Thermocol, does not absorb sound nor should you even think about sticking it onto your walls or windows because:
- Firstly- it’s a reflective object, so, instead of absorbing sound, it’ll cause echoes in the room
- It’s bad at absorbing sounds because it’s too thin- thermocol simply doesn’t have enough mass to be able to absorb sounds well like acoustic foam does
There are also a few other reasons why using thermocol for reducing noise is a bad idea.
Such as the fact that it’s a major fire hazard, and produces toxic gases when burnt. Children and especially pregnant women should stay away.
Secondly, it’s bad- actually no, it is horrendous for the environment. Styrofoam, the material thermocol is made of, can last up to a MILLION years before being decomposed properly.
You can EASILY find much better alternatives.
Now, there are many cheap DIY soundproofing tips floating around on the internet- such as using cardboard, egg crates and thermocol – among other household items- to block noise leakages.
It’s a well known fact that in order to block noise effectively, you need thick insulating layers that provide mass to your walls, windows and doors. Which is why most of the cheap hacks do not work.
Before we get to what DOES work though, there is a very important distinction that you should know of:
Difference Between Sound Absorption And Soundproofing
Noise reduction is an ambiguous term. It can mean either reducing the amount of noise reverberation(echoes) INSIDE a room by adding foam panels, bass traps, etc OR it can also mean blocking sound from entering and leaving the room, as far as possible.
To be clear, reducing reverberations inside the room is called sound absorption. Soundproofing is the act of blocking noise transmission from one room to the other.
This should help you determine what solution exactly are you looking for.
What Do You Need In A Material That Blocks Sound Well
Mass. That’s pretty much the biggest priority when it comes to soundproofing.
Doesn’t really matter what the material is, as long as it provides the appropriate amount of mass- enough to stop/ hinder the sound waves, it’ll work just fine. A helpful metric for understanding the extent to which a particular material can block sound is called STC. Read more about it here.
When it comes to sound absorption, the right material and placement both go hand in hand.
You need porous material and you need to ensure you mount it correctly. Even if you’re using a resonator, you’ll need to ensure it’s tuned and placed correctly.
Stuff To Watch Out For That Doesn’t Absorb/Block Sound Well
This section is just a small reminder to NOT follow scammy articles that promote ridiculous materials for soundproofing. Materials such as:
Cardboard is simply too thin to be used. Now, you might think you can overcome this issue by stacking up the cardboard together and making a thick insulating layer out of it, and while theoretically, yes, it should work- practically it does not. You’ll end up with poor acoustics in your room if you solely depend on these.
Another fad these days. How is a thick piece of paper supposed to absorb sound?
And while some of these also come lined with a layer of vinyl or some other insulator, I have grave doubts whether they make a noticeable difference.
Even manufacturers of such paints suggest that you put multiple coats on the walls, which inadvertently will cause your wall to look ‘raised’ and textured.
Secondly, these paints, even if they do somehow absorb sound(which I doubt) they ONLY do so for mid-range frequencies, such as the sound of our speech. It’ll do nothing for bass and high frequency noises.
Just do me a favor and NEVER use egg crates?
They absolutely do not work, and are flammable. You do not want these lining your walls.
Stuff That Actually Does Absorb Sound Well
Acoustic foam- Recommended for reducing echoes
Works really well for mid to high frequencies. The more acoustic foam you mount onto your walls, the better- but not everyone can afford to cover the entire wall. Aim to cover at least 1/4th of the wall with acoustic foam and you should have a room that feels noticeably quieter.
You can expect to shell out anywhere between 100-400$ based on how many you buy.
Soundproof curtains- Recommended for deadening sound
These aren’t really soundproof- that’s just marketing lingo. But these do deaden the sound inside the room.
It all boils down to mass, again. Acoustic curtains form thick barriers between any noise leaking through the windows and the room.
If you are thinking of getting these, try and get ones that are floor to ceiling length. That will ensure much better noise protection than just getting standard sized curtains.
You’ll probably also have to custom-install hooks into the ceiling, but these would definitely give a superior experience.
A pair of these soundproof curtains would cost you about 150-200$. If you can afford to, you could even buy two pairs and install both together, for even better noise protection.
If you can’t spare the cash, you could just try using just really thick curtains, or some moving blankets as curtains. I know they won’t look pretty, but they should do the trick.
Bass traps- Expensive, but will weed out low frequencies inside your room
This is basically acoustic foam- but for low frequencies.
Having said that, porous foam bass traps aren’t the only kind- resonator bass traps also exist, which are mostly used by pros and can be quite expensive, roughly in the range of upwards of 1000$.
Porous foam bass traps will be cheaper- 4 of these will cost you about 300$.
None of These Are Permanent Solutions Though
These are just quick fixes that won’t soundproof your room completely.
The thing is, there is NO quick solution to soundproofing a room. You need to look at the entire room, all the gaps where sound can leak through and also whether your doors, windows and walls are strong enough to stop sound.
Truly soundproofing a room will require you, after a point to hire a contractor. There are several things you can do before that step though- such as:
- Reinforcing your doors
- Caulking the window and door frames
- Installing door sweeps
- Covering your air vents
That, combined with the recommended ‘quick’ solutions outlined above, might just give you the peace and quiet you are looking for.
And, if you still find the arrangement lacking after having done this- at least you’ll know what the next step is. Be prepared to spend a couple of thousand dollars on a contractor, though.