If you live in a big city, noise is a problem. In 2009, of all people in New York City, who reported noise complaints, said the issue came from their neighbors. So, in these situations, blocking out noise in an efficient way is imperative.
Soundproofing is the only way to block out disruptive noise. A popular solution is plastic, but is plastic soundproof? Yes, it can be soundproof but not all plastic will do the job right.
Most common plastics, like garbage bags, won’t be effective. But there are some composite materials available that are affordable and work well.
The Science of Sound
To soundproof, you have to understand something about the science of sound. Sound is a physical energy that can permeate anything, even steel. Noise travels through steel up to 15 times faster than air. Construction workers will communicate with colleagues by banging on metal beams and walls because of how efficient it is to transmit sound.
About Common Plastics
Anything less than 10 millimeters thick will not absorb, reflect or reverberate sound. Common plastics in things like kitchen wraps, garbage bags, shopping bags and etc. are not good sound barriers on their own. They are insufficient and do nothing against annoying noise.
But flat-sheet components incorporating plastic are more ideal. The chosen material has to be thick and heavy enough to block sound.
There are two types of techniques in soundproofing. The first is absorbing and the other is dampening.
The word “absorbing” describes in exact terms what this technique does. It absorbs sound into something like a thick rubber and/or plastic material. It soaks up incoming sound energy, thereby preventing sound and vibration from coming into a room.
To “dampen” sound means to weaken or deaden soundwaves and their energy. This type of technique is good for sound that doesn’t have accompanying vibration. If you have massive vibration, this technique won’t achieve the proper results.
Whether dampening or absorbing, you want to use a heavy, thick material. Things like concrete or lead would be ideal for such a construction. But absorbing, as its own technique, could involve putting some kind of rubber-like material between walls to act like a sponge against vibration.
So, you want something that’s going to absorb, deflect and reverberate sound to control it. The following materials are ideal for soundproofing that include plastic:
- Viscoelastic Foam
- Mass-Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
- Fiber glass
- Neoprene Rubber
All these contain simple plastic, but they’re also composed of other materials. Mass-Loaded Vinyl (MLV), for example, is one of the most popular soundproofing choices. This is PVC blended with ceramic, with some incorporating barium salts or silica. Not only does this mitigate noisiness, it gives the material extra weight.
These materials are available through soundproofing companies and home improvement stores. The price of these materials ranges greatly, so you’ll want to do a bit of research to determine which method and technique is right for the kind of sound you’re dealing with.