Oh, this is so annoying. You like to have a good sleep, but it is just not possible. The only way is to soundproof house from outside noise. I am writing this article as in recent days, we get bombarded by festival noises around 4-6 km away from my home. The booming noise of the bass felt like a pub just opened next door to our bedroom. Surprisingly, we were so astonished when we figured out that the sound can travel this far and being trapped in our road, making it feel the music comes from nearby.
Does this all feel familiar? It does not have to be music; it can also be traffic noises or other environmental sounds, causing you a restless night. Our short term solution was to move and sleep inside our guest bedroom. However, the move was only temporary and under no circumstances be permanent. We are not willing to sacrifice our master bedroom in any way.
How does sound travel and what noise level annoys us?
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Before digging deeper into how to soundproof house from outside noise, we need a better understanding of the behavior of sound. How the sound travels and what sound level starts to annoy us. I will explain this in the following couple paragraphs.
Studies show that a 65 to 75 decibels (dB) level forms slight pressure on humans. A sound level above 75 dB creates stress causing us to be irritated and developing other health problems such as cardiovascular.
When sound is created, mechanical waves of the source emanate in circle form in all directions. As sound needs a carrier such as air, it will spread in all directions where the air is compressed or diluted. Also, sound can spread on solid and liquid substances like water or walls. The solid materials conduct the sound even better than gases such as air.
The sound can travels an amazing one kilometer in only three seconds, depending on the exterior temperature. If the sound hits a solid object such as a house wall, the sound is reflected and intensified. It can bounce back and forth if it is trapped in between houses.
Is all Sound Equal?
Sound is not always the same. In acoustic studies, they distinguish between tone, sound, and noise. A uniform wave results in a pure tone. However, a pure tone mainly happens with music and seldom in nature since several sounds always overlap.
A sound is created when waves are in a balanced relationship, such as a gospel choir. Lastly, if the sound is irregular and overlapping, a noise is generated.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOUSE / APARTMENT SOUNDPROOF FROM OUTSIDE NOISE
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Noise is a rhythmic vibration of molecules that let any solid object vibrate. For example, loud music first travels via air, but once it hits a surface such as a wall, it spreads and stays inside the wall. As a result, the wall starts to vibrate. Our ears only can hear the airborne noises, but not the solid object ones. Here are some beneficial measurements to soundproof house from outside noise:
Have a soundproof level in your rental agreement
Sounds silly? No, many apartments guarantee appropriate noise protection level when renting. If you are interested, please ask the landlord if such measurements are in place.
The most common soundproof level is 2. With this level, you will NOT hear the neighbors walking, talking, watching TV, or other disturbing noises from the building.
Block noise with large furniture
If you have noisy neighbors or the street noise is extreme, one useful measure is to place large enough furniture as a second barrier. I would recommend putting a closet or compartment in front of the wall.
TIP: Do not attach the furniture with screws to the wall because the whole soundproof effect is useless
Do the Multi-dimensional surface trick
Smooth and shiny surfaces such as laminate or hardwood floors are very nice but are miserable for soundproofing a room. The noises can be two to four times higher than usual. It is essential to reflect and break the noise inside the house. The best and cheapest way is to arrange the furniture in such a way that larger pieces are broken down by smaller pieces such as shelves or cupboards. Do not place only small or big pieces of furniture next to each other as they need to be mixed up. It does not only look more beautiful, but it also helps for the Feng Shui Energy to flow better inside the home.
Have carpet instead of laminate/tile floors
A carpet can much easier soundproof a room as tiles or laminate floors. As a carpet is not smooth, noise cannot travel with ease, and it is a perfect solution to have the carpet as an additional barrier. In case you still opt for a laminate or tile floor, please install a so-called foot sound insulation underneath the tiles as it optimally absorbs the sound.
Place Acoustic Pads in front of window/wall
In case, if you are renting or on a tight budget, my recommendation is to get these cheap acoustic pads. They are the perfect solution to install them on walls or in front of a window. Most of the noises will stay outside, and you do have a very well soundproofed room. I have decided to use this solution in our place and installed the pads on my bedroom window. To avoid ugliness, we had the pads covered by our thick curtains. Now, we have a very peaceful and relaxing sleep.
Add thick curtains to the windows
The same as the carpet, a thick curtain will also swallow much easier the noise and let only limited amounts of the remaining sound into the room. Particularly in larger rooms, curtains, big upholstered sofas, and carpets prevent an echo from occurring.
Install soundproof doors
The soundproof doors are build out of solid thick special insulation material to keep the noise on the outside. I would recommend getting the multi-leaf door version, which can even withstand 60 dB or more of outside noises.
There are ways to not necessarily replace a door as there are various soundproof products that can be glued to the doors. I would suggest to go to the local hardware store and ask a professional what kind of products are suitable for your specific case.
Install soundproof windows
As most of the times, the noise comes through thin windows, I recommend to increase the thickness of the glass and use multiply pane windows for better noise protection. Special soundproof glasses are covered by special foils making it hard for the noise to reach the interior of the home.
If you are renting and cannot change a window, check for special foils that reflect noises away or block with a big piece of furniture.
Soundproof your wall and ceilings
As the sound distributes in walls and ceilings, an upgrade of insulation material is also recommended. Special separating layers with a high material mass increase the soundproofing of the home.
Close cracks and seals
Little cracks here and there, an invitation for the noise to travel right inside your home. For this reason, repair all the cracks on the walls right away. Also, change your door seals regularly. If you notice warm or cold air coming inside the home from the seal spaces, the noise will also enter.
Block the noise right on the outside
Another effective way to block the noise is to start looking on the outside of your home. Instead of having no fence or a grid fence, please upgrade it to a solid concrete wall. Also, thick bushes or plants help you out to block the noises and soundproof your house from traffic noise.
To soundproof house from outside noise doesn’t have to be expensive, and some simple measures can help to reduce the sound of entering your home. Remember, a good night’s sleep is essential for your overall health.