Buying all of the equipment necessary for a praiseworthy home theater is simple enough if you have the cash. Getting it all set up and connected proves to be a little more difficult and, sometimes, even more expensive. After spending the money and putting in the work, many people are profoundly disappointed that they had forgotten just how thin their walls are. Noise, commotions and even regular footsteps on the floor above can ruin what would have otherwise been an enjoyable home-theater experience.
Soundproofing is a necessary step in creating a media room in most homes. When done correctly, it will reduce or eliminate the noise and vibrations emanating from other rooms in the home. It will also prevent the sound and vibrations from the speaker system from disturbing your family in the surrounding rooms. Soundproofing is not always simple, but it can be accomplished in 10 steps.
1. Tear it all down.
While it is possible to simply add soundproofing materials to the outside of the media room’s walls, this approach is neither aesthetic nor effective. The soundproofing has to be accomplished inside the wall, which is most likely nothing more than two sheets of drywall on either side of a wooden frame. Soundproofing begins by tearing down the drywall on the media-room side of the wall. The other side may remain intact.
2. Plug the gaps.
You will invariably notice several gaps or holes inside the wall, especially where electrical boxes are set and where wires are running. These need to be plugged with putty. Nonconducting, fireproof putty is the ideal type to use for soundproofing.
3. Insulate the walls.
Once all the gaps are plugged, insulation can be added to the wall. Rock wool is the recommended type of insulation to use for soundproofing projects. It is a spun fiber usually used for thermal insulation, but it also works well to help dampen sound and other vibrations. If rock wool is not available in your area and is a hassle to order, then fiberglass insulation will also work.
4. Install isolation bushings.
Isolation bushings, also known as isolation clips, are a type of plasticized urethane washer that absorbs vibrations. Some isolation bushings are made of rubber, but it is essential to make sure they have been treated so that they do not harden with age. These have to be installed on the wall studs and along the ceiling joists spaced as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Install hat channels.
Hat channels are long, metal tracks with the edges bent outwards. They are called hat channels because of how they appear when viewed from one end, but they are also commonly referred to as resilient channels or furring channels. These must be mounted horizontally across the studs where the insolation bushings were installed. Instead of being mounted on the studs, the new wall will be mounted on the hat channels. Hat channels should be spaced approximately 24 inches apart.
6. Mount plywood sheets.
After the hat channels are installed, 5/8-inch plywood sheets can be mounted to them. In most cases, sheets that are 4 feet by 8 feet in size will suffice. The plywood should be secured strongly with screws.
7. Apply damping compound.
Damping compound is a resilient, semi-solid material that reduces the transmission of sound by shifting the frequency of the vibrations. It can be purchased in tubes that fit into standard caulking guns. It is usually recommended that two tubes be applied per sheet of plywood.
8. Install the drywall.
Drywall should be mounted to the plywood as soon as possible after the damping compound has been applied. Even though the hat channels run horizontally, the drywall should still be mounted vertically.
9. Do not forget the floor.
If your media room is not on the bottom floor of your home, then the floor it is on will also have to be soundproofed. Soundproofing the floor requires a little more thought to get just right because you have to deal with the possibility of the floor being at a different level inside the room than outside of it. One simple approach is to install an isolation mat over the existing floor. Other approaches that can be used depend on what is below the floor.
10. Finish the new surfaces.
The final step is to simply finish the new surfaces with texture, paint, wallpaper or wood paneling. It all depends on how you want the room to look.