Now you’ve done it. Asked that question. Well, the answer you will find from the majority of your Google searches is: ‘roughly between $1,000 and $2,500 with an average cost of $1,750 per room’. Or way more if you want a completely soundproof recording studio. Are we done? Has this been helpful? Was it good for you too? Did the answer satisfy you? Hopefully, you answered with a resounding ‘No’. Because there are so many variables to consider when planning a soundproofing project. Many people are not even sure of the questions to ask; let alone the answers. I just told my wife what I was writing about. Her instant question–‘How big is the room?’
My answer to ‘How Much Does it Cost to Soundproof a Room is between $8.92 – $26.71 per square foot of floor area. Please read the following two scenarios to see how I came up with that range. The first option is ‘quick and easy’. The second is ‘better and longer’. I have broken each section into walls, floor, ceiling with attached material lists and costs to show you how I arrived at these numbers. With the size of the room, and an idea of what you want to accomplish, you should be able to get a fair idea of cost–quickly.
Where to Start When Soundproofing a Room
Ask the Questions
Before you can make a soundproofing plan you need to answer some questions which should help you decide what direction you want to take.
- Where do I live? (What kind of idiot question is that, you ask?). There is a big difference between soundproofing your bedroom in a bungalow in the suburbs and soundproofing a second floor bedroom in a 3-story walk-up with neighbors above, below, and all around you.
- How much more peace and quiet do I want, or need? ‘Acceptable Noise Level’ is a subjective phrase. Some of us can sleep through a tornado. Some of us will wake if a leaf falls on the window sill.
- How long do I plan to live in this home? Do I really want to invest time and money into a place I will be leaving soon?
- How well do I get along with my landlord/condo strata association/neighbors? Is it worth the hassle to get permission for a major soundproofing project?
- How much do I want to spend? Are my costs going to provide the value I expect?
- Can I do this myself? Or should I consider professional help?
Make a Plan
Soundproofing, like most other renovation projects, does not come with a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Just answering the previous few questions illustrated that. But you should now have some idea of where to begin researching.
- It would not hurt to invest in a decibel meter that you can use to measure existing noise levels–then compare the new levels after you are done.
- If you are math-challenged, you might also want to consider a construction calculator to help with material purchases. (Note: I have never used one; so will not venture an opinion. Being older than dirt and somewhat technologically challenged, it would probably take me longer to learn to use it than to do the work.)
- Draw up a rough floor plan of the room. Make sure you note all relevant dimensions including wall heights. Regardless of your choice of soundproofing products, now you can figure out how much area you will need to cover. And then calculate costs.
- Make an honest assessment of your abilities. If you do not feel comfortable doing the work–consider hiring a professional.
- Consult your significant other before taking on the project yourself. Will she/he help? Hinder? Offer annoying advice? (My wife still talks about my chainsaw renovations to one of our houses. Not fondly.)
- Make sure you have, or have access to, the tools and equipment you need. (Installing 4 x 8 sheets of 5/8″ drywall on the ceiling without a lift can be a harrowing experience.)
Cost of Soundproofing My Bedroom
Following are the two scenarios I chose to illustrate. I decided on the bedroom because ‘too noisy to sleep’ is a fairly common complaint. And we have a fairly common bedroom. (See floor plan below. It is fairly simple but gives me what I need.)
#1) Quick, Inexpensive, and Relatively Easy Soundproofing
Soundproofing your bedroom this way will also sacrifice ‘cute’. But my reasoning is that it is a bedroom. You sleep in it. You want it quiet. And dark. There are other rooms in the house to show off your decorating tastes. So unless you are planning to bring various guests home from the bar, and want better ambiance, here is the material list.
Note: If you are going to do the complete project, the proper sequence is ceiling, then walls, then floor.
Total cost: Under $800.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $4.76 per square foot.
How To: Install the primed pine on the walls tight to the ceiling. Make sure you screw it into the studs. (You should invest in a stud finder.) Measure the distance between grommets on the blankets, then attach hooks to the pine as required. (Note: You can eliminate the pine if you do not mind the possibility of removing paint and drywall when you remove the hooks. I personally prefer to patch a few screw holes instead of missing drywall.) Hang the blankets and use the Velcro to join the overlaps and attach to the baseboard. (This is not strictly necessary. I just like to be certain things will stay where I want them.) Make sure you remove the electrical cover plates and use acoustic caulking to seal between the electrical box and drywall.
