How to soundproof your home

Page 1: Why soundproof?
Page 2: Can I do it myself?
Page 3: What are the problem areas?

Hannah Shanks - Editor

What are the problem areas?

What a pane!

Windows are the biggest culprit for sound entering or leaving your home - with single glass panes the worst offender of all.

The irony with single glass panes is that they are usually found on older properties, which actually have very thick walls, so if they were replaced then the difference would be immense.

Upgrading single pane windows to double glazing can reduce your noise levels by up to 20 per cent. And if you splash out and buy double glazed windows with acrylic frames, this can reduce your noise levels by up to 50 per cent!

How swish!

Although highly effective, if buying new windows sounds too expensive, then the next best thing can be to buy heavy curtains or drapes.

There are special kinds of drapes known as sound deadening drapes and they come in a variety of styles to suit your tastes and they won't break the bank.

Plug it!

Window plugs are simply soundproofing mats that are cut to the exact size of your window frame.

The plugs are normally one or two inches thick and are easy to fashion yourself.

Window plugs form a tight sound barrier around the cracks in the window frame but they will also block the light so are only really suitable for use at night.

The Walls Have Ears!

Despite appearances, the walls in a room can be the least solid barrier for noise. Standard thin drywall can be ineffective for hampering travelling noise but there are solutions!

Adding Drywall

Simply adding more layers of drywall to a wall can improve sound resistance. The basic rule of thumb is: the thicker the drywall, the better.

Simply apply silicone caulking - a sealant which will close up joints and gaps - to the stud side of the wall. Attach the drywall with screws or nails. Then apply a second layer of caulking and another sheet of drywall.

Insulation

Adding insulation to your walls can help improve sound absorption.

This is especially handy if you are moving into a newly built home as you can apply fibreglass insulation to the wall before both sides of drywall have been put up.

Again, the rule of thumb is: the thicker the insulation, the better sound absorption you will have.

But don't worry if your walls have already been built, you can still apply insulation by cutting holes in the drywall between the wall studs.

You then blow in foam or paper insulation, which will deaden sound.

Wall coverings

If you are renting, or you simply don't want to go inside your walls, then you can apply wall covering material with soundproofing capabilities on the outside of your walls.

These materials are available from any professional soundproofing company and can be painted to match the style of your room.

Look up!

Well, before you look up, look down! If you can soundproof the floor above your ceiling then that is a much better option.

Soundproofing the ceiling is trickier because it involves installing a false ceiling. This false ceiling needs to be attached to resilient bars to create a cavity between the existing ceiling otherwise you won't benefit from a reduction in sound.

If you are certain you need a false ceiling, then contact a professional but read our tips below in case you can reduce the noise problem without forking out.

Cover the Upstairs Floors

Adding carpet or special soundproof matting, which is available in carpet shops, to an upstairs room, you can noticeably reduce the level of noise heard below.

Insulate the Ceiling

Depending on your level of DIY skills, you can remove the drywall on your ceiling, and insert layers of fibreglass insulation. While you're up there you can also add soundproof tiling to your ceiling, which is fantastic at stopping sound travelling through!

Close the doors!

It might sound obvious but you don't want to fork out hundreds of pounds for top soundproofing and then ruin it by leaving your door ajar!

But on a more serious note, don't forget that snug fitting internal and external doors in your property are vital for trapping sound, otherwise your sound insulation efforts will be wasted.

If you can afford it, then solid wood doors make the sound blockers, but also make sure you have airtight thresholds, door heads and jambs.

Special weather seals for doors are also available at most DIY stores for a few quid. These are easily stuck around the seal of the door frame, and make a world of difference!

Are there any quick fix solutions?

If you're on a tight budget, then don't worry. Here we have compiled a list of some of the cost effective ways of reducing sound guaranteed to be music to your ears!

  • Try to ensure that at least 25% of every room contains absorbent materials, such as carpeting, furniture, or draperies. These materials help dampen sound waves, and absorb sound.
  • If you're really stuck then you can always hang carpeting or bedding or push mattresses up against the walls, to help reduce noise transmission.
  • You can attack noise at the source. Place half-inch-thick pads of rubber or cork under the legs or corners of heavy appliances.
  • Put stereo speakers on stands to prevent turning floors and walls into whole-house speakers.
  • Mask noise indoors or outdoors with table top fountains, garden water features, or plant ornamental grasses that make a soothing sound when the wind blows.
  • Place weather stripping around all doors, even interior ones. Replace any weather stripping that is loose or admits light or air.

The Sound of Silence!

Your home can turn into an oasis of silence by reducing or absorbing unwanted noise in your property. Whether you use a professional or have a go yourself, the costs need not be excessive and the rewards speak for themselves.

In fact, you'll be so happy with your quiet home that you'll want to shout it from the rooftops but do have pity on your neighbours who haven't soundproofed theirs!

 
 


Property pros