How To Soundproof Your Home
Many people like their homes to be their sanctuaries. Home is where they go to rest, recharge, play, watch TV, and sleep. Of course, relaxing becomes more difficult if you live near a busy highway, next to the airport, with noisy neighbors, or an aspiring musician. Luckily, soundproofing your home goes a long way toward cutting down on noise.
When Life at Home Is Too Noisy, You Need Soundproofing
Before soundproofing, you should figure out the most vulnerable areas of your home or apartment. In other words, where are most of the traffic or neighbor noises coming from? For instance, is sound leaking through your windows, doors, or even your walls? Figuring this out early helps you prioritize the right areas and saves you from wasting time on the wrong areas.
When noise occurs, listen to it from various spots in your house. The loudest areas are the ones to focus on first. If you would rather get more scientific, consider a decibel meter or sound level meter. These meters assist you in checking, monitoring, and controlling the sound level in various environments. Many also let you record sounds and feature backlit displays for use in the dark. You can get a good-quality one for less than $20, or you can use a phone app. Other methods to identify areas prone to sound leaks include these:
- Knock on your doors and listen to whether they resonate. A solid door (good for sound protection) sounds full and it will feel heavier than a hollow one. Hollow-core doors typically let a good deal of sound in.
- Door seals are an excellent way to create a soundproof barrier by blocking the gaps that easily allow sound to enter.
- Check your windows. If they are single-pane, they are likely letting a lot of sound in. Windows with second panes offer more sound protection but could still be allowing sound leaks if they are not properly sealed.
- Listen to your air ducts and returns. Your ducts and vents could be transmitting sound from room to room. If your bedroom is way in the back of the house away from the highway yet you still hear traffic almost as if you were outside, vents or air ducts could be the issue.
- Take a look at the integrity of your gaskets and seals. They can be places for sound leaks just like ducts and vents.
- Examine your walls. They would ideally be interconnected with no spaces. Even just an inch of space is enough for a conversation in the next room to sound like it is happening right before you. (If your house has drop ceilings, remove a panel and check whether the wall goes all the way to the next floor.)
- Inspect the ceiling. Concrete ceilings are especially prone to sound vibrations.
Soundproofing One Piece at a Time
If your walls have gaps, that is called flanking. With flanking, sounds can easily pass through the walls of your house into connecting rooms.
Walk around the walls' perimeter and look for small holes. Ensure the seals on the floor are good. If everything appears in order, the issue is likely a lack of mass in the walls. Installing sound-blocking drywall should help, or you could reinforce the walls with mass loaded vinyl. MLV has been a keystone in soundproofing for decades due to its incredible effectiveness and flexibility. MLV is a popular choice when it comes to DIY soundproofing of homes and offices.
In some instances, adding a second layer of drywall with Green Glue, over an existing wall may limit the amount of sound able to escape the room. This can help to prevent someone outside the room from listening in on a full conversation, and cause them to only pick up partial sounds or words.
Ceilings and Floors
Seal any ceiling openings you can. Heavy gypsum boards, especially in multiple layers, can take care of larger holes. If you have concrete ceilings, an isolated ceiling with isolated clips and drywall furring hat channel might be necessary. You can do the reverse and make a floating floor if the noise issues are coming from below. Soundproofing mats can help to reduce nose coming from below
Doors and Doorways
If your door is hollow, one approach is to add another layer or replace the door with a composite or solid-wood door. QuietSpec studio doors are designed to provide exceptional noise reduction for homes and offices.
Other tactics are to check for gaps around the threshold and seal any with a door-sealing kit. Acoustical door seals allow for airtight door gasketing for side jambs, the head jamb, and the doorsill.
Your windows could be the culprit, especially because windows tend to be thin and lack sound dampening. Plus, windows and their frames sometimes have gaps that let noise enter. Solutions include double panes, soundproof curtains, fresh gaskets, and acoustic caulk. If your windows are stilling in too much outside noise, then it might be time to consider replacing your windows with sound-rated windows.
Gaskets and Seals
Secure any gaskets or seals that fail light and paper tests. For a light test, turn off all lights and turn off or shield incidental light from the room. Look at seals from the inside. If light leaks through, you can bet sound is too. (If it is nighttime, you can perform this test by turning on lights instead of turning them off.)
For the paper test, slip a piece of paper under the edge of a seal. A firm seal should hold the paper up, and you ought to be able to get the paper free with just gentle pulling.
Thermal protection is essential for comfort and to lower energy bills. Exterior walls are designed with this in mind and will include insulation. Interior walls do not require insulation but it is an ingredient that is essential in any soundproofing project. Consider adding high-density insulation, such as mineral wool.
Outlets, switches, and light fixtures, or anything that requires a cut out on the wall or ceiling, benefit from applying Putty Pads on the back of the electrical boxes or Acoustic Caulk along the perimeter of the cut out to seal the air leaks.
General Soundproofing Solutions
More soundproofing can go a long way. Other solutions include acoustic panels, which absorb the sounds and lower the loudness in a room with hard surfaces. Put one in each corner of your place, and you may be amazed. Rearranging furniture can be a great help too. Put bookshelves against the walls where traffic is, for example. Same with fabric. If you use linen storage, try moving it to outer walls.
All in all, you may be able to greatly cut down on the sound that enters your house from neighbors, traffic, and planes. Acoustic panels and windows, soundproof curtains and drapes, mass-loaded vinyl, tapestries, door sweeps, and soundproof weatherstripping kits are a few of the approaches to try. First, though, it helps to listen from a few spots throughout your place so you know the areas that need the most focus.
Still not sure exactly what you need? Consult with experts who are ready to offer the best recommendation for your unique applications and sound proofing needs.