wood and is effective at controlling noise.
The panels have an internal reinforcement of different soundproofing materials, and you can u se them instead of conventional plywood products.
Besides these products, you can find several other soundproofing drywall options on the market.
Keep in mind that these products may cost a little more than ordinary drywall products, but they are worth it if you really want to reduce noise. You should be able to get all these products at your local Lowe’s.
Drywall Soundproofing Cost
So with all this talk about drywall soundproofing, you may be wondering – ‘how much does all this cost?
Well, that depends on a few things, including the type of drywall soundproofing material you choose and where you go to purchase it.
For example, you can get QuietRock #510 for just over $50 per 1/2″ thick, 4′ x 8′ panel at Lowe’s.
Let’s say that’s too expensive for you and you decide to use conventional, thick drywall. In this case, you are looking at about $10 – $15 for 1/2″ thick drywall.
This means you can purchase 5 times as much thick drywall for the same cost as QuietRock #510.
However, when you consider the advantages of a drywall soundproofing material such as QuietRock, then you’ll see it’s the better choice.
Why? This is simply because it allows you to easily pack in greater sound absorption in a smaller size. Moreover, multiple layers of drywall is just not very practical.
So, Why Not Install Multiple Layers of Drywall?
While this can be done, it is not the best solution. Moreover, there are also several other limitations:
- Several layers of drywall increase the weight of your walls, and it may be too much for your house to handle.
- They result in additional labor costs. That will mainly happen if you choose to hire a handyman to help you with the installation.
- It reduces floor space.
- It’s impossible to install multiple layers of drywall if you already have a ceiling in your room.
- If you install multiple layers of drywall, you will need to increase the installation materials used. That includes tapes, insulation glue, joining screws and others.
Benefits of Drywall Soundproofing Your Home Theater
There are many benefits of soundproofing your home theater using drywall. Here are the most important ones:
- Keep your loud home entertainment noise inside your home theater. This way, you won’t bother your family members and neighbors.
- Prevent unwanted outside noise from coming in and disturbing your movie.
- Generally improved sound within your home theater. Acoustics is very important for a good cinematic experience.
Insulating The Walls And Ceiling
To improve your soundproofing efforts, you may also want to insulate your walls and ceilings.
To do this, you will need to take advantage of the principles of mass and damping. Here are some good ways to go about that:
- Close Gaps: Fill all the gaps and voids in the walls and ceiling. You can use acoustic caulk for this. A good option is this – acoustical caulk which you can find on Amazon.
- Searl Windows: Seal windows that have air leaks.
- Use damping material like sound baffles.
- Use soundproof curtains.
Soundproof The Doors As Well
In most cases, soundproofing your home theater walls will be rather ineffective unless you soundproof your doors as well. Don’t be daunted however as soundproofing your door does not need to be an extensive process. It doesn’t need to be expensive either.
While you can simply visit your local department store or hardware and purchase a soundproof door, you could also follow some rather simple yet effective steps to soundproof your home theater door.
Between Quietrock And Drywall, Which Is Better?
It is argued that the Quickrock has more outstanding sound transmission class STC capabilities and also consumes less space compared to the double drywall type X. In terms of cost, the Quickrock is more expensive than the Type X, while the double-layered Drywall is more labor-intensive.
How Does Drywall Reduce Sound Transfer?
- Absorption – made possible by using a variety of materials between your drywalls to increase the STC
- Dampening – placing a material that cancels sound waves, such as green glue, which ups the STC by almost 10 points
- Decoupling – separating drywall attachments from the studs aimed at breaking the direct pathway of sound.
- Mass – it reduces vibration carried by sound waves, with the Drywall being the lowest cost alternative to provide mass, particularly a double layer of 5/8-inches drywall.
It is also worth noting that:
You need to provide a gap between the Drywall and the adjacent walls and ceiling. Also, to reduce sound transfer, you will need to apply acoustic caulking to seal these areas.
So that’s the complete rundown on how to soundproof your home theater with drywall. Remember, you can also seal your sound-leaking windows using acoustic caulk, but of course, that won’t work for noise created inside the house. For that, you can use sound baffles.
These unique sound-damping products are quite useful in reducing unwanted noise leaks. They are readily available on the market and make it easy for you to improve sound quality in your home theater.
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics.