A sound investment
It’s worth cutting down on the noise
Depending on your living situation, you’ve likely spent the past few months in close quarters with the members of your home. Hopefully, for the majority of us it’s been a good experience getting to know the people in our homes, and spending some ( or a lot) of quality time together.
For some of us, we may have learned just how much noise the members of our family make at all hours of the day and night. It’s not just our regular noise, too. As many of us have switched to remote work, we may see multiple members of a household trying to juggle things like online video calls with the noise from our child’s online classes, or a partner or housemate preparing a meal.
There are many ways you can cut down on the transfer of sound between rooms, some big, and some small. So how do we restore harmony at home when it comes to sound?
Generally, sound will bounce off hard surfaces like hardwood floors and your walls. But when you include softer, or plush elements in your rooms, it helps cut down that bounce by absorbing the sound waves. Adding carpets and drapes to a room, as well as upholstered furniture, can help cut down on the sound by a lot.
In a pinch, if you don’t have access to bigger curtains, you could temporarily hang up blankets when you need some extra quiet over trouble areas. In this case, it would usually be doors and windows. You can also rearrange the furniture a bit so bigger pieces are against the area that are the biggest offenders for sound transfer. Bookcases and headboards that are placed against shared walls can help dampen sound effectively.
If you’re in a condo or an apartment, and your downstairs neighbours are driving you nuts, big area rugs can actually cut down on a lot of sound transfer between units. For some extra soundproofing, you can add a pad underneath the carpet to absorb more sound waves without having to take up more floor space.
A really good time to tackle soundproofing projects is during a major renovation. When things have gone down to the studs, it’s a great opportunity to shore up your insulation.
For best results when it comes to soundproofing, opt for fibreglass or stone wool batt insulation. Batt insulation fits snugly into the cavities between the studs in your walls and absorbs sound, helping prevent its spread from room to room.
Now, you know that I’m generally a fan of using spray foam as an insulator, but if you’ve got major issues with soundproofing, this is one case I’d say to look elsewhere. While spray foam creates some incredible insulating power, it’s potential to soundproof is lower than other options.
However, if you went down to the studs, and insulated with spray foam, you’re not out of luck. Sound- absorbing drywall products exist on the market that can help cut sound transfer between different rooms. Some products can be as much as eight times more effective than traditional drywall.
If you’re not able to pull down the existing drywall, but want to add some soundproofing between the walls, you could add some blownin cellulose insulation. This adds a lot of echo-dampening power. Your contractor will have to create an access hole in the wall to add the insulation, but they’ll be able to seal it up afterward. Then you’ll just have to repaint the area.
Finally, if the sound is coming from outside the house, it could be a case of weak doors and windows. Take a look around the exterior of your home and replace any missing caulking or weatherstripping that could be creating gaps that let sound in.
If they’re old windows, you might be out of luck — those single paned units don’t do much to stop sound. Soundproof windows typically consist of doublepaned units with a layer of argon gas between them to help prevent sound transfer.