Sound is an integral part of our lives. It follows us everywhere we go, each and every day. We love sounds that give us joy, from our favorite music to a baby’s laugh. However, we can also hate sounds that cause common complaints in our homes, from our neighbor’s dog barking to disturbing loud conversations. There are many solutions to preventing sounds from escaping a room. We can cover the walls in sound-absorbing panels—a solution often used in recording studios—or have insulation blown into the walls.
Sound-absorbing materials can be both quite thick and expensive. However, Swedish scientists have developed a thinner, less costly alternative, in the form of a simple spring-loaded sound-dampening screw. The Revolutionary Sound Absorbing Screw (aka Sound Screw), developed by Håkan Wernersson of the Department of Materials Science and Applied Mathematics at Sweden’s Malmö University, is a clever solution that requires no custom installation tools and materials.
The Sound Screw consists of a threaded section at the bottom, a coil spring in the middle, and a section with a flat head at the top. Whereas a traditional drywall screw holds a panel of drywall snug against the wooden studs that make up the structure of the room, the Sound Screws still holds the drywall securely against a wall, but with a slight gap allowing the spring to extend and compress, dampening the energy of sound hitting the walls making them much quieter. During testing in a sound lab, researchers claim the Sound Screws was found to reduce sound transmission by up to nine decibels, making the sounds traveling into a neighboring room about half as loud to human ears compared to when traditional screws were used.
The smooth, featureless walls around your home are easy to paint and great for hanging artwork, but they’re also very effective at transmitting sound from room to room. With just the turn of the screw, you can replace your regular screws with a Sound Screw and resolve your problems with unpleasant sound—without adding extra building materials or work. Wernersson shares that the screws are already available in Sweden (via Akoustos), and that his team is interested in licensing the technology to a commercial partner in North America.
“The initial price is quite high for a screw, but cheap for a sound insulation system,” he says.