Backyard time can be distracting because you can hear your neighbors having fun while playing with their kids or enjoying a barbeque party. While you cannot completely eliminate these noises, you can soundproof your fence to reduce them.
You need to purchase some mass-loaded vinyl to soundproof your fence. Use nails to attach it to the structure. Alternatively, you can also staple it. It is essential to ensure that the edges of the vinyl overlap so there are no gaps.
Also read: The Complete Guide to Soundproofing Your Garden
Using mass-loaded vinyl (see it on Amazon) is an effective method for soundproofing your fence. But there are also other methods that you can do to reduce the noise pollution in your backyard.
The Effective Method of Soundproofing Your Fence
Mass-loaded vinyl is a limp and heavy vinyl sheeting material. It consists of metal particles that increase their mass. You can use mass-loaded vinyl to add mass to your ceilings and walls as a part of the sound reduction process.
Most of the time, mass-loaded vinyl sits in the middle of sheets of other materials. That includes drywall. There are some cases this soundproofing material is heavier than sheet lead.
Mass-loaded vinyl is a thin rubber-like material. Despite its thinness, it is incredibly dense, allowing it to block noises from getting to you. This material is also heavy yet flexible, making it an excellent item for all soundproofing applications.
What is even more compelling is that mass-loaded vinyl is non-toxic. For this reason, it works as an excellent alternative to lead soundproofing materials.
As mentioned, you can use this material for outdoor soundproofing.
One of the most effective ways to soundproof your fence is to ass mass-loaded vinyl. You can purchase this soundproofing material in rolls. However, make sure that the one you will get is intended for outdoor use.
This soundproofing material is heavy. It combines two ingredients – polyvinylchloride and calcium bicarbonate or barium sulfate.
The mixture of these ingredients produces a viscoelastic material. So, when deformation takes place, mass-loaded vinyl exhibits both elasticity and viscosity.
What makes mass-loaded vinyl an excellent soundproofing material is that it adds STC values by providing heavy mass. For this reason, it can block frequencies ranging from 4000hz down to 125hz.
The easiest way to install mass-loaded vinyl is when you are still constructing your fence.
You can still apply some to an existing fence. However, it is worth noting that you need to remove the fence panels and rebuild them after the soundproofing process.
If you are familiar with sound deadening, chances are you know that an excellent soundproofing material needs to be high in density or mass.
Most materials for soundproofing absorbs soundwaves so they would not bounce back. Contrary to that, mass-loaded vinyl is more of a sound blocker than a sound deadener.
In addition, the said material is relatively thin and flexible. For this reason, it can cover all of the gaps on your fence excellently.
Moreover, two of the most remarkable properties of mass-loaded vinyl are water resistance and durability when you use it outdoors.
So, if you have a dog who may claw or chew it, you will not have to worry about it getting damaged. Mass-loaded vinyl is sturdy enough to withstand harsh conditions.
What is even better is that this soundproofing material comes in a variety of colors. You can find black, gray, olive, tan, and blue. If you do not want to lose your wood fence’s natural color, you can opt for a transparent one.
Additionally, mass-loaded vinyl is not only for fences. Instead, you can also install them on:
- Under drywall
- Under carpets
Here is the process of soundproofing your fence using mass loaded vinyl:
1. Measure the fence
Of course, before you purchase your soundproofing material, the first thing you need to do is to know how much space you need to cover. You can do that by measuring the length and width of your fence.
Once you already know your fence’s length and width of your fence, calculate the square footage. The result is the amount of mass-loaded vinyl that you need to purchase. Often, hardware stores sell them in a roll of 16, 40, or 100 square feet.
When getting your material, make sure that you are purchasing more than the size that you measured. But if you are on a tight budget, you can apply it only to the most vulnerable areas.
For instance, if your neighbor has a dog kennel near your fence, you can use mass-loaded vinyl only on that area.
Choose your application method.
Before proceeding in the installation process, you need to decide what method to attach your mass-loaded vinyl to your fence.
You can either screw, nail, or staple the vinyl to your fence using a pneumatic stapler. This method will require you to use electric drills, hammers, or even nail guns.
Additionally, the methods mentioned above will let you remove your mass-loaded vinyl whenever you need to.
