It’s summer. And along with summer comes the onslaught of noisy outdoor pursuits via your neighbour’s all-too-merry-but-not-because-of-the-booze-we-promise annual barbecue or your own raucous children and their paddling pool exploits in the back garden. There’s bound to be a time when you’re not feeling up to joining in the fun and wish your home was better equipped to block out the noise.
Luckily the Government is also concerned about noise pollution and has made it the law for all new builds to abide by acceptable soundproofing rules, laid out in the Building Regulations Part E. If you happen to live in an older home however, not to worry, there are still ways that you can improve its soundproofing qualities.
A good place to start is to identify the sound that’s bugging you, and determine whether it’s high frequency or low. An example of high frequency would be music playing or people talking/shouting. Low would be more along the lines of the washing machine hum or noises from the boiler.
In general, the higher the frequency, the lighter the material needed to tackle it. You can check any material’s Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating to gauge how effective it will be. If you’re struggling to block more than one sound problem, lead is a good choice, because it’s heavy and soft at the same time, meaning the sound can’t reverberate and it’s quietened all at once.
If you are struggling, it’s likely that your ceilings, walls, windows, or doors that are the culprit.
A dropped ceiling is a good option if the noise is coming from an upstairs room. A new ceiling is attached to bars and creates a gap between the original ceiling and the false one. The noise is absorbed into the cavity between the two.
Caulking is very good at improving the soundproofing of lighter materials because it adds extra mass. The greater the mass, the better the soundproofing.
Using silicone caulking means that you can fill any gaps on the stud side of your wall where sound could filter through. Drywall can then be secured before repeating the process. The recommended number of layers is two, however the more layers you have, the less noise you will be able to hear.
It’s easy to cut noise by up to 20% just by installing double glazed windows. Further reductions of up to 50% can be made if you frame these double panels with acrylic. It’s a good idea to use sealant too, to avoid any sound filtering through gaps in molding foam around the sides of the window.
Solid wood doors are much better at soundproofing than those that have glass panelling. It’s good to ensure that door posts are tight and to seal the openings with sturdy material such as felt or rubber. Some doors are already made with these strips in place for the door to sit against when shut, so check beforehand.
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