Notes: I like to have light and fresh air, so I would cut out the window and door openings and use the pieces above the closet doors. (You can either use Velcro to attach them or purchase a grommet kit to add grommets where required.) These blankets contain 100% cotton filler; therefore sealing the cuts is fairly essential–unless you like cotton floating around your bedroom. If you have a sewing machine–and someone who knows how to run it–that is your best bet. On the other hand, if that option is not available (and your Mom lives out of town), duct tape is always an option. (Not cute–but efficient.)
Install the appropriate length curtain rod over windows and doors and hang the curtains. Make sure the door curtains touch the floor. Most interior doors have at least a half-inch gap between the slab and floor. If your curtain does not seal it, you will get noise seeping in. Wherever air moves freely, it will bring noise with it. (Curtains come in pairs; so one pair of the proper size will cover two 30″ doors.) If you do not want light and fresh air, and do not mind fighting your way through hanging blankets to get into the room, into the ensuite bathroom, or into the closet; then you can eliminate all of the curtains and rods. Or some of them, like those for the windows. (This could save you over $100.00.)
Note: My windows and doors are all 30″ wide. I would install the curtain rods off-center to allow the single curtains to be pulled completely out of the way to one side. And a curtain hold-back to keep them from slipping back over the opening.
Note #2: Cut blanket around electrical covers and use removable double-sided tape to fix it to the wall. (Do not install the blanket behind the covers. Electrical shock, blown breakers, and fires are not your friends.)
Another Note: If you just cannot stand your mostly black room, it is fairly easy to add pictures, wall hangings, or even bed sheets over the blankets to for a little color.
- 168 square feet carpet c/w tack strips. (You can get decent new carpet for well under $1.00 per square foot. Less if you run into an ‘end of the roll’ sale.) Heavy wool carpet is your best choice. It will absorb more sound. Downside is expense. It will usually be more expensive than a polyester blend. Not significantly, but enough that you will notice.
- 168 square feet RugpadUSA 1/2″ soundproofing carpet underlayment. Or QuietWalk Plus soundproofing underlayment. (Anyone who has read some of my previous articles will know that I am in love with this stuff.) Please see our article Best Soundproof Underlayment.
- Double-sided carpet tape. (In case you do not want to nail down carpet tack strips.)
Total cost: Approximately $350.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $2.08 per square foot.
How to: If your existing floor covering is carpet with a decent foam underlay (and the noise coming from below is not too annoying), you may not need to do anything to the floor. But if you are blessed with laminate, hardwood, tile, or linoleum (and the noise coming from below is annoying) adding carpet with a good soundproofing underlayment should quiet things down. (Note: If the noise is bad enough, you can even add carpet and soundproofing underlayment over your existing carpet. Just use double-sided tape to hold everything together.)
The RugpadUSA can be ordered in one-piece sizes up to 12′ x 20′. (Our bedroom is a few inches smaller than 14′ x 12′ so with a little creative utility knife work around the closet, I can make the 12′ x 15′ size fit in one piece.) Get the half inch pad. It is obviously softer and has more mass for better soundproofing. Rugs are usually available in 12′ wide rolls at most home improvement stores. If your room is 12′ or less in one direction, you can get the proper length to cover the room in one piece. (I know there is carpet seaming tape but I have no faith in my ability to join pieces. I am real good at cutting and making things shorter.)
Remove the baseboard before you start and save it for re-installation. (Or use the opportunity to buy new.) Once the baseboard is off, you have the opportunity to fill the gap beneath the drywall with a good acoustic caulking. Then install carpet tack strips around the room perimeter. Install the underlayment inside the tack strip. Cut, and install the carpet. You will need a ‘carpet kicker’ to do the install properly. (If you can get it done in a day–rent one; if it will take you longer–you might be better to buy on. They are not horribly expensive.) Re-install your baseboard, caulk it to the wall with paintable caulking, fill the nail, or brad holes and paint if necessary.
