Soundproofing Your Home: Soundproofing Windows, Walls And Ceilings
Do you have noisy neighbors? Can you hear the tenants upstairs? Do you live beside an airport? If so, then the noise in your house may be driving you crazy! But before you get ready to move to a quieter place, consider ways to make your own home a more peaceful place to be. Home sound proofing is becoming more and more popular, especially as home theaters that include big screen televisions and sound systems make life noisier. And though soundproofing may sound like a big job, there are actually some very simple things that you can do to keep noises out of your house (or to keep your noise in!). Here are some tips on how to soundproof your rooms.
Before you can soundproof your home, it is important to understand a few things about sound itself. Sound is made up of low frequency waves, similar to radio waves. These waves travel out in all directions from the source of the sound. They will keep traveling until they meet some form of resistance, such as a wall or sofa. Sound waves can also bounce off of these resistance items, creating reverberation within a room.
There are three things that you can do to stop noise from traveling through to other rooms in your home:
- Create Space: The more open space there is in a room, the further sound has to travel. As it travels, the sound waves get less powerful and the noise becomes less loud.
- Create Mass: Heavy items, such as thick stone walls, help to absorb sound.
- Stop Sound Vibrations: If you stop the sound vibrations within a room, it will help to dampen the sound waves and lessen the noise. Furniture, carpeting, and other soft materials help to dampen sound vibrations.
Materials used for sound proofing rooms are all rated for effectiveness. These ratings are known as Sound Transmission Class ratings (STC) and are a measure of how much sound is stopped by a particular material. The higher the STC rate, the better the soundproofing capabilities of a material. Windows, insulation, and carpeting all have STC ratings.
How to Soundproof
When it comes to soundproofing a room in your home, there are a few places that you will want to consider:
Though most people don’t realize it, the windows are typically the most common way that noise travels in and out of a room. Most homes are equipped with single pane windows installed on a wood frame. These windows offer poor noise reduction capabilities. Try these tips when soundproofing windows in your home:
- Buy New Windows: Double-paned windows or windows that come with an acrylic frame are designed for noise reduction. In fact, double-paned windows have an STC rating of between 28 and 35 (unlike most single-paned windows, which have STC ratings of 20) that can reduce noise by up to 20%. Acrylic frames for your windows can reduce noise levels by up to 50%.
- Purchase Sound Deadening Drapes: If new windows are out of the picture, you can purchase sound deadening drapes, like the ones used in hotels. These drapes come in a variety of styles and help to block sound waves from entering or exiting through the window.
- Make Window Plugs: Window plugs are created out of 1" or 2" soundproofing mats and are inserted around the window frame. They can be custom built or you can fashion one yourself. These plugs form a tight sound barrier around the cracks in the window frame. Window plugs do block all the light off from a window though.
The walls in a room are also a major source of concern when it comes to noise. Noise can easily travel through thin drywall, annoying the ears of those in the room beside you. Soundproofing your walls can help to with noise control though. Try:
- Adding Drywall: Adding more layers of drywall to a wall can improve sound resistance. The thicker the drywall, the better. Simply apply silicone caulking 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: You can also add insulation to your walls to help improve sound absorption. If you are moving into a newly built home, apply fiberglass insulation to the wall before both sides of drywall have been put up. The thicker the insulation, the better sound absorption you will have. If your walls have already been built, you can cut holes in the drywall between the wall studs. You can then blow in foam or paper insulation, which will deaden sound.
- Adding Wall Coverings: If you don’t want to go inside your walls, you can apply wall covering material with soundproofing capabilities on the outside of your walls. These can be painted to suit any décor. Simply tack the material to the top of the wall and along the baseboards.
Ceilings are also a source of concern for many homeowners. Whether you have noisy children or pets that like to run around, sound can emanate through the ceiling and into living spaces. There are a few ways that you can soundproof a ceiling, however:
- Cover the Upstairs Floors: By adding carpeting or special soundproof matting to the upstairs floors, you can reduce the movement of sound through the ceiling.
- Insulate the Ceiling: If you’re up to it, you can remove the drywall on your ceiling, and insert layers of fiberglass insulation. You can also add soundproof tiling to your ceiling, to stop sound from traveling. This is great for noise reduction.
Other Soundproofing Tips
In order to make your rooms as soundproof as possible, keep these additional tips in mind:
- At least 25% of every room should be devoted to absorbent materials, such as carpeting, furniture, or draperies. These materials help dampen sound waves, and absorb sound.
- Entrance ways can also be a source of noise problems. Try to install solid-core doors throughout your house, or keep doors to your rooms closed. This will reduce the amount of sound that travels from room to room.
- In a pinch, cheap soundproofing never fails! You can always hang carpeting or bedding or push mattresses up against the walls, to help reduce noise transmission.