There are numerous factors to consider when soundproofing your residence, other than just for added comfort.
Maybe it is to shield yourself from noisy neighbors or make your recording room fit for production. No matter your reason, wood is definitely going to be one of your primary soundproofing materials.
But here’s something worth knowing…
Not all woods are efficient at soundproofing your house. Some are good, some bad, and others are in-between.
So before you decide to go on with your DIY noise reduction, you need to know what option is better to avoid flushing money down the drain.
If you are working with an expert, then they should be able to help you make the right choice.
Nevertheless, let’s discuss a few wood options used in soundproofing and the level of their effectiveness.
Best Wood for Soundproofing Your Home or Office
The choices that usually come highly recommended include:
1. Acoustic plywood
Acoustic plywood is reliable for sound absorption. However, it must be perforated to dissipate sound waves.
It’s better to be creative when adding perforations and use shapes that don’t damage its aesthetics.
Normally, channeled, oblong, round, and square tiny holes and other nice-looking groves are acceptable.
Professional grade acoustic plywood is frequently integrated with other materials such as Amorim cork rubber to ramp up its blocking capability.
Professional in soundproofing highly recommend that you use a coarse plank instead of a smooth one.
If you, unfortunately, used a smooth one on the wall, be ready to face echo disturbance. One way to minimize that is to cover the floor with mats.
Because of their reasonable ability to clean out echoes and reverberations, wood planks can mostly be seen in concert halls, lecture halls, meeting spaces, and home theaters.
One of the most eco-friendly soundproofing solutions is cork.
Yes, the same cork that makes wine bottle plugs. It is extracted from the bark of the tree, which goes on living, instead of being cut down.
Quick question; why is cork reliable for soundproofing?
Cork’s ability to insulate sound comes from its honeycomb-like structure. In other words, it’s porous and allows sound to pass through it without deflection.
Additionally, it inherently includes fatty acids that render it impermeable to sound.
Truthfully, cork–and any other wood–for that matter is not entirely efficient in absorbing sound. This is because it is fairly thin and lightweight.
Nevertheless, it offers satisfactory results for anyone in need of noise reduction and acoustic insulation.
3. Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Another best wood for soundproofing your house is Medium Density Fiberboard.
Because of its immense mass, it has the same sound blocking rating as drywall. Its weight is just one of the drawbacks that make it hard to work with.
The board is held together with resins that contain VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) making it a potential health hazard.
And that’s not all, MDF absorbs water quite first. Meaning you need to coat it with paint as fast as possible or mess up your soundproofing work.
So if you decide to work with MDF, make sure to have all those drawbacks at the back of your mind.
4. Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
OSB refers to various wood strands pressed together and held in place with adhesives such as resin.
First, it has good absorption and secondly, its mass is a lot and these two factors make OSB outstanding for soundproofing.
The beauty of OSB is that it costs less than MDF and drywall yet it delivers the same acceptable noise reduction standards as them. So if you are looking to save a penny or two, OSB is the way to go.
Those living in humid areas don’t need to fret about OSB absorbing moisture like MDF.
The downside to using it though is that pressing the woods together can be a process and you might still need to paint it before installation.
But if the finish doesn’t mean a lot to you, then there is no bigger problem to worry about, right?
Additional wood products that absorb sound
Perforated wood panels
Wood panels can be as simple as plywood but with dents and holes through them for maximum sound absorption. They can be suspended on the ceiling or screwed on the walls.
It’s essential to point out that the method of installation, the size, and the pattern of the holes will provide varying results, that usually dangle between 0.40 and 0.75 NRC (Noise Coefficient Rating).
Also known as slatted or grid panels, normally go on the ceiling and walls. Their purpose is to curb echo and sound transmission.
The space between the wood slats will determine how effective the panels are at reducing noise transmission.
On average, grilles have an NRC rating of between 0.20 and 0.70 and the value will depend on the material, grill depth, and installation method. Grilles work exceptionally well in larger rooms.
Wall art decoration can be a great way to minimize sound transmission while still making the house look and feel great.
Acoustic pictures can help you lower noise disturbance albeit at a small 1.0 NRC rating.
So, what’s the best wood for soundproofing?
Well if you want to effectively soundproof your house or office with wood, then cork and Oriented Strand Board should be at the top of your list.
In their absence, you can settle for soft plywood and Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF).
Lastly, most woods, on their own, cannot completely soundproof your house. For instance, you can use fabric-wrapped wooden panels to allow air gap in-between for acoustic comfort.
While quite an entailing and expensive affair, employing hybrid mass timber (where wood is combined with concrete topping) can deliver pro-level noise reduction and clear out reverberations.
All in all, wood alone can still reduce noise transmission to a peaceful level. Happy soundproofing!