It is an unfortunate fact that many houses in the UK are inadequate when it comes to sound attenuation. In the past builders really knew nothing about sound attenuating materials and techniques so sometimes it went very wrong. These days we understand how sound works and have learnt how to decrease its effects substantially. I have worked as a sound proofer in the past and have working experience of all the different soundproofing systems for walls and floors. Please click on images below for walls, ceilings and floors or continue to understand a bit about how soundproofing works below.
Soundproofing in a nutshell
Soundproofing is easy to do and is actually more of a DIY skill. There are a few important aspects that you need to get right but the actual systems are easy to install.
The are a few key principles that you need to consider to sound proof a wall or floor effectively,these are ..
Type of sound . There are two main types of sound that are dealt with in different ways. The first is vibrational sound. This is typically footsteps,noisy bed springs from the people above, a refrigerator buzzing on the neighbors side of the party wall etc. The second is airborne sound. Standard type of sound and includes things like audible voices from next door, television noise from the lady upstairs at 2 in the morning etc.
How treatments work.
Soundproofing is pretty weird in the sense that no one can really pinpoint the exact effectiveness or results of a particular system or soundproofing product. This is because sound is very tricky and allot of the “low frequency” sound such as “deep bass” will travel through solids as well as the air. So for instance we can do the ultimate soundproofing job on you floor, or ceiling and then find that some deeper sound is traveling through the walls as well. So we can never guarantee 100% unless we literally soundproofed all surfaces in a room for example. However dont worry you will always see dramatic improvements and the sound will usually be well below “problem” levels after I am done.
When establishing the type of sound we will generally use products and systems we believe are better suited to combat that sound. Each products does a different thing in combating sound as outlined below.
How to interrupt a sound wave
We want to block the path of the sound wave traveling through the wall as well as disrupt its natural flow and also absorb its energy before it reaches the other side. Usually incorporating all of these in a wall or surface will do allot in soundproofing it.
Block the sound wave. Density and mass along with absolute air tightness will stop the sound from free flowing through the wall. Soundproofing plasterboard is designed not to resonate such as a guitar or violin does, and so when a wave hits the material it will not activate completely and so mostly does not pass it (Remembering sound travels through vibrations).Some types of sound will still pass however and so the next thing we want to do is absorb the energy of the wave as it passes through the wall
Absorbtion. Insulation is a fantastic way to absorb sound and basically turns it into heat through friction. As the sound wave passes through the insulation it has to pass trough all the air gaps in the insulation, and this process where sound goes from solid to air many times causes it to loose energy. Insulation really takes the edge off sound but it can never be used all by itself.
Dampening. Dampening is what we want to do to the surface being soundproofed. Basically we are trying to make the elements of the wall less springy so that this “springy” behavior of materials does not activate any sound vibrations on the other side of the surface. A good analogy is to imagine a guitar being played with a pillow being held to its back side. Some effective products in dampening are rubber, resilient bars(seen in above right image) and the actual soundproof plasterboard itself has a measure of this built in as well.
Air tightness. A surface being soundproofed needs to be completely sealed. No matter how well we do the job, if there are gaps the sound will pass through uninterrupted to a large degree,,an then we will have unhappy clients 🙁
So in conclusion if you are experiencing a noise problem or “cowboys and Indians programs” late at night from the neighbors like I was!! Do get in touch! We work all over Hertfordshire and frequent Watford, St Albans, Kings Langley, Abbots Langley and Hemel Hempstead.