Sound Waves Coming Through

What Material Blocks Out Noise The Best? (Explained)

If you are wondering what material blocks out noise the best? You should know that this question can be challenging to answer.

It would depend heavily on what type of sound you are trying to block out and, more importantly, where that sound is coming from.

If you are attempting to block the sound coming through a wall, then the mineral wool installation is often the best bet, with fiberglass soundproofing coming a close second.

These would look less pleasing around a window or a door, though.

Fillers and heavy linen curtains can work there (although they may not necessarily block out all sounds).

Foam is a good option if you are trying to block sounds coming through a wall and you want to avoid the expense of installing interior wall soundproofing.

Let’s explain this in more depth.

How Sound Proofing/Deadening Works

Soundproofing works in one of three ways:

  • Sound blocking involves adding a heavy mass to the area you want the sound to travel through. The heavy mass will reflect the sound off. In some cases, it may convert it to heat instead.
  • Sound decoupling prevents the soundwaves from traveling through a structure or at least reduces it as much as possible. You accomplish this by reducing the vibrations of the sound.
  • Sound absorption. A (typically) soft material absorbs the soundwaves. There is little to no reflection of these sounds.

This article will primarily focus on the third type of soundproofing.

We believe it is the best form of soundproofing, and there are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, good sound absorption prevents sound from traveling through a surface.

That’s the whole point of trying to block out noise.

Secondly, sound absorption will have limited sound reflection back into the room, which means less echo.

In many situations, this is what you want (particularly in a recording studio environment).

What Material Blocks Out Noise The Best?

Although, it is uncommon to desire the complete elimination of echo.

The sound in a room would be rather dull without a small amount of sound reflection.

We will not be focusing on minor types of soundproofing here, e.g., putting sealant around doors or hanging up curtains.

We are sure that you already know about that type of soundproofing.

The Importance of the NRC Rating

Sound absorption materials, as the name suggests, absorb the sound that comes into them.

Soft materials give them sound absorption qualities through their structure.

Think of the material as a sponge. It soaks up that sound.

When you are looking for the best material for blocking out sound, you should look for something called the NRC rating.

We assign this as the noise rating coefficient.

The NRC will be between 0 and 1.

We like to think of it as a percentage, though, and a rating of 0 is 0%.

It means that the material will absorb no sound.

A rating of one means that the material will absorb 100% of the sound.

You want something other than the material at the bottom of the scale.

Nothing would absorb the sound.

The material would be useless. You don’t want it at the top of the scale (in most cases), as you lose that echo.

Ideally, you would want the NRC rating between 0.70 and 0.90.

We aren’t going to be mentioning NRC ratings beyond this.

Different construction methods create varied products.

They will all have their own NRC rating, and you need to read product descriptions.

The Best Materials For Blocking Out Noise

There are a few materials that you should be focusing on for noise reduction.

What you choose will be dependent on your soundproofing needs and your budget:

  1. Interior wall insulation (e.g., rock wool, mineral wool, or fiberglass)
  2. Foam
  3. PVC
  4. Cotton curtains

Interior Wall Insulation

Installing this form of soundproofing will often yield the best results, although proving difficulty may occur if you have already constructed your property.

You must stuff insulating materials into the walls.

They will generally sit between the studs of a wall.

Rock or mineral wools are the best options for interior wall insulation, with a relatively high NRC rating (in most cases).

Fiberglass doesn’t absorb as much sound, but it is an affordable alternative.

Foam

If you looked up soundproofing online, you would be recommended foam panels.

Foam Panels
Foam Panels

Most after-build soundproofing in a home will use foam panels, and many recording studios will be lined with them.

Foam is fantastic at blocking noise and provides good sound reflection qualities.

The NRC rating of foam can vary wildly, with some panels being as low as 0.4 NRC and others hovering around the 0.9 NRC mark.

Generally speaking, the thicker the foam, the higher the NRC rating (as there will be more foam to absorb the sound).

We normally install foam as panels, but it can also be used as a sealant to cover up parts of a home where sound may be sneaking in, e.g., around doors and windows.

PVC Paneling

PVC isn’t as brilliant as the other two options, but it is much more affordable.

If you want to improve the sound reflection in a room or add more insulation to your walls, PVC paneling may be a practical solution.

Although, we don’t recommend it as your sole way of blocking out noise.

Cotton Curtains

If you are looking to block sounds from outside, you can’t exactly hang panels over your windows. Instead, opt for thick cotton curtains.

While cotton doesn’t quite have the sound-blocking qualities of foam or mineral wall, it will reduce most of the sound.

It certainly will make things much more comfortable for you.

Final Thoughts – What Material Blocks Out Noise The Best?

Interior wall insulation, such as a mineral wall or fiberglass, will often be the best material for blocking out noise.

Installing them on a wall that has already been built is tough, but their sound absorption qualities are second-to-none.

If you want to install sound-blocking materials after a property has been built, then foam paneling is your best option.

The thicker the sound panel, the more sound that they block.

Whatever route you go down, look at the NRC rating for the product.

Using this, you will know exactly how much sound the material can absorb.

References

https://soundproofcentral.com/sound-deadening-materials/

https://www.acoustiblok.co.uk/soundproofing-materials/

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