The buzz on acoustic insulation
If you live in a busy neighborhood, have a boisterous home or just want to contain the noise made by a particular activity you perform in your house, soundproofing may be just the answer you need. To create a soundproof room, you've got to consider not only the walls, but also the windows and ceilings. Fortunately, there are many specialized and affordable products available to homeowners who want to shut out noise without breaking the bank.
Soundproof Your Walls
Soundproofing walls is achieved using one of two principles: noise absorption or noise reduction. Absorption aims to change the nature of a sound rather than blocking or eliminating it altogether. Reduction, on the other hand, attempts to stop a sound in its tracks, preventing it from reaching your ears altogether.
If you want to soundproof walls, it is important to remember that there are only three things that diminish sound: space, mass and vibration reduction. The greater the distance sound waves have to travel, the greater the reduction in the sound they'll create. Thus, creating as much space as possible between sources of noise and the area to be soundproofed is an important principle.
Mass is also crucially important. The best soundproof walls are constructed of dense and heavy materials, like concrete. The thicker the material is, the more effective the sound blockage will be. Noise reduction relies on mass to completely block out sounds.
Vibration reduction, or dampening, can be accomplished several ways. Many acoustic insulation and soundproof foam products are designed to force sound waves through several different layers, decreasing their intensity with each pass. This is an example of an absorption approach to soundproofing.
Soundproofing Windows and Ceilings
To soundproof windows, consider these statistics: double-paned glass reduces noise by about 20 percent, and adding vinyl window frames slashes noise by as much as half. You can add further reduce noise by adding removable window plugs.
Mass-loaded vinyl barriers are typically used to soundproof ceilings. However, these can be tricky to install, so if you're only a casual do-it-yourselfer, you may want to consider hiring professional help to get this job done right.