If you do not want to use tack strips, you can use double-sided tape to hold everything together. Tape the underlayment to the floor, and the carpet to the underlayment. Most important areas are high-traffic locations, and corners. If you are using tape, there is no need to remove the baseboard.
Note: Most baseboard is caulked to the wall along the top. Use a sharp utility knife to cut it. Reduces the chance of taking off chunks of drywall, or drywall paper.
Note #2: If you are removing the baseboard, put the flooring down before hanging blankets on the walls. Then re-install. It is way less annoying.
Here is where the real problems start for the inexpensive soundproofing project. Gravity works. So anything you try to install up there will be annoying. The gravity issue will be exacerbated by many ceiling finishes. Smooth, painted drywall will give you a fighting chance. Popcorn ceilings, sprayed texture ceilings, even my knock down finish are not smooth making any kind of glued product a questionable choice. Having depressed you with that information, here are a few options.
- 4 US Cargo Control Blankets. 80″ wide x 96″ long. Black–because that is your option.
- 160 lineal feet 1 x 2 primed pine
- Miscellaneous screws, brads, tape
Total cost: Approximately $350.00 divided by ceiling area (168 square feet) equals $2.08 per square foot
How to: Get a friend because putting up blankets on your ceiling is going to be annoying if you do it alone. (Will probably be annoying even with help.) Put the blanket against the ceiling and attach to the joists (your stud finder will come in handy again) with 1 x 2 strips installed perpendicular 16″ on center. Overlap blankets about 6″. (You can tape the joints if you want but I do not think it necessary. If you lay it out correctly, the furring strips should hold it snug.) The wood can be screwed on. A 2″ brad nailer would make life much easier as long as you have access to a compressor and hose.
Note: I would attach the first 1 x 2 along the edge of the blanket using short brads, or short screws, or even double sided tape–while it is on the floor. Then you can hold them both up with one hand. Otherwise, while standing on a ladder or chair, you have a blanket in one hand, an 8′ strip of 1 x 2 in the other hand, a drill in another hand, a screw in the 4th hand . . . You can figure out where this is going.
- 168 square feet of 1″ acoustic foam panels
- Miscellaneous – glue, double sided tape, screws, nails (depending on ceiling finish)
Total cost: Approximately $200.00 divided by ceiling area (168 square feet) equals $1.19 per square foot
How to: Don’t bother. I only included this option because you will find it suggested elsewhere. Acoustic panels are designed to absorb noise created inside the room. For keeping sound out, they are just as efficient as egg cartons. (Please see our article Egg Carton Soundproofing.) Spend your money and time on something that will actually make the room quieter.
Total cost: Approximately $350.00 divided by ceiling area (168 square feet) equals $2.08 per square foot
How to: If you own the house, just go upstairs and put the rug down over the lower bedroom area. On the other hand, if you live in an apartment, you will have to negotiate with the upstairs neighbor. I will not suggest how to do that other than don’t use ‘Take your shoes off. Lift your feet. Lock your kids in the bathroom.’ Delivered at volume. I am including the cost of carpet and underlayment because you may have to go that route to get what you want. Which is a quiet bedroom. Offering to install it in her/his suite at your cost could get them to agree to at least split cost with you.
This is probably the most efficient way to successfully complete an inexpensive soundproofing project. But if you are considering soundproofing your entire suite; earplugs are cheaper than installing rug throughout the suite above.
#2) Time Consuming and More Difficult Soundproofing
In this scenario, I will start by saying that I would do all of the work myself, and listing material costs. At the end I will give you my estimate of contractor costs, and how that affects your ‘per square foot’ price. I am also going to base it on adding mass to the walls, floors, ceiling. Although the following ideas work very well, I suspect you will not get them approved by a landlord or condo board. They are also messy, expensive, and time consuming.
- Tear out all of the drywall, add soundproofing insulation, replace the drywall, tape and mud, and re-paint
- Drill holes in the drywall between each stud and floor joist, blow-in cellulose insulation, patch and re-paint
- Build a room within the existing room with 2 x 4 studs, soundproof insulation, new drywall, tape, mud, and re-painting
Note: If you are going to do the complete project, the proper sequence is the ceiling, then walls, then floor.
