23 Oct

Reducing sound and noise in buildings

In our latest guest blog post, Peak Acoustics share some practical steps to help prevent outdoor noise entering a building and causing a disturbance.

There are a number of practical steps to help prevent outdoor noise entering a building and causing a disturbance. Sound reduction in a building can mainly be achieved through the use of quality sound-proofed windows, doors, walls, and ceilings. Of course, it’s easier to take these actions at the building design stage, however, it is possible to make changes to existing buildings or renovation projects.

Categorising Building Noise

When working on a custom build project, noise surveys should be conducted as early as possible in order to assess the type of noises that a building is exposed to. Noise in buildings typically fits into one of three categories:

  • Airborne noise: This category includes the television and stereo for example. These sounds don’t vibrate against a building’s structure.
  • Structure-borne noise: This is sound that is created when an object comes into contact with the structure causing vibration and noise. For example, lifts moving up and down between floors, washing machines and appliances, noise from pipes or plumbing fixtures.
  • Impact noise: This category includes sound that creates vibration in a building’s structure. Good examples are slammed doors, a hammer knocking in nails, loud footsteps.

The role of construction in noise reduction

A building’s construction is integral to its acoustic performance. This includes the outside walls, party walls, partition walls and floors. It’s also important  to understand how the walls and floors connect. A visual inspection by Peak Acoustics can determine these details but usually, if a building is mid-build or newly built, the developer will have this information readily available.

If you are at the stage of building walls or floors, sound travel can be minimised by paying attention to the following:

  • Adding more material on either side of the floors or walls (to make them double framed) because the more material there is, the better sound insulation your building will enjoy
  • Maximising on depth of cavities and adding more thickness to sound-absorbing material
  • Widening the distance safely between joists and studs
  • Creating resilient connections between drywall and framing

What can be done to reduce sound in a building?

Little things make a big difference. For example, even a small hole in a wall or floor can reduce sound isolation and that’s why having a noise assessment can help, particularly if you experience what you consider as significant noise in your building. If you think there are problems with your sound insulation, you could check gaps in your floor or walls and simply caulking these areas will reduce noise into your building. Additionally, checking your window cills will make a difference. Old, cracked or damaged cills will allow extra noise to travel inwards and will also reduce heat kept inside so by repairing or replacing them, you could reduce your energy bills too.

Opt for quality windows and doors

Opting for acoustic proof windows, such as those offered by Westbury Joinery is an ideal solution for reducing noise in any project located near to a busy road, railway track, flight path, factory.

Installing double glazed or even triple glazed windows will help to eliminate most noise and again, will save money on energy bills. These types of window also help to prevent heat escaping and cold air getting inside.

Westbury’s timber windows, for example, are independently tested by a third party UKAS accredited test centre to meet current British and European Standards. All products match or even outperform many industry competitors particularly for traffic noise testing.

Westbury also offers optional laminated glass upgrades on its windows to increase their sound insulation and security performance.

Review electrical outlets

Another area to check is whether there are any unsealed electrical outlets. Any gaps around these areas (plug sockets, light switches and similar) will allow sound to travel. You don’t just need a cover plate, you need to seal off around the edges or add draft excluders. Do also check plumbing and air supply ducts and make sure they are sealed shut around the edges to reduce noise travelling inwards.

Consider carpets and soft furniture

Reducing hard surfaces in a space and opting for more carpeting and soft furnishings can help to reduce exposure to noisy echos but this will not prevent sounds travelling to adjacent rooms.

It’s important to bear in mind that continuous exposure to noise above 85 decibels can result in hearing loss. So if you are suffering in a noisy building or you’re about to embark on constructing a new home or extension, call the noise and sound testing specialists, Peak Acoustics to conduct a sound survey and make recommendations that will improve your quality of living.