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Soundproofing

What is music to one person’s ears is noise to another’s, and vice versa.

In other words, our perception of "noise" is subjective.

Subjective or not, if you're building a new house, you’ll want to establish the noise levels to which you are willing to be exposed beforehand. As a general rule, the more airtight your house, the less you’ll be disturbed by noise.

In general, air leakage and vibrations are the two major threats to your tranquility. Since air is a good sound conductor, a wall that lets air through will also let sound through.

A few definitions:

  • Sound: a vibration that passes through air, water, or another media, and is perceived by the ear.
  • Noise: undesirable sound, according to the listener’s subjective perception of sound.
  • Decibel: an objective measurement of sound.

Isolation Majeau recommends:

Wall soundproofing

The first step is to identify whether the noise is caused by an impact (e.g., the sound of high heels) or carried through the air (e.g. a voice or the sound of a radio or T.V.).

Concerning wall insulation, you have a number of possibilities:

  • Go for a structural investment, e.g., alternating double walls (in staggered rows).
  • Inject cellulose or rockwool batt between the walls to reduce the level of sound travelling between two rooms (the more pounds per cubic feet that you inject, the better your sound insulation will be).
  • Install resilient bars before the gypsum.
  • Use a double layer of gypsum: start with a plaster joint or an acoustic sealant on the first layer of gypsum, and stagger the joints of the second layer to avoid overlapping them with those of the first layer.
  • Finally, place acoustic sealant around the edges of the walls.

The basic principle is that when you close off air leaks, you also block out sound.

There are several ways of building walls to increase soundproofing, but take note that improvisation, in this particular area, does not produce good results!

Three effective soundproofing products

  • Stone Wool is often used to reduce sound travel between two rooms.
  • Cellulose is an environmentally friendly product made from more than 85% recycled newspapers – it is very often used to soundproof large apartment buildings.
  • Resilient bars are often used to reduce vibrations in walls or ceilings. They are easy to install, and they insulate the gypsum from the wall studs, which reduces vibrations.

Your legal protection against noise

Noise falls under Section 5.9 of the National Building Code (2005). The Sound Transmission Index (STI) establishes the minimum acceptable noise levels in accordance with ASTM standards.

The door!

A solid or padded door stops sound more effectively than a hollow one. You can also improve a door’s soundproofing by adding a weatherstrip and caulking the frame.

More expert advice

Here are some of our most popular articles from our in-house insulation experts:

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