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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 eliminated.
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 vibrate.
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 mind.
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 results!
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.