Over the last 15 years, we’ve soundproofed hundreds of buildings, from private homes to commercial spaces, from older structures to new builds. But there’s always one massive misconception we encounter everywhere: people mistakenly think that soundproofing is just putting materials on the separating wall. It’s so much more than that!
We’re on a mission to get people across the UK to have more peace and quiet in their homes, and part of this is understanding exactly how noise is getting into the home, and the smartest way to address the problem.
You need a complete solution
Picture this. You’re in paradise sitting on a beautiful, sandy beach, admiring the view. The tide is coming in, though, and the water’s getting closer. How are you going to stop your feet from getting wet? You might decide to construct a simple barrier made of sand running along the bottom of your feet. Problem solved, right?
You quickly notice that although your barrier stops a small amount of the water from reaching you from straight-on, it only starts flowing at you from around the sides. “Ok,” you think, “time to build a sand barrier around the sides as well.” Not so fast – you then notice the water can easily flow over both your front and side barriers. Just as you’re about to build a barrier to cover the top of your feet, you also realize that the water’s getting in underneath all your barriers, and seeping in indirectly.
You get the picture. In our analogy, your home is the peaceful paradise, and the sound waves are like the water creeping in from all directions – around, over, under, and right through any sand barriers you build. In the same way that building a single barrier between you and the ocean is not going to stop the rising tide, simply putting materials on top of your party wall is not going to stop all the sound that travels along your flanking walls (indirect noise paths) and through your entire home.
Why your home is so noisy – and how to fix it once and for all
It’s true that in the past, people didn’t have to contend with as much noise in their homes, and there were fewer noisy gadgets like phones and TVs with surround sound systems. On top of that, people today are more likely than ever to work irregular shift patterns and be up and about at all hours. Add busy roads and the bustle of modern life and you have a mounting noise problem. However, it’s also new build constructions that are partly to blame, and we’ve seen that noise also comes down to the structure of the home itself.
When we’re approached by homeowners, they’re annoyed, stressed and irritable from the noise. It effects their sleep, their physical and mental health, and puts a strain on their relationships with everyone around them. Even worse, they feel they have no privacy and aren’t comfortable in their own homes. Being constantly made aware of the neighbours or the outside environment, they become self-conscious about the noise they themselves make, and don’t feel free to live their lives. This has them feeling as though their house isn’t really a home at all. They don’t feel settled and relaxed, and eventually start seriously considering moving house just to escape the noise.
If you’re like any of our previous clients, you’ve likely tried a soundproof wallpaper or membrane over the party wall, or even gone so far as to have a builder install a panel system to the party wall. But you wouldn’t be reading this article If those steps had worked.
Thankfully, there is a solution. The only way we’ve found to effectively minimize sound in any domestic home is by using our four step method to deal with unwanted noise and bring peace and quiet again. The truth is that unless all four of these aspects are addressed, some noise will always make its way into your home.
Our unique four step method:
- Fix the main cause of noise. This could be missing bricks, holes in the structure, a poor renovation, or simply thin walls.
- Provide a soundproofing solution to the direct noise paths on the separating wall, ceiling or floor. Our trademark walls, ceilings and floor systems are design and manufactured exclusively by our own expert team using a combination of tailored specialist soundproof materials providing highly effective noise barriers.
- Treat indirect noise paths, like the floors, ceilings, RSJs, window walls, or anywhere the noise can travel through indirectly. By addressing these flanking areas, you give your home complete protection against noise.
- Deal with the fixtures and fittings. Meticulously factor in plug sockets, light fittings, recessed lights, skirting, radiators, coving, etc. so as not to compromise your soundproofing or your home décor.
Sue and Steve moved into their semi-detached house and set about making it a home. When they moved in, they noticed noise from their neighbours but assumed this was just how it was living in a semi-detached property.
They extended the back of the house with a lean to extension to create their dream open plan, state-of-the-art kitchen, with plenty of room for a family dinner table, sofas to relax and a great entertainment space. After the renovation work had been completed, it became obvious that the neighbour noise they could already hear had become much worse. They could now clearly hear dogs barking, music every night, TV, conversation, doors banging, plug sockets and light switches.
This made them very uncomfortable and reluctant to make any noise themselves – their family dinners were disturbed, they were always turning the TV down and they daren’t invite friends round. They were unable to enjoy their new open plan kitchen that they had spent so long dreaming about, planning and building. They were heartbroken.
Not wanting to move but unable to live with the growing stress and anxiety from the noise, Sue and Steve contacted us for a soundproofing consultation. At the consultation they came to understand where all the issues were with their kitchen renovation and how and why the noise was coming through the structure of the house. We showed them how a lot of the noise was because of the RSJ they had installed across the back of the house, separating party wall between them and the neighbours.
They made the decision to invest in soundproofing. Luckily Sue and Steve had a great relationship with their neighbours, despite them both hearing every aspect of their daily lives, so they agreed to have a before sound test conducted. The UKAS accredited sound test gave a sound insultation value of 47dB for the party wall. Using our four step method we got to work transforming Sue and Steve’s kitchen into the dream open plan entertainment room they had been longing for.
The main cause was addressed first, by removing the dot and dab plasterboard from the extension wall, and treating the RSJ. Next the direct noise paths were treated with TPS80W™ to the party wall alcoves and TPS65W™ to the chimney stack. The indirect noise paths were then treated with TPS30W™ and the floor and ceiling treated. As they were experiencing a lot of noise down the flanking extension wall, TPS50W™ was installed.
The fixtures and fittings were installed and treated in a way so as not to compromise the soundproofing, including the downlighters, TV on the wall, mirror and sound absorbing pictures. To Sue and Steve’s amazement, they have not heard anything since soundproofing: no dogs, no music, no TV, no banging doors or light switches. They just don’t hear their neighbours anymore, and their neighbours don’t hear them.
Keen to share the result with their neighbours, an after sound test was conducted which gave a sound insultation value of 62dB. What’s more, Sue and Steve took the opportunity to do their own testing by playing pumping dance music, turning the TV up loud and shouting in their kitchen extension – none of which could be heard in the neighbour’s kitchen the other side of the party wall. They couldn’t be happier and now have the freedom to enjoy their home, stress free.
What to do if you have a noise problem
We’re always happy to advise people on how to solve their noise issues. Every home is unique, but in our experience, there are a few main noise culprits that you ignore at your own peril! If you’re bothered by noise in your home, try the following:
- Look in the loft for missing bricks or holes in the structure through which sound can travel.
- Lift up some of the floorboards near the party wall where the joists enter – is the structure sound and intact?
- Put your ear on the flanking window wall, or the separating wall between front and back bedroom, for example. If you put your finger in the other ear you can hear any structural-borne noise coming down that flanking area, and get an idea of how noise is coming through indirectly.
- Tap on the walls, especially walls on an extension or new renovation. Is the wall hollow plasterboard, and can you identify any hollow pockets? Lightweight dot and dab plasterboard can transmit and amplify sound, making noise worse.
Remember trying to keep your toes dry on the beach? Soundproofing is no different. The biggest misconception is that soundproofing is just about the party wall or the direct noise paths. But unless you address all four aspects, you won’t get much reduction in noise, if any.
Follow our unique four step method and you’ll solve the problem comprehensively, feel settled in your own home, and never have to think about moving again.