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

Let's face it. Unless you live in a remote part of the countryside in a house with very thick walls, then noise pollution is a part of your every day life.

Noisy neighbours, loud televisions and radios, and high level of traffic volume are just some of the typical noise pollutants which regularly invade our homes when we are trying to relax after a stressful day.

It's a real invasion of privacy but there's not a lot that you can do a lot about it. Right? Wrong.

Before you decide to move away from the constant racket, read our straightforward guide to sound proofing your home.

From your windows to your walls, your ceilings to your doors, our guide will ensure you won't hear as much as a peep from outside. And if you're on a tight budget, we have tons of helpful tips which will reduce noise in any property, without no noisy complaints from your wallet!

Why should I sound proof my property?

As well as being an irritant, UK environmental consultants believe that excessive levels of noise pollution can actually lead to ill health!

The Government is also concerned about the problem of noise pollution, and has passed legislation for all new buildings and refurbishments, known as Building Regulations Part E or, "Resistance to the Passage of Sound".

The aim of these regulations is to improve sound insulation, not only between dwellings but actually within the properties themselves, and also between shared property such as rooms in hostels, hotels and residential homes.

How does sound travel?

In order to best sound proof your home, it is important to understand a little bit about how sound actually works.

Sound is made up of low frequency waves, which are similar to radio waves. When something makes a sound, it emits these waves which will travel in all directions from the source.

These waves will keep travelling until they meet some form of resistance, such as a wall or sofa. But they can also bounce off these items, and that can cause an effect known as reverberation, which actually strengthens the sound.

Proper sound proofing uses materials that not only absorb or block sound, but they do not allow it to reverb or echo, which keeps things nice and quiet!

How does sound proofing actually work?

In plain English, the only way to stop sound is to either reduce it or absorb it. Whether you opt to use a professional or go down the DIY route, it is still these two techniques that will be used.

The first technique is noise reduction. Noise reduction works by blocking the passage of sound waves through either the use of distance or the placing of intervening objects in the sound path.

The second way - noise absorption - operates by transforming the sound wave itself. While this might sound like a magic trick, it simply means that the wave changes when it comes into contact with certain materials.

A simple example of noise absorption is with the material lead. Lead is both a heavy and soft material so when a sound wave comes into contact with it, the wave does not reverberate as lead is soft and it begins to quiet, or dampen, as lead is heavy. Making a sound wave transfer through different layers of material with different densities also assists in noise damping.

This is the reason why foam in a wall is a popular sound damper. The sound waves are forced to travel through multiple foam cells which transforms and absorbs the sound.

But a word of warning - if not done properly, then foam in a wall may be undependable as a sound proofing technique. If in doubt, consult a professional sound proofer or builder.

 
 


Property pros