Does Bubble Wrap Absorb Sound?

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If you’re looking to soundproof a room on a tight budget, then bubble wrap is an affordable soundproofing material that could be of interest. 

It may sound like an odd idea, and certainly not the most attractive or natural method of soundproofing, but bubble wrap is believed to reduce the amount of sound waves being transferred due to the air pockets of each bubble. 

Does Bubble Wrap Absorb Sound?

So, whether you’re looking to soundproof your garage studio or the spare room in your home, it’s an option that’s not only inexpensive, but also likely to do the trick. 

This guide will take an in-depth, balanced look at the ability of bubble wrap to absorb sound. Specifically, the process of installation, its upkeep, and how bubble wrap compares to other soundproofing materials. 

Where Can You Purchase Bubble Wrap? 

Firstly, it’s important to measure your room to find out exactly how much bubble wrap you need. For most rooms, you’ll typically need a large amount to fully soundproof it. 

You can find bubble wrap in most office supply stores or package stores. Moreover, these locations typically provide large rolls of bubble wrap which are ideal. You can also buy them on Amazon.

Installation 

While there are a number of ways to install bubble wrap on your walls, it can be a challenging and time-consuming process if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. 

The easiest method is to use glue, tape, or even screws to secure the bubble wrap onto the wall. Be mindful, that for ultimate efficiency, it’s essential the bubble wrap is tightly compressed to the surface of the wall. 

Apply your chosen adhesive to all corners of the flat side, as well as the middle of the strip of bubble wrap. Then, attach the flat side of the bubble wrap against the wall. Continue this process until all of the walls and ceiling in your room are completely covered. 

Bubble wrap

During the installation process, it’s important not to press too hard on the bubbles when pushing against the wall. After all, the last thing you want to do is pop the bubbles, and render the material essentially useless before you’ve even finished installation. 

It’s worth noting that using bubble wrap takes considerably more materials and effort than most other methods of at-home soundproofing, so if you’re working to a tight deadline, it may not be the best option. 

Upkeep 

In terms of upkeep, bubble wrap isn’t designed for permanent use, so the bubbles will naturally lose their air after a while. This in turn, will significantly reduce its sound reduction qualities. 

When your bubble wrap starts to lose air, you’ll need to begin replacing it with new sheets. Bear in mind that it’s recommended to only replace one sheet at a time. The walls will usually need to be replaced before the ceiling because of their exposure to movement and being brushed against. 

The time it takes for bubble wrap to lose its air depends on a range of factors, with heat being the most influential. Often, you’ll need to replace the bubble wrap every few weeks, and for many people, this is understandably unsustainable.

Sound Absorption Quality  

Bubble wrap’s ability to effectively absorb sound divides opinion. While some people are more than happy to use it as a cheap method of soundproofing a room, others tend to steer clear of the material. 

The people who question the sound absorption qualities of bubble wrap point to the flat surface of the material, which can often allow sound waves to bounce off it – usually in a number of different directions. 

As they say, and quite rightly so you could argue, this is the exact opposite of what you want from a soundproofing material. 

Alternatives 

When it comes to soundproofing on a budget, there are multiple alternatives to bubble wrap. Below are five of the most popular examples. 

  • Acoustic Foam Panels – these are highly dense, and able to absorb up to 95% of the airborne noise within a room. 
  • Weatherstrips – this is a product usually designed to improve insulation on doors and windows. However, it’s equally effective at reducing noise pollution in these areas too. 
  • Soundproof Wallpaper – this useful material provides an extra thin layer of foam to help absorb any airborne noise. 
  • Thicker Curtains – installing thicker, soundproof curtains to cover the windows in your room can significantly reduce the amount of unwanted noise being heard. 
  • Acoustic Sealant – used to fill gaps around doors and windows, this product is much more effective than a normal sealant. It can also reflect sound waves to an extent.