Sound Control Solutions for Your New Home
Can you answer “YES” to any of these questions?
- Do you have children?
- Will your secondary living spaces be above to your primary living spaces (i.e. bedrooms above the kitchen)
- Will you have an entertainment/recreation room or playroom?
- Will you have a home theatre?
- Will you have a home office?
- Will you install an HVAC system?
- Do you or your children play instruments?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, then you should consider sound control technology in your new home or space. Sound control isn't just for high-rises and condos. Incorporating this kind of technology into your construction plans can improve the quality of the home, and your day to day satisfaction.
It is important to think about sound control technology early on, and incorporate it into the architectural drawings. While this post will focus mostly on sound control within the home, you may also want to consider sound control from outside the home, especially if you live near a busy highway, road or airport. There are a number of resources on the internet to help you with that research.
The sound control methods you use can effect the overall construction of the home. For example, the sound control method you use under your wood floors can affect the thickness of your subfloor, which will impact your stair construction, cabinet and door installation. The type of sound proofing you choose for your walls will affect the type of material, source and potential sub-contractor your builder uses.
Doors & Walls
The construction and selection of your doors and walls can have the largest effect on the sound control of your home or room. And it may involve more than just adding multiple layers of drywall or insulation. Here are a couple of methods to consider:
Solid Core Doors
Unlike hollow doors, solid core doors naturally minimize sound transference from room to room.
Drywall Engineered for Sound Absorption
There are a number of drywall products available for sound absorption, one in particular is QuietRock. They were the first company to introduce sound absorbing drywall to the market, and offer the product in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. You can download data sheet, obtain detailed specs and more at their website.
GreenGlue is special sound-absortion glue that can be applied to floors, walls and ceilings and drywall in general to enhance sound absorption. View their electronic product guide for an overview of products, applications and case studies.
There are modifications you can make to your wall framing to help with sound deadening. One method is Double Wall Framing, which creates a large hallow space in between the walls to essentially absorb the sound before it makes its way into the other room.
Another method is the Stagger Stud Wall Framing which offsets studs from each other creating a channel of space that minimizes sound transference.
You can also use specifically designed products like QuietZone Acoustic Wall Framing. Another great product for just about any room in the house is the Solserene Fabric Ceiling System. This can minimize sound transmission between areas like a kitchen and bedroom, if one is located on top of the other or create a quiet space for that busy home office.
With all the products available on the market, it might be hard to narrow down what products, or combination of products, are right for you. QuietZone by OwensCorning has the solution! Check out their LifeStyle Designer Tool. It will walk you through a series of questions to understand your needs and prepare individualized product recommendations from the complete line of QuietZone products.
If you have just one room that is going to present the most sound – for example a movie theatre, studio or rec room, you can incorporate a Sound Lock area into your construction. This is actually just a small entryway that you build that goes into the room in question with a door to the “loud” room and a door to the main areas of the home. Because this area creates excess space between the two areas, it naturally diffuses sound.
Sound Control Panels
Sound control technology doesn't have to be hidden behind walls. There are many companies that are making decorative wall panels that can serve as art and as a means to minimize sound. Acoustical Solutions developed panels printed from family photos.
AcousticMac also has a variety of decorative acoustic panels that can serve as art for any room.
And if you are looking for more ideas Houzz.com has a great collection of ideaboooks to help! The good news is the options are almost endless!
Wood flooring is the most popular floor covering in the market but it can have a high sound transmission rate compared to other products. But that is easy to control by implementing the right sound absorption technology. This can be done by using specific adhesive prior to and during installation or by installing specially designed matts prior to installation of the wood flooring.
There are a number of adhesives on the market for sound control. This includes SikaAcouBond System and Mapei Ultrabond ECO 985. It is important to note that not all adhesives products may be suitable for your installation or the wood flooring you have chosen. For example some adhesives may only work with engineered hardwood flooring. Be sure to review technical data sheets and installation documents prior to selecting a product.
You can also incorporate sound deadening mats into your subfloor system, like this one from Acoustical Surfaces. As you see the acoustical pad, represented by the black layer in the image, is sandwiched between plywood and firring strips, on top of which the hardwood flooring is installed in a perpendicular fashion, to allow for proper blind nailing.
When researching sound deadening mats be sure to ask about the thickness of the products in comparison to the thickness of your desired solid wood flooring or engineered wood flooring so you can plan for proper installation of your floor with blind nailing and gluing. You want to make sure the blind nail will penetrate the flooring and the subfloor for maximum holding power, and that the mat won't upset the performance of the adhesive.
Once you have focused on the large items of your home, don't forget about small details like your HVAC system, electrical and lighting plans.
HVAC systems are an often overlooked, but it is easy to design a quiet system. This can be done with a specially lined baffle box installed at beggining and end of HVAC units. Air flow through your HVAC system can also create noise, which can be minimized by installing a diffuser in the rooms where the air is going to be present. In addition to acoustic panels, Acoustical Solutions has a number of products just for the HVAC system including pipe and cut lag, plenum silencers duct liners and more.
When it comes to lighting and electrical outlets you want to think about where and how these items are going to be installed in the room. The team at Rives Audio recommends creating soffits to hold lighting and electric wiring and HVAC duct work. They also recommend using sealed electrical boxes, and to consider tract lighting over recessed lighting.
According to industry experts in sound control technology one frequently overlooked method of sound control is sealing visible joints in the room. This is especially important with electrical and lightings which produces seams in the walls and ceilings. Products like QuietSeal can act as a sealing agent for acoustic isolation.
Sound control technology may not be the most exciting part of designing your home. Picking out your cabinets, paint colors, wood floors is definitely a lot more fun. But it may be an important consideration to ensure your home is comfortable for all the family members whether you are throwing a holiday celebration and putting your children down for the night, or you are trying to prepare dinner while your son practices with his band in the basement.