- 13 sheets 5/8″ soundproofing drywall (Certainteed or Quiet Rock are a couple of options)
- 1 five gallon pail Green Glue soundproofing compound and applicator
- 1 large roll drywall tape & 1 box drywall mud
- 3 gallons primer/sealer and 3 gallons paint (This should be enough to also finish the ceiling.)
- 1″ x 1″ primed pine (to extend window and door jambs)
- 2 acoustical shutters for the windows
- 3 Acoustidoor roll up door curtains (2 @ 30″, 1 @ 60″)
- Miscellaneous – drywall screws, acoustic caulking, painting supplies, electrical box extensions
Total cost: Approximately $3038.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $18.08 per square foot
How to: Remove baseboard and all window and door casing. (Cut caulking between the walls and all trim to be removed.) Fill gap between existing drywall and floor with acoustical caulking. Use acoustic caulking to fill any other cracks or gaps in the wall. Insulate between window and door frames and wall framing members–using a combination of spray foam and fiberglass batt or ProRox SL 960 Rockwool 80 soundproofing insulation.
Coat the backs of new drywall sheets with Green Glue according to manufacturers instructions, and install over existing walls. (This stuff is heavy. You will need at least one friend.) Extend door, and window jambs, tape and mud drywall, and prime and paint. Re-install your baseboard and casing (or install new), caulk to the wall with paintable caulking, fill holes, and paint. (Note: I usually paint all of the trim before installing, then caulk with a matching colour, and fill brad holes.)
Install acoustical shutters to windows and Acoustidoor curtains to doors. Both these products are custom-made and easy to install by following manufacturers instructions. Residential Acoustics also makes a product for windows called AcousticCurtain. They are a little less expensive than the shutters; so you could save some money by getting everything at the same place.
If rug is your choice for soundproofing the floor, please see the previous section on Floor Material in section #1) Quick, Inexpensive, and Relatively Easy. (Note: If you are replacing an existing rug, make sure you screw the subfloor to the floor joists before putting down the new product. 2″ deck screws every 6″ along every joist. This should remove most, if not all squeaks.) The products needed and the installation methods are the same. But, if I were really going to do this, I would rip out the rug (My wife calls rug a bank account for dirt.), and replace it with hardwood or laminate flooring. Your bedroom is already empty, and you have decided on a major soundproofing renovation, so now is the time.
- 185 square feet laminate flooring
- 200 square feet QuietWalk Plus soundproofing underlayment (because it comes in 100 square foot rolls). QuietWalk has a built-in vapor barrier so it can be used over practically any surface including concrete
- 1 roll tape
- Miscellaneous – deck screw, etc.
Total cost: Approximately $650.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $3.87 per square foot
If you are going over concrete, you should be ready to go. But if it is a wood floor, make sure you screw the subfloor to the joists. 2″ deck screws every 6″ along every joist. (Very disconcerting to walk across your zippy new floor for the first time and hear it squeak. Now what?) Floating, or ‘click together’ flooring eliminates the need for nails or staples. You can also use glue down flooring if you glue the QuietWalk to the subfloor–then the laminate to the underlayment.
You have already removed the baseboard, and caulked the bottom plate with acoustic caulking when working on the walls. Roll out the QuietWalk Plus and join the seams with the taped edge of the product. (I would tape all of the seams again with Roberts Underlayment Tape–because I am not a very trusting soul.) Install whatever laminate you have chosen according to manufacturer’s instructions. Re-install your old baseboard, or install new material. Caulk it to the wall, fill nail holes, and paint.
Note: I have included installation of baseboard in both the wall and floor sections. Obviously, you are not going to do it twice. But if you have only chosen one of the options (for whatever reason), you are going to have to deal with it.
Personal Note: I will use prefinished 3/4″ maple nail-down hardwood because my wife told me to. But the extra cost of the flooring, 3/4″ plywood over the OSB subfloor, c/w extra labor will add approximately $850.00 (or $5.06 per square foot) to the cost of your floor including floor nailer rental. (Make sure your flooring is prefinished because the cost and mess of finishing it in place can get out of hand in a hurry.)
