How to soundproof your house from neighbours
Sound proofing your home
Noise can come in many forms and from many different origins – from outside or inside, next door or the floor above, or below. It can be a problem not just because it is loud, but also because intervening barriers are insubstantial, or because the fabric in those barriers are themselves carrying and even amplifying the noise.
Solutions depend upon the problem and the composition of building you live in, but here are some basic tips:
External noise and walls
If the issue arises from outside, say from passing traffic, then barriers will help to block the cause. The denser the material used, the better. If it’s consistently coming from the same direction – and you have the space outside – a wall, or double wooden fence with acoustic material in between, can help. But sound will flow around partitions in a similar way to water, and the further away the barrier is from the listener, the less the effect. So it will also help to insulate the wall(s) facing the noise. External facing walls can be insulated with high-density acoustic wallboards, with acoustic quilting packed in between if required.
Timber framed houses typically have PIR thermal insulation foam boards between timber studs. These are not much good at reducing sound. You could add dense wool slabs or specialist acoustic quilting, between studs with inner layer of thermal laminate for thermal insulate. And add special acoustic boarding or double up with sound rated (and fire resistant) plasterboard lining.
For masonry dividing walls, use skins of dense blockwork in a 100mm cavity wall filled with acoustic quilting or fibre. Add special acoustic wall plaster boarding.
Windows can let in a high proportion of noise entering from outside, so double glazing will help. You can even go for double windows with large air gap (25-100mm) with acoustic absorbent material around the edges. But, be careful to maintain room ventilation by compensating on other less noisy wall sides.
Thin partition walls that let through noise from within as well as from outside a property, can be improved by putting up a secondary wall using high-density acoustic wallboards. Use a 240mm cavity width, as measured between inner faces of the plasterboard on both sides. Therefore if using 100mm deep timber studs, the distance between studs will only be 40mm. Place semi rigid wool insulation or similar acoustic quilt between each stud and cover with plasterboard or special acoustic boarding.
Unlike walls, floors will also transmit impact sound as well as airborne sound.
Typically in residential buildings, floors consist of timber joists with chip boarding on top and a thin plasterboard ceiling below. This will not offer much protection against penetrating noise an especially not impact noise. And by itself will not comply with the minimal Building Regulation standard requirement for bedrooms of 40dBs.
You have three basic solutions for How to soundproof your house from neighbours:
- Insulate with materials under floorboards between joists, using at least 100mm of mineral wool of at least 10kg/m3 Look out for specially fabricated acoustic quilt.
- Build in a false suspended ceiling beneath the floor joists. Use sound quality plasterboard and acoustic silicone sealant and/or tape to seal perimeter edges.
- Lay down over-floor acoustic boarding or matting. This can include specialist screedboards, such as ScreedBoard 28, especially where under floor heating requires a heat conductive covering material. Use composite boards where the different densities have been designed and tested to cut out different sound frequencies. This will help with impact as well as airborne noise.
Impact noise requires a barrier to reduce transmitted vibration. High density matting (for example, DECKfon Utramat) or acoustic boarding (for example DECKfon ScreedBoard 28) on top of existing floorboards and then finish off with carpet, tiles or timber over the top.
Over floor solutions will also work for airborne noise. DECKfon ScreedBoards or DECKfon Ultramat absorbs airborne noise due to the composite nature of their construction. If the noise is really extreme, you can take up floorboards or add false ceilings, and pack with acoustic quilting, but in most instances, over-floorboard solutions will suffice to reduce noise to acceptable levels and meet Part E regulation requirements.
Other factors to consider
Other factors to consider include whether your property is concrete, steel or timber structured. Also how severe the noise is and whether it’s coming from one or more directions. Another issue can be ‘flanking transmission’ whereby noise is carried through the fabric of a building via pathways of least resistance and around the insulating effects of thick walls. For example straight through walls of lightweight construction, but also through openings or holes in brickwork, especially if leading to cavities between walls where sound can resonate and amplifies like in an acoustic guitar. Pipework can also have a flanking effect where joists are shared between flats.
Hopefully you now know how to soundproof your house from neighbours?
You may find the products you need at https://acousticflooringsolutions.co.uk But simple singular solutions might not be the answer, so if you have a complex or unusual situation, we’d recommend you speak directly to our partners at Cellecta on 01634 292277.