Sound insulation: possibilities and applications
Thanks to sound insulation, noises coming from the inside or outside can be reduced significantly. Which technique and insulation materials you should use depends on the building construction and the cause of the sound. In this article, we discuss the causes of noise nuisance and the applications of sound proof insulation.
How does sound insulation work?
First of all, the thickness of the wall is very important in order to exclude sound; the thicker the wall, the better the sound will be blocked.
However, it is not always possible to build a very thick wall. This is why one often applies the ‘mass-spring-mass principle’ when installing sound insulation. A so-called spring is placed between two masses (the inner and outer wall). This can be just air, or an insulation material can be put in place in order to reduce the sound better. One mostly leaves a layer of air between the insulation and the wall too.
In order to avoid sound transmission as much as possible, a soft spring is advisable. This way, the sound can be absorbed better. Aa material like mineral wool is therefore more suitable than a solid sound insulation board.
The weight of the insulation material must be quite high. This way, it will be able to absorb the sound waves better. It goes without saying that a thick layer will absorb better than a thin layer of the same material.
Insulate according to the nature of the sound
The cause of the noise will strongly influence the insulation method, as well as the choice of insulation material. Noise pollution inside of the house can arise in three different ways:
1) Structure-borne sound
In the case of structure-borne noises, vibrations occur which are transmitted in the construction of a building. They will, in turn, make the air tremble and we can perceive the sound. Structure-borne sounds may stem from both the inside or outside of a house. Think, for example, of a heavy truck passing your house; you can clearly perceive the vibrations. A moving table is an example of a structure-borne sound on the inside of a house.
Structure-borne sounds are the hardest ones to fight. So if you want to install sound insulation to reduce this type of sound, it is important to create a whole insulation shell in your house. If you, for example, live in an apartment and suffer from noise pollution caused by the upstairs neighbour, you can provide the ceiling with sound proof insulation. However, this will hardly help if your walls are not insulated. The sound vibrations will then still be able to reach your house through the walls.
As it is important to have a complete insulation shell, you should also check air leaks (for example around the windows or doors) and make sure the insulation material does not get punched. Otherwise, it will lose its soundproofing qualities. It is best to have structure-borne noise tackled by a professional firm. You can request and compare price offers for free on our quote page.
2) Airborne sound
In the case of airborne sound, the noise simply moves through the air without causing vibrations in the construction of the building. Because of this, it is much easier to fight airborne sound as compared to structure-borne sound.
Airborne sounds may also originate from the inside or outside of the house. Children playing in the streets are an example of external airborne sounds, whereas a television is an illustration of airborne sound inside of a house. Airborne sound can be dealt with more easily than structure-borne sound.
3) Improve acoustics
If you want to improve the sound perception inside a room, you can invest in acoustic insulation. Good acoustics are for example very important in offices and music studios. There are various ways to make use of acoustic insulation. You can discover the different possibilities of acoustic insulation in this article.
Do you want to have sound insulation installed by a professional? On our quote page, you can request free and non-binding quotes from insulation experts in your region. This way, you can easily compare price offers. The only thing you need to do is fill in a short form. Click here to receive quotes.
Where to install sound proof insulation?
1) Sound insulation for walls
By applying sound insulation on a wall, you can reduce noise from both the inside and outside. One often builds a false wall in order to soundproof the wall.
In case of a false wall, a frame is built in front of the existing wall. One then applies an insulation material onto the frame, which is finished with plasterboards. Sound that gets through the exterior wall is absorbed by the insulation. The remaining sound that still gets past the finished wall, will have been reduced strongly (mass-spring-mass principle).
» Read more about sound insulation for walls.
2) Sound insulation floor
Installing sound insulation underneath the floor is especially suited to block structure-borne sounds, although it can also reduce airborne sound. Polyethylene is a frequently used insulation material for solid floors.
In the case of hollow wooden floors, the space beneath the floor finish can be filled with an insulation material like glass wool. Another option is to install a floating floor, which has soundproofing properties as well. A sound-absorbing layer is then placed between the bearing structure of the floor and the screed.
» Read more about sound insulation for floors.
3) Soundproof ceiling
If you live in an apartment, it depends on your upstairs neighbour whether his floor is soundproof. However, you can still choose to provide the ceiling with sound insulation.
A suspended ceiling is a frequently occurring application in this case. By means of a wooden or metal frame, a new finishing layer (for example plasterboards) is installed onto the existing ceiling.
Insulation experts install the sound insulation between the new finish and the old ceiling layer. Glass wool is a popular option for this purpose.
» Read more about sound insulation for the ceiling.
Noise insulation is not the only thing that matters. In order to create an entire insulation shell, it is also advisable to invest in high-quality glass. This is another important factor when it comes to reducing sound from the outside. Moreover, low-E glass (low-emissivity) will increase the thermal performance of your house.
Sound insulation materials
In this article, we have already encountered some of the materials that are used to block sound. In the following, you can read more about these materials:
1) Glass wool: although glass wool is primarily used for thermal insulation, this material has got excellent soundproofing qualities as well. Thanks to the big mass, a lot of noise can be absorbed. Especially in case of roofs, glass wool is a better option than rigid insulation boards when it comes to sound insulation. However, you should take into account that fibreglass insulation requires more free space. This material can be used for floors, walls and ceilings as well.
Glass wool insulation is usually supplied in the shape of semi-rigid insulation sheets. This way, they are easy to install and they absorb a lot of sounds.
2) Polyethylene: polyethylene is especially used to build a soundproof floor. It is a strong and quite cheap plastic. Next to that, this material is resistant to moisture and very low or very high temperatures.
» Read more about polyethylene insulation.
3) Other materials: next to glass wool and polyethylene, there are many other materials which can serve as sound insulation in your house or office. Cork and rock wool, for example, have good soundproof and sound-absorbing properties as well.
Which material suits your situation best, depends on several factors. For example the location of the insulation (floor, ceiling or wall), the available space and your budget will determine the choice of material.