Sound insulation for walls: info and possibilities
Noise pollution is disturbing and causes conflicts. A lot of nuisance is caused by noises which move through the wall. Structure-borne noises like footsteps or music are examples of this. In this article, you can discover how to apply sound insulation for walls.
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Soundproofing a wall for airborne sound and impact sound
You can provide a room with sound insulation in different ways. It depends on the type of noise pollution which measures are most appropriate to limit the nuisance. There are two types of sound that can lead to nuisance: airborne sound and structure-borne sound. Noise pollution usually involves a combination of both sound types, with one of them being dominant.
1) Prevent airborne sound
Airborne sound appears due to sound vibrations that are primarily transmitted through the air. Often, very small gaps or holes can already lead to noise pollution. Airborne sounds can make walls and ceilings tremble as well.
Examples: audio sounds, voices or wind noise. It is best to treat this type of noise pollution by means of sound-absorbing materials.
2) Prevent structure-borne sound
If construction parts are connected with each other and start to tremble, we speak of noise pollution caused by structure-borne sounds.
Think, for example, of the sound of high heels on a tiled floor. The floor starts to tremble, which causes sound waves that spread through the rest of the building. This type of sound nuisance can be prevented by applying anti-vibration insulation.
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Sound insulation wall: possibilities
In most cases, the best way to insulate a wall is by installing a false wall with insulation against it. The false wall has to be detached from the wall acoustically. This method is most appropriate for brick walls with a normal thickness. If the wall is rather thin however (with little mass), sound-absorbing insulation mats will be more effective. These mats have a high density and give a lot of mass to the wall, as a result of which sounds can be absorbed efficiently. You can also buy so-called ‘sandwich panels’ which are already provided with sound-absorbing materials.
1) Soundproof false wall
Do you experience noise pollution caused by the neighbours? Or is it the other way around? In those cases, it is advised to build a soundproof false wall. When installing a wall like this, it is important not to attach the frame of this acoustic wall directly onto the wall. Otherwise, sound vibrations will still be able to move to the wall through the frame. For this reason, the false wall has to be acoustically decoupled. You can buy special do-it-yourself kits to make a soundproof false wall that is disconnected as much as possible.
2) Soundproof partition wall
If you want to separate two rooms by means of a soundproof partition wall, you can choose special soundproof plasterboards. It is best to make a double-walled construction with insulation material in between of the boards.
In case of walls like these, it is important to make sure that both skeletons are separated acoustically. How much sound you can insulate depends on the thickness of the insulation material, as well as the amount of plasterboards. This solution allows you to block a lot of sound.
Tip: double walls with various thicknesses
Double walls are very effective against noise pollution. One often applies different wall thicknesses in order for the boards to resonate less quickly. In case of a double wall, the sound bumps into one side of the wall and the insulation. The insulation material acts as a shock absorber, as a result of which the strength of the sound vibrations decreases.
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If you intend to use sound insulation, you would be well advised to investigate whether sounds are able to spread through other canals such as air vents or ventilation grids. Gaps beneath doors and around windows may cause sound leaks as well. Also make sure to check the transit of pipes, as these are prone to air- and sound leaks. Mostly, you will be able to effectively seal sound leaks by means of polyurethane foam or weather strips.
Places where sound leaks may occur:
• Connections between wall and floor, wall and ceiling
• Transit of pipes: water pipe, sewage pipes, etc.
• Walls with bad joints
• Seams in joinery
• Ventilation openings: windows, doors and walls
• Extractor hoods
• Connection to the roof
Improve sound acoustics
Acoustic foam boards are usually made of a soft type of foam with studs. These boards are especially suited to improve a room’s acoustics. For this reason, they are less suitable to avoid – for example – nuisance caused by neighbours.
The boards especially absorb annoying sound reflections (reverb) and mid- or high frequent sound. These boards are often applied in sound studios, offices, classrooms and meeting rooms. It is easy to glue the boards onto walls or ceilings, although one can also apply them as loose elements.