The enjoyment of your home can be greatly affected by noise—especially when it comes to adjoining spaces. Whether your family room is directly above the kids’ playroom, your home theatre is below the master bedroom, or you are looking for privacy between bedrooms and bathrooms, sound matters. After being in the sound business for over 20 years, I am yet to see a home with proper soundproofing techniques being used as the standard.
A common misconception is that if you put insulation inside the wall, it will be soundproof. This is simply not the case. Sound is really just air moving. If you think about sound like weather and wanting to keep the storm outside, you will be on the right track. There are three things to consider when trying to control sound: air leaks, isolated surfaces and mass.
If you have perfectly designed and built walls but there are air gaps around your doors, lights and receptacles, sound will get through. It can be a tricky issue, because attaching weather stripping to your bedroom door is not going to be pretty! This is an area to discuss though; the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.
If you have drywall directly connected to studs on both sides of a wall, vibrations will pass through (insulated or not). Your walls will be substantially more effective at minimizing sound transfer if there are staggered studs, double walls, or if resilient channeling systems are used to isolate the drywall from the studs.
The heavier the object, the more force it takes to move it. In other words, thicker or denser drywall products, concrete, wood—the heavier the wall or ceiling, the less sound transfer there will be.
There are many companies offering soundproofing systems, but keep in mind, just simply understanding how sound travels will allow you to utilize basic building materials significantly better to manage sound. If you want to go the extra mile and do a great job, one of my favourite product lines is made by Kinetics Noise Control. They have three products that I recommend regularly that make a huge difference and won’t break the bank: IsoMax Resiliant Sound Isolation Clips, Isobacker Outlet Backer Pads and InLine Duct Silencers. There are literally hundreds of products available and you can spend tens-of-thousands-of-dollars to soundproof a room, however, if you get creative and think about the three things to consider, you can achieve great results and have money left over for that Sub Zero refrigerator!