Soundproofing Insulation Comparison and Installation Tips

Soundproofing Insulation

Soundproofing insulation is a special type of insulation product, designed to be an acoustic barrier. The insulation barrier absorbs sound and can greatly reduce noise leakage from one room to another.

The result of installing soundproofing will be a peaceful and private home for all to enjoy. Soundproofing insulation is typically made of mineral wool (also known as rockwool), fiberglass, and sometimes cotton or cellulose materials.

In the application of soundproofing a room, we highly recommend using the rigid panel style mineral wool/rockwool products. These insulation products are usually sold in the form of rigid panels and softer batts. They are sized for use within residential interior walls, floors, and ceilings.

Typical Insulation Sizes

Soundproofing insulation panels can be purchased for wood or steel stud walls and ceilings.

  • Wood Stud Panels: 15.25” x 47” x 2” or 3” Thick
  • Steel Stud Panels: 16.25” x 48” x 2” or 3” Thick

Installation Tips

Mineral wool and fiberglass soundproofing insulation can be purchased in packages of multiple panels. They are manufactured with good tolerances, and fits snugly in between wall studs and ceiling joists. They will fit into the cavities with a friction press fit, ensuring there is no air gap for sound to leak into adjoining rooms. The insulation panels are 2”-3” thick and are rigid enough to be easily cut to shape around electrical outlets and studs. You can use a drywall saw to precisely cut out the notches to make each panel fit into place. Wall and ceilings can be finished off with standard or soundproof grade drywall, no vapor barriers are required.

Comparing the Top Products – Acoustic Performance

ProductNRC125Hz500Hz1000Hz4000HzDensity
Mineral Wool – High Performance
Safe'N'Sound by Roxul1.050.521.181.071.052.5 lb/ft^3
Mineral Wool – Multi Purpose
Roxul Acoustic Fire Batts (AFB)0.950.281.091.091.072.5 lb/ft^3
Roxul Rockboard 60 (2")0.950.321.061.021.046.0 lb/ft^3
Roxul Rockboard 80 (2")1.000.430.900.971.008.0 lb/ft^3
Fiberglass – Multi Purpose
ATS Acoustics Rigid Fiberglass (2")1.000.291.111.131.033.0 lb/ft^3
Owens Corning 703 (1")0.700.110.680.900.963.0 lb/ft^3
Owens Corning 703 (2")1.000.171.141.070.983.0 lb/ft^3
Owens Corning 705 (1")0.650.020.630.850.956.0 lb/ft^3
Owens Corning 705 (2")0.950.161.021.010.996.0 lb/ft^3
Other Materials
Applegate Cotton Batts1.050.271.171.151.062.5 lb/ft^3

High Performance Mineral Wool

Roxul Soundproofing InsulationThe Roxul Safe’N’Sound product has some of the best low and high frequency ratings, and is very cost effective. It is designed specifically for soundproofing, and thus should be used only on interior ceilings, floor, and walls.

All of the Roxul mineral wool products are made from natural stone fibers, making them fire, water, and moisture resistant. The major downside is that for some reason it is VERY difficult to find online or in stores.  The good news is the other Roxul products are almost as good, and much easier to find in stock.

Multi Purpose Mineral Wool

The Rockboard 60 and 80 mineral wool products are more of a multi-purpose insulation.  While they have slightly lower sound absorbing performance, they have improved thermal insulating capabilities.  These products could be used on the inside to soundproof exterior walls on top of standard thermal insulation.

Rockboard 60 is better at absorbing high frequency sound, while the 80 is better at low frequencies. AFB is a low cost, soft and flexible insulation product, best suited for framed, or covered panels.

Roxul Acoustic Fire Batts (AFB)

Roxul Rockboard 60

Roxul Rockboard 80

Fiberglass Soundproofing

Fiberglass has similar sound absorbing performance as mineral wool in the same thickness, but at a higher price.  Fiberglass is a good alternative to the mineral wool if you need thermal insulation on top of the soundproofing.

ATS Rigid Fiberglass

Owens Corning 703

Owens Corning 703FRK

Cotton Soundproofing

Cotton soundproofing is very affordable and provides very good sound absorption performance.  The cotton is soft like a batt, and needs the support of a frame or covering.  Cotton is a good choice for small projects like building your own acoustic panels.

Difference Between Soundproofing and Sound Absorption

Continue on to: Soundproofing a Room

Image Credit: AVS Forum/Java

33 Comments

  • I am investigating the options to finish the interior of a standard 1 car detached garage for the purposes of a music room/studio. I would like to soundproof the walls as best as is possible. Can you make any recommendations and prices to do so. Thank you in advance, and I look forward to hearing back.

