Some people are not fortunate to live in peaceful, quite suburbia. Maybe instead you have neighbors who often shout or blast loud music. Maybe you simply live below another family and you can hear them walking about throughout the day. Maybe you live in an area of high traffic and constantly hear sirens and honking horns. Maybe you live near an airport and the tremendous whoosh of planes passing by is no longer all that novel, but actually quite annoying. (Or similarly, maybe you live near a train station!)
You deserve to have a respite from the outside world. And that respite is your home. If you can't settle down and relax and be unburdened by the noises on the other side of your walls, then your home will stop feeling like a home.
Instead of warring with your noisy neighbors or trying to stop traffic, why not soundproof your home? To some, this may seem like a strange idea. But the truth is many folks have learned ways to ensure that the sound from the outside does not pollute the inside of their homes. And on top of that, they can also contain sound in their own rooms. For example, do you have a big, fancy entertainment system? Maybe you want the sounds of your home theater to fill the living room. But do you want that sound to travel to the kitchen, the dining room, or worse, the bedroom too? Soundproofing can not only save you from the world outside, but also from the noise in your own home!
So whether you want to listen to your TV or music or just your own thoughts, and no one else's, here's a guide to soundproofing your home.
First off, let's talk about what a sound is exactly. Sound will keep traveling until it hits some some sort of resistance. However, when sound does hit a form of resistance, it can also bounce back – this is called reverberation. (Think of an echo.) Another thing to keep in mind is that the farther sound travels, the weaker its waves become and as the less powerful a sound is, the quieter it is.
There are three different techniques for soundproofing. By adding more space between rooms or areas, sound has to travel a longer distance and won't retain its volume – so “spacing” is a form of soundproofing. As well, providing resistance – like walls, helps to stop a sound. The heavier an item, the more of a resistance it holds. For example, a marble wall is a big obstacle for noise and can easily separate a very loud room from a very quiet room. Soft material also acts as resistance, but not only does it stop the sound from traveling forward, it also absorbs it, so that the sound does not reverberate back into the room itself. So by spacing out rooms, creating barriers of great mass, and halting vibrations, you can soundproof your home.
But how exactly can you go about doing this? Your windows are an important player in soundproofing. Double-paned windows are ideal. But if you don't have very thick windows, or if they still aren't enough, you can also place heavy curtains over them. Window plugs, as well, can fill in the gaps of your window so that sound is completely prevented from entering your home. However – light will be shut out too, so you may want to go with thick framing and drapes, sans the plugs.
If you can hear all of what goes on outside your home or if you can hear folks chatting in one room over, you probably have thin drywalls installed in your home. They are not great buffers for sound, as you probably already hear. So what's the solution? Well, you can add more layers of drywall onto them! You can add fiber insulation, too, to the inside of the walls. For easier soundproofing, consider just putting up wall coverings (they can be painted).
If you have tenants living above you or you find that you hear the kids playing downstairs while you're busy working upstairs, there are two things you can do to solve this “vertical” problem of noise. By soundproofing the floor on the second level, with carpet underlay, you can make a big difference. You can also add insulation to the ceiling as well.
Remember that the more furniture you have and the more padded and soft your carpets and rugs are, the quieter your home will be. You don't have to go all out and insulate your walls and ceiling to provide for a more peaceful environment for you and your family. But if you do live in an especially noisy neighborhood, while it can be a bit expensive to fully soundproof your home, it is not as expensive as moving!