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Retrofit Walls



Let's look at the costs involved in building a basic 2 x 4 frame wall and the incremental value added by including damping in the wall. In the basic wall, there is the upper and lower plate and 8' studs on 16" centers. The wood costs about $0.35 per sq ft of wall. This then is covered with gypboard, either 1/2 or 5/8 inch thick on both sides of the wall. The total cost of the gypboard for both sides of the wall will be about $0.30 per sq ft of wall. Then we have to add a few nails and the material cost of a standard 2 x 4 framed wall is about $0.65 per sq ft.


When adding fiberglass building insulation the additional cost of materials seems low, R11 is 3 1/2" thick and costs about $0.20/sq ft. This is a standard, industry recognized upgrade option. Here the incremental increase in the cost of the wall is 30% for the first level of upgrade in the performance and quality of the wall. This first upgrade treats the air in the wall, to make the air in the wall more soundproof. The standard wall with fiberglass sound insulation in it costs $0.85 per sq ft for materials.


Adding WallDamp strips is the second level upgrade for a wall. It treats the structure of the wall, to make the structure of the wall more soundproof. WallDamp strips are 1" wide and 48" long. They are coated with pressure sensitive structural adhesive on both sides that is covered with release paper. WallDamp strips are added to the face on both sides of the plates and studs. Treating the wall construction with structural damping materials makes a major improvement in the quality and performance of the wall.


The material cost of adding WallDamp (1" wide strips) to one side of the wall along the plate and studs is $0.47/sq ft. Generally, both sides of the wall are covered and the material cost is $0.93 per square foot of total wall surface, including both sides. The total cost of a framed wall with fiberglass damping of the air cavity and WallDamp damping on the stud and plate surfaces is $1.78 per sq ft. The structural upgrade, the WallDamp upgrade costs 115% more than a standard wall with fiberglass insulation, the acoustic upgrade.


In summary, the cost for materials of a simple framed gypboard wall is as follows:

Framing on 16" centers with 1 layer gypboard on both sides............... $0.65/sq ft
As above with R-11, 3 1/2" insulation in the wall................................. 0.85/sq ft
With both above and adding WallDamp Strips both sides..................... 1.78.sq ft

A fully damped wall will have acoustic damping in the wall cavity between the studs and plates and structural damping on the faces of the studs and plates. And yes, the material cost is about 2 1/2 times the cost of materials of a bare wall. But the performance of a quality sound wall in the home is worth the extra effort.


Here is another way to look at the cost. Typical rooms might be about 10' x 14' in size. The added cost of making the walls of this room can be converted into cost per square foot of floor space. The room has 140 sq ft of floor space. It has 56' of wall, 8' high and that amounts to 448 sq ft of wall surface. The total wall cost will be divided in half because only half the wall applies to this room and the other half of the wall applies to the adjoining room. The total wall material cost is 448 sq ft x $0.65/sq ft = $291 but only half of this applies to the room with it's 140 sq ft floor space. That total's almost exactly $1/sq ft for the cost of materials that goes into the building of the studs, plates and gypboard walls. A fully deadened wall, with acoustic damping and structural damping costs $2.75/sq ft of floor space. The difference is $1.75/sq ft in a house that overall costs in the range of $85 to $100/sq ft to build. Quality sound wall construction materials adds 1 to 2% to the overall cost of construction but it makes the house sound 100% better and it improves the long term value of the house.


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