How to soundproof your property
Noise pollution, for many, is ever-present: traffic, aircraft, trains and noisy neighbours can all ruin a family’s enjoyment of their property.
Soundproofing your home well involves substantial work, so is probably best undertaken when you’re refurbishing your property or before you move in. There are specialist soundproofing companies, but they tend to be very expensive.
If you use this guide, you should be able to work with a competent builder to achieve excellent results.
The downside of soundproofing walls is that you will lose space as you have to install a secondary dry lined partition wall. Five centimetres is about as little you can lose while still significantly reducing noise levels.
The secondary wall should be made from metal resilient furring channels, soundproof plasterboard and other soundproofing materials.
Furring channels are special metal dry lining frames designed to minimise sound transmission. They do this by having minimal contact with the existing wall.
Screw/nail resilient furring channels to your existing wall.
Glue polyester sound absorber sheets to the wall. Note: they have to be thinner than the furring channel, as you do not want them pressing against the new plasterboard.
Fix the first layer of soundproof plasterboard to the furring channel.
Fill the gaps between the plasterboard.
Glue a layer of visco-elastic membrane to the existing new plasterboard.
Fit a final layer of soundproof plasterboard.
Skim and make good (e.g. replace the skirting board).
The most common way to soundproof windows is to add secondary glazing. This sits inside the existing glazing, creating an airspace to deaden noise, and acts to reduce the noise itself. The downside is that they can look quite ugly and restrict access to the window ledge.
Another option is to replace your existing windows with double-glazing.
Ask your manufacturer about soundproof units. Most will recommend ones that use different types of “glass” for each pane. For example, 8mm glass on the outer pane and 10mm laminated glass on the inner pane.
Using different materials interrupts the sound waves as they pass through the window; different thickness aids this process too. Most manufacturers recommend an air gap of more than 15mm.
It’s also crucial that the windows are sealed properly. Use window frame sealant on the outside to fill any gaps. On the inside, often the edges of windows will have been made good using plasterboard, and filled with foam fill. If there are gaps, you can fill these using soundproof expanding foam.
If you don’t want to go the extra mile and you just need to reduce the noise a bit, you can use a soundproof curtain.
If you own the whole house, this may not be necessary. However, if you own an upstairs flat (and your neighbours are complaining about the noise!), there are two options:
The easy option is getting a new carpet with a very thick underlay. Make sure you screw all the floorboards down before it’s installed.
The harder (but more effective option) is to:
Take up the floorboards.
Install a 100mm Acoustic Quilt between the joists.
Screw waterproof tongue and groove plyboard onto the joists.
The problem with this option is that you lose your original floorboards. If you want to keep these, screw them back down but consider adding some rubber matting between them and the joists.
If you own the downstairs flat, and your upstairs neighbour is reluctant to do the work, about the only thing you can do is to install a suspended ceiling. Make sure no timbers are attached to the ceiling above, and fill the space with insulation.
Those doing loft conversions in noisy areas should consider using soundproof plasterboard throughout. The building regulation insulation requirements mean any new structures tend to be pretty well sound proofed. Soundproof plasterboard will finesse the job.
Sign up here to have Handyman’s favourite stories straight to your inbox.