With more people staying home nowadays, people have become more interested in soundproofing their homes to block out noises from their neighbors, passing cars, and barking dogs.
Many parts of your house can be soundproofed, such as doors, walls, ceilings, and floors. There are also many different ways to soundproof with varying levels of effectiveness for varying types of noise. The methods that work best for blocking high pitch noises do not work well for low pitch noises. This is because high pitch noises mostly move through the air, whereas low pitch noises move more through vibrations.1 These two different types of noise movement require different methods of soundproofing. Knowing the kind of noise, you want to block and what specific direction it's from can save you money and result in more effective soundproofing.
The Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating is a common way to measure the amount of noise entering a house. Most building codes require a rating of 50, which blocks out most speech but not very loud speech.2 However, this rating isn't perfect because it doesn't consider low-pitch noises that move through vibrations rather than through the air.3
A common technique for soundproofing walls is to double walls and put space between them. In general, adding more mass blocks more noise. Adding a distance between the two masses also makes it harder for verberations to pass through.4 Walls can be made even more effective by adding sound-absorbing material like acoustic panels5 or fiberglass6 inside your walls so that noises bounce around the walls instead of coming inside.
Soundproofing ceilings are similar to soundproofing walls. The best practice is to use double ceilings with sound-absorbers in between.
New vs. Already-Built Walls and Ceilings
Walls and ceilings are much easier and cheaper to make soundproof when building houses or when they're already open for other construction work. Replacing walls is the equivalent of rebuilding them. You can't add more wall material between the two sides of the wall without shrinking the space inside. However, adding more material is vital for sound absorption. If you want to add sound-absorption material between the two sides of the wall, you will need to use a stud finder to find where to open the wall.
The primary way to soundproof a door is, unsurprisingly, getting a thicker door. Doors specifically made for soundproofing will often use a heavy substance like lead between the wooden sides to make them particularly massive.7 Another technique is to add a door sweep8 or frame seals to seal the edges and prevent noise from coming in through them.9
Soundproofing vs. Sound Absorption
Soundproofing and sound absorption seem like similar ideas but are very different. Soundproofing blocks outside noise while sound absorption attempts to minimize echoing or reverberation to improve noises inside. Sound absorption is usually used for home theaters or recording studios, whereas soundproofing is wanted for all kinds of places.10
Pitfalls to Watch Out For
There are many popular remedies for soundproofing your home that don't work nearly as well as people think, including using cheap material like "soundproof" paint or wallpapers, egg-crate foam, or even mattresses.11
As you can see, soundproofing is a very complex procedure with many pitfalls. We would not recommend trying to do it yourself. Soundproofing done well can be expensive, and it can be even more costly when done incorrectly. We recommend having professionals help you.
You can call us at (425) 392-8301 for a quote. Our experts will figure out the best solution and set it up so that you can receive an excellent quality project for a reasonable price.