Noises are a part of everyday life. whether you’re trying to block sounds from another room or improve the quality of sound in a single room, adding or changing up a wall texture could be an easy way to improve the acoustics. How effective is it really though?
Wall texture will help the sound in a room bounce and scatter more effectively, but will not decrease the sound transmissions heard from other rooms. Changing the materials of the walls themselves is the only surefire way to dampen the external sound.
Adding texture to your walls may seem like such a small, surface-level way to improve acoustics. Could it really be that simple? How much does it actually help?
What Wall Texture Does For Acoustics
Wall texture is mostly used for its aesthetic qualities, not acoustic ones. It makes walls more interesting to look at and is used to cover the imperfections of plain drywall. It’s a good way to make a wall look “finished” before it is painted.
Though acoustics are not the main purpose of wall texture, the smoothness or roughness of a wall does make a difference as to the level of echo and bounce back in a room. Wall texture can add a very small layer of thickness that may help soundproof, but the results won’t be dramatic and hardly noticeable.
If you want to decrease the level of sound that can be heard between rooms, the best way to do this is to knock your walls down and rebuild them to be thicker and more insulated. Not everyone has the time or money to embark on a long, house improvement project. By digging a little deeper and knowing about how sound works, we can discover how to get the most out of minor alterations.
How Sound Works (In Rooms)
To avoid an entire science lesson, let’s keep this simple:
Sound can travel in two different ways: Through vibrations that are transferred through substances, and through waves through the air. This is like the difference between banging on a wall with a hammer and shouting at it.
Airborne sounds travel through the air from their source, bounce around, and are partially absorbed when they hit surfaces. A square room has 6 surfaces– four walls, the floor, and the ceiling, and these sound waves are all going to interact in different ways depending on the materials and textures at play.
The more textured the wall is, the more sound will disperse and be absorbed when it hits it. A textured wall will reflect the sound waves off into a bunch of different directions and make the noise in the room more contained and natural sounding.
STC stands for sound transmission class and refers to the level at which different wall substances are good at blocking everyday sounds. This is a universal system that was invented to give people a comparison for how annoying sounds would be dampened by the material.
Technically speaking, the higher the STC rating, the more effective it will be at blocking and repelling sound. The more effective it is, the more a room will be protected from both airborne sounds and sound transferal through substances
The STC rating of a room can be increased by adding mass and increasing thickness. Most wall textures aren’t designed to do either of these things, so putting texture on a wall isn’t a good solution to this problem. In fact, the effects are usually so negligible, many texture products are not given an STC rating.
Types Of Wall Texture
Even though wall texturing can’t save you from noisy neighbors, it can make your own noise sound more natural and make your spaces feel (and sound) more like home.
Orange peel wall texture is one of the most popular forms of wall texture. It’s not overly noticeable but will give your walls an extra level of finish, which may be exactly what you’re looking for. If your priority is higher quality acoustics, this one is more known for its aesthetic than it does acoustic utility, but it will help your space sound a little more natural.
Knockdown wall texture is created by roughly texturing joint compound, then using a large knife to “knock down” the very tips of the peaks to give the wall a smooth surface with interesting divots. Knockdown texture has a 50/50 smooth and rough finish, which and will help you get better more natural acoustic results than a smooth wall would while maintaining a higher aesthetic level of interest.
Popcorn texture is like orange peel texture on steroids. It’s most commonly used for ceilings, but can be used for walls as well, though this is uncommon. It’s thick, dimensional, and very rough to the touch… while these naturally absorbing qualities will give you better acoustic results, it will likely be too sharp and rough for everyday life and is better off to be used as a ceiling texture.
Slap brush texture is created by stamping a splayed-out brush across a wet joint compound, creating an appealing sunburst effect. When using this texture, stamping a lot will create a more varied look, which will create more “mountains” for sound to bounce off of. The nice thing about this texture is that you can choose to have more or less texture depending on your preferences.
Other Ways To Sound Proof Your Rooms
Though wall textures won’t help decrease noise heard from other rooms, does this mean you should give up on your hopes and dreams of decreasing noise in your life? Nope! Here are some other ways to help mitigate and absorb sounds without ever getting out the home improvement materials:
1. Wall And Floor Coverings
Adding coverings to your walls like tapestries and thick curtains, all help with sound dispersion. Soft fabrics are well known for their ability to absorb sound and decrease echo, and can be a great way to decorate your home. The same goes for rugs and carpet! Sound waves get lost and absorbed into highly textured surfaces and can make your rooms sound homier.
2. Acoustic Panels
Depending on the purpose of the room, buying or creating some acoustic panels may be a good option for you. These work well for office or bedroom areas and are traditionally used to dampen sound dispersion and improve the sound of music and the quality of sound recording. These panels come in all shapes and sizes and are specifically designed to absorb sounds and even decrease outside sound.
3. Different Furniture
Believe it or not, even your furniture can make a difference when it comes to room acoustics. If lots of the furniture in the room has hard, smooth surfaces, then the sound will bounce around more and may cause a problem. Softer or more textured materials such as wicker, canvas, and fur will all help to make a more natural sound.