This is one of the most common questions we get asked, and it comes up a lot from visitors to Soundstop:
“Do egg cartons work for soundproofing?”
The simple answer is no... and it’s a myth that shows no sign of going away!
But there is obviously some reason people want to use them if the noise is an issue in a room. In this guide, we shall explain to you why egg boxes aren’t suitable for soundproofing rooms, and what some alternatives might be.
The reason that people want to stick egg boxes and egg cartons on their walls, and probably why the confusion comes about regarding their suitability for soundproofing is two-fold.
Firstly, some of the sound panels used in recording studios, certainly to look a lot like egg boxes! But whilst they may have the same shape and profile, they are actually made of special high-density foam which is designed to absorb the sound very efficiently.
Secondly, covering a wall with bumpy material does not soundproof the room - it reduces the echo. This is why it is used in recording studios, to make sure the singer doesn't sound like they are performing in a garage! We have a separate article on the difference between soundproofing and sound absorption, but in summary: soundproofing is about stopping noise entering or leaving a room, whereas sound absorption is about reducing echo within a room.
Egg boxes will give you some reduction of echo in the room, but it is not likely to be any more that already being provided by the furniture already there. The material it is made of is just not dense enough. This is especially the case with low frequency "bass" noise, which will just pass through any material without density. The shape of the egg boxes will however cause the scattering of some noise, but there are much easier, and less messy looking alternative which provide much superior sound improvement.
If that’s what you are looking to achieve, and are simply looking for a sound deadening solution, then rather than egg boxes, I would recommend The Echosorba panels are an extremely high performance noise absorbers. Being lightweight and slimline, they are ideal for most applications, and can adhere to a wide range of wall and ceiling surfaces.
"Okay, so I can't use egg boxes. What can I use instead?"
It’s possible to buy blackout curtains which also work as soundproof curtains.
When using soundproof curtains, the best approach is to make sure that they cover over as much of the window area as possible – so you want to make sure that they reach from the floor to the ceiling, and also overlap the window and wall by at least 3 inches.
Soundproof blankets are great for tacking to an internal door, and the fibreglass ones do a great job of keeping sounds out, and in.The only potential downside is that it can look a little odd on the back of a door, but you can make it look good as long as you cut it the exact size of your door, and tack it on well. You can also mount soundproof blankets onto the walls.
Vibration Insulation Pads
If you have speakers in the room, and it’s important for you not to annoy your neighbours or other people in the house, then I would advise placing speakers (and other noisy items) on top of vibration insulation pads.
Sound Absorbing Panels
Sound absorbing panels, also called acoustic panels, are scientifically designed by acoustic technicians to absorb as much of the sound in the room and drastically reducing echo and reverb. They are usually made from dense fibre glass and can be made in almost any shape - and can be covered with your own choice of photograph, making them look like a normal, beautiful canvas print!
All of the recommended products we have listed will do a good job, but for a really professional finish for soundproofing a room you are going to have put some more work in, and spend more money.
Drywalling is one such method, which will essentially thicken the wall by at least one more inch, providing a more soundproofed environment. This will require a lot of time, and you will likely need a professional to do it for you.
Many soundproofing experts will mount a frame between the existing wall with a gap in it, and then drywall over the frame. When noise travels into new material, its energy will be absorbed with some being reflected as we’ve already seen with our explanation of egg boxes. By having space between your existing wall, using a frame, with new drywall on the new frame, it can really help – this is called decoupling.
The myth that the egg boxes can soundproof a room has been long established, but unfortunately it isn’t actually true. It’s easy to understand why people might think this is the case though, as we saw at the beginning of this article, especially when people are looking for DUI soundproofing solutions.
Yes, they can be a cheap alternative for sound deadening and reducing echo, but if you really want to stop sound escaping or entering a room you are going to have to take a very different approach. It’s possible to do things on the cheap, or spend thousands. Ultimately though, to effectively soundproof a room in your house to the best possible state, you will need to thicken the walls – and use some high-quality soundproofing materials.