Bathroom noises usually aren’t ones you want to broadcast all over the house, but with the construction and location of many modern bathrooms, that’s exactly what ends up happening. Soundproofing your bathroom solves this problem so you’ll be free to flush the toilet, blow dry your hair or sing in the shower without disturbing the rest of your household.
Effective soundproofing doesn’t require major renovation, either. There’s a lot you can do by yourself with inexpensive soundproofing material. Even a little strategic decorating can help. If you do decide to remodel, you’ll have a wider range of options.
Simple Steps to Dampen Noise
The easiest way to keep your bathroom from transferring sound is to bring in materials that absorb or break up sound waves. Carpeting the bathroom might not be practical, but you can lay down thick rugs made from material that will stand up to humidity and frequent washing.
Cork flooring tiles are another attractive alternative option. These absorb noise and won’t be damaged by normal bathroom heat or humidity.
To reduce echoes, arrange the room so that two sections of flat wall face each other. Add shelves, racks or other accessories, put up a painting or hang potted plants on the walls or from the ceiling. Fold up thick, fluffy towels on your towel racks and cabinets.
You can also find decorative wall panels wrapped in acoustic cloth designed to double as soundproofing and artwork. Hanging a door storage unit on the inside of the door helps, too.
Even small gaps can transfer sound, so apply caulk to seal gaps where the pipes enter the room as well as around the fixtures, such as the sink. If you use acoustical sealant, make sure it’s the type designed for use on exposed surfaces.
Install acoustic insulation inserts in your electrical sockets and light switches. If you can’t find acoustic inserts, standard insulation inserts are better than nothing.
Quiet rattling pipes by tightening up the mounting straps. To further dampen the noise from the pipes, cover them in foam pipe wrap. Excessive water pressure can create pipe noise, so make sure your home’s water pressure is appropriate for the plumbing you have.
If your plumbing makes a loud banging noise when you turn off a faucet or flush a toilet, it’s likely due to an issue known as water hammer. In addition to making noise, it can also damage your pipes. Solving it is a matter of either refilling your plumbing system’s air chambers or installing equipment to regulate your water pressure.
Serious Soundproofing for Peace and Privacy
If adding towels and rugs doesn’t give you the level of soundproofing you need, there are more advanced methods that will. In most bathrooms, the walls should be the first place you address. The goal here is to add mass to the walls, which reduces vibrations.
One way to do this without removing the wall is to install a layer of 1/2-inch drywall to the wall’s exterior. For even greater soundproofing, install two layers of drywall with a 3/8-inch bead of acoustical caulk applied around the back of the second layer. The caulk between them absorbs vibrations. For maximum effect, use soundproofing boards rather than drywall.
Seal the seams of the finished wall with acoustical caulk formulated for exposed surfaces. You might need to extend any outlets and light switches on the wall, as well as finish the surface. To further soundproof your finished wall, mount acoustic deadening sound tiles. With these, you’ll enjoy a level of soundproofing usually reserved for recording studios.
If you’re not up for the work of installing drywall, soundproofing barrier mats provide an easier alternative. You can attach these mats to the walls, lay them on the floor or cover the ceiling with them. They’re also helpful for muffling noise from certain types of furniture, such as a metal cabinet.
Upgrading your bathroom door can dramatically cut down on the noise coming to and from the room. The typical bathroom door is a hollow-core plywood type that does next to nothing to block sound. You’ll get better noise control by upgrading to a door with a core of particle board, composite or solid wood.
Because these doors are heavier than average, you’ll most likely need to upgrade your door frame at the same time. Once your door is in place, apply weatherstripping or door soundproofing material.
Remodeling for a Quieter Bathroom
If you’re preparing to remodel your bathroom entirely, you have a range of options for soundproofing that are both effective and inconspicuous. Adding insulation to the walls, floor, and ceiling is one of the easiest.
Fiberglass batts help somewhat, but you’ll get better results with rock wool, which is known for its ability to dampen noise. You can find rock wool in 3 1/2-inch batts designed for soundproofing.
To cut down on impact noise, such as footsteps, from the floor, apply gasket tape or foam joist tape to the floor joists. When the subflooring is back in place, install acoustic underlay on top of it.
Building a floating floor is another option, although it’s really only worth the effort if quiet is critical in the room under the bathroom. These floors aren’t attached to the floor underneath, so they transfer little noise.
To reduce the noise traveling to or from the room above the bathroom, install a suspended (drop) ceiling. This type of ceiling is built on metal beams that hang from wires attached to the wood ceiling beams.
Acoustic ceiling tiles help, too. These days you’re no longer stuck with plain white tiles reminiscent of offices and hospitals. Acoustic tiles are available in a range of colors and patterns, including imitation wood and tin.
When you soundproof your walls, floor or ceiling, ensure that the entire space is insulated against noise. Leave even a small section open, and you’ll noticeably reduce the performance of your soundproofing material.
Whether your goal is to muffle the usual bathroom noises or create a soundproof studio for your shower singing, there are plenty of budget-friendly DIY ways to do it. If you’re not sure how much soundproofing you need, start with simpler techniques such as strategically arranging your decor and putting in soundproofing barrier mats, then if necessary, work up to more advanced methods, such as adding insulation.