How to soundproof your home

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 soundproofing 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 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.

Can I sound proof my home myself?

It is completely possible to sound proof your home yourself, although the key is to get the correct products for your particular needs. Most sound proofing companies such as Soundstop provide sound proofing materials that need only low to medium DIY skills, but can also offer a professional fitting service in the UK if required.

Whichever route you choose, it may be worth considering that if you intend to spend a lot of money on sound proofing your home, and you possess only basic DIY skills, then it might be more cost effective to use a professional. It would be very frustrating to fork out and then have to cover your ears!

What a din!

The first step when sound proofing your home is to work out where the sound is coming from, and what part of your property most needs sound insulation. The problem with sound is that it will find every crack in your home in which to sneak in, so a thorough examination of walls, doors and windows is in order.

A useful way to do this is to turn everything off in your home, and listen carefully to where external sound is emanating. Try to do this at different times of the day when there will be different levels of sound in your neighbourhood. In order to most efficiently sound proof your home, you will need to know what level of noise you are attempting to block out.

All sound is measured in decibels (dB) and the table below will give you an idea of what level of sound you are dealing with. This vital information will determine what type of materials you need for your particular property.

Common sounds measured in decibels (dB)
Type of Noise Audibility (in dB)
Rustle of leaves 0 dB
Quiet conversation 30 dB
Ambience in a city at night 45 dB
Background noise in an office 50 dB
Average radio 60 dB
Car passing on the street 70 dB
Intercity train/loud music indoors 80 dB
Pneumatic drill at 3 metres 90 dB
Jet plane taking off at 100 metres/Rock band 100 dB
Screaming baby/Industry legal limit 115 dB
Deafening 120 dB

Materials used for sound proofing rooms are all rated for their effectiveness at dampening sound. These ratings are known as Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings. Basically the higher the STC rating, the better the sound proofing capabilities of a material. Most windows, insulation, and carpeting all come with STC ratings, even if they are not specifically for sound insulation. Specialised sound proofing materials will not only have these STC ratings, but have additional qualities that are designed to deal with all decibels of noise pollution.

As we have already mentioned, sound proofing companies such as Sound Service (Oxford) Ltd, Noise Stop Systems, Sound Proofing R Us, Sound Stop, Sound Reduction Systems, iKoustic, or Karma Acoustic Solutions can supply you with soundproofing materials, or supply and fit your materials for an additional cost.

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%. And if you splash out and buy double glazed windows with acrylic frames, this can reduce your noise levels by up to 50%!

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.


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!

22 comments on “How to soundproof your home

  1. Renee Rainville on

    My issue is that my adjoining neighbors say they can hear everything that happens in our house including chopping vegetables. We hear only muffled sounds through their wall. If we put up a layer of soundproofing materials, would it help the noise our neighbors are hearing?

    • Franki Napolitano
    • Andy on

      I’m in a similar situation except i hear everything the neighbours are doing now after their kitchen and bathroom were refurbished.
      Did any soundproofing work take place and did it work?

  2. Stewart Oliphant on

    I live in a flat and I can hear everything from upstairs, conversation, slamming doors etc. I can’t access the upstairs flat so what are my options?

    • Franki Napolitano
      Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Stewart

      Unfortunately, this is part of living in a flat (I can fully sympathise as I have the same trouble with my ‘above neighbours’!)

      If you both own the flats, it may be worth having the conversation with your neighbours about soundproofing for both of you. If you rent, see if there is anything your landlord / association can suggest.

      If all else fails, there a few helpful ideas in this blog that may work

      That or you get earbuds, as they suggest! It’s quite a common problem, especially if your flat is a new build and the walls are paper thin!

  3. Diane Sealey on

    My neighbour has recently installed a device that is noisy from early hours until late. I don’t know what it is, all I know is it seems to travel around different areas making a whirring, knocking noise. He will not admit to this new gadget of some sort. When laying down in bed, I can hear it as if it is from the floor upwards, other times not sure where it is from. He has got his gas meter fixed to the wall backing onto my bedroom (converted garage) wall, not even sure if this is the problem? Can this problem be sorted by soundproofing?

