Soundproof Drywall: What is it and Does it Work?

Is soundproof drywall worth the extra cost? After all, soundproof drywall is much more expensive than regular drywall. Specific drywall for soundproofing is a specialized product that may be worth the extra money depending on the scope and function of your new room.

Soundproof DrywallView in gallery

Soundproofing your room is also good for your overall well-being. Controlling noise in your home will make your home a more peaceful place. It will also allow early birds and night owls to function well in the same house. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, limiting the noise while people sleep will lead to better quality of sleep.

What is Soundproof Drywall?

Soundproof drywall, also known as pre-damped drywall or acoustic drywall, is constructed in a unique way from standard drywall. Manufacturers create standard drywall with a combination of gypsum, clay, and mica between two thin layers of paper.

Soundproof drywall has multiple layers of drywall with a sound-deadening barrier between them. This internal barrier can be viscoelastics or ceramics. Because sound travels along hard surfaces, the internal layer absorbs sound. This makes soundproofing drywall better than multiple layers of drywall for soundproofing.

Sound Transmission Class (STC)

STCWhat can be heard at this level
25Soft speech can be heard and understood
30Normal speech can be heard and understood
35Loud speech can be heard and understood
40Loud speech can be heard, but not understood
45The threshold at which privacy begins
50Loud sounds can be heard, but are very faint
60+At this level, good soundproofing begins. Neighbors generally are not disturbed by very loud speech from inside.

The most important question people ask when determining if they should use soundproofing drywall is, does it work? The short answer is yes. Piece for piece, soundproofing drywall is more effective at dampening sound than standard drywall.

When deciding which is the best soundproofing drywall to use, it is important to understand the Standard Transmission Class (STC) score of a particular drywall. The STC score was developed in 1961. This number score measures how much sound is blocked by going through a particular material. Therefore, the higher the score, the more sound is blocked. A soundproofing score of 20 would mean that you could hear almost everything in the next room, but a score of 60 would be an excellent rating.

Not all sounds are measured by the STC scale. The STC measures sounds between 125 and 4000 Hz, though many sounds fall below or above this range. If you need to consider low-frequency sounds like deep male voices or bass guitars, you will need to consider other measures than STC. This is the same for high-frequency noises above 4000 Hz.

Standard Drywall vs Soundproof Drywall

The level of soundproofing you need depends on the project that you have in mind. For example, regular drywall over wood studs has an STC score of 33. Two sheets of drywall (one on either side of the wall) with fiberglass insulation between them has an STC of around 44. This is a good standard for regular homes.

If you are creating a home theater or a room for your son’s band to practice in every day, this level may not be acceptable. Many soundproof drywall sheets alone have STC scores of 50-80 alone. The higher the STC score, the higher the price tag for the soundproofing drywall.

Cost of Soundproof Drywall

The price of soundproof drywall varies by type and by size. The average price for acoustic sheetrock is around $40 per panel. This is around double the price for a regular sheetrock panel which ranges from $12-$20.

Deciding Which Kind of Drywall to Use

There are various considerations when deciding if you want to use standard sheetrock or soundproof sheetrock. Each is personal and should be decided on a case by case basis.

  • Cost – The price tag of soundproof sheetrock is much higher than for standard sheetrock. Depending on the size of your room, the cost of this specialized acoustic drywall may be more than you want to spend.
  • Frequency of Use – The number of times that the room will be used can help you determine if the extra cost is worth it. Rooms that are used every day compared to just once a week will have different considerations.
  • Level of Noise – The level of noise that will exist in the room is an important component of your decision. The higher the level of noise, the more important it is to employ measures to limit the sound.
  • Location – The location of the room in the house will help determine the type of sheetrock to use. If your new home theater is located in the basement, the floor will also help provide a barrier to the sound. But if you put it in a room that is on the same level as your other rooms, you may need an extra sound barrier to allow others in the adjoining rooms to live without the constant noise.
  • Comfort Level – Every person has a different level of discomfort with noise. A person with deep sensitivities to noise will be more willing to spend the extra money to be more comfortable.
  • Noise Restrictions and Neighbors – Be aware of the noise ordinances in your area. Also, even if the noise of your daughter’s beginning violin practice does not violate a city noise ordinance, be sensitive to the peace of your neighbors.

Popular Brands of Soundproof Drywall

There are three common brands that many consider the best drywall for soundproofing. These are Quietrock, CertainTeed, and National Gypsum’s SoundBreak. Here is a rundown of each type and the specific products in each.


