My Home Is My Castle – How To Soundproof your Home – Part 1

joiner and road worker working digger in background woman holding her earsThe expression “My Home is My Castle” captures like no other the importance of having a home and what this means to the people who own such a home as well as the people who live in it. A home is a source of comfort, of cherished memories, and of accomplishment and pride – and it is a source of strength. You can rest and recuperate at home and you can enjoy the peace that surrounds you in your own four walls.

If it weren’t for the noise, that is.

Noise is all around us. Sometimes it seems there is no escaping it. Noise can cause countless complaints and illnesses – ranging from sleep disorders,  to high blood pressure and a variety of other stress related conditions.

And it’s something that is set to keep the courts busy –  nocturnal rows with rowdy neighbours, clashes with local establishments, local businesses and local authorities are keeping millions of people awake at night and stopping them from getting a good night’s rest. It’s no small wonder then that many people who are thinking of building a house show a keen interest in ways of making sure that their home is insulated against the hustle and bustle around us and that they are eager to stop their newbuild from turning into a home from hell.

According to the experts – and being building acoustic engineers they ought to know – there are two types of sound, or noise, which we have to distinguish between: airborne sound, which as the name implies is carried through the air, and structure-borne sound, which, as the name also implies, spreads out through solid media like brickwork, concrete and walls. Of the two only airborne sound is audible to humans. Which means that we have a number of things to  watch out for as far as soundproofing is concerned.

Any building measures that are carried out with respect to noise insulation are commonly divided into two categories: airborne sound insulation and structure-borne sound insulation.

Particular attention should be paid to structure-borne sound insulation in the early stages of a building project. One can hardly stress just how important footfall – or impact – sound insulation, as it is also called, is, especially in houses with multiple tenants or blocks of flats. Such insulation decides on which noises you will hear in the rooms or flat above you – and which you will not. You can either follow each footstep, count each chair that is being scraped across a kitchen floor, or wait unwillingly for the next onslaught on your ears – or you can enjoy undisturbed bliss and the peace and quiet of your own private sanctuary. Floating screed or elastic floor coverings are excellently suited as a means of soundproofing because they can effectively absorb such sounds as those mentioned above.

The same consideration should be shown with regard to plumbing. Pipes and fittings can be fitted in such a manner that the oscillations that can be frequently observed – and heard! – in old houses, for example, are either eliminated completely or reduced to an unavoidable minimum. Needless to say, it is much easier to take such things into account – and to implement them – when the house is still a shell and building is still in progress than when building has been completed and the rooms are occupied.

Whereas structure-borne sound insulation is all about isolating the sound that is transferred through and even amplified by building components, airborne sound insulation is about something completely different altogether. Airborne sound insulation is all about providing a wall, if you will, that will prevent noise from the outside from penetrating into the inside. Which is why thick walls, solid doors and insulated windows have proved more than adequate when it comes to sealing off your home from the roar of traffic, the screams of squealing children and the everyday din that can dangerously dull our senses and meddle with our minds. Holes, cracks and rents in walls, for example, allow not only moisture and the cold to come in, but also noise. This is why any damage to a building should be repaired as soon as possible and why sound absorbing insulation materials like mineral or cellulose fibres should be used to act as a protective barrier that cuts out noise and keeps the house’s occupants dry and warm.

But what can you do if you have already built a house or live in a house and have now decided that you would like to install some form of soundproofing that would enhance your life and make your home a happy one? Is there anything you can do – or do you have to console yourself to the fact that you will continue to hear the tenants dragging their feet in the flat above you until they either move out or one of you snaps?

Find out more in part two of our riveting article. Coming out on Friday.

And while you are waiting… Perhaps you would like to take a quick look at the BS15, one of our sophisticated yet simple measuring devices that has been designed especially to help you measure noise levels whenever and wherever you need it? Another one of the high-quality, low-cost products made by Trotec.

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