Soundproofing Your Home

Soundproofing Your Home

Unwanted noises in your home from the outside environment and from your home itself can make your home a less comfortable place. Noises of outside traffic, household creaks, and mechanical sounds can make cause the homeowner to lose sleep while creating a more stressful and less secure feeling home environment. Your goal for your home should be to create a quiet, secure feeling in your home that is separate from outside noise and distractions.

Appliances

The appliances in your home have a variety of moving parts, and all of them make noise. The goal with appliances is to find ways to make them make as little noise as possible.

Washing machines, dryers, and many other appliances make vibrations that create noise. If they are placed directly on your floor, these vibrations travel directly to the floor and the noise is amplified. Adding cork or rubber pads to the contact points between the appliances and the floor can do wonders to muffle this noise. Additionally, you can decrease the vibrations significantly by adjusting their leg levelers so that they’re evenly balanced. Additionally, moving refrigerators, washing machines and dryers farther away from walls will prevent the walls from picking up the sound and amplifying it.

Window-style air conditioners are loose-fitting, noisy, and are poor sound insulators. Removing them and installing a central air conditioning system provides your home with a more effective and energy-efficient air conditioning system that allows you to shut your windows and better seal your home against noise. Another way to save money on air conditioning is to properly dehumidify the air in your home as humid air is more expensive to heat and cool than dry air.

There are wide ranges of noise levels being generated by bathroom fans, dishwashers and kitchen stove vents. The next time you need to replace them, make sure that you check the noise rating levels (also known as sone levels) and select the ones with the lowest level. If you don’t see a rating, ask to listen to the one in the showroom.

Doors and Walls

The best way to soundproof your walls is to build them with solid, heavy material to dampen sound traveling through it. Light, flimsy, and hollow materials will not prevent sound from traveling in your home.

If your walls have already been constructed and you’re looking for ways to help dampen sounds traveling through them, there’s still a great deal that can be done. Adding insulation to your walls can help, if it’s done right. Adding drywall is a poor decision, as its rigid material is not strong for sound-dampening and the space behind the drywall can create an acoustic chamber. Make sure that all holes and cracks are covered when insulating- even a small gap will allow noise to enter. Even attics can allow sound into your home and could benefit from proper insulation.

Adding mass to your walls can help as well. If you have one wall facing an especially busy or noisy street, padding that wall with dense material can help. Hollow walls can be soundproofed by adding injected blown foam insulation. Rough surfaces in your room will deaden sound. Acoustic sprays are available that can give texture to your walls and absorb sounds that hit them.

When installing doors, choose heavy, solid-core doors over lighter hollow-core ones. Hollow doors with a space inside are filled with air, which allows sound to travel through with ease. Making your doors airtight will do a great deal for both insulating and soundproofing your home. If you’ve been putting off lubricating those squeaky door hinges, there’s no time like the present to quiet them!

Windows

Most sound that enters the house comes in through the windows. Check your windows and see if there is anywhere that air can come through- those will be points where the sound comes through the most. Seal any of these cracks and gaps with flexible polyurethane or latex caulk. This is a great way to make you home more energy efficient as well! The US Department of Energy reports that home energy bills can be cut by 30-40{74755d553577f4b6a67c31abdd5acf6d2003392b8684840fa8d5e29ee9555d89} by sealing all windows in cold climates. Installing weather strips and storm windows will do wonders for the energy-efficiency of your home as well as make the whole house quieter. Windows that are vinyl-framed and double-paned are best for sound and can be more than twice as strong for temperature insulation!

Stairs and Floor Boards

The first thing you want to do if you have a squeaking staircase is figure out if a tread is rubbing against the riser or if you have a cracked or detached stringer. To find out, rock back and forth on each tread. The ones that squeak are coming loose and can easily be repaired. If they all squeak, then it’s likely the stringer needs to be repaired or replaced, which can be a significantly longer procedure. Stairs are most easily fixed from beneath the structure, but either way, a few well-placed nails, screws and hardwood wedges can fix the problem.

Over many years, floorboards in your home can eventually come loose from continued use. When they do, the loose nails in the floor will rub back and forth, creating a great deal of noise. Nailing these boards back in is your best answer to your problem. With the help of special created nails, you can even secure your floorboards directly on your carpet.

Carpeting, Cloth and Cushioning

Adding soft materials to a room is one of the best ways to absorb sound in your home. Carpeting on a floor is much quieter than wood or tile, and adding a thick, heavy carpet on your floor will soften the sounds of steps as well as dampen any sound in the room. Stuffed, cushioned furniture will quiet the noise in a room, and hanging thick, high-quality drapes on the windows will do wonders for quieting your home while also improving its appearance. Adding carpet to stairways will soften the sound of climbing steps while making them more attractive and less slippery.

On upper-level floors, carpeting with a thick pile or pad will soften noise traveling through the floor to the ceilings of lower levels. If you’re looking for a more inexpensive way to quiet your home, we recommend against utility-grade carpeting, but a carpet with an attached cushion backing is a strong and economical choice, although it should not be installed on stairways.

Other Areas in your Home

Sound will travel in and through your home in a variety of ways. Along with the ideas we’ve already shared, we have these home improvement tips for making your house as quiet as possible:

  • Installing a suspended ceiling that is equipped with heavy, rigid board (not flexible fiberglass) will absorb sounds in the lower levels.
  • Noise can easily travel through your home through metal beams, ducts, and pipes. Cover these surfaces with rubber or resilient materials to keep them quiet as possible.
  • Seal all pipes and wires where they enter your home with putty or expanding foam.
  • Make sure all outlets and switch boxes are caulked, especially if they’re back-to-back.
  • Check for kinks and crimps in the flexible supply tubes on noisy faucets or toilets- water passing through these points generate a great deal of noise.
  • Add caps to your chimneys to keep sound from traveling down.
  • If you feel your computer is making too much noise, use a can of compressed air to remove all dust from the fans and vents. If you feel comfortable with it, open the computer up and spray out all dust, using short bursts of air. Doing this periodically will quiet the fans by clearing out debris from the moving parts and greatly increase the life of the computer by protecting it from overheating and static electricity from the dust.
  • White noise can muffle out unwanted external noises. Before you buy a white noise machine, consider other ways to add white noise to your home. Installing a ceiling fan or adding an aquarium to your home can beautify your home while adding a hushing, comfortable sound. CDs offering different varieties of white noise, including nature sounds, are also available.
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