- 6 sheets 5/8″ soundproofing drywall (Certainteed or Quiet Rock are a couple of options)
- 50 sound isolation clips
- 140 lineal feet hat channel from tmsoundproofing.com
- 50′ drywall tape & a small bucket of drywall mud
- 1 gallon primer/sealer & 1 gallon paint
- Miscellaneous – drywall screws, acoustical caulking, light box extender, etc.
Total cost: Approximately $800.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $4.76 per square foot
How to: I decided on isolation clips and hat channel because of the potential unevenness of the ceiling. It is way easier to scrape small 4 square inch spots down to drywall than it is to clean off the entire ceiling for resilient channel or a second layer of drywall with Green Glue. (You can find clip and channel layouts at tmsoundproofing.com). Screw the isolation clips onto the joists or trusses. Snap hat channel into the clips; then install your drywall. I would rent a drywall lift. These sheets are heavy, and when holding them up to install, you will quickly run out of hands for holding, drill, screws, etc. Fill the gap between ceiling drywall and the walls with acoustic caulking. And don’t forget to extend the electrical box for your light fixture.
Tape and mud the drywall, sand smooth, then prime and paint. The decoupling effect of the isolation clips and the extra mass of the drywall should cut the sound from above significantly. For many more ceiling soundproofing ideas please see our article How to Soundproof a Ceiling.
Note: If your ceiling is smooth, you can use the same Green Glue/drywall system as the walls for about the same price.
Contractor Soundproofing Cost Estimates
I am going to base these prices on what I would charge for the job–not hourly. I will assume that the room is empty before the contractor arrives, because if he has to work around bed, dresser, night stands, and clothes, the price will rise quickly. Also, he is quite likely not interested in helping you move things.
Generally, you will run into 2 types of contractor. One is the ‘supply and install’ type who wants to supply the material, install it, and take away the returns and garbage. The other is the ‘you buy it and I will install it’ type. Neither is the right or wrong option–it has to work for both of you. The supply and install type (which has always been my choice) will probably cost more–unless there are problems with material and/or expectations.
Walls – $640.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $3.81 per square foot
Floor – $400.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $2.38 per square foot
Ceiling – $320.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $1.90 per square foot
Total Project – $1,360 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $8.10 per square foot
Walls – $1,920.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $11.43 per square foot
Floor – $800.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $4.76 per square foot
Ceiling – $1,600 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $9.52 per square foot
Total Project – $4,320.00 divided by floor area (168 square feet) equals $25.71 peer square foot
Soundproofing Cost Conclusions
I am assuming that most of our readers are DIY types. If not, you will have to add the above labor costs to the following material costs to get a realistic price per square foot. I highly recommend that you get 2 or 3 quotes. Not estimates. If you give someone a comprehensive scope of work–including the types of material and workmanship expectations–she/he should be able to quote a price to the penny. Subject to any changes you make during the project. I tend to get an allergic reaction when the quote is ‘about 20 hours at $25.00 and hour–give or take’. I would break out in hives immediately–and so should you.
Inexpensive, Relatively Easy Soundproofing Scenario Cost
The total project cost works out to $8.92 per square foot ($1,498.00 total for my 168 square foot bedroom) labor and beer extra.
More Difficult and Expensive Soundproofing Scenario Cost
The total project cost works out to $26.71 per square foot ($4,487.00 total for my 168 square foot bedroom) labor and beer extra.
You will note that I have not included shipping costs, or taxes, in any of this. Some of the reasons are:
- I do not know where you live–close to stores or the back of beyond will affect your costs both for material and labor
- Some suppliers have free shipping, some don’t
- Not all jurisdictions have the same tax structures
- Equipment rental and/or purchase
So you will have to factor these into your cost calculations.
A lawyer never retires. So I would just say that I am not as active as I used to be. Now I simply dedicate myself to fishing, my hobby, and my grandchildren. For Business Finance News I write about legal aspects of mortgage policies, mostly regarding the rights of policyholders. I also have articles about personal injuries.