What is Soundproofing?
Soundproofing refers to the development of acoustic treatments to suppress, redirect or absorb soundwaves either at source or through techniques such as insulation.
Absorption: Permeable or resounding absorbing materials can be installed to convert soundwave energy into small amounts of heat, which effectively reduces the amount of sound that gets reflected throughout a room.
Diffusion: Irregular surfaces can be used to break down or distribute soundwaves so that they travel along numerous smaller paths, which causes the overall energy of these soundwaves to deplete quicker and travel a shorter distance.
Reflection: This technique is often used for reducing noise from traffic on busy roads. Hard surfaces such as concrete or glass are used for bouncing soundwaves upwards towards the sky or away from buildings. The overall architecture of a building, including the materials used in construction and the geometry involved in its layout, could also be used for optimum sound reflection.
How to Soundproof Your Home
The simplest method for soundproofing a wall is to add mass, which is a very cost-effective way of helping to reduce the transmission of unwanted sounds.
Composite is effective at achieving this, as it dampens the vibrations of sound energy. It can be nailed to bare studs during construction or pasted to existing drywall.
For new ceilings, install the insulating material between the ceiling joists and then affix the soundproofing system onto the ceiling joists around the insulation. When installing the system, leave approx. 20cm between the screws and leave approx. 6-7mm of extra space between the gypsum board and any connecting walls, with this gap to be subsequently filled with sealant.
For existing ceilings, use a stud finder to locate the studs and mark these clearly. Ensure that the markings are accurate, as they will be your guide for installing the soundproofing system and latterly the acoustic panels between each track. Finally, as with new ceilings, install gypsum board over everything else and affix it with the measurements above before sealing.
Hardwood floors: Whether the floor is glued or nailed down (glued floors usually trap sound better), add an underlayer of soundproofing material to help block unwanted noise and reduce the impact of moisture, mould and mildew.
Laminate floors: You will need to remove any existing flooring and install an underlay to serve as a cushion barrier. In addition to reducing noise, this will help to protect your floor from wear and tear and improve the heat levels of the room.
Tiled floors: Hard tile floors can transmit vibrations very easily through the floor directly into the ceiling downstairs. You can reduce the level of noise that is heard below by installing a soundproofing underlay to absorb any impact noise such as footsteps.
Carpets: Carpet is a highly-effective sound absorber. It can absorb sounds up to ten times better than hard flooring. For maximum effect, install an underlay beneath carpeted floors.
As the largest opening in most walls, doors provide a large sound path from room to room. As such, they should be one of the first things you tackle as part of your soundproofing project.
Replacing hollow core doors with solid doors can make a huge difference when it comes to noise reduction.
For exterior doors, consider upgrading old weatherstripping. Metal stripping can be trickier and more costly to install, but this durable material can last over 30 years on your door.
What is the Best Soundproofing Material?
When it comes to sound absorption, acoustic foam is the ideal choice of soundproofing material. This is a purpose-made solution designed with a special cell structure and density to deflect, dampen and absorb any undesirable sounds. It is very commonly used in recording studios, theatres and cinemas, with many households adopting it for use in entertainment rooms with large TVs or speaker systems.
Decibel Levels of Common Domestic Sounds
|120-130||Chainsaw||Hammer on nail||Pneumatic drill|
|110-120||Baby crying||Leaf blower||Power saw|
|100-110||Snow blower||Boom box|
|90-100||Electric drill||Loud conversation|
|80-90||Phone ringing||Blender||Food processor|
|70-80||TV audio||Outside traffic||Toilet flush||Waste disposal truck|
|60-70||Sewing machine||Vacuum cleaner||Hairdryer|
|50-60||Dishwasher||Washing machine||Electric toothbrush||Air conditioner|
|40-50||Quiet room||Quiet neighbourhood|
Perceptions of increases in decibel level
Decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale, meaning that differences between values are greater as values increase. For instance, the difference between 110db and 120dn is far greater than that between 40db and 50db. Changes in the decibel level will be perceived on a rough scale as below:
1dB: Not noticeable
3dB: Noticeable to humans
5dB: Clearly noticeable change
10dB: 2x as loud
20dB: 4x as loud
Benefits of Soundproofing
It stops unwanted external noise from entering your home. If you live in a built-up area where there are large volumes of road traffic, even late at night or before dawn, you will most likely want to drown out this noise insofar as possible. It can also filter out noise from neighbouring residences, as sometimes you could be unfortunate enough to have loud neighbours!
It keeps deliberate noise output within a home. If you’re a musician or you record a lot of videos or audio from inside your home, it helps to soundproof the building so that you won’t cause too much disruption to neighbours. You don’t need to soundproof the entire building, either; even concentrating it on the room where you’d have noise output can be very beneficial to you and neighbours.
It increases the value of a property, as effective soundproofing is certainly a strong selling point for a home. This is especially true for residences in urban areas with a lot of external noise (e.g. from traffic or construction works).