If your considering soundproofing your home, you may be wondering how to pick the right type of soundproofing for you.
Here we explain what soundproofing does and how it works, how to stop sound getting in and out, which rooms you really should soundproof and how to pick the right soundproofing products for you.
What does soundproofing do?
To soundproof a room means to lower the intrusion of external noise, while also insulating it so noise cannot escape the space. In many cases acoustic insulation is used to soundproof professional recording studios to prevent any noise from outside interfering with the recording of music, dialog or sound effects.
This could be anything from voices, nearby building works or high levels of traffic noise. It also ensures neighbours and outside parties are not disturbed by the activities taking place within the room.
In recent years it has also become increasingly common for residential properties to insulate certain rooms, or the entire home, in response to loud neighbours or street noise from traffic or passers-by.
How does soundproofing work?
The science of sound can prove to be a long and complicated subject but at its most basic, sound is created by vibrations made on any object. Sound travels through the air in unseen waves and is able to easily travel through objects, which is why you can hear noises from outside of your house, even when you have double glazing on the windows.
With soundwaves able to pass through objects without issue, the idea behind soundproofing is to put barriers in place to make this more difficult. The result is that sound is dampened to such an extent that it cannot be heard clearly.
How to stop noise getting in
Whether you live in a modern housing development scheme, or in an older period house from the Victorian or Edwardian era, noise pollution from outside of your property can prove to be an ongoing problem.
Living in built-up, urban areas will usually mean higher levels of road and foot traffic near to your home. This can mean hearing revving engines, police or fire service sirens, nearby conversations or raised voices creating an unwelcome disturbance.
In the modern age houses are being built closer together and using cheaper materials which lowers the quality of sound insulation. Older homes are also being converted into multiple flats and apartments which brings more people into contact with the noise created by those living nearby.
Noisy neighbours can have a horrible effect on your quality of life, disturbing you in the evening or late at night with loud voices, parties or deafening TV.
There are a number of ways to reduce sound coming into your living space. Using sound insulation curtains or padded carpeting will make it more difficult for soundwaves to pass through compared to tiles, wood or laminates which could actually enhance it.
Insulated ceiling panels are another option, which can be applied directly to the existing surface, as is weather stripping doors to seal gaps where sound can usually pass through unheeded.
How to stop noise getting out
There are three main methods used to soundproof a room:
The use of dense foam, or acoustic insulation as it also known, is the most common method used to absorb sound inside the room. Products such as Rockwool RW5 Acoustic Insulation Slabs directly receive the soundwaves which reduce the level of noise travelling through the walls. These are high performance materials that instantly help to absorb travelling sound.
Another option is to add enough mass to the structure, so the sound energy is reflected back into the room or converted into heat. There are a number of additional variables to take into account here linked to the structure and safety of the building that requires alteration.
By removing one wall structure from another this will lower the sound vibration travelling from one to the other. The space between the two can then be filled with acoustic insulation, or simply left with a gap, depending on the thickness of the walls, and how much sound is being emitted. Building a wall within a wall makes it much hard for soundwaves to transmit with clarity.
Which rooms need soundproofing the most?
This is very much dependent on the layout of the property and the type of noise interference that is occurring. The general rule is that the room closest to the sound source will be the one which needs to be soundproofed.
We tend to spend most of our time at home in the bedroom for several hours overnight, or in the living room during the evening or on the weekends. In many cases, living rooms and master bedrooms are also positioned at the front of the house, often with one on top of the other.
If noise from outside is the main issue, then it could be that these are the rooms that require most attention. If a noisy neighbour is responsible for the disturbance, then the room either above, below or adjacent to the problem should be soundproofed.
Is insulation good for soundproofing?
Used on its own, fibre insulation used for thermal purposes is not dense enough to provide high levels of noise absorption. Its primary function is to retain the levels of heat generated in the home, rather than block the movement of sound.
However, when used in conjunction with products like the Earthwool Acoustic Roll for internal stud walls, then there will be a significant reduction in the transfer of noise.
The higher the density of the material, the harder it is for soundwaves to remain audible on the other side. Acoustic insulation can be used in either walls, floors or ceilings to ensure effective results and the dampening of sound.
Karma Joistdeck 37 is a high-performance insulation board used in flooring and can also be directly applied to joists. Rockwool RW3 Acoustic Insulation Slabs can be placed in walls, floors or roofs, depending on the source of the sound interference.