Stud walls are a common interior wall choice for most homeowners, and rightly so. They are easy and less stressful to put up. However, stud walls are not effective for soundproofing your homes. So, building owners wonder if switching to metal studs would improve the noise-blocking performance.
Regarding soundproofing, your choice of material for stud walls isn’t the most important thing. The primary and yet the most effective way to soundproof your stud walls is isolating the stud walls and attaching more mass.
Nonetheless, these materials have distinctive features that offer some edge over others. So, in this guide, we’ll look deeper into metal studs vs. wood studs for soundproofing. Also, how to make the most out of these interior walls.
What is a Stud Wall?
A stud wall is a framework made of either metal or wood studs attached to the ceiling, floor, and walls before being plastered over. The plasterboards are secured to the stud walls with nails or screws. The resulting gaps between the plasterboards are filled with sealant.
Despite the gap being filled, stud walls do not put up enough resistance to the path of migrating noise. To be frank, you can’t wholly soundproof this interior wall. But there are practical ways to improve its soundproofing performance.
Type of Stud Walls
There are two materials, metal and wood, used for stud walls. There’s a lot of debate around this topic about which one is best. Each material sports its own array of advantages and downsides. What are they?
Wooden stud wall
This is the traditional option with exceptional support suitable for various projects. And here are the reasons why contractors still prefer using wood for stud walls:
- Wooden studs are solid and stronger to offer the much-needed support to withstand the weight of the secured material. In short, it gives more room to add more mass.
- Wooden studs are super easy to work with. In most cases, you won’t need more than a saw to get this material into your desired length.
- Fixing wooden studs is easier since you can achieve this using woodscrews. Usually, you don’t need any special screws aside from the standard ones.
On the downside,
The wooden stud has been the go-to for many centuries. However, there has been a lot of improvement, and its weaknesses have remained the same for generations.
- Wooden studs tend to rot and create a perfect habitat for fungal growth, especially in humid areas.
- Wood can be more expensive than its counterpart. There is no stable price for this traditional material. If you are lucky, it’s cheaper.
- Although wooden studs are easier to cut, they require some skill level to install perfectly.
Metal stud wall
Unlike wood, metal stud walls get better with each generation. Due to their advancement, most contractors use metal stud walls for partition walls. It has attractive benefits over its traditional counterparts:
- Steel stud walls do not rot regardless of the moisture level in the space.
- Metal studs are lighter than wood, making them easier to carry, especially up the stairs.
- They are fireproof, providing some level of safety.
- Metal studs require less work since they usually come in perfectly straight, unlike wood, which comes awkward and needs refining.
- Metal studs come in a wide range of lengths. Thus, they are suitable for large stud walls.
- Metal studs require a circular saw to cut them into the right length. It’s not only challenging but also hazardous.
- Taping the drywall screw to the stud wall has a learning curve and demands a lot of patience
- They are poor thermal insulators, which can make your home less energy efficient.
- For some projects, metal studs can be more expensive.
- Metal studs have poorer acoustic management, with soundwaves bouncing off their hard surfaces, creating louder noise and more echoes.
How to Soundproof a Metal or Wood Stud Wall
In this section, I’ll share three effective ways of soundproofing a stud wall to block out disturbing noise:
The thin structure of stud walls allows sound waves to pass through easily. Thus, adding mass to the board would put more resistance to the transmission of noise. I recommend using vehicle sound-deadening mats or mass-loaded vinyl (double layer) to add mass. Both options are dense while being thin enough to take up only a little space.
This method involves keeping the stud walls apart to avoid impact noise. Decoupling the stud walls reduces the amount of vibration that travels through. One effective way to do this is by fitting drywall to staggered studs. Thus, each side can act almost independently of the other.
This is another effective soundproof trick. Insulating the stud walls increases its mass and, by extension, attenuates reverberation. Also, it ensures fewer flat surfaces to prevent sound waves from bouncing off and causing a louder noise.
These are three more effective ways to soundproof your stud wall. You should combine the three methods to boost its sound absorption capability for the best noise-blocking result.
Adding some drywall is your cheapest option if you are not looking to break the bank. This material is dense enough to keep the noise out and help regain your peace and quiet.
Soundproof curtains or heavy blankets provide extra mass to your wood studs to act as an effective sound barrier. You should notice a significant drop in the noise level. However, it’s essential to ensure the stud walls are strong enough to handle the extra weight of these mass-loaded solutions.
It’s best not to worry about which is suitable for soundproofing. Both wood and metal studs are thin and not a good sound barrier without any of the aforementioned soundproofing methods.
Ultimately, it’s never about the type of stud walls you have. Suppose your interior walls are too thin to act as a sound barrier. It’s better to try one or more of the true soundproofing methods discussed above.
Metal or wood studs? You want to make this choice with other factors in mind, such as ease of installation, price, weight limit, etc. In terms of soundproofing, any one of them will do.