Residential Noise Penetrating into Homes

We get a lot of requests that sound like this…
We live in a condo/home where we get a lot of excesses and disturbing noise from Neighbors/Dogs/On-going Construction … How can we prevent this? Most often this is followed up with a – How can we do this temporarily or without spending much money.
Well – you all have a bit of an uphill battle. Acoustic products can often be costly for the residential consumer as well as aesthetically what they didn’t have in mind. Industrial and commercial users, happen to be very cost-effective and fit in their environments. However – there are a few products and a few things that can be done for these types of problems. First let’s explain how noise works, then give you products and practical sense that will make a difference in your home.
Sound.. how does it work?
Sound is energy/heat. It travels in sound waves. residential noise Each time a particular sound wave hits an object it reflects. The material it hits can either magnify that deflection or soften it. When it softens it, it is essentially losing heat/energy. Any soft, open-celled ( porous ) material absorbs sound while the heavier products like sound barriers deaden sound. By deadening the sound hits that heavy product and loses much of its energy. Another way sound travels is along materials. The sound waves will actually travel through various woods, and metals through vibration. So now that we know how sound works, let’s look at products and household items that can absorb sound…
Noise From…
Balconies!First – lots of complaints coming from balconies and/or sliding glass doors. The right way would be to hang quilted fiberglass blankets essentially enclosing your balcony. Problem is- they are industrial looking and may very well look like a bandaid. My first thought is that if enough complaints are received, the construction company themselves should be enclosing their construction zone with these acoustic blankets. This is one of the main uses of these blankets. But, that may be a lot of effort and red tape. So if your ears are screaming and aesthetics are no longer a worry, we manufacture shorter-life acoustic blankets that would very much quiet things down and save money over the heavy use blankets..
Another product I’ve thought about was acoustic fabrics. Again, commercial looking and usually affixed to walls, it is flexible enough to create a certain effect. By hanging a pole and grommeting the top of the fabric panel you could create a curtain. You can slide panels back and forth or tie them back. The rods and tie backs would have to be fastened into studs or concrete or require anchor large anchors as the weight of these panels will be substantially heavier then curtains. Since alot of noise does travel through windows and doors, consider extending the curtain panels a little more beyond the windows than you may normally. If the curtain abrubtly ends only 1/2″ past the window, you can be assured that noise is coming easily past that. Extending the curtains 5 or 6 inches can create a handsome effect and absorb more noise.
Shared Walls/Floors/Ceilings!
Townhouses, condos, mother/daughter, two or more family homes… we all know your pains! You move in, quite likely renting or have requirements or restrictions on what can be done… and if you hear your neighbor click across the floor, or the kids jumping, or that music coming through the wall one more time your going to scream! Well, we can help. The first solution – IS the most effective, but the most costly.
Shared walls meets mass-loaded vinyl barrier.
Most of the time it’s only a specific span of the wall that creates this problem. We know sheetrock is not fun, however by purchasing sheets of mass-loaded vinyl barrier, some glue, and refinishing a wall with sheetrock will do wonders for peace. The vinyl barrier can simply cut to size and glued to the existing wall. Another layer of sheetrock would be placed over that, preferably with adhesive and screws. This adhesive will bond the sheetrock better to the vinyl barrier and anytime you get a more solid bond between materials, the sound loses some energy. Then refinish your wall and you’ve merely lost 3/4 to 1″ of space but gained peace and quiet. If you own the home/condo/townhouse, you can consider simply leaving a few inch space and actually building a second wall, in the same fashion as a vinyl barrier, right in front of the problem wall. The space actually acts as a noise absorbent as well. Visit our vinyl sound barrier page for more diagrams and information.
Foot Fall
You already know the answer.. with hardwood floors being the flooring of choice, footfall ( noise from walking ) is even more common. The best method is to prepare for this before floors are installed and it uses the same method as above. Vinyl Sound Barrier laid above the studs, and beneath the subfloor will greatly reduce this. IF this is not an option, we are sorry – you’ll need to look to carpeting and/or area rugs to help absorb that noise.
If your problem is from your neighbor above you, then you have some options if you have drop ceilings. Ceiling tile barriers and replacing your ceiling tiles with acoustic ceiling tiles will help reduce that noise. And if you have an incredible knack for design or have the budget for a designer, you can look into fabric treatments. There are designers that fill rooms and drape fabrics from ceilings creating warm effects. It’s an option, however not for all of us.
So let’s now look at the resources around you that should be implemented along with any other noise control method we suggest… let’s look for natural and household solutions…
These will help for all scenarios… Plants! If you happen to be on the ground floor, then planting larger bushes and such materials along the perimeter of your yards will certainly help absorb noise. On balconies, some big leafy potted plants will aid in your noise battle. Another surprising thing is area rugs and tapestries on the wall or creatively suspended from the ceilings. Remember, if noise hits surfaces and bounces around, the more soft surfaces it hits means the noise energy dissipates faster! Not only are you treating your noise problem, but you’ll improve privacy and overall acoustics in the room for conversations, music, and so on.
Along these lines, a layered approach may tackle or add to the residential noise control solutions above. For example, by using one of the methods above on the exterior, you should also go to any home decorating store and look for the heaviest, thickest curtains they have available. Placing these on the inside of the doors will further muffle the sound.
Carpeting, area rugs, tapestries in home…
All these surfaces will help absorb noise.. they will help muffle noises coming in, going out, and around the room. If you have children or entertain a lot or have TVs or music on, you can create rooms and effects that help control the noise within your home. The way to consider it is – do you want to contain/isolate the noise or do you want to control or absorb it. Just think if you’ve ever walked into an empty home for sale, the echoes you hear from your steps and voice. A couch, curtains, and an area rug, and voila – it doesn’t echo near as bad. Some canvas art ( glassed art will only create additional reflections ) and some tapestries or wall hangings practically reach out and suffocate the noise bouncing around walls.
In-door Plants – even if you need to have fake ones, if they fit your decor, they can create natural barriers that sit and absorb noise.
Anything layered and anything soft will help absorb noise and help solve most of your noise issues all while making your home cozier and more pleasant.
Have fun and we hope this helps all the ears that need help solving problems from noisy neighbors, dogs, construction companies, and yourselves (or your children)!.