What Is Soundproof Drywall & How Does It Works

Have you ever wished for some peace and quiet in your home or apartment? Whether it’s noisy neighbors, loud traffic outside, or just thin walls letting in every creak and thump, excess noise can be frustrating and stressful.

But you don’t have to suffer or move to a remote cabin in the woods for relief. There is a simple building material that can drastically reduce noise transmission through walls and ceilings. Soundproof drywall is specially engineered to absorb and block sound rather than let it pass directly through like standard drywall.

In this comprehensive guide, we will reveal everything you need to know about soundproof drywall.

We’ll also answer common questions homeowners have about enhancing noise control with drywall, so you can decide if it’s the right solution for your needs. Let’s dive in!

What Is Soundproof Drywall & How Does It Work?

Standard drywall, sometimes called sheetrock, is a building material made by sandwiching gypsum between two sheets of paper. It’s designed to be an affordable and easy way to create smooth interior walls and ceilings.

But traditional drywall has little capacity to block noise since its hard surface allows sound waves to pass through easily. Soundproof drywall takes a different approach by using specialized internal materials to absorb and dampen noise.

While regular drywall consists of just gypsum and paper, soundproofing panels contain 2 or more layers of rigid gypsum divided by a viscoelastic polymer layer. Some also mix in ceramics or other dense compounds.

The key difference is the viscoelastic damping layer in the center, typically a type of rubbery adhesive. As sound waves attempt to travel through, this flexible substance absorbs the vibrations before they can pass through to the other side of the wall.

Essentially, the viscoelastic layer converts acoustic energy into heat, causing drastic sound reduction compared to single-layer drywall. The end result is noise and speech coming from other rooms or outside your home is muffled or inaudible.

Now let’s examine the specific brands and options available when shopping for soundproof drywall.

Types of Soundproof Drywall & Major Brands

There are 3 major manufacturers offering various patented soundproofing drywall options:

  • QuietRock by Pabco Gypsum
  • SilentFX by CertainTeed
  • SoundBreak by National Gypsum

Standard drywall is sometimes called sheetrock, but what exactly is the difference between Sheetrock Vs Drywall? I cover the comparison in detail if you’re unsure which to use.

While each brand uses slightly different proprietary technologies and materials, they all rely on a layered damping method as described above. Here is an overview of the most popular soundproof drywall product lines:

QuietRock Drywall

QuietRock offers the widest selection of specialty acoustical drywall panels to suit different noise blocking needs:

QuietRock ProductThicknessSTC RatingKey Features
QuietRock 5101⁄2”47-69Their standard and most affordable soundproofing wallboard.
QuietRock EZ Snap5⁄8”48-60Features a specialized score and snap membrane for easier installs.
QuietRock 5305⁄8”52-74Fire-rated and mold/moisture resistant. Good sound blocking for multifamily housing.
QuietRock 530RF5⁄8”52-74Same as 530 but with radio frequency blocking. Useful for home theaters.
QuietRock 5451 3⁄8”60-80Their premium 3-layer studio grade product, best for dedicated sound rooms.

As you can see, increasing performance comes with more thickness and cost. Their mid-range QuietRock 530 is sufficient for most residential needs.

CertainTeed SilentFX

For a fire-rated soundproofing drywall good for apartments and condos, SilentFX QuickCut by CertainTeed is a great choice.

It has a double-layer design using Separonic gypsum and a viscoelastic polymer. At 5⁄8” thick, it earns an STC rating of 41-64 depending on exact wall composition. It’s mold resistant and installs just like regular drywall.

National Gypsum SoundBreak

National Gypsum’s SoundBreak XP line provides options for both walls and ceilings:

  • SoundBreak XP Wall Board: Available in 1⁄2” and 5⁄8” thickness, with STC ratings ranging from 39-63 depending on construction.
  • SoundBreak XP Ceiling Board: Special 3⁄4” acoustical panel designed for noise blocking above.
  • SoundBreak XP Retrofit Board – A thin panel made to mount over existing drywall.

Now that we’ve covered the major products available, let’s discuss how soundproof drywall compares to regular drywall for dampening noise.

How Soundproof Drywall Compares to Standard Drywall

Specialty acoustical drywall clearly outperforms standard drywall panels when it comes to blocking noise, but it comes at a higher cost.

Consider these comparisons of a typical 1⁄2” sheet:

  • Sound blocking ability: Standard drywall has an STC rating of 34, while soundproofing drywall rates at 52. Almost twice the noise reduction!
  • Cost: About $10-15 per sheet for regular drywall versus $40-55 for soundproofing drywall. 3-5 times more expensive.
  • Thickness: Same at 1⁄2” thickness for a standard 4×8 sheet. No difference.