  • I live in a condo that has someone living above me. The noise of just walking back and forth in bear feet is so annoying, you can imagine what it is like with shoes/high heals on. There is also a dog and cat that play. The owner recently put in hardwood floors with a sound barrier underlayment from Lowe’s. I can tell you it does not work. I get woken up daily when the dog jumps off the bed. A huge thud or crash sound.

    I’m remodeling my bath and have a section of the ceiling torn out. What product could I use that would lessen or eliminate all of the noise coming from my upstairs neighbor? Cost is a factor as is installation as I’m not willing to take down all of my ceilings. Thanks for the help.

    • Hi Nancy. In your bathroom, since you have the ceiling torn out, I would install Roxul AFB or Safe N Sound between the ceiling joists. On the rest of your existing ceilings, due to your desire to not take it down, I would consider scraping off any old popcorn finish, apply Green Glue across the bare drywall, and then install a second layer of drywall on top of that. The Green Glue should help decouple the ceiling, and the drywall adds sound dampening mass.

    • maybe install extension-type electrical boxes, adjust potlight canisters 1″ down to new ceiling height, acoustic caulk around wires / openings, fill box cavities with rockwool, then either a layer of drywall on resilient channels, or suspend acoustic tiles in tee-bar.

  • I just bought a house on a busy road. The master bedroom is closest to the street. We just installed triple-pane windows hoping that would significantly reduce the road noise (and because the old windows were very old and inefficient). It worked okay, but we want to soundproof even more by ripping out the drywall and installing insulation and/or another type of sound reducer.
    What would you suggest is the best course of action and best product(s) to use?
    Thanks!

    • Dave,
      On exterior facing walls, you would be sacrificing thermal insulation by using these sound insulation products, but they would be fine for the other interior walls. You might want to look at just adding another layer of drywall with Green Glue sealant in between the layers. The added mass of the drywall and the decoupling by the Green Glue should help.

  • I have a portable washing machine (Haier HP23E), my neighbor saying its too loud, they can hear it through the wall/floor and would like to sound insulate/proof it like putting some material around it that would hold up the traveling noise of the machine. I can’t do anything with the walls as the apartment is rented and would like to keep my washer…. I live ground floor and have upstairs neighbor, washer is in small bathroom, the other side of the bathroom is sitting room/hall way.
    thank you

  • Hi, I just purchased a house right next to the railroad cross where they blow their whistle, it passes as much as 4x a night, I have the house demo’d down to studs and I was wondering how I should insulate to try to block as much sound as possible, I was also wondering if it is worth buying 3 paned windows by Pella?

    Thank you very much!
    Jeanne

    • If I understand correctly, you’re talking about exterior walls, so you really don’t want to sacrifice thermal insulation for sound insulation. I think you could use a high quality spray foam insulation to fill in all the air gaps between studs, then use 2 layers of drywall with Green Glue applied in between. As for the windows, if you do a good job on the walls, and don’t do the windows, it becomes the weak link. If you can afford to do it now, it may be best in the long run. Good luck!

  • I have a situation where I need to insulate a floor, the framing is existing but we are pulling off the ceiling drywall. The floor above has hardwood.
    My client wants to maximize the soundproofing between the levels.
    I am suggesting cotton or fiberglass insulation with resilient channels and quiet rock drywall. I am too familiar with the mineral wool insulation; do you recommend that over fiberglass or cotton for maximum soundproofing?
    Thank you.

    • My opinion is that mineral wool would be better for the ceilings. A product like Roxul AFB provides a good Noise Reduction Coefficient and has the added benefit of fire retardant. Check out how the pros do it in this video.

      • We want to prevent road noise coming through the gap at the top of the garage door through the garage ceiling into the two bedrooms over the garage. We are not worried about impact noise. Roxul Safe N Sound appears to be the solution for airborne noise. If we attach the drywall to the joists without resilient channels after installing Roxul, will this conduct airborne noise into the bedrooms?

        What temperature insulation can be used with Roxul?

        What airborne noise insulation and temperature insulation can be used in the exterior bedroom walls over the garage?

        • I would try to address the gap in the garage door first, perhaps with some heavy duty weather stripping. Then, like you suggest, insulated between the joists. Safe N’ Sound is not as great of a thermal insulation as say, spray foam insulation, but it should help with sound transmission. Then dry wall over the joists. If one layer is not having the desired effect, then apply Green Glue in between a second layer of drywall, which is much easier than resilient channel.

  • How effective is expanding foam at acting as a sound barrier in a cavity compared with mineral wool?

