Acoustical Sealant (Acoustical Caulk)

For your soundproofing efforts to be effective, seal the seams with acoustical sealant (acoustical caulk), or else sound will find its way through the cracks.



You're planning a soundproofing project. You've considered the four principles of soundproofing and you've chosen your soundproofing materials and methods. There's one final step that is critical for success — sealing the seams with acoustical sealant. Sound can leak through any available opening, so you'll want to seal up any cracks.

What Is Acoustical Sealant?

What's the difference between an acoustical sealant and ordinary caulk? The main difference is that acoustical sealant is designed to remain permanently flexible. Caulk that hardens can eventually crack or shrink, or the film can separate so that it no longer provides an effective seal, leaving a seam defenseless against the passage of sound. But acoustical sealant remains flexible, similar to "50-year" or "non-hardening" caulk.

Where to Use

The sealant should be liberally applied wherever there is a joint between two soundproofing materials, such as the seams between adjacent drywall panels, or at the joints between walls and the floor or ceiling. Also use it around electrical boxes, recessed lighting, windows, and doors. Finishing elements such as plates and molding are installed after the sealant is applied. Tape and spackle can also be applied over the sealant.

How to Choose

There are many brands of sealant available. How do you choose? The key to effectiveness is applying it generously wherever it is needed, sealing all the openings. If selecting a more expensive product will tempt you to apply it sparingly, then it's better to go with a cheaper version, as long as it is acoustical sealant and not ordinary caulk.

Other considerations that might affect your choice:

  • The solvents used in some acoustic sealants may not be suitable for caulking around certain materials. Check the labeling to be sure that the product is compatible with the materials it will come in contact with.
  • The elasticity properties that make acoustical caulk so useful in soundproofing can also make it more difficult to squeeze out of the tubes. For filling in smaller cracks, a less exotic but more workable type of acoustic sealant may be preferable.
  • Water-based products have less odor, are generally easier to work, and are easier to clean up than solvent-based products.
  • If the sealant will be left visible, you may want to select one that can be painted over, or one that comes in different colors for you to pick from.

Price

A typical acoustical caulk product such as SilenSeal can cost anywhere from 7 to 40 cents per linear foot, depending on the thickness of the bead applied and the total quantity purchased. (Purchasing in bulk is of course normally cheaper than purchasing small quantities.) You may find that you can purchase the same product at a lower price from a company sales representative or a contractor supply source than from a home improvement store.





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