Are you suffering from noisy neighbours?
Can you routinely hear arguments, conversations, music and TV through your walls?
Do not despair….. a lot of this unwanted noise can be cut out by soundproofing the wall separating you from your neighbour.
What type of wall structure do you have?
Lightweight hollow stud walls
Typically this type of wall is used to define a space and partition one room from another. Constructed in timber or metal frames with a plasterboard face on each side with a hollow cavity within. It will be light weight, with little mass, normally non load bearing and will provide poor noise and vibration performance.
Brick or block solid walls
Solid walls are constructed in brick or block work with a thick coat of render and a plaster skim coat. Typically this type of wall would be used to construct your exterior walls, party walls between dwellings and internal walls which will be load-bearing. These walls will normally have good mass and provide good noise and vibration performance.
Variations may include:
- ‘Dot and Dab’ where plasterboard sheets are glued to the main structural wall – this is a recent development in building technique, more often found in new builds.
- ‘Dry Lining’ where a timber batten is fixed to the wall with plasterboard attached to the batten- this is often used to mask damp problems and as a quick solution to deteriorating or uneven wall surfaces in older properties.
With both of these variations, cavity spaces may exist, unseen, behind the structure, where sound can pass freely. We would recommend removing any of these finishes, getting back to key structural components, in order to minimise the loss of space caused by any of our soundproofing solutions.
Depending on the intensity of noise you are experiencing all of these structures will allow some noise to transmit from one space to another and can be significantly reduced with soundproofing.
Can you hear your neighbour moving around beneath you?
Is their TV and conversation audible? Do you hear doors closing and taps running?
The separating floor in most London homes will be the weakest plane between dwellings.
Is there any insulation in your floor cavities?
Are there gaps between your floorboards and holes around your service pipes?
Installing soundproofing will dramatically reduce a lot of unwanted noise.
What type of floor structure do you have?
Traditional Timber Frame Separating Floor
A timber joist floor construction supports the ceiling below and the floorboards or floor panels above. This is a light weight, yet flexible surface with low mass and very poor noise and vibration insulation.
A cavity space exists between the structural joists where electrical cables and plumbing pipes are located. The cavity space in many London homes is often unfilled and can potentially act like a sound box, amplifying noise from either above or below. Stripped pine floorboards with gaps between them open up this cavity space to the overlying property. If you add into this the current desire for multiple recessed lights in the ceiling below, you have a situation where there is nothing but air between two separate dwellings. TV, phones ringing, radios, normal conversation and even cooking smells will drift unchecked up and down.
The solution is to fill up the floor cavity with insulation, plug all the holes, add mass to the separating floor structure, provide compression with a quality acoustic board and or underlay and install fitted carpets.
A fitted carpet will potentially absorb up to 20% of the incident sound created within a space. Incident sound is that which is directly received from the noise source, as distinguished from sound that is reflected from a hard surface. Sound waves repeatedly bounce off surfaces until finally being absorbed into those surfaces. All that sound energy will be turned into heat or will agitate the air molecules on the other side of the surface and sound will be transmitted.
Modern residential buildings and commercial floor spaces are often constructed using steel and concrete. The separating floors are either poured reinforced concrete or beam and block with concrete screed. The floor mass is generally good with better sound insulation than traditional timber floors. It is important to understand however that services ( water,gas, electricity and waste pipes) often run in service ducts hidden from view and these ducts connect between the separating floors and this is the path that sound can filter between seemingly solid enclosed spaces.
Concrete and steel can still transmit and radiate sound waves, this is called structural borne sound. By installing soundproofing linings to floors, walls and ceilings it is possible to effectively contain noise within a space or assist in reducing the effect of noise transmission from adjacent spaces.
Can you hear your neighbour moving around above you?
Are their floorboards creaking, can you hear their TV, conversations or doors banging?
Fear not, there are solutions, even if there is no chance of remedial action from above.
What type of ceiling structure do you have?
Traditional Timber Frame Separating Structure
Modern plasterboard has less mass than traditional lathe and plaster and provides less resistance to the passage of sound ( this is also true for similarly constructed wall surfaces). Many dwellings have undergone significant restoration and alteration, removing ceilings and walls to create more open plan living spaces which has resulted in a worsening of the overall acoustic performance. The weakest plane between multiple dwellings of once large family homes is often the separating floor structure. Adding extra mass to a ceiling or installing an independent structure will significantly improve performance.
A solidly constructed ceiling may well seem to provide sufficient mass to prevent the easy passage of noise but sound waves may still be transferred through dense building materials – especially low frequency noise. Adding ceiling soundproofing with acoustic insulation and additional mass will improve performance of solid ceiling planes.
Doors and Windows
Is noise leaking through your doors or windows?
Doors and windows pose the biggest shortfall in containing sound within or excluding sound from a room. Floors, walls and ceilings may be constructed in solid materials which will contain noise extremely well, but doors and windows are large apertures with low mass and lots of gaps through which sound will easily pass. Making sure that doors and windows fit the aperture well, having sufficient mass and good seals will make a dramatic difference to how sound will transfer from one space to another or from outside – in.
Bars, clubs and studios
Are you looking to contain noise within a specific space?
Do you have neighbours complaining about the noise from your bar or club?
Do you want to create a space where you can do your thing without upsetting others?
Do you need a practice room or a fully functioning studio space?
Noise is often described as unwanted sound. Yet sound in the form of music and laughter is often something we search out and choose to immerse ourselves in as apart of our social expression.
The problems of containing sound in spaces where we want to enjoy it and yet protecting the spaces in which we choose not to, has driven the acoustic industry for decades and produced many of the materials that are now used in studios and also in domestic and commercial applications. Containing sound in specific spaces requires a detailed understanding of sound intensity and how the space is constructed. How spaces will be accessed by the flow of patrons and staff, how air conditioning and air flow are managed to provide a comfortable environment and how the acoustic envelope sits within a building and how it affects adjoining structures.
The basic principles for sound attenuation in these conditions is similar to the methods described in the solutions pages to each of the individual planes discussed above, but has to be considered as a whole, where each of the six planes of a cubic space are jointly evaluated and assessed. There is no quick fix and it should be remembered that sound, very much like water leaking from a holey vessel, will find the path of least resistance and continue to flow whilst there is a sustained source.