    • Expanding foam is an interesting alternative. Compared to mineral wool batts, the spray foam does a good job sealing all air gaps where sound can leak, but doesn’t have the near the density of mineral wool for sound insulation. The kind of foam that results in a rigid foam (closed cell) doesn’t do much good for sound mitigation, but the kind that dries in a spongy state (open cell) is better. I have talked with builders who recommend spraying a 2-3″ layer of the soft foam to seal, and then finishing the wall cavity with Roxul AFB or fiberglass batts. Hope that helps.

  • Hi, I own on a side by side duplex on a somewhat busy road. there was fiberglass batts in the crawlspace when I moved in but have since been removed because they were falling apart. I hear a lot of the stepping around from my next door neighbors. I also hear some of the pipes in the crawlspace when they turn on the water. occasionally I hear them speak as well. I have added lots of attic insulation (blown in fiberglass). I have added a layer on greenglue and 5/8 drywall to the adjoining bedroom walls (hasn’t helped much and it was about 3 weeks ago). I think a lot of the noise is transferring through the crawl space. I was thinking of installing R23 roxul batts (This would meet the thermal requirement too, the safe n sound, seems to be too light for thermal needs). but I keep reading there isn’t as much of a difference in noise reduction between fiberglass batts and rock wool. Is that true? is it worth the added cost?

    • to add to my question, I see on the video that the roxul is flushed against the bottom of the joist, which is the same thing roxul said when I called. but the guy that I talked to about installation insists tit must be against the subfloor. If I decide on roxul for a crawl space, how should it be installed? thanks!

      • You have to compare the NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) between the fiberglass and rock wool. Plain old fiberglass may not be as good as rock wool in that sense. I would take the Roxul guys advice and install flush to subfloor, the joists may even be tall enough for a second layer of batts.

  • Hi, I live in a one-story house with wood floors, 8-10 ft ceilings, and a 6’x6’x15’high skylight. Sound travels around so well, you can hear the family room TV in the bedrooms as if you are sitting in front of the TV. The sound travels a full 180 degrees around two corners. You can also carry on conversations between any two points in the house. Sound transmission is incredibly efficient and incredibly annoying, and I’m not sure why. In our two living areas, the ceiling is partially at an angle, from a ceiling height of 8′ up to 10′ in the main section, following the roofline. I think this might be what makes the sound transmission so efficient. I am trying to figure out if I can install some DIY sound absorption panels on the angled part of the ceiling to reduce reflection and increase privacy in our home.

  • The one other option I did not see talked about was dense packed, or wet (damp) sprayed cellulose. At 3.5 lbs packing is would seem to have the density and the form of it ideal to trap and absorb sound. Any idea how that product would perform? Certainly bit messier to installed and does require some equipment, but much cheaper than spray foam. It does manage to greatly reduce airflow, although not a true air seal like closed cell spray foam.

  • How effective is Green Glue compared with sound proofing insulation (fiberglass, mineral wool, etc.)? I hear television from my neighbor and want to avoid the expense of removing the wall between us to add insulation. If I green glue my side of the wall and add a new layer of sheetrock in front, how effective will that be vs. the insulation products referred to at the top of this page?

  • You answered a question previously to a Milan and attached a YouTube video on soundproofing ceilings between floors. That answered my questions regarding ceilings. In that video the presenter said his previous segment was on soundproofing walls in media rooms. I cannot find it on YouTube. Could you send/ post a link to that previous video that this very straightforward presenter did. Thank you
    Z

  • Hi, I live in a co-op that was built in the 50s. Our bedroom shares a wall with our neighbors spare room which will soon be a nursery. Anytime they are in that room they might as well be sitting next to us, you can hear everything. I’m a light sleeper and I’m not really ready to share the joys of their first child with them. I’d like to save the sleepless nights for my own first child. Not to mention I don’t want to be the cause of waking their child either. Any recommendations? We can also hear the downstairs neighbors if you have tips for that as well.

  • I live in a historical building with rather large windows (thin old glass) that open up to the busy city street of downtown LA. It looks amazing, but is completely worthless for blocking any noise out. Buses, screaming people out for a night on the town, everything you can imagine feels like I’m sitting outside instead of inside sleeping. I was thinking about either making curtains out of a heavy soundproof material, or going as far as building an artificial wall filled with insulation that I can place up in my window frame each night. The window shape is pretty recessed, so I have a decent amount of space to prop something up if needed. I don’t care about anything thermal, I just want to remove as much sound as possible without making a permanent installation.
    Any recommendations? Could some of these materials be hung as curtains? Would I have better results making a temporary piece that can be placed up made out of wood and a specific insulation?

    Thanks!

    • Building something to fit snuggly into your window frame is actually a good idea. Some people with home music studios have done the same thing in order to keep their sound from leaking out. Curtains would mostly help dampen echo and sound from within the room.

  • have to sound proof an interior wall thats just been sheet rocked–can i add layer of sound proofing material and add another layer sheet rock —would that work?