Because it absorbs so much better, soundproof drywall provides nearly the same noise blocking capacity as doubling up on standard drywall sheets.

For maximum effect, you can also use two layers of soundproofing drywall, earning STC ratings over 100! But for most homes, a single layer is sufficient and avoids the hassle of installing double drywall.

Now let’s go over your options for installing soundproofing drywall in new construction or existing rooms.

How to Install Soundproof Drywall

Installing soundproof drywall on walls and ceilings is very similar to working with standard multi-layer drywall or “quiet rock” products. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Measure and cut panels to fit your wall frame and spacing.
  2. Lift panels into place against studs and fasten using drywall screws every 12 inches around the perimeter and every 24 inches on internal supports.
  3. Seal edges with acoustical caulk and use acoustical tape at seams to minimize noise leaks.
  4. Finish seams and screw indentations using acoustic joint compound to maintain sound blocking integrity.
  5. Apply two finish coats of acoustic joint compound, allowing drying time between coats.
  6. Sand once dry using fine sandpaper to create a smooth finish ready for priming and painting.

The main difference from a standard drywall installation is using specialized soundproofing tape, sealant, and joint compound designed not to compromise noise reduction.

Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions, as some brands have specific requirements. For example, CertainTeed SilentFX boards require at least 0.01” (0.254 mm) gap between panels to maintain sound blocking performance.

Once installed correctly, you’ll immediately notice a dramatic reduction in noise penetrating the walls, especially at lower frequencies. The improvement might be so striking, it may take some adjustment to get used to the new peace and quiet!

For new room construction, soundproofing drywall should be installed on both sides of framing to fully encapsulate the interior space. But you can also use it when remodeling existing rooms by furring out new stud walls and overlaying existing surfaces.

For tips and best practices on how to work with soundproof drywall, see my guide on How To Use Properly Soundproof Drywall. It covers specialized installation steps for maximum noise reduction.

Next let’s examine the option of using multiple layers of standard drywall to dampen sound.

Using Two Layers of Regular Drywall for Noise Reduction

Rather than purchase expensive specialty drywall, some homeowners choose to simply double up sheets of regular Type X drywall. This is an effective technique, with the advantage of using a less expensive product.

Follow these steps for double drywall soundproofing:

  1. Install first layer of 1⁄2″ or 5⁄8” drywall as normal directly against studs.
  2. For maximum effect, cover backside with a thin layer of sound damping glue or alternating cross-layers of mass loaded vinyl.
  3. Install second layer of drywall using offset seams and long drywall screws going through to the studs.
  4. Carefully seal perimeter edges and seams with acoustical caulk.
  5. Finish seams with regular joint compound and tape.
  6. Apply two finish coats of joint compound, sanding between coats. Primer and paint as usual.

Using two drywall layers helps with noise because it doubles the mass and interrupts sound waves attempting to pass through. Sound must bounce back and forth between layers, losing energy before being heard on the other side.

The disadvantage is it adds more weight, takes more time to install, and consumes double the floorspace. But for certain situations the lower material cost outweighs the disadvantages.

Here’s a handy comparison chart summarizing the differences between soundproofing drywall and double drywall:

Drywall TypeSTC RatingThicknessCostNoise BlockingLabor Time
1 Layer Soundproof Drywall50-601⁄2”$$$ExcellentLeast
2 Layers Standard Drywall50-601”$$ExcellentModerate

For a comparison of drywall vs plywood for soundproofing, see my article on Is Drywall More Soundproof Than Plywood. I discuss the noise blocking abilities, costs, and installation factors.

With equivalent noise blocking, the decision depends on your budget, goals, and project scope.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of materials and installation, let’s go over some key factors to help decide if soundproof drywall is right for your situation.

When Is Soundproof Drywall Worth the Investment?

Specialized sound dampening drywall costs significantly more than standard drywall. But it can be worth the premium investment in certain situations when noise control is a priority.

Benefits of Using Soundproof Drywall

1. New room construction – Installing it from the start is easier than renovating later.

2. Home theaters & music rooms – Critical for blocking sound transfer to other rooms.

3. Recording studios – Achieve professional levels of acoustic isolation.

4. Basement ceilings – Reduce noise transfer to upper levels.

5. Condo/apartment demising walls – Maintain privacy from neighbors.

6. Bedrooms – Absorb disruptive noises allowing better sleep.

7. Save space – Achieve better noise blocking with thinner walls.

For all these applications, the performance benefit of soundproofing drywall outweighs the higher cost per sheet. It can make a significant improvement in both noise problems and quality of life.

