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Stop The Noise! Proven Soundproofing Techniques
Products for Homeowners and Contractors
By Brian Ravnaas, Technical Innovation Manager,
The Green Glue Company
If there is one thing in life that is universally known to cause anger,
frustration and annoyance, it is noise. From blaring car horns during rush hour
gridlock, to obnoxious neighbors, to the late night outbursts of your infant son
or daughter, noise is something we could all do without.
With noise such a common complaint, it would seem that effective
soundproofing solutions would have been defined, tested and perfected long ago.
But the hard science of soundproofing is actually fairly nascent, with
cost-effective, high performance soundproofing solutions only emerging in the
past decade. Here we'll discuss some of the most common ways to stop the noise.
The Fundamentals of Sound
To effectively understand how to stop noise, it is first important to
understand the basics of sound – what it is, how it works and how it can be
To put it simply, sound is vibrating air. When the vibrating air strikes
surfaces in a room it attempts to vibrate these surfaces, causing sound to be
transferred into adjoining rooms. Controlling these vibrations is the key to
containing sound – and stopping noise.
4 Keys to Sound Isolation
The scientific principles governing sound isolation are quite
straightforward. The underlying premise is that to control sound – and prevent
noise – one must contain sound vibrations.
With that said, following are four steps that any consumer, contractor, or
architect can take to begin to reduce noise, both on new builds and on
renovations. While some steps have a greater impact than others, with attention
to detail and the right materials, each one can act as an effective
soundproofing agent in the home, office and in other commercial spaces.
Just as the heavier the object the more difficult it is to shake, the heavier
a surface (wall, floor or ceiling), the more difficult it will be for sound to
However, while adding weight is an important part of isolating sound, it
isn't the only technique available and often isn't the most efficient. Adding a
second layer of drywall to both sides of a typical wall will improve sound
isolation by 5-6 dB. Mass is an important component to soundproofing, but not
the only component.
Use Viscoelastic Damping
Viscoelastic compounds used in and between drywall are one of the most
effective means to eliminate the full spectrum of sound frequencies, from high
frequency sounds to low bass sounds that are normally resistant to other forms
of soundproofing. Viscoelastic compounds dissipate vibrations in room structures
by converting them into tiny amounts of heat.
Among other products on the market,
Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound, is a
viscoelastic compound that can be applied between two layers of drywall on
renovation projects or new construction. Compared with other soundproofing
products, Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound is extremely easy-to-use and has
been proven through extensive independent batteries of lab tests to dissipate
more than 90 percent of noise. Also, compared to its counterparts,
Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound is particularly effective at eliminating low frequency
sound, the most common noise that comes from bass and the most pesky to stop
with most soundproofing. As noise works to vibrate your walls, Green Glue works
to eliminate that vibration, resulting in less sound transmission.
Add Mechanical Decoupling
Decoupling refers to the independence of one side of a partition from the
other. Mechanically separating two sides of a wall can improve sound
transmission by allowing one side to vibrate independently from the other. Use
of staggered studs, double studs, resilient channel or sound clips can work to
isolate sound and reduce noise transmission.
While decoupling can be an extremely potent means of soundproofing, its
impact is less than viscoelastic damping at lessened low frequency sounds like
those most common with popular home theater and entertainment centers.
Green Glue offersGreen Glue Noiseproofing Clips, an effective way to cut
most frequencies of noise, and, combined with our flagship
Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound, more than 95 percent more noise can be stopped than
conventional construction, including low frequency sounds. Green Glue
Noiseproofing Clips were designed with maximum low frequency sound isolation in
Add absorbing material
The use of sound absorbing material in wall or floor/ceiling cavities can
improve sound isolation. Many materials are available for this purpose
including cotton batts, mineral fiber batts, and low cost commodity fiberglass
insulation batts which work as well as anything at a very low cost. This
is one of the rare cases where pinching pennies won't put the pinch on your
Absorbing materials are an important part of any sound isolation project, but
they tend to work best in combination with damping or decoupling. Adding
insulation to a damped or decoupled wall will actually do MORE for you than
adding it to a conventional wood stud wall.
Ensure Proper Seal Quality
Any good soundproofing must take into consideration the cracks or gaps
between floors and walls and ceilings and walls. No partition, regardless of how
heavy, how well damped, or how decoupled will be an effective sound barrier if
it has gaps or cracks that allow air (and, therefore, sound) to pass directly
through. Use of a proper soundproofing sealant such as Green Glue
Noiseproofing Sealant will make a tremendous difference in sound isolation.
Failure to seal your room can increase noise transmission by 100 times or more.
Also important is to be sure windows and doors are properly sealed as these
are areas where sound vibrations can easily travel and cut down on your optimum
level of sound isolation.
Noise is one inconvenience we could all do without. By following some of the
steps outlined above, it is relatively easy to make sure noise is not part of
your – or your client's – life.
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