If you do not want to drill holes on your fence, you can attach the vinyl using adhesive. But it is important to note that this material is heavy. For this reason, you need to choose a high-quality adhesive such as a heavy-duty industrial one.
Make sure to decide what application method you will use before purchasing a roll of vinyl. This way, you will not have to do more than one trip to your home improvement store as you will be able to buy the soundproofing and attachment materials at once.
2. Prepare your materials
Once you already have all your materials, prepare all the tools that you will need. Apart from nails, screws, and staples, you will also need a knife, scissors, and tape measure.
Begin by measuring out and cutting the mass-loaded vinyl in the height and width of the fence. However, it would help if you didn’t cut all the pieces out. The reason is that you might need to adjust the parts in some areas.
Once your vinyl sheets are ready, you can start installing them on your fence.
3. Install the mass loaded vinyl
Now that your vinyl and your installation materials are ready, it is time to apply them to your fence.
Screwing or nailing
If you want your mass-loaded vinyl to be removable, you need to screw or nail it on. If you prefer to use nails, it is ideal that you do not drive them all the way into the fence. For this reason, you will be able to remove them when you need to easily.
Additionally, you need to use the right size of nails. This way, the nails will not go through the wood fence.
Moreover, screw or nail the top side of the mass-loaded vinyl first. But remember not to stretch the material too much if you want the vinyl to have the best soundproofing effect. You may also need another person to help you during this step.
Regardless of which screw and nails you choose, keep each vinyl piece as close as possible. If you can, make them overlap.
If you opt to use an industrial spray adhesive, you should spray it lightly at the top of your fence and not at the back of the mass-loaded vinyl. After adding a thin coat of adhesive spray, carefully apply the vinyl.
You must secure the top of the mass-loaded vinyl first, lift the remaining part, and add more spray. After adding the second coat of adhesive, you can press the vinyl down. That means you need to work on installing the mass-loaded vinyl downwards until you attach everything.
Moreover, using some other glues will require you to spread them on the vinyl rather than the fence. Wait for the adhesive to be a little bit tacky, but do not test it out using your fingers.
Next, press the vinyl to the fence carefully. Remember that this application method is permanent, so you need to know how you place the soundproofing material.
After working on the fenced area that you want to soundproof, the next thing you need to do is to seal the pieces between each mass-loaded vinyl.
You can use closed-cell foam tape for this process. Alternatively, you can also utilize acoustic caulk, especially if you plan to leave your mass-loaded vinyl on your fence permanently.
Furthermore, attaching mass-loaded vinyl is a simple task if you understand your wooden fence’s essential components. So, if you want to get the soundproofing job done efficiently, you need to know what composes your fence.
Wooden Fences: The Basic Components
The main reason for installing a fence is for privacy. It allows you to block the view of your home so you can shield people inside. In addition, a fence also works to block the unpleasant views outside, such as road traffics.
But as uncommon as it may seem, you can use a fence to reduce the noises in your backyard. You can do such by installing mass-loaded vinyl.
However, before installing mass-loaded vinyl, you need to understand how your fence is made.
If you have a wooden fence, it traditionally has three essential components:
Posts are the vertical component of your fence. They are often 4 x 4 and 6 x 6 lumber that you root firmly in the soil.
Properly constructing your fence posts will hold the entire fence in place. The reason is that they serve as the foundation of your wood fence.
That said, you need to be careful in selecting the type of wood that you will use. In addition, the process of installation is also crucial.
For instance, if you live in a place with a cold climate, you need to bury the fence deeper. This way, they will be immune to the heaving effects of winter freeze and thaw cycles.
Since you need to bury the posts to the ground, they will retain much moisture. For this reason, you need to ensure that the type of wood you will choose is not susceptible to decay. Redwood and cedar are the ideal wood types.
Decaying is pretty standard as a fence ages. So, it is a common repair to replace one or more posts. Sometimes, decaying posts also mean that you need to replace the entire fence.
This part is the horizontal structure of your fence. Rails are the ones that run parallel to the ground. In addition, rails do the spanning work in wood fences as they connect one post to another.
The majority of times, you will find the bottom and top rails in wooden fence styles. Many even have middle rails for additional support.
