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How to soundproof your property

Why Soundproof?

Older houses and flats with very thick walls suffer less noise than more modern dwellings built with cavity walls and lighter masonry. Noise pollution experienced in modern buildings is much more of a problem and more so in busy towns and cities.

Noise from neighbours, loud voices, televisions, stereos and traffic are a few of the typical noise pollutants we are subjected to in our day-to-day lives and can cause stress and ill health.

Many people think it is far too difficult and expensive to rectify these noise problems and therefore, simply put up with it but we can offer solutions that will not necessarily cost and arm and a leg. You can now soundproof your home very easily using either local tradesmen or if you are DIY orientated, install the insulation yourself. Full application instructions on all of our systems can be downloaded from our web site and if you still require advice, we will be very pleased to give it. Now you need to read on and have a look at our straightforward guide on how to sound proof your home.

Do I need to sound proof my home?

Excessive noise pollution is a problem that can lead to ill health as mentioned earlier and the Government now recognise this. As a result there is now in place legislation for all new and converted buildings designed for multi-occupational use specifically to reduce noise pollution in these areas. This is known as Part E or ‘Resistance to the Passage of Sound’ in all Building Regulations. These regulations have been introduced to improve and soundproof all separating walls and floors in these properties but also to reduce reverberated noise (echo) in all common areas. These regulations also apply to new hostels, hotels and residential homes as well as hospitals and schools.

Is soundproofing worthwhile?

The best way to reduce sound is either to block it or absorb it. Regardless of who installs the insulation, it is these two methods that would be used, either independently or in combination. To reduce noise through a wall or floor, a high density sound blocker must be used. The more mass there is in any form of sound blocker the more effective it will be at blocking out more noise. This in combination with a sound absorber can give a good level of sound reduction and is the principle used to soundproof most walls, floors and ceilings.

Higher density Acoustic Plasterboard is an economical cheap sound blocker readily available and when used in layers is will give good levels of sound reduction. Mineral wool of the correct density and thickness is a very efficient sound absorber and can be used in stud walls and between timber joists supporting floors and ceilings. When these structures are clad with several layers of Acoustic Plasterboard very good levels of sound control can be achieved. However, it is important that all soundproofing is properly installed and it is always best to contact us for free advice before starting to soundproof. This could not only save you money but may also save you time installing either the wrong insulation or installing it incorrectly.

A common mistake made by many is to use polystyrene or Kingspan type insulation in the mistaken belief that these are good soundproofing materials but they are not. These materials are thermal insulation and have very little or no acoustic value. This is when we can help and give the correct specific advice if you are looking to sound proof any structure.

For noise from the outside, regardless of the construction of your home, windows and doors will let in the most noise followed by roofs and lofts. Adequate loft insulation will help soundproof this area by absorbing some of the noise that comes through the roof. See if you qualify for a grant for this insulation by clicking on the link near the start of this article. Grants are also available for cavity wall insulation and this will also help to soundproof walls by reducing flanking noise through the cavities.

Now for windows and doors. These are the areas that will let in the most sound. Single glazed windows are in their own right a sound blocker but offer very little in the way of soundproofing. To soundproof these more panes are required and if they are thicker will more than double the insulation value. Triple glazing is very good and if these are installed with different thicknesses of glass irregularly spaced most external noise will be blocked out. With all glazing, it is important to ensure that all the panes are sealed and there are no gaps that will allow noise leakage. Doors are a bit different because it is impractical to double or triple these up unless in commercial premises. What is required though, is a really heavy solid door installed with seals to ensure an airtight seal when closed. We can offer acoustic doorseal kits just for this purpose.

To help you appreciate the levels of noise normally heard outside and their relevant dB values we have put together a simple chart below.

External noise measured in decibels (dB)

Leaves rustling 0-5dB
Talking quietly 30dB
Background city noise at night 45dB
Background office noise 50dB
Radio normal volume 60dB
Car driven in street 70dB
Stereo played loudly – Industrial limit before remedial action must be taken 80+ dB
Road drill at 3 metres 90dB
Jet aircraft taking off 100dB
Yelling baby 115dB
Deafening likely to cause hearing injury in very short time 120dB

All materials used to sound proof a room will have varying effectiveness at either blocking or absorbing noise. Known as STC ratings (Sound Transmission Class) the higher these ratings the more effective the soundproofing will be. Most normal materials found in the home will have an STC rating even if it is not designed for a specific sound control purpose such as windows, masonry walls and carpets. Insulation designed specifically for noise control will have a measured STC rating as well as additional qualities to make them efficiently insulate against noise pollution.

This information will help give you an understanding of soundproofing and how to soundproof a property and more information on all soundproofing materials can be obtained by clicking on the following link.

www.soundservice.co.uk or ring Sound Service (Oxford) Ltd directly on 0845 363 7131 at local call cost from most UK landlines or 01993 704981 from UK mobiles.