Imagine the standard internal stud wall in your new house.
A sheet of fairly thin material (plasterboard).
An air space retained by timber walls.
Another thin sheet of material.
Sounds a bit like a Drum doesn’t it?……………It’s no wonder sound transmits easily from room to room.
If you are having a 2 storey house that drum effect will be the same between the floors with the added problem of someone walking on the top of the “drum”.
To make things quieter one solution is to fill the air space with something that can absorb the noise.
You can use standard wall insulation batts, but for the best performance it is better to go for an Accoustic Batt.
The Accoustic Batts are more expensive (typically 60-70% more) but being much denser absorb a lot more sound.
If you decide to go for sound insulation batts a key issue in the effectiveness will be the quality of the installation. Every gap must be fully filled with insulation, any missing areas and noise will get through.
An added advantage of putting sound insulation in internal walls is that it increases the effect of Buffer Zones in keeping heating and cooling costs down.
A disadvantage is that if you were used to shouting to get the attention of someone in another room that won’t work with good sound insulation.
In high end houses it’s not unusual to wrap the toilet waste pipes in accoustic insulation so people downstairs can’t hear an upstairs toilet flush!
It’s not always possible to build in a quiet area so there are a number of techniques for reducing noise that you can use in your new home.
Here is a quick review of the options:
Minimising windows facing the noise. OK as long as the noise source isn’t on the North side otherwise you loose the effect of sunlight in the house.
Screen walls. These reflect sound. If you are going for this approach at the front of the house put some thought into the design of the wall. A plain wall just looks ugly.
Buffer zones. I’ve previously talked about Buffer Zones in relation to heating and cooling but they can work well in keeping some rooms quieter.
Soft landscaping. Absorbs sound, rather than paving which reflects sound. If possible a landscaped bund (low embankment) can be effective.
Roofing material. Tiles will absorb more noise than a colorbond roof.
Acoustic Plasterboard. It’s possible, on special order, to get a range of Plaster boards including ones with a denser core that help to reduce sound transmission. A second layer of plasterboard at a different thickness to the original can help.
Ceiling and wall insulation. Ordinary heat insulation batts will absorb noise but for the best performance it is better to use specialist acoustic insulation.
Glazing. Thicker glass will help but double glazing with a larger air will give better performance. The use of laminated glass can also improve performance.
Curtains Heavy curtains can be effective, when they are closed.
Solid Doors. Better performance than the standard lightweight doors.
Windows and door seals. Need to be properly fitted, and maintained.
Refrigerated Air Conditioning. Unlike evaporative cooling this doesn’t rely on open windows.
Sound absorbing materials Although acoustic tiles, carpets, underlays don’t stop noise getting in they will absorb it better than hard surfaces like tiles or wood floors.
To get effective performance will require a range of the above options rather than a single ‘Magic Bullet’.
When you are considering these options its also worth bearing in mind that most of these improvements will also improve the thermal performance of your new house.