QuietRock Drywall

QuietRock DrywallView in gallery

Pabco Gypsum owns Quietrock sheetrock which was first developed in 2003. Quietrock uses “thin wall technology” so that you don’t have to sacrifice floor space to have better sound damping. They have acoustic sheetrock that measures from ½”, ⅝”, and 1 ⅜” thicknesses.

Quietrock PanelsThicknessWidthLengthWeightSTC*
EZ Snap⅝”48”8’,9’,10’2.6 lbs/ft248-60
EZ Snap Mold Resistant⅝”48”8’,9’,10’2.6 lbs/ft248-60
QuietRock 5101/2”48”8’,9’,10’12’2.13 lbs/ft247-69
QuietRock 530⅝”48”8’,9’,10’12’2.88 lbs/ft252-74
QuietRock 530RF⅝”48”8’,9’,10’12’2.88 lbs/ft252-74
QuietRock 5451 ⅜”48”8’6.25 lbs/ft260-80

*STC: Dependent on the type of frame (wood or steel). Wood frames produce a higher STC score.


CertainTeed Acoustic Drywall

CertainTeed Acoustic DrywallView in gallery

The CertainTeed noise-reducing drywall features a viscoelastic polymer between two sheets of rigid gypsum. Both of their two types of acoustic sheetrock have 100% recycled mold and moisture resistant paper. This will lead to better quality indoor air. Both products also are easy to score and to snap which lead to faster installation times.

CertainTeed PanelsThicknessWidthLengthWeightSTC*
SilentFX Quickcut½”48”8’,9’,10’12’2.1 lbs/ft241-54
SilentFX Quickcut Type X⅝”48”8’,9’,10’12’2.8 lbs/ft240-64

*STC: Based on the type of frame (wood or steel) and on the type of drywall and insulation of the facing wall.


National Gypsum SoundBreak

National Gypsum SoundBreakView in gallery

National Gypsum features Gold Bond building products including Gold Bond Soundbreak acoustical panels. These feature a viscoelastic damping polymer between two layers of mold-resistant gypsum board. These boards have a high-density gypsum core that is held between layers of their trademark PURPLE paper. This paper is 100% recycled and is mold, mildew, and moisture resistant.

CertainTeed PanelsThicknessWidthLengthWeightSTC*
SoundBreak XP Wall Board½”48”8’,10’N/A39-51
SoundBreak XP Wall Board⅝”48”8’,10’N/A43-63
SoundBreak XP Ceiling Board¾”48”8’,10’N/A59-60
SoundBreak XP Retrofit Board5/16”48”8’,10’N/A36-53+

*STC: Based on the type of frame (wood or steel) and on the type of drywall and insulation of the facing wall.

+You place retrofit boards over existing sheetrock, so the STC depends on the sheetrock and insulation under the retrofit board.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Is soundproof drywall worth the extra expense?

Acoustic drywall is effective for damping down sound compared to regular sheetrock. Yet, the expense is considerable. Each project and person is different, so it will be more worth it to some to bite the bullet and install the soundproofing sheetrock. The longer you have and use your room, the more worth it, the installation will be.

Are there soundproof drywall ceiling boards as well as wall boards?

Yes, National Gypsum produces a ceiling board that is ¾” in thickness if you want to enhance your soundproofing measures.

What is a typical room with soundproof drywall cost?

Soundproofing a room does not just mean the walls. It will include the ceiling, windows, and doors, plus the labor and materials involved. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to soundproof a room is from $10-$30 per square foot. So an average room with four walls that are 10×10 feet (total of 400 sq. feet) would cost from $4,000-$12,000 to soundproof.

Which is the best soundproof drywall available?

Each type of acoustic sheetrock is reliable. QuietRock has the largest selection. SoundBreak has some interesting types including a ceiling panel and a retrofit panel that the other brands don’t have.

Are there any other soundproofing alternatives to acoustic sheetrock?

Some people choose to double the layers of sheetrock to increase the STC amount and put a sound barrier like Green Glue between the layers.

Conclusion

Soundproof drywall is an expensive option, but it can be the best choice for people who are serious about sound levels in their home. Yet, acoustic sheetrock does not work for every sound.

Very high or low-frequency sounds need to be controlled in other ways like decoupling the walls and special insulation. By the end of your soundproofing journey, you will have a more calm and peaceful home. Your neighbors will be happier too.