We moved into our new home last year. It seemed like just the right place to grow up for our newborn.
But only in two weeks, we realized it would not be easy to live in the house. This was our first experience of living in a condo in a big city.
And more than feeling the pinch of living expenses and lack of space, the noise coming from all around made life difficult for us.
While buying the place, we paid attention to every little detail ranging from plumbing to foundations to electrical wiring. But we did not ask about the acoustics of the condo.
Apparently, we are not the only ones. Most people either neglect this when buying a place or think about it when it’s too late.
Our neighbor’s loud music didn’t let us sleep. And for months there was no peace.
After making some soundproofing adjustments to the party wall, we expected some relief. But then the traffic outside would wake us up in the dead of night.
Eventually, we ended up soundproofing the whole apartment. Before taking this step, we were just as concerned as other homeowners.
Is Soundproofing Really Worth The Money, Effort And Time?
How much money would it cost? How much space and effort would it take? Is it a wise investment?
Let’s find out whether soundproofing is worth the money.
Step 1 – Take some time out to do a cost-benefit analysis
It is possible to find many products online which make tall claims about absolute soundproofing. Without due guidance, however, you’ll find that you have been ripped off.
Even when laboratory reports of a product suggest that it is the best, it is possible that when used in the construction of a house, it doesn’t perform up to the mark. This is because of lab conditions are different from actual conditions.
The best thing to do would be to get an acoustic engineer to look at the house. They do charge a bit for consultation. But the investment is definitely not much when you compare it with the benefits of avoiding long-term costs.
It is also important to do your own research. Try not to rely on word of mouth publicity. Because new products are being developed every day, it is possible that you can get a more efficient system for a lesser price.
Step 2– Find out how much it costs to soundproof a room
Owing to lack of proper information, people build up costs of soundproofing. Though costs of soundproofing depend upon individual needs, according to data on Homeadvisor, on an average a room can be soundproofed in 1,645 USD.
A lot of factors like size, requirements and materials used contribute to this. But this figure can be taken as a good starter estimate.
Step 3– How to go about soundproofing my room?
Before setting out on a soundproofing project, it is important to determine what is bothering you or might bother you. If you have a drummer in the house or a light sleeper, the needs are going to be different.
Primarily, the different sounds in a household can be categorized as airborne sounds, impact sounds, solid-borne sounds, and plumbing sounds.
It is important to figure out which sound is going to be a bigger problem and then you can go about solving it.
Picking The Right Solution
After identifying the problem, it is just as important to get the right solution.
Thomas Holmes talks about how one layer of drywall with viscoelastic polymer on both sides of a thin metal equals the performance of eight layers of drywall.
This helps save space and is more efficient. Hence, in order to get the best value for your money, you should try to get the professional help that allows you to address the core problem with minimum investment.
Do floors and ceilings need to be soundproofed too?
Many times, homeowners pay attention to soundproofing the walls of their house but don’t make much of an effort to soundproof their floors and ceilings.
Thus, even after spending a good amount of money, loud footsteps and furniture being dragged disturb their sweet sleep.
This can be taken care of with a few simple steps. For soundproof ceilings, one can spend anywhere between 8 USD per sq ft for installing acoustic tiles to 65 USD per sq ft for fiberglass insulation.
Mass loaded vinyl is also a great product that can absorb great amounts of sound and help increase the soundproofing capacity. Depending on your needs you can opt for a suitable product.
For soundproof floors MDF plywood ($1 per sq. ft.) or Sound-damping plywood ($1.90 per sq. ft.) have proven to be effective. Installing acoustic carpet underlayment which helps cut impact noise and airborne noise as well costs in the range of 0.55–2.30 USD per sq. ft.
Is there something you can do if you have already moved to a new home?
There are many things you could do to make sure that your new home is a place of peace. First things first you need to locate the problem.
It is possible that good construction material has been used in the apartment but there are minor flaws. Things such as drafts under the doors, back to back power points, etc may have gaps that leak sound.
Replace the Window Glass with Laminated Acoustic Glass
Soundproof windows block sounds of higher frequencies with greater ease. In fact, depending on the thickness and material, their STC value goes up to 50 while regular windows have an STC value of 27.
This, however, isn’t a cheap solution as it can cost you as much as around 1000 USD for a standard window. Better solution is a window plug for which you will not need to replace your window.
Add some interior fixtures
Textured wall panels and textured wall paint have been found to absorb sounds. Carpeting the floor helps get rid of impact noise to a certain extent. Wall hangings might also help in absorbing sound and reducing transfer.
Soundproof curtains are also helpful in reducing the amount of noise coming in through cracks in windows and doors.
These are some simple and cheap measures you could take. However, these will not help soundproof space.
Can’t I just do it when it’s important?
Lack of space means more and more people are living in close quarters with each other. You don’t want to listen to your neighbor wash the dishes and you don’t want to watch your movie on your earphones.
There are people who think that they will do something about acoustics when they feel the need. When they are buying a house everything seems perfect.
They do not realize that soundproofing an area during construction makes things much easier. Instead, many end up spending more money later and also lose their peace of mind.
And like the saying goes, hurry makes worry. Many end up opting for solutions which worsen the situation. Tearing down existing walls and rebuilding costs more money, takes longer, and also uses more space.
Soundproofing is definitely worth the money but there is no need to go overboard.
Can you compromise by investing some money and soundproofing parts of the room?
Sound travels in a strange way. It only needs particles to move from one point to another.
If you decide to invest on soundproofing only one wall, it might help a little. But it will not soundproof your room entirely.
In trying to save some money, you end up losing more because you will have to redo the procedure.
After going through the trouble of taking down the walls and adding extra insulation, you might as well go the extra mile by using sound wrap on electrical boxes and receptacles along a party wall so that sound can’t travel through.
Think for a moment. We are ready to spend any amount of fancy lights and curtains. We spend a lot of money on building our homes.
But what good is that investment if you cannot enjoy the house because of unwanted noise?
Can you really put a price on a good night’s sleep?
It is possible to make an expensive mistake which costs you more than it would if you had tried to solve the problem with the help of a professional.
There is no dearth of pros available in the field who will be able to help you out. The least you can do is book a consultation before you trying some home hacks which aren’t useful.
Thanks for reading! Before you go, take a minute out and check out my top recommendations for soundproofing products.