Bass is a low-frequency sound that can travel efficiently through walls. Whether you’re the one producing the bass or your neighbors love to rock out to music with a lot of bass, there are several things that you can do to dampen the bass coming through your walls.
- Bass traps
- Acoustic panels
- Area rugs
- Rubber seal strips
- Wood glue
- Sound-deadening paint
- Soundproof wallpaper
- Bench scraper
Step 1: Do a Little Painting
If you’re sick of bass coming through the walls, it’s time to do a little painting. Sound-deadening paint creates a thick layer on the wall that absorbs sound as it passes through the wall. To prepare for painting, you will need to remove any and everything that is on the walls. This includes any nails or tacks.
With the walls bare, you can now dip a large paintbrush into the paint bucket. Wipe the excess paint off of the brush on the side of the paint can. Then, begin painting in horizontal strokes starting at the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling.
To get the best effect, you’ll want to paint on more than one layer. Allow the first layer to dry completely before applying more paint. In humid climates, it may take over 24 hours for the paint to dry.
Step 2: Wallpaper
Once your paint has completely dried, you can begin hanging up soundproofing wallpaper. This wallpaper is different from the traditional variety because it is thickened with foam. The foam layers inside of the wallpaper help absorb unwanted noises. Installing wallpaper is a lot easier than you may think.
Your wallpaper will come with wax paper attached to the rear of it. This paper layer protects the adhesive underneath from becoming stuck to something other than your wall. Peel away the layer of protective paper. Beginning at the upper left hand corner of the room, apply the wallpaper to the wall.
Use a flat object such as a bench scraper to help you smooth out the wallpaper as you apply it. If there are any bubbles under the wallpaper, you may need to remove the paper and start again if you can’t chase the bubble towards the edge of the wallpaper.
Step 3: Seal the Door
The gap beneath your door can let a lot of noise out and in. This step is helpful whether you’re the one creating the funky beats or you’re listening to your neighbor’s bass come through the walls. If you’re creating the noise, you’ll want to focus your sealing on the door in the room where the noise is being produced.
Weather-sealing strips are most commonly applied to the bottoms of exterior doors to keep outside drafts at bay, but they’re also very effective at slowing the transmission of soundwaves. Rubber seal strips can be applied to interior doors as well.
For maximum soundproofing, apply seals to the inside and outside of the door’s edge nearest the floor. If you have a large gap at the top of your door as well, you can apply it to the top of the outside edge of the door. Applying the seal strips to the inside edge of the top of the door may prevent it from shutting properly.
Most weather seals sold in strips already contain adhesive. If the brand you choose doesn’t have adhesive on the backside of the strip, you can secure it in place with wood glue. It might seem like a great idea to use crazy glue or super glue, but I honestly don’t think it’s worth permanently damaging the door. If you use super glue to seal it in, just know that you will never get that weatherstrip off of that door.
Step 4: Carpet
Carpet is the number-one flooring material for smothering sound. It can be used to soundproof a music studio or a baby’s room. When you have a choice in flooring, go with carpet. Your home will be much quieter and your eardrums will thank you.
If you only have carpet in certain rooms of your home, choose that room to set up any sound systems or amplifiers. As soundwaves leave your speakers, they will be absorbed by the thick carpeting, preventing them from permeating your floor and waking up your downstairs neighbors.
If you don’t already have carpet, hire a contractor to install carpet in the room where you’ll be playing music. The average homeowner pays a little less than $800 to have 100 square feet of carpeting installed. When you’re looking to prevent a ticket from a noise violation, the investment of hiring someone will save you money in the long run.
For those who hate the idea of changing their floor coverings, there are less permanent solutions. Area rugs absorb sound as effectively as carpet does; they just don’t cover the same area. In the room where music is being blasted, you’re going to want as many area rugs as possible. You can completely cover the floor with area rugs if you want to.
I recommend purchasing area rugs in sets or coordinating colors. Everyone will think that the rugs were a mature design choice, not a tricky way to keep bass from penetrating the floor and walls. However, if you’ve got an eclectic style, it wouldn’t be out of place for you to have different prints.
Step 5: Wall Coverings
There’s another place where you can put those area rugs besides the floor. That’s right; you can hang them on your wall. If you’re worried about bass coming through your wall and you don’t want to paint or install wallpaper, it’s best to cover the walls in any way possible. An area rug on the wall is just a thick tapestry. To hang your rugs on the wall, you’re going to need a hammer and some nails.
On the wall nearest where the bass is being produced or coming in, hang the rug near the source of the sound. If your speaker or bass booster is on the floor, hang the rug low enough that it touches the baseboard. When the speaker is mounted to the wall, hang the rug up behind the speaker.
If area rugs aren’t available, hang blankets up on the wall. A thick blanket can insulate your body from the cold, and it can insulate a room from bass. Choose a blanket that is thick, such as moving blankets or a heavy quilt.
Secure the blanket to the wall with your nails and hammer. I recommend using one nail for each corner of the blanket as well as a few in the center to keep it from sagging downwards. Don’t worry about making holes in the blanket. The holes made by the nails will be small and negligible.
If you can identify the source of the bass, hang the blanket closest to the source. For example, if the bass is coming through the wall furthest from the window, closest to your neighbor, that’s the wall you’ll want to try to cover with a blanket.
Step 6: Professional Material
When you’re serious about dampening bass coming through a wall, you need to think like a professional. If you’ve ever seen the inside of a music studio or recording booth, you may have noticed thick padding on the walls resembling carpet.
This wall covering is called acoustic paneling. Acoustic paneling traps soundwaves and prevents them from bouncing off of walls and creating an echo. You may not be trying to record the next one-hit-wonder of the decade, but you can prevent your bass from leaving the walls of your room by installing acoustic paneling.
A lot of acoustic paneling is self-adhesive. For these types, the installation is as simple as peel-and-stick tile. Peel off the protective backing, and apply the paneling to the wall. If the paneling doesn’t come with adhesive, you can tack it to your walls with nails. Penetrating the paneling with a nail will not affect the soundproofing effect of the tiles.
This paneling is also super great if you have young children around. We all know that kids will inevitably run into the wall, and the acoustic panels provide a cushioned place for their heads to bump into.
The most professional and effective tool in preventing bass from coming through walls is a bass trap. Bass traps are specifically designed to trap low-frequency noises, such as those created by bass. You might notice that a lot of bass traps are designed to fit into the corners of the room. Don’t ignore their structure, this is exactly where you should place them. Low-frequency noises build up in corners. The two walls meeting creates a dead space where they can’t keep bouncing around.
Install bass traps in the corners of the room where the bass is being produced. If you’re trying to keep your neighbor’s bass out of your apartment, install the bass traps along any adjoining walls, including the ceiling.