Aluminum Foil’s Role in Sound Insulation

When choosing insulations, one thing that many purchasers don’t think about is how much sound protection is this going to provide? This question, however, is one that every insulation purchaser should ask him or herself, especially if noise is an issue in the structure being insulated. That is because some types of insulators provide better acoustical insulation than others.

One of the best materials when it comes to sound insulation is aluminum foil. Lightweight and easy to install, as an insulation material it is environmentally friendly. Not only can it be recycled, but it is also free of odors and toxins. In addition to heat reflection and isolation, it also provides superior acoustical and vibration shielding.

Reflective aluminum foil is the most commonly used material when it comes to radiant barriers. Wikipedia defines a radiant barrier as a way of reducing the “radiation of heat to or from the surface of a material.” Such barriers “reflect radiant energy.” This reflective capability protects against heat during the hot summer months and corrals heat during the colder winter months.

Some of the qualities that make aluminum foil amenable to this process are: 1) “It has no significant mass to absorb and retain heat”; 2) It has “very low emittance values.” Also known as E-values, this tendency “significantly reduces heat transfer by radiation.”

All of this explains why it is a good form of insulation, but how does it relate to sound insulation in particular? The explanation is that just as aluminum foil absorbs and retains heat, it also absorbs and retains noise, protecting and corralling it so that it becomes almost undetectable. In fact, as an isolator it offers up to 85% noise cancellation. explains that “there are a variety of methods to control noise in industrial settings,” even those like power generating plants where noisy fans are used that “require both sound and thermal treatments.” The site goes on to explain, “Acoustical insulation and lagging can be applied around the fan to limit the noise radiated from the casing.” It then discusses the benefits of steel versus aluminum.

In what specific situations is aluminum foil a better alternative to steel? “If the noise is mostly at high frequencies (a hissing noise) then a lighter material like aluminum lagging may be used.” Indeed, only in low frequency noise cases is steel called for since steel has a “much heavier surface mass.”

In addition to its lighter weight, aluminum foil is also a more affordable noise insulation material. Typically sold in rolls, such insulation is laminated with aluminum foil. The advantages of using aluminum foil insulation don’t stop with acoustical isolation in commercial and industrial applications, however. They also extend to fireproofing, temperature control, the conservation of energy, and the prevention of condensation.

When compact, lightweight insulation against noise is called for, aluminum foil affords business owners and other individuals all of the protection they are looking for without a huge outlay in cost. At the same time, it also offers added levels of protection against heat, moisture and vapors.