By Meg Escott
Let's have a look at how you can soundproof your home. On this page we look mainly at the ways in which you can soundproof your home simply by making good decisions about the orientation and layout of your home both inside and out.
In fact your layout is the first place you should start when figuring out your soundproofing strategy because good layout decisions are free.
In 'Should I soundproof my home?' we talked about the different sources of noise from inside and outside your home.
Let's have a look at how some layout design strategies for the interior and exterior layout of your home.
Here are a few things to consider about how the layout of your home contributes to your home soundproofing.
The apartment layout below isn't ideal for soundproofing. The bedroom is right next to the bathroom and elevator with no other soundproofing in place.
This is a good layout for soundproofing purposes. The closet in the bedroom prevents too much noise from the bathroom and the elevator is a good distance from the bedroom.
Here's an example which adds some soundproofing solutions into some walls and doors. Notice that not every wall and door needs to be soundproofed.
Well positioned closets that work with the room layout form a major part of the soundproofing strategy.
Here's an example of a good vertical layout to soundproof your home with the laundry placed downstairs with the bathroom immediately above.
Consider external noises when deciding how to site your new home.
Here's some strategies you can use to cope with outdoor noise and soundproof your home.
Tall sound screens are appropriate to use to soundproof your home when shielding a home from a road or train track or even noisy neighbors.
Sound screens don't form any short of shell around the source of the noise so they can't reduce the noise down to zero. They can do a great job of getting down just far enough so that soundproofing solutions in the walls of your home can do the rest.
Sound screens work by reflecting and absorbing some of the sound, and increasing the distance that the rest of the sound has to travel
A good rule of thumb for deciding how high a sound screen is the line of sight rule which says that if you can't see the source of the noise due to the height of the screen, the screen is high enough.
As you can imagine, this means the screen can be shorter if it's placed close to the source of the noise.
Placing a sound screen closer to the source will be more effective in deflecting and absorbing the sound.
Now let's have a look at how wide a barrier needs to be.
Unfortunately, this rule of thumb about height conflicts with the fact that for a sound screen of the same width, the nearer the sound screen is to your home, the more effective is.
So how do we deal with this conflict? Give the screen some wings.
If we look at a screen that has the potential to block 10dB...
Here's the screen in a flat configuration resulting in a sound loss of 5dB.
And here it is with the wings, resulting in a sound loss of 9dB.
It's important that there are no openings (or less than 1%) in the sound screen. A sound screen with openings totaling 10% of its area will have a loss value of only 4dB no matter how high or wide it is.
The more mass (the more solid) the screen is, the better the sound protection.
A tongue and groove fence is a good solution with solid posts and no gaps. An absorbent layer can be added. A good fencing contractor will be able to build you a fence that will do the job.
These sound screens can sometimes be unsightly so plan for some vegetation on the side that faces your home.
You could also look to install a specialized sound screen rather than just a fence. Some companies have sound screens specific to the type of noise.
Smaller screens are useful for dampening the sound of air conditioning units or swimming pool pumps.
These can take the form of a fence or wall.
The side of the home is often a good place for your air conditioning unit from an aesthetic point of view. However, this places it nearer your neighbor's home.
There are sound proofing boxes available to dampen the noise from air conditioning units.
Another way of dealing with noise from a/c units and other outdoor pumps is to house them in a soundproof box. Try googling 'soundproof box' or 'soundproof blanket.'
There are products available that can be placed on the exterior of your home or used as an insulation that will absorb noise.
These products include:
I hope this page has persuaded you to start your soundproofing strategy by thinking of your layout and not just immediately jumping in to soundproofing solutions.