Lead Soundproofing for Noise Reduction

Lead sheets for soundproofing from Nuclead

The Use of Lead Sheet for Soundproofing.


Soundproofing describes a number of different methods of reducing the volume level of a particular sound and a particular point in space. For example, rooms next to a noisy factory or a house near a highway.

Since sound is vibrations in some medium, usually air then it is clear that sound will not travel in a vacuum. However, producing a vacuum is neither practical nor effective so that is not a method that can be used to produce sound proofing. At the other end of the scale solid objects are less effective at conveying short wavelengths or high frequencies. This is the reason why you usually hear your neighbor’s stereo as almost all base!

Unless there is literally a hole in the wall the medium of transmission is going to be the material that makes up the walls or the floor, such as wood or drywall. Such materials are very efficient conductors of long wavelength vibrations, and this is why most existing walls and floors are not considered soundproof. Clearly, we need to find a way to interrupt the transmission of the vibrations; this can be accomplished by putting a suitably absorbent material in the path of the vibrations.

This article describes the use of lead for soundproofing as well as Nuclead’s expertise and experience in this area. If you are serious about blocking sound and sound deadening to soundproof your room or studio read on.

Lead Soundproofing

Lead has a high surface density and is correspondingly heavy. It can provide a very effective sound barrier compared to plaster, layer of drywall, glass, concrete or many other materials. Also many other materials tend to become more rigid as they become thicker, rigid materials do not make good sound insulators since they can retransmit sound though vibration and resonances. Most people think about acoustic panels and acoustic foam which is needed for sound absorption, adding Lead brings it to another level.

Lead, on the other hand, is soft and malleable. This makes it impossible to radiate sound and very difficult to be set into vibration, and has the flexibility needed to make a good sound barrier. Since lead is a metal it has a uniform density compared with wood and other materials and finally it is easy to attach lead sheets to other materials to produce structurally sound walls.

In addition to sheet lead, it can also be used as an effective sound barrier in leaded plastics or in lead sheet rock, to block airborne noise or to dampen the ringing of metal structures such as steel decking or panels.

An absorbing material such as lead sheet absorbs sound by spontaneously converting part of the sound energy to a very small amount of heat in the lead.

Lead sheet’s effectiveness as a soundproofing material can be seen in the table below. Lead sheets provide noise absorption over 10 times more glass or concrete and up to a 100 times more absorbent than wood. When soundproofing a room lead sheets make the best choice when you care about thickness of the material. 

Lead for Noise Control: Lead verses other materials
(approximate thickness required in inches)
MaterialModerately Noisy OfficeQuiet OfficeVery Quite Office
Fir Plywood3.67″6.67″13.33″
Sand Plaster0.2″”4.45″8.9″
Dense Concrete0.14″4.85″12.2″

How to Use a Lead Sheet for Soundproofing

Lead sheet is an effective way to soundproof a home or professional recording studio. Although lead sheeting will not improve audio quality within the studio, it will soundproof a room. A very thin piece of lead sheeting soundproofs the studio as effectively as a far thicker sheet of plywood. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that although lead sheeting provides an impenetrable barrier that prevents sound waves from entering or leaving the room, you will also need a porous material on either side of the lead sheeting to absorb the blocked sound waves for the sound absorption.

In a residential environment, the predominant noise issues will be in the vocal, TV, and certain musical frequencies. The human ear is most efficient (or perceptive) in the 4000 Hz range which not surprisingly is also the range for speech. Lead sheet can prove exceptional effective when it is sandwiched between two layers of sheet rock, as in lead sheet rock.

Here are the steps to soundproofing using lead sheet.
  1. Measure the height and length of the walls to be soundproofed. Particular attention should be paid to walls adjacent to other rooms with sound sources.
  2. Buy enough lead sheeting cover the walls you want to soundproof. For this purpose, 4mm-thick lead sheeting should be sufficient.
  3. Use universal bonding compound (UBC) to attach foam padding to both sides of the lead sheet and let it dry.
  4. Coat one side of your triple-layered insulation sheet in UBC, using a paint roller. Hold the insulation flat against the wall you are soundproofing until it begins to bind, and then leave it to dry. Repeat this process for all the other walls you want to soundproof.
  5. Attach sheets of plasterboard to the outside of the sound insulation, again using UBC, on all the walls that have been sound proofed.

Nuclead’s has a wide range of Lead Soundproofing Products.

Nuclead can provide lead sheet in any thickness up to 3” inches in thickness and 8 feet square. Usually, lead sheet for noise reduction are up to 0.5” thick and can be supplied from stock as needed.

Nuclead also has available lead sheet rock and lead plywood. Lead sheet can be laminated onto sheet rock and plywood to meet any customer’s individual needs, usually applied with lead from .002″ to 1/4″ thick. The lead plywood is 1/4″ to 3/4″ thick and lead sheetrock is 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Typically, the sheets are 4’ wide and between 4’ and 10’ feet long.

Nuclead also supplies lead sound proofing for government and military applications. The company has supplied custom machined sound-proofing components for the Low Cost Conformal Array (LCCA) for the U.S. Navy’s submarine force.

The LCCA is a passive planar sonar array mounted on a submarine’s aft sail structure and integrated with the Acoustic Rapid Commercial Off-The-Shelf Insertion AN/BQQ-10 sonar system. LCCA represents a significant new submarine capability that will enhance situational awareness, tactical control and collision avoidance in crowded littoral and dense shipping environments. The array will be integrated with AN/BQQ-10 sonar systems installed on Los Angeles, Seawolf and Virginia class submarine platforms.


Lead sheet is a very effective material for sound proofing

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