Today’s houses can be noisy. Though “paper-thin walls” were once the culprit when it came to noise in the house, today’s houses suffer from a combination of open floor plans, lightweight construction, and a multitude of machines and high-tech audio and video gear. Good luck trying to find a little peace and quiet.
In this article, we’ll look at the materials and methods that can help quiet the noisy home.
Sure, noise pollution isn’t like having lead in your paint or microbes in your water, but it’s not just an irritant. It can mess up our sleep, add to our stress, infringe on our privacy, and generally compromise our quality of life.
In many of today’s homes, the walls are removed to create a sense of spaciousness. Kitchens are filled with whiz-bang appliances and our family rooms with surround-sound home theaters. Noise has become a byproduct of our busy lives, and accompanying it, we’ve created noise pollution.
Fortunately, there are a number of soundproofing or noise-reducing initiatives you can take to alleviate the problem. The most effective of these are best done during a building or remodeling project because they involve the way walls or other structural elements are built.
Here we look at relatively easy steps you can take in a weekend to create a quieter home. But first it helps to understand the dynamics of sound.
How Sound Works
The crash of a cymbal, the clang of a bell… all physical actions sends “sound waves” rippling through the air. When these “waves” reach our ears, they vibrate a sensitive membrane—the eardrum—and we hear them as sounds.
Noise is simply unwanted sound. At home, most people consider noise to be just about any sound other than the sound made by what they’re doing. For example, if you’re on the phone, the television in the next room is a noise. Conversely, if you’re watching television, phone conversations are noises. Your teenagers’ music is a noise, period.
Unfortunately, conventional walls and ceilings are only marginally effective at blocking noise. They are built like drums. They have membranes (typically drywall) on the two outer surfaces of a structural framework that’s filled with air. Sound waves strike one surface and carry through the air or framework to the other surface where they’re broadcast as audible noise.
And where there is a very thin wall surface (or no surface at all, such as an open window or door), sound simply travels from one area to the next without the need for transference.
Controlling noise involves cutting down on the noisemakers and reducing the movement of sound from one place to another. Soundproofing measures employ surfaces that absorb sound vibrations and structures that minimize sound transference.
Achieving a home that is quiet can take a little work, but when you’re ready to relax in a quiet room and enjoy a good book, you’ll know it was well worth the effort. Silence is golden.
Highlighted below are areas to look into when you want to get a quieter home:
Use Sound-Absorbing Materials
Hard surfaces reflect sound waves; soft surfaces absorb them.
Materials that help control sound within a room are familiar to most homeowners. If you want to minimize sound bouncing around a room, opt for “soft” materials such as acoustic ceilings and padded carpeting rather than hardwood, tile, or laminates. Acoustic ceiling panels dampen sound significantly.
With ceilings, as with the entire house, the most effective way to minimize noise is to combine a number of different sounds-blocking and sounds-reduction methods. If you’re building a home recording studio, soundproofing is an art.
Cut Down on Noisemakers
Keeping appliances working properly is also part of the equation. Listen for rattles, vibrations, buzzing, and other noises made by your home’s appliances and equipment. If something seems unusually loud, fix it or get it fixed.
This doesn’t mean sending your kids off to play at the neighbors, though this no doubt will help. It does mean opting for quiet appliances when replacements are needed. Manufacturers have picked up on the problem and, as a result, make premium models that are very quiet.
Install Sound-Blocking Doors
Most interior doors are hollow core construction. They are very ineffective at blocking sound. According to a spokesperson for the National Wood Window & Door Association, “Anyone of the particleboard-core, composite-core, or solid-wood doors would work much better at providing a sound barrier than a hollow-core door.” Of course, solid-core doors are more expensive, but they are also available in a much broader selection of elegant styles.
A solid-core door helps block the transference of sound by eliminating the drum-like construction of a hollow-core door.
The largest opening in most walls is a doorway. One of the most effective ways to keep noise from moving around the house is to install (and weatherstrip) solid doors, something you can easily do whether or not you’re remodeling or building.
The author of this article is the associate writer for Acoustical Treatment Toronto Canada. In this article, he shares his knowledge about soundproofing product. For more info, please visit http://www.acoustiguard.com/