Whether it’s your neighbour’s children screaming or your own children practicing for a music lesson, there’s bound to be a time when you wish your home was better equipped to block out noise. The Government is also concerned about noise pollution and has passed legislation making it the law for all new builds to conform to acceptable soundproofing measures, laid out in the Building Regulations Part E. If you live in an older property, don’t despair as there are a number of things that you can do to improve its soundproofing qualities.
Where to start
Start by identifying the sound that’s bothering you and whether it’s high (music, children talking) or low (washing machine) frequency. Generally, the higher the frequency, the lighter the materials you’ll need and you can check any material’s Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating to get an idea of how effective it’s going to be. Lead’s always good if you’re juggling more than one sound problem, as it’s both heavy and soft. The sound can’t reverberate and it’s quietened in the process.
If you’re suffering, chances are it’s your windows, doors, walls or ceiling that’s letting you down.
Windows and doors
You can cut noise by up to 20% by upgrading single glazing to double and increase that to 50% if you frame the new double panels with acrylic. Sealant’s the best option for preventing any sound from entering gaps through moulding foam around the sides.
For your doors, make sure that the door post is tight and seal the openings with materials like felt, vinyl, rubber or polyfoam. Some doors are pre-made from fibreglass and have foam, rubber or vinyl strips inside for the door to sit against when shut – so it’s worth checking whether you’ve already got this in place. If you have a solid wood door, you’re already improving your sound proofing as it performs much better than one with glass panels.
Silicone caulking will seal up gaps on the stud side of your wall, which sound could travel through, and drywall can be secured before the whole process is repeated. Caulking is brilliant at improving the soundproofing quality of lighter materials as it adds mass and in general, the greater the mass, the better your soundproofing will be. For the drywall, opt for two layers but the more layers you have, the less noise you’ll hear. To give the material an added boost, cut holes in the drywall between the studs and insert foam insulation.
If the noise is originating from your children playing upstairs, a dropped ceiling can help you out. The ceiling’s attached to bars which creates a cavity between the false and original ceiling for the sound to be absorbed. If the only noise is that originating from inside your home, this is definitely worth looking into.
For help finding a tradesman to soundproof your property, post your job online and up to three soundproofing specialists will get in touch to quote. Have a look at their profiles before selecting the right one for you.