Moreover, the horizontal rails serve as attachment points for the boards or the vertical in-fill panels. For this reason, their overall sturdiness is vital to the structural integrity of the entire fence.
The key to a successful installation of rails is a durable attachment to the posts. Such will result in a long-lasting fence for your backyard.
Boards or in-fill panels
The boards or vertical panels serve as the significant screening component in every wooden privacy fence. You can build these boards by hand using individual boards attached to the rails.
However, modern fences have in-fill panels that consist of prefabricated panels that you can buy intact. Meaning they are already attached to the posts and rails when you purchase them.
There are instances when the panels have their own horizontal rails. In such a case, the entire board simply attaches either between or to the front of the posts. Such makes the construction process relatively more straightforward.
Meanwhile, other construction methods have individual boards attached to a side of the horizontal rails.
When constructed together, the boards or in-fill panels can create a solid screen that can obstruct the outside view. But if you want a traditional fence style, you can opt for lattice fence panels or picket fences. But it is worth noting that they cannot reduce the noise pollution that enters your backyard.
Furthermore, if you know the construction of your fence, you will easily install your mass-loaded vinyl.
Timber Fence for Noise Reduction
If you have a timber fence, you are already a step closer to having a soundproof fence and backyard. Timber fences are a significantly cost-effective soundproofing solution. However, they have a short life span and are prone to risks of fire and rot.
For that reason, you should use a timber fence if you are not in bushfire-prone areas.
Additionally, timber fences are relatively easy to install. But they are not sturdy enough to withstand harsh weather conditions, such as strong winds. That said, they tend to fall apart pretty quickly over time.
That said, you need to be ready for numerous replacements and repairs if you plan to build such a fence.
Moreover, there are things that you need to take note of when installing timber fences for noise reduction. For one, you should ensure that there will not be any visible gaps between each slat. To achieve such, you can seal the openings using an additional layer of fences.
Making Your Backyard a Quiet Area
As mentioned, using mass-loaded vinyl is the best way to soundproof your fence and get rid of the distracting noise around you. However, there are still other methods that you can do to make your backyard more peaceful than ever.
If your home sits close to the street, the sound of honking vehicles can be annoying. You cannot completely get rid of these vehicular noises. But you can reduce their sound so that they can be less distracting.
Build a noise reduction fence
If you are planning to replace your old fence, building one to reduce noise is a great idea. While it cannot entirely get rid of noises, it is thick and solid enough to shut soundwaves out.
The more solid your fence is, the quieter your backyard will be. The reason is that dense objects reflect sound waves.
When building a solid fence, it should not have any gaps. Just like water, soundwaves can flow and pass through any holes regardless of their size.
A fence with gaps between each wood panel will allow noise to get through you and distract your supposed-to-be quiet time.
Additionally, a low fence will let more soundwaves infiltrate your area. For this reason, your wood fence should be as solid and as high as possible.
Use water to create a white noise effect.
Flowing water, a fountain, for instance, produces a continuous sound that has the same range of frequency as most sources of noise pollution. However, since a fountain is close to you, the sound that it makes will be dominant.
Such noise is now more popular than white noise.
White noise masks noise pollution. However, for it to work, the source should be near the listener.
If you install a fountain, it should be in the nearest possible place to your outdoor area.
Moreover, a fountain should not be expensive for it to create white noise. It can be any vessel that can hold and let water flow. Some examples are a copper tub or a stone birdbath that has a recirculation pump.
However, fountains are seasonal. Most of the time, you connect them to your home’s irrigation or water supply, which you shut off during the end of summer.
It is also worth noting that they cannot camouflage loud and sharp noises like vehicular alarms and horns.
Use plants to block out noise
Make sure that your backyard has a plant landscape. Trees and plants can block noises from getting to your ears as they have significant mass.
Plants and trees by themselves are not enough to soundproof your backyard. However, they can absorb sound, so that you can use them as additional noise barriers.
You can grow plants in front of your fence, at the back of it, or even both.
Moreover, evergreen trees and shrubs are the most effective ones as they are not seasonal. For this reason, they can reduce noise all year round.
Have a different perception of sound
If your backyard only has a few trees and shrubs, they will not significantly reduce noise. However, they are still beneficial as they can help you have an “out of sight, out of mind” mindset. The reason is that sound perception is a subjective thing.