When to Use Standard Double Drywall Instead

There are also situations where doubling up standard drywall may be the better choice:

  • Cost is the determining factor and noise control requirements are moderate.
  • Retrofitting existing rooms where losing floorspace to thicker walls is not acceptable.
  • DIYers on a budget who can install it themselves.
  • Large open spaces needing better noise absorption but not total sound blocking.

The lower material cost of extra layers of regular drywall can make sense for many homeowners, especially for larger rooms.

Other Important Soundproofing Techniques

It’s worth noting that drywall alone is not enough for complete acoustic isolation. To make rooms as soundproof as possible, products like soundproofing insulation and acoustic caulk should also be used.

And there are critical installation steps like sealing outlets, enclosing pipes and vents, and using techniques like double stud walls and resilient channels that prevent flanking noise and vibration transfer.

But enhancing walls and ceilings with soundproof drywall is often the most crucial element for maximizing noise reduction between rooms. Combined with other specialized products and proper construction methods, it enables creating truly soundproof spaces.

Now let’s recap the key takeaways from this guide on soundproof drywall.

Key Takeaways on Soundproof Drywall

  • Soundproof drywall uses a layered damping system to absorb noise rather than letting it transmit through walls and ceilings.
  • Leading brands like QuietRock, SilentFX, and SoundBreak offer patented acoustic drywall panels to suit different noise blocking needs and budgets.
  • A single layer of soundproofing drywall can achieve noise reduction similar to doubling up on standard drywall.
  • When installed correctly using acoustical joint compound and tapes, soundproof drywall can reduce noise transmission through walls by 50% or more.
  • It’s ideal for home theaters, music rooms, bedrooms, and inter-unit walls, but costs 3-5 times more than standard drywall per sheet.
  • For cost-effective soundproofing on a budget, double drywall layers with offset seams also works well.
  • In addition to soundproof drywall installation, specialized insulation, construction techniques, and caulking should be used to minimize noise flanking and leakage.

With some strategic planning and product choices, it is possible to turn any room into a peaceful oasis, free from outside noise disturbances. If loud neighbors, traffic sounds, or other excessive noise are making your home or apartment stressful, look into soundproof drywall upgrades.

The investment can be worthwhile when you consider the benefits of better sleep, privacy, and overall quality of living that come with enhanced noise control.

If you’re looking to soundproof your ceiling without replacing drywall, I’ve also written a detailed guide on How To Soundproof A Drywall Ceiling. It provides tips on materials, construction methods, and recommended products to stop noise coming through from above.

And If you’re wondering whether thickness affects performance, I’ve written an article comparing Is Thicker Drywall Better For Soundproofing?. Check it out to see if thicker drywall is worth it for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Soundproof Drywall

Does soundproof drywall really work?

Yes – Installed properly, soundproof drywall is very effective at reducing noise transmission through walls and ceilings. The specialized internal damping layer converts acoustic energy into heat rather than letting it pass through. Independent lab tests confirm that products like QuietRock can block over 50% more sound than standard drywall.

Is Green Glue as good as soundproof drywall?

NoGreen Glue is a viscoelastic material used to dampen sound transmission when installed between layers of drywall. However, it is not as reliable or effective as engineered soundproofing drywall. Achieving proper noise reduction requires careful application by skilled installers, and performance can vary greatly. Acoustical soundproof drywall is a better solution where maximum noise blocking is needed.

Should it be used on interior walls only?

No – Soundproof drywall can also be installed on exterior walls and ceilings to block outside noise from entering the building. For example, it’s great for dampening traffic noise from busy roads. Just be sure to install a vapor barrier and insulate properly to prevent condensation issues.

Does it require special installation?

Yes – While soundproof drywall installs much like standard drywall, it’s important to use adhesives, sealants, and joint compounds designed not to compromise noise reduction. Some brands also have specific requirements like gap sizes between panels. Always check manufacturer instructions.

How much does it cost?

The cost of soundproofing drywall averages $40-$60 per 4×8 sheet compared to $10-$20 for standard drywall. This 3-5 times price premium is worthwhile for critical sound blocking applications. Exact pricing varies by brand and local supplier.

Is soundproof drywall worth the extra cost?

It depends on your specific goals. For general noise reduction between rooms, double drywall may be adequate at a lower cost. But for dedicated spaces like home theaters where maximum sound isolation is critical, soundproof drywall is often worth the investment.


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