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Sound Dampening

Thanks to lightweight home construction, open floor plans, and a multitude of noisy machines and loud entertainment gear, today’s houses are noisier than ever. Unless a house is equipped with some form of soundproofing, it can be insufferable at times. And then there are the neighbors. Trying to quiet noisy neighbors in apartments and condos—or noisy neighborhoods—is even harder. How do you soundproof a room to block outside noise? Keep in mind high and mid range frequencies are a bit easier to manage but those annoying low frequency bass sounds are very difficult to eliminate.

Soundproofing places like a bedroom to lower noise levels to the absolute minimum can allow for a restful sleep. Soundproofing walls in your home prevents outside noises from coming in. Your neighbor deserves their comfort as well. Therefore, soundproofing your house will not only provide your home with peace and quiet, but will also ensure that your neighbor can have some comfort and enjoy a restful sleep too.

The Process

Soundproofing is about controlling noise. So ask yourself, “What noise do I want to control?” Broadly speaking, noise control falls within two categories — either controlling the quality and nature of sound that is generated within your home, like music rooms, or blocking sound you don’t want to hear, like traffic noises. Both of these involve stopping the unwanted movement of sound from one place to another and dampening echoes.

Two soundproofing techniques are used for controlling the movement of sound:

  1. Sound absorbing soaks up sound so it doesn’t bounce from one place to another.
  2. Sound blocking relies upon materials and methods that stop or reduce the transfer of sound.

To soundproof a room effectively, you can use a combination of sound blocking and sound absorbing materials and techniques, using sound blockers to prevent noise from traveling through the walls, ceiling, floors, doors, windows, and openings such as doorways, and also employ materials that absorb noise both inside and outside of the room.

Understanding Sound Class Transmission (STC) Ratings

The ability of a material to block sound is measured by a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. This rating roughly reflects the decibel reduction in noise provided by a partition or object. To block loud speech, a wall needs an STC rating of at least 40 to 50. For excellent noise blocking, you’ll need an STC rating of from 50 to 60.

Popular Questions

While we may not be able to completely eliminate all the noise from all of your environments, we can definitely improve your living or working environment through methods to meet your budget.

The best times to do sound dampening is during new construction or remodeling. We suggest you ask your drywall contractor to install sound isolation systems (SIS). SIS are an even more effective way to build an interior wall by mounting 1/2-inch gypsum wallboard on special resilient channels or isolation clips that cross the wall. These channels or clips absorb sound so it isn’t conducted through the wall studs, resulting in an STC rating of about 46.

We install material from major insulation manufacturers, including CertainTeed, Johns Manville, Knauf Fiber Glass, and Owens-Corning, market 3 1/2-inch-thick fiberglass or rock wool “acoustic batts” specifically for sound control. These products are excellent at absorbing the sound that would otherwise travel through the air. Other items to research that prove to be effective steps in creating that quiet spaces include mass loaded vinyl, green glue, sound blocking curtains and acoustic tiles.

Sound Absorption
Sound absorption is the process of converting sound energy into heat. It requires a soft, porous material. Sound absorbing materials are usually light and fluffy such as egg crate foam. If you want to block sound, this is not the material you need. When referring to sound absorption, you should look for products that absorb echo in a room – such as a foam or fiberglass material. Sound Absorption is best used in large areas with reflective surfaces, such as restaurants, lobbies, and conference rooms.

Sound Blocking
If you want a product that will stop or block a sound, you’ll need a heavier, denser material. For example, adding extra layers sheetrock to your walls to make them thicker. However, many people do not think about the sound coming in through their windows and doors. Adding an extra layer to your windows and doors is not only less of a hassle, but it is cheaper and less damaging to the original structure of the house.