Your home is supposed to be a place where you can relax, unwind, and seek refuge from the chaos of the outside world. Unfortunately, many houses are just as loud and manic on the inside. If you want to address this issue, you’ll need to invest in better soundproofing.
The Why and How of Soundproofing
“Fundamentally, sound comes from the energy that is produced when an object vibrates, creating waves in the air around it,” Don Vandervort writes for HomeTips. “The sensitive membrane in our ears, the eardrum, detects these vibrations in the air and registers these frequencies in our brains as different types of sound.”
Bass frequencies are characterized by long wavelengths, while treble frequencies have much shorter wavelengths. These wavelengths are impacted by the materials they come into contact with.
The words “noise” and “sound” are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t always one and the same. Noise is considered an unwanted sound – anything you don’t want to hear. For homeowners, there’s outside noise – cars, traffic, or neighbors – and inside noise – a child playing the drums, a spouse on the phone, or the television in the next room.
Homeowners invest in soundproofing for any number of reasons. It’s especially popular among musicians, people who work from home, and homeowners who live on busy streets.
While it’s nearly impossible to block out all noise, you can achieve much quieter levels of sound by strategically soundproofing different areas of your home. This typically involves adding new materials and restructuring how sound travels into and throughout various rooms inside the house.
6 Strategies for Making Your House Soundproof
Generally speaking, there are two major soundproofing techniques that allow you to control the movement of sound:
- Sound absorbing – soaks up the sound so that it doesn’t continue to bounce from place to place.
- Sound blocking – reduces or completely stops the transfer of sound.
Though the principles of soundproofing a home remain consistent across the board, the exact needs change from one property to the next. Having said that, here are some common strategies and practical suggestions you may be able to use to make your house more soundproof moving forward.
Address Exterior Windows and Doors
Let’s start by addressing the infiltration of outside noise into the home, which is especially common in apartments that share an interior hallway that causes noise to echo and reverberate.
“If you have a large gap under your apartment door, add a door sweep. Use a commercial-grade sweep with a thick rubber strip that seals against the threshold,” home improvement journalist Deirdre Sullivan suggests. “This will also help keep out dust, bugs, and drafts as well as noise. If the rest of the door doesn’t close tightly against the door jambs, seal along the sides and top of the door with foam weatherstripping.”
If you live on a busy street, pay attention to your windows. Upgrading to a soundproof version with multiple panes could help you block out a lot of the noise pollution that spills inside.
Upgrade Interior Doors
Interior doors matter too. If you’re trying to break up the transmission of sound from one room to the next, you need to make sure you have the right kind of doors installed.
Most of today’s cheap builder-grade doors have hollow cores. In other words, they’re designed to provide visual privacy, but do very little to block out noise. By upgrading to solid wood doors, you can make rooms less susceptible to noise.
Use Absorbent Decor
Sometimes soundproofing is as easy as switching up the decor inside your home. Here are a few ideas:
- Lay down big, thick rugs with cushy liners underneath. This helps eliminate some of the noise reverberation that occurs on hardwood flooring and tile. It also adds a degree of aesthetic appeal.
- Use heavy curtains to block out noise from the outside. You can also use them to cover up interior doors to further dampen sound that enters from a hallway.
- Large built-in bookcases can be installed on interior shared walls. Once you fill it with books, it’ll absorb a lot of the sound that would otherwise pour through the drywall.
Reframe Wood Walls
Traditional wood-framed walls aren’t very soundproof on their own. They consist of some 2×4 softwood studs with a layer of thin drywall on either side. If you’re lucky, there’s some insulation on the inside. But you can always deconstruct or modify existing walls to make rooms quieter.
One approach is to decouple the two sides of the wall. You can do this by staggering the stud design, or even creating double stud walls. Another option is to fill the cavities between the studs with a superior form of insulation. The Bautex Wall System, for example, uses an insulated concrete wall system to reduce sound reduction to a rating of 51 STC (which is approximately three-times as quiet as traditional wood-framed walls).
Fix Squeaky Floors
How long have you been living with squeaky floors? While it may seem totally normal to you after all these years, the truth is that your squeaky floors are contributing a significant amount of noise to your home. By fixing these squeaks, you can enjoy quieter living.
Sometimes you just need to think strategically about how you’re utilizing the space within your home. Whether you’re just moving into the house, or you’ve been there for 20 years, reconsider how the floor plan is set up. Relocating rooms can make a big difference.
For example, it makes no sense to have a home office that shares a wall with a kid’s playroom. Likewise, you wouldn’t want a study area to be connected to the main living room. Choose rooms based on how sound travels throughout the home and you’ll experience far less frustration.
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