Whether it is aircraft overhead, traffic on the street, a neighbour practicing the saxophone or your own kids at play, our homes are often not as quiet and peaceful as we would like them to be. That’s why taking some measures to soundproof your home has a lot of pay-offs. Not only will you reduce noise and add value to your property, but you will be helping to reduce the stress that excessive noise can cause.
Start by determining which areas of your home are most in need of soundproofing. Noise can be annoying when it comes into the house through windows, the basement and the attic. Noise from inside your home can also be annoying to your neighbours, as well as to others in your home.
First a bit of advice. If you are trying to prevent noise from entering your house or keep it from escaping from your house, and it turns out to be anything but a simple problem, you would be wise to seek the help of a sound proofing expert.
Use the handy check list to determine what your problem areas are:
Windows are the most common way for noise to get in or out. Single glass panes and wood window frames are the least resistant to noise. Double pane glass can reduce noise by about 20 percent, while vinyl frames can reduce it by as much as 50 percent.
If replacing the window with a double pane glass or vinyl frames is too expensive an option, consider using a “removable” plug to block the sound coming through the window. A plug will also block light but will make little difference if it is your bedroom window and the noise is keeping you awake at night.
And let’s not forget the added benefit that the extra insulation of a plug will keep you warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
A plug can easily be made by measuring the window frame and seeing how much depth there is to the window sill. This will determine the size and thickness of the soundproofing material you can use. Check home building stores for soundproofing materials available.
Usually, one thickness of a two-inch mat will do. While a soundproofing mat is relatively stiff, you may need to attach it to a lightweight wood or fiber board using contact cement. A plug should fit a window very tightly without any cracks. For easy handling, attach some handles to it.
Many attics, especially in older homes, lack insulation. Adding insulation not only helps cut down on your heating bills but can help soundproof your home. Materials used to insulate your home also help to reduce noise.
Extra layers of asphalt roofing can also increase your home’s noise tolerance, especially to aircraft. If you live near an airport, try stapling some extra asphalt sheeting on the roof rafters inside the attic. This is a cheap and effective way to reduce noise.
In well-built homes you will notice that doors in a hallway don’t line up across from one another. This is to prevent sound from travelling across and through the open doors. Staggering entrances is one way of minimizing noise. Another, of course, is keeping doors closed.
At least 25 percent of a room should have some absorbent material, like carpeting or furniture, to reduce reverberation from footsteps.
Rooms located right over living areas should have some form of carpeting for soundproofing. Special carpet padding and floorings are available for use in soundproofing, but these tend to be more expensive. Often, a thick rubber padding and carpet are all you need.
One way of soundproofing walls is to add another layer of drywall. Double drywall on walls facing a noisy street can substantially reduce noise in many homes.
Never soundproof a garage when you can soundproof a basement. The cement foundation of a home absorbs noise. However, you will still need to soundproof the basement ceiling.