The said mindset means that if you see the sound source, you will quickly notice it. Meaning you will be able to hear it more clearly.
According to psychoacoustics, the perception of sound varies from one person to another.
A physical barrier, such as a fence between you and the source of noise, might help you notice the soundless. Additionally, the barrier serves as an encouragement for you to view your yard as quieter than it is.
The Things You Need to Know About Soundproofing Your Fence
Living in a quiet environment will provide you with peace. However, a home without any noise pollution is almost impossible. The reason is that many factors can affect the silence of your environment.
For instance, your neighbor’s noisy dog can hinder you from getting proper relaxation in your backyard. Fortunately, you can soundproof your fence to fight these unwanted noises.
But the most important thing to note is that soundproofing your fence will not provide an entirely silent backyard. Instead, it will only reduce the noise to make it less annoying and disturbing.
Moreover, it is also possible that you are the one making unwanted noises and distracting your neighbors. If such is the case, soundproofing your fence is also an effective solution if you do not want to disturb your neighbors.
That said, here are the things that you need to know about soundproofing your fence:
Is soundproofing your fence effective?
A soundproof fence will significantly reduce the amount of noise that gets into your backyard from the road or your neighbors.
Soundproofing your fence will block soundwaves, while other soundproofing methods will absorb some of the sound circulating in your backyard.
If done right, the final result of soundproofing your fence will make your backyard quieter than before. In fact, it can reduce noise by 50 to 60 percent.
The things to consider before soundproofing your fence
Before building a soundproof fence, you must be aware of the type of noise that you want to absorb or block.
If the noises that distract you have high frequencies, you will need more complex materials. In addition, you need to take other factors into account. That includes your home’s location and the distance from your house and fence.
The things that you need to take note of
If you want to have a soundproof fence, two of the most important things to note are the height and width of the fence.
A soundproof fence typically needs thick boards attached to heavy rails. Such a construction will allow you to absorb as many soundwaves as possible.
According to physics, the more mass a material has, the more effective it is for sound dampening. That said, you need heavy material attached to your fence to make it soundproof.
Is mass-loaded vinyl safe?
Safety is always something that you need to prioritize. So, you need to take note that exposure to high levels of barium can be toxic. However, mass-loaded vinyl does not present any danger.
The reason is that it is insoluble in water, so you will not expose yourself to toxic elements.
The Benefits of Soundproofing Your Fence
Taking various methods to soundproof your backyard can be beneficial in different ways. For one, it allows you to have a quiet and peaceful backyard. Of course, nothing compares to a quiet and peaceful time that you can spend out in your yard after a long week of work.
As discussed, soundproofing your fence will help you reduce the distracting noise coming from your neighborhood.
But apart from that, soundproofing your fence can also help you become a good neighbor.
If you are having a backyard party, the soundproofing capabilities of your fence will help you minimize the noise that gets through your neighbors’ yard. As a result, you will not be able to distract them from their own relaxation time.
In addition, soundproofing your fence means having another layer of material to cover your home and your yard. For this reason, you will be able to increase your privacy as your neighbors will not be able to see whatever you are doing.
Making your fence and backyard soundproof can be expensive. However, the result will provide you with a more peaceful home and undistracted relaxation time. For this reason, it is safe to say that despite the price, soundproofing your fence is cost-effective.
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- Steffani Cameron and Bob Vila, How To Soundproof a Wall, Bob Vila, https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-soundproof-a-wall/
- Mass Loaded Vinyl, Sweat Water, https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/mass-loaded-vinyl/
- Max Alexander, 3 Ways to Reduce Road Noise in Your Backyard, This Old House, https://www.thisoldhouse.com/carlisle-house/21015370/yard-noise-reduction/
- Keeping It Quiet In The Backyard, Architecture And Design, https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/suppliers/modular-walls/keeping-it-quiet-in-the-backyard/
- David Beaulieu, Understanding the Parts of a Wooden Privacy Fence, The Spruce, https://www.thespruce.com/basic-components-of-wooden-fence-styles-2130910/
- Emman Caplan, 5 Tips for Soundproofing Your Outdoor Spaces, Bob Vila, https://www.bobvila.com/articles/soundproofing-outdoor-spaces/