Soundproofing is an important step in building or renovating any home. It helps make our homes more peaceful, comfortable and relaxing. Soundproofing can also boost productivity for those working from home, blocking or reducing noisy distractions.
Here’s our guide to soundproofing different parts of your home effectively and safely.
Understanding how soundproofing techniques work can go a long way in implementing them. A sound is a vibration of varying frequencies that travels as an acoustic wave. Soundproofing any space involves adding an intermediate surface that will either deflect, diffuse or absorb these sound waves.
For a surface to deflect sound, it needs to be very dense. If you’ve ever been inside a sandstone building, you’ll notice that loud outdoor noises drop away. Compare that to noise levels in a brick veneer home beside a busy road. A single layer of hollow core bricks simply cannot adequately deflect or absorb sound.
While efficient, sandstone blocks are obviously not cost effective. A simpler and more budget-friendly sound absorption technique is insulation. It slows and spreads undesirable soundwaves, reducing or eliminating the noise.
Sound absorption also involves reducing sound reflection or bounce within a room. Reflection occurs when sound waves bounce off surfaces and you get an echo that makes a room or space sound very hollow. These environments allow sounds to travel further without dispersing or losing their intensity.
When soundproofing your home, the first step is to determine where undesirable or excessive sound is coming from. It could be from an external source, like roads and rail lines, or somewhere within your house.
For external sources, locate where the sound is originating from. For example, if the sound is coming from a busy road, you can apply multiple soundproofing methods to the front wall facing the road and lower scale work to other areas. However, keep in mind that sound may still travel through a space like a roof cavity.
For noises originating indoors, a simpler and more budget-friendly option is simply to isolate noisier rooms, like a media room. Rather than soundproofing the entire home, you can create individual quiet spaces, like bedrooms.
Think about soundproofing as adding additional or amended layers to your walls to dampen noise. A regular brick veneer or clad wall is a series of layers – brickwork or cladding on the outside, insulation foil and framing in the middle, and then plasterboard on the inside. These layers do help in reducing noise. However, there are several things you can do to make your walls more soundproof. These include:
The empty space between the external and internal walls is called the cavity. Soundproofing this space is the simplest and most cost-effective way to reduce noise. Here are some things to consider when soundproofing a cavity:
Plasterboard is the material of choice for internal wall sheeting among most homes today. Typically, these plasterboard sheets are 10mm thick and offer a minimal level of soundproofing. Better options include:
Unfortunately, these materials aren't cheap, so it’s unlikely you will use these acoustic boards to soundproof every wall and ceiling. Instead, focus on noisy areas and on creating specific quiet rooms.
Cavity insulation, along with acoustic plasterboard in internal walls, can dramatically reduce sound transmission between rooms. After you’ve dealt with those vertical areas, there are also the horizontal parts of your home to consider, like floors and ceilings. Here are some ways to soundproof those areas:
For elevated homes, consider sub-floor insulation This is designed to friction-fit between the joists beneath your floor. Not only does it effectively reduce noise transmission, it also acts as a thermal insulator.
One of the biggest sources of noise is through windows. Unfortunately, regular window glass is a poor insulator. Here are some ways to make it more soundproof:
Doors are a fantastic opportunity to block noise. When you are selecting doors, ensure you check their acoustic qualities.
A typical hollow core door, for example, will do very little to reduce noise transmission. Replacing bedroom hollow core doors with solid panel doors can lead to excellent reductions in noise transmission.
Noise has an annoying habit of finding its way into different places. An important part of soundproofing your home is to deal with any cracks and gaps in walls, between boards, around windows, door frames, pipes and vents. This can be easily done using gap sealants designed for specific areas.
Remember to also seal gaps underneath doors. You can use a suitable draught or weather exclusion strip for this.
With more homeowners preferring hardwood floors over carpeted ones, homes have become noisier. We also have a lot more things generating noise inside and around our homes – big TVs, home theatre sound systems, games consoles, dishwashers, washing machines, reverse cycle aircon units and pool pumps. Apart from the steps we’ve outlined above, there are some other ways to reduce reflected noises coming from these sources. These include:
With busier suburbs and smaller house blocks, many homeowners struggle with noise pollution in their outdoor spaces. Here are some things you can do to make these areas more soundproof:
You can also ask for more help with your soundproofing project by clicking the Start a discussion button. We'd be happy to assist.
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