  4. Steve on

    I was wondering if there is any way i can check if soundproofing is installed in my flat.. i live in a small four flat block and i can literally hear everyones business, and the level of noise present im almost certain there has been no soundproofing supplied within this block.

  5. Chris on

    My adjoining neighbour plays his music very loud, and the bass frequencies are a particular problem, making my living room virtually uninhabitable at times. The party wall through which the sound travels has the stairway butted up to it plus a radiator, making the addition of panels not particularly straight-forward.

    The property is a purpose-built 1 bed cluster home.

    What would be the best way to proceed please?

    • Franki Napolitano
      Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Chris,

      If this is a persistent problem and you can’t adequately soundproof your home, you could inform Environmental Health. They can come out and perform an assessment on the noise level and advise how to proceed. From my knowledge of working in housing in the past, there’s no longer a restriction on the time of day that music can be played, and if you have exhausted the option of speaking to your neighbour and asking them to be a little more considerate, involving Environmental Health is a good next step

      Good Luck!


  6. Cheryl Millar on

    Hi there

    We have recently moved into a flat and we may as well sleep on the street! The traffic noise is unbelievable. For some reason we didn’t hear it when we viewed it 🙁 Was thinking of window plugs but can these be taken off easily each morning to get light in?

    Many thanks

  7. Helen on

    Hi Cheryl,
    I live in a Victorian house.
    My back bedroom is next to the bathroom.
    Every morning I’m awoken by one of my flat mates turns when she turns on the shower. I’ve tried ear plugs, but it’s unbearable . There’s a large mirror that covers the wall in the bathroom that directly connects to my room.
    Is that making the noise travel? If I suggested putting foam on the outside of my wall would that work?
    What can I do?

  8. Foz on

    I also have trouble with neighbours to the right of my property which is a terraced property. The blaring music which is blasted daily no matter what time of day is causing me and my family distress. It’s actually unbearable I can feel the music and bass frequency beneath my feet and almost through my body! I have attempted to resolve the matter with the neighbours but they appear to be so aggressive I’m actually living in fear of them and they are teenagers! Also have to put up with anti social behaviour and jouvenile delinquents that cause me anxiety! I wish I could block the nosie permenantly! The landlords practically ignored the seriousness and basically stuck up for them using an excise they have rights and can pump the music whenever they want because it’s not between 11pm and 7am! I still thinks it’s regarded as a statutory nuisance regardless of time of day as it’s detrimental to my health and wellbeing! Please help!

    • Franki Napolitano
      Franki Napolitano on

      Hi Foz,

      Sorry to hear this is happening to you and your family! I used to work for a housing association and we’d get this complaint quite regularly.

      Unfortunately, the landlord is correct in that because it isn’t within “unsociable hours”, they have no authority to stop the other tenants from blaring their music.

      However, before you feel at a loss, you can involve Environmental Health. Speak to your local council or visit their website to contact the EH team. They can then arrange for an agent to come by in the hours in which the music is on to record the noise level etc and discuss with you further what else can be done. This was at least still the case a couple of years ago!

      I do hope you get an end to the incessant music playing!

    • Karen Brown on

      We had similar problems with an evil old woman. The only thing for us to was to move. I am so sorry to hear of this; it can absolutely destroy your life. I almost walked out if a very happy marriage with our child because of it. I wish you the very best.

  9. Silent Windows on

    Great blog, very insightful. I would recommend soundproofing your windows, as I recently had this done, and have had a lot of success from it.

  10. Hugo on

    Very insightful post. I had issues with noise at night, which was preventing me from sleeping. However, I recently had soundproof windows installed and they have worked incredibly, I sleep like a baby every night now!

  11. Sarah on

    Thanks for this, we have recently moved into a 1930s semi, same build as one I used to live in but for some reason the sound seems to travel a lot more in this house. We can feel the vibrations as well as the sound of doors slamming and that has been amplified further with them having just installed a big wood burner with similar issues of slamming. Both our chimmneys are in use and we have original features which would make soundproofing the walls hard but I don’t think that would help with the sound travelling through the whole house. What can we do to get advise on the best way to reduce this? Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *