Room soundproofing is one of the most important aspects of livability in today’s homes.
The need for soundproofing is not only found in populated city centers and homes that are built near high traffic locations but can be required for suburban settings in developments where you may have loud neighbors or even for that mom and dad of teenagers that need their sleep for the next day in work.
Soundproofing should not really be confused with room acoustics. In Acoustics Design we are trying to improve the quality of sound within a specific room. Acoustics Design removes echos found in rooms with tall ceilings or with lots of glass and hard surfaces that reflect sounds in an unpleasant way.
With soundproofing you are trying to keep noises out of a room or in the case of a home theater that may effect many rooms you would soundproof its perimeter to reduce noise to all other rooms.
Understanding How Sound Works
In its simplest idea sound is a vibration of air that hits your ear drum. The faster the vibration the higher the pitch the slower the lower. Most sounds are measured in Megahertz. A sound systems Tweeters that hit high notes vibrates very quickly at speeds of 70k or more and woofers may vibrate down to a few thousand or even hundred.
A quick example of how a sound is made would be seen in a musicians drum kit.
You have a hollow tube with a synthetic drum head tightly stretched over one end. When you beat on the drum head a vibration of air is made in the tube. That air exits the bottom of the drum and pushes the air within the room until it reaches your ear drum.
If the drum head is tight the sound will travel well if it is lose then the motion of the drum stick hitting it will be absorbed and the air will not be moved.
Smaller drums move a small amount of air more quickly and produce a higher note Base drums move a lot of air slowly and produce a lower note.
Sound Travels Through Building Materials
If you make a sound in one room the easiest path to a person outside the room would be an open door, window or cracks and small openings around electrical boxes.
However just like a drum the walls, ceiling and floor will pass the noise into surrounding rooms.
If you are trying to soundproof a single room from disturbing other rooms the soundproofing can be placed on the inside walls of the room as would be found in recording studios.
Manufacturers make a variety of different foam and pad materials that can be placed on walls, ceilings and floors to keep the sound in that room before it ever passes to the structure of the home or building.
If you are trying to keep the sound out of a bedroom then you have to insulate the noise by:
- Sound insulating your walls or ceiling
- Increasing the number of layers of glass in your windows
- Using sound insulated doors
- Sealing your electrical outlets
- Adding Soundproofing material under your carpet
- Sealing the opening behind your baseboard molding
- Weather stripping your windows and doors including interior ones
If you find that ordinary soundproofing is not doing the job and you are still disturbed by outside noises you may need to make changes to the design of your wall system.
This is a pretty drastic measure that requires stripping your drywall and placing insulation barriers on your studs that will dampen the drum effect.
Brick or stone facing on exterior walls will also improve the infiltration of noises. Thicker surfaces will be immune to vibration except for very low and loud noises.
Professional soundproofing is a Science and there are contractors that can get the job done no matter how difficult the application. If you find that performing the work yourself does not help as much as you need you may want to call in a contractor for some advice.
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