Completely soundproofing anything is virtually impossible unless you want to live in a vault. But steps can be taken to deaden sounds that reflect or are transmitted via your home’s walls, ceilings, floors, doors and windows.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2010 the population is due to increase by five percent, which will increase the incidence of noise pollution in our communities. That noise epidemic will be further spurred by air traffic growth of 4.3 percent annually through 2015, and automobile growth of over 15 percent by 2010, according to Media Wire. In the face of such numbers, people are left wondering what they can do to make home a quiet place, far from the noise and distraction of the world outside.
If you have open walls, acoustic insulation can be used to fill all wall cavities and create a dead zone for sound before the drywall is replaced.
Noise-Control Options If you live surrounded by noise from the outside world, including airplanes, trains, or lots of traffic, controlling sound transfer to your home will likely become a major project. Windows will need to be upgraded to the latest soundproofing design. Hollow doors must be replaced with solid-core alternatives. Extra insulation may need to be set into walls, in voids at the ceiling and floor, and around electrical outlets. For retrofits, holes can be drilled into interior or exterior walls for an expanding foam or blown-in insulation application.
It is also possible to construct a second layer of wall in front of an existing wall. Interior wall studs may have to be isolated from the drywall with sound-reducing adhesives or special mounting plates that prevent them from carrying sound. Small gaps left at the tops, bottoms, and sides of the wall have to be filled with silicon or noise-absorbing glue to try to keep the noise out.
Unwanted sound can creep into our lives through tiny voids around doors and windows. Technological advances have led to manufacturers developing a better understanding of sound transmission and offering building supplies to combat it.
According to acoustic professionals, there are four key ways to reduce sound transmission: absorb, block, break, or isolate noise.
Absorbing sound depends on grabbing sound waves to capture their energy. This can be done through sound-absorbing materials and surfaces.
Blocking involves creating a continuous barrier to trap air movement so as to reduce sound transmission. This can be done with walls, enclosures, and partitions.
Breaking sound entails stopping noise as it attempts to travel through walls, ceilings, floors, studs, and joists. Structural members must be wrapped or insulated to break up the sound waves and prevent transmission by using clips or channels to break the waves.
Isolating sound uses materials to deaden sound and confine it where it began.
Easy Sound-Control Fixes Every home is a breeding ground for unwanted noise. A barking dog next door or a dishwasher that lacks enough built-in sound-absorption material will all contribute to noise accumulation.
Try the small stuff first to block out unwanted noise. Seal around doors and windows with silicone caulk. While sound can bounce off structural components like stud walls and window panes, any opening allows direct entry for unwanted sound.
When building a new home, make sure the plumber places extra insulation against pipes and traps to close up those pathways for unwanted sound. An even better alternative is to fill the space with expanding foam to completely block noise pathways and stabilize pipes against any movement. Filling in around electrical junction boxes with the same foam helps keep homes warmer and blocks crevices against sound transfer. It doesn’t cost much more to add a couple of rolls of insulation during building, but adding them after the walls are closed up will be nearly impossible.
If the plumber doesn’t have the time to or interest in soundproofing the pipes, make sure you follow the work every day and stuff insulation in before the drywallers or plasterers arrive to close the walls.
Noise can often be isolated from appliances by adding neoprene feet underneath or installing rubber mats. Appliances also carry information labels that tell you the decibels (dBA) produced by the appliance, so buy with noise control in mind.
Sound-Deadening Products and Techniques There are many prescriptions for controlling unwanted sound. Manufacturers and builders alike have noted the need and responded with soundproof doors, windows, and ceiling systems. Manufacturers offer everything from anti-sound boards that are placed beneath new floors to sealants and closed-cell foam products to stomp out unwanted sound in our homes. Some builders are adding additional soundproofing on a regular basis as choice land is gobbled up and subdivisions are built closer to airports and highways. Talk with your builder before starting construction to find out what soundproofing options are available.