The Decoupling Process
Before we can start talking about how to start the decoupling process when soundproofing we must first explain exactly what decoupling is and how it works.
First you must understand exactly how sound travels. Sound travels along paths that are uninterrupted. If something interrupts the sound, it stops, never reaching its end destination. Imagine a having a metal pole. Someone taps it on one end and you can feel the vibrations on the other. This is out sound travels.
Herein lies the problem. Most homes are constructed out of some type of wood or insulation with studs and walls attached to each other. Sometimes the insulation inside the walls, between the studs and layers of drywall, will create a soundproof barrier but in most cases it does not. Drywall is usually attached directly to the stud and at that exact point of contact there is no insulation – just material to material. The process of decoupling lifts the drywall off of the studs in order to eliminate that connection.
Decoupling, the process of separating your drywall from your wall studs or joists, is very easy. You can add decoupling measures to the ceilings or walls creating what is known as a “floating” wall or ceiling.
There is a drawback to the decoupling process. When you screw the whisper clips, used to create the resilient channel for the floating wall, into the studs you are creating what is usually called a “short circuit” – an interruption or place where sound can escape.
The next thing to consider when decoupling is the creation of the resilient channel itself, despite the above mentioned flaw. Resilient channels are created when you have a wall that has been created with bounce and flexibility. The more flexibility the wall has the better it will be at creating a sound barrier, stopping or reducing the amount of sound that can pass through the wall altogether. This works because rigid surfaces vibrate more than flexible surfaces.
Decoupling isn’t my favorite soundproofing technique but it is certainly effective. In future articles we’ll talk about other methods of soundproofing, including the use of Green Glue and a few other great soundproofing materials.