Whether it’s called sound-absorbing paint, sound deadening paint, sound dampening paint, insulating paint, or acoustic paint, this is probably the most debated acoustic material in the soundproofing business, right up there with egg trays. Many experts have openly pondered over whether sound deadening paint is just a myth or it actually has an impact on noise reduction. We went deep into acoustics in a bid to determine if they were worth the trouble.
The short answer is yes, sound-absorbing paint works, but with limitations that require the intervention of other soundproofing techniques. This piece is a compilation of research from experts in the soundproofing field and experiments conducted in different settings. Stick around to find out the benefits of using these paints, how they are applied, what makes them sound-absorbing, and how you can capitalize on these properties.
How Does Sound Absorbing Paint Work?
Sound absorption paint is water-based and heavy-bodied from a combination of ceramic microspheres and sound-absorbing fillers, with latex as a main ingredient. These fillers have tiny sealed vacuum cells, sometimes referred to as thermal cells, with soft pigments inside, giving the paint sound-absorbing and thermal insulation capabilities.
The soft pigment wobbles and absorbs sound energy, reducing the amount transferred through the wall. It also dampens the sound echoing back into the room, bringing down the overall noise intensity. The membranes of the thermacells also function as sound-deflecting barriers, ensuring the sound is maintained within the room.
With their dense latex composition, sound-absorbing paints can plug in small cracks on the wall and thicken it slightly, which are both soundproofing goals.
Sound absorbing paint can increase the room or partition’s sound transmission class (STC) rating by 3 to 7 points, depending on the construction and how it is applied. The difference is not significant enough for it to be your sole soundproofing method, and you will still need to combine it with other techniques. It helps to tune out faint background noises sufficiently, but the difference will not be as perceptible when dealing with loud noises like TVs with cranked-up volumes. In such cases, acoustic paint only functions as a complement to more comprehensive soundproofing methods.
Comparison to Regular paint
Regular paint comes in all colors and shades, is easy to manage because it’s thin, and is overall less expensive than sound-absorbing paint. The price difference might not influence your decision, especially if you want quality paint. Cheap paints crack easily and change color, so you should avoid them.
Soundproof paint doesn’t come with a wide spectrum of colors to choose from. You can choose between many light tones, and that’s it. Its high pigment content means you can only tint it to light pastel colors. This can be a bit restrictive, especially if the house’s color scheme has a dark theme.
Regular paint doesn’t have the same soundproofing capability because even the thickest paint when dry will shrink to a thin 0.2cm layer which is insufficient as a sound barrier. It also has no soundproofing additive to make up for this shortcoming.
Applying Sound Absorbing Paint
Coverage is limited, as the paint is thick and doesn’t spread too thin. A gallon will cover a smaller portion of the wall than you are accustomed to, so you should stock up on paint.
We recommend a pressure spraying system for the job as opposed to a roller or paintbrush. The dense paint will make the roller significantly heavier, and it doesn’t spread over large surfaces at once. Each dip will cover a smaller area than it does with regular paint, which means you need to dip the roller in the paint multiple times to cover relatively smaller surfaces. A paintbrush will require more effort and resilience, yet we are all about efficiency and productivity. A pressure sprayer only stops when the pressure goes down or paint runs out, which you can fix in a second, making it ideal for such a project.
Cover every inch of the wall with paint without leaving any gaps to optimize the paint’s effectiveness.
You should apply at least 3 or more coats to attain notable soundproofing. Building up the mass of the sound-absorbing paint reduces sound transmission through the walls and ceiling. The number of coats you can apply is subject to a few constraints. The more coats you apply, the higher the chances are that the final surface will be raised and speckled, resulting in a rough texture. It will also push up the expenditure, which becomes more significant if you are treating a large space.
The paint remains a bit chunky despite rigorous stirring on account of the thermacells. Consequently, it will have a texture with an abrasive feel when finished. This can be a blessing, especially if you are hiding flaws and kinks in your walls or ceiling.
It dries slower than your regular oil-based paints, so you should give it a little more time before applying consecutive coats or using the room after the last coat. Experts recommend up to 32 hours. Try not to apply it at freezing temperature, and if you have to, crank up the heater to spur on the drying process.
Limitations of Sound Absorbing Paint
The layer of paint is not thick enough to make as much of a difference as the more solid soundproofing materials. It, however, makes out for what it lacks in mass with its high density, which is why it is still recognized among effective soundproofing materials.
It only works for a limited range of sound wave frequencies, mainly addressing midrange frequencies like people’s conversations in regular tones, and will not be as effective for high frequencies (whistles) or low frequencies (traffic).
These reasons are why sound-absorbing paint should always be supplemented with other soundproofing procedures for the impact to be felt.
Backing Up Your Sound Absorbing Paint
Having established that sound dampening paint on its own may not be sufficient to block a wide spectrum of unwanted noises, it’s only fair to explore how we can mitigate its shortcomings. If we can achieve this seamlessly using available material without having to make drastic changes, the project will be worth the investment of time and resources. Here are some soundproofing tricks that can complement your paint for a more tangible effect.
Tactical Distribution of Items in The Room
What is inside the room plays a major role in managing and containing airborne noise, almost to the same level as the walls and doors and beyond them in certain cases. The furniture, upholstery, and drapery provide the mass that we concluded acoustic paint doesn’t have. They create false walls and floors inside the room that are decoupled from the actual surfaces so that sounds cannot easily transmit into and out of the room. Their soft surfaces also dampen soundwaves, reducing the ambient intensity of the sound and, by extension, the noise levels.
A few minor adjustments can have a huge impact. Moving the bookshelf to the problem wall and ensuring it’s always full of books to act as a barrier against impact sounds from the adjacent room or airborne noises from your TV set, for instance, can be a good place to start.
Propping your sofa against the wall reduces vibrations within the wall, dampening impact noises. Elevating your speakers and placing them on soft materials also reduces vibrations from contact. Hanging large picture frames or mirrors on the walls helps absorb sound and intercept sound waves before they hit the walls, as do rugs in open sections of the floor.
This refers to creating an airtight seal around your doors and windows to insulate the room. It prevents airborne sounds from coming into or leaving the room through gaps usually present around these openings. They are responsible for more noise transmission than what goes through the wall, and taking care of them has a greater impact on soundproofing than any other remedy.
Hanging thick curtains on your doors and windows helps dampen airborne sounds and prevent soundwaves from hitting the bare wall where they can be reflected and magnified. Their mass also creates an extra barrier through which sound has to pass, further reducing sound transmission.
Our Take On Sound Absorbing Paint
They are an easy to apply, convenient way to soundproof your walls and ceiling without having to modify them excessively while avoiding any damage to the original structure. Strictly speaking, though, is it not the best soundproofing material, but rather aid in absorbing certain midrange sounds like regular conversations when building a sound control strategy.
It is a minimal cost approach to enhancing both the sound and aesthetic qualities of your home, allowing you to skip the hassle and cost of contractors, which can be supplemented with other soundproofing methods. We support it as an option for soundproofing.