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How To Insulate a Home from Noise - Sound Insulation

Whether you are a day sleeper, have noisy neighbors, live near a busy street or the noise comes from inside your home, there are some solutions to reduce sound levels and get some peace.

There are a variety of ways to deal with noise, including elimination, isolation, insulation, cancellation and disguise (-ation). Disguising noise includes techniques such as installing a water feature to create a more pleasing sound to mask the unpleasant noise. But this article focuses on insulation as a method of noise control.

There are two basic types of sound to block and two mediums to block. The types of sound are high-frequency and low-frequency. The mediums are sound traveling through the air and sound traveling through objects.

High-frequency sounds are fairly easy to block. They include sounds like voices, TVs, music, the basic sounds of human activity. Low-frequency sounds are more difficult to block. They include the rumble of traffic, deep bass sounds in music or TV, hammering, large appliances and clog dancing.

Sounds transmitted through the air are fairly easy to block. Closing a window is very effective at reducing the sound levels from outdoors. Sound transmitted through objects is more difficult. The bass from your upstairs neighbors music transmits right through the floor.

If you are building a house, your strategy will be different than for an existing house. When building a house, involve an architect or engineer who has experience with sound isolation & insulation. They'll recommend features like staggered stud walls and triple-glazed windows to reduce transmission through material.

For an existing structure, there are still many options. Improving insulation in walls, floors and ceiling will help to isolate sounds inside your home. For example, if a noisy family room is next to a bedroom, the addition of blow-in insulation can be achieved with only a few small openings cut into the wall. The added insulation will help to absorb the sound from the family room. The addition of a door sweep on the bottom of interior doors, similar to the weather-proofing type used for exterior doors, can also be helpful.

Sounds from outdoors reach you primary through window panes. The replacement of windows with double or even triple-glazed windows is very effective for controlling sound levels. Most exterior walls already are insulated, therefore there is little to be done for walls. More extreme measures exist; for those, we recommend enlisting the aid of an architect or engineer.

Simple steps include the selection of heavy, full-bodied fabrics over windows and drawn closed when sound-proofing is needed. The addition of wall-to-wall carpet will help to reduce sound from below and also to dampen sound from inside your home. Select the thickest foam underlayment to further absorb sound. Even the addition of area rugs has some benefit.

Finally, keep sound producing objects, such as speakers, TVs, and appliances away from direct contact with walls. This will reduce the transmission of noise through walls into other rooms. Also, the addition of even a small amount of white noise, such as that from a ceiling fan do a lot to mask ambient sounds from outdoors or other rooms.

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