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Sound-proofing your home is important

By Mike Holmes, Postmedia News http://www.canada.com/technology/Sound+proofing+your+home+important/4170893/story.html

Roxul Safe’n’Sound Soundproofing Insulation.

****Photograph by: Handout, Postmedia News

Noise is one of the most irritating problems you have to deal with in your home and it can affect your quality of life dramatically. I get a lot of questions asking what homeowners can do to deal with intrusive sounds, such as traffic and sirens, neighbours arguing, dogs barking, babies crying, or loud music.
Or maybe you’re the problem and the noise isn’t coming from outside. Maybe you need to protect your family and the general public from your teenager’s garage band practice. Or maybe you love to turn up the 5.1 sound system on your new TV.
It could also be that you want an office space, or a media room where you can work or enjoy movies or music in isolation. But if that room is next to a noisy furnace or washing machine, you’ll have a challenge.
Whatever the reason, reducing noise is a very important part of living comfortably in your home. You need to be able to enjoy your space — and you need to respect other people’s need for quiet, too.
There are specific guidelines, and noise bylaws, that indicate what are standard or acceptable measurements for noise levels in houses. There are rules for everything, from how much noise a generator or lawn mower can make in your neighbourhood down the noise your HVAC system will produce.
But apart from rules, each person has his or her own level of tolerance. And each house is different, depending on how it’s constructed. Other circumstances also affect how we perceive sound. For instance, you might not even notice a noise in your kitchen that you couldn’t stand in your bedroom.
Sound-proofing is an art, which is why there are skilled professionals who are very good at designing spaces from an acoustic perspective. Professional sound-production studios spend a lot of money on creating soundproof rooms. There are highly specialized solutions and products available for sound abatement.
But, unless you have a huge budget, and are able to start from a new build, you won’t be able to achieve that level of noise remediation in your home. So, what can you do? You’re in the middle of a renovation — say, you’re finishing the basement to include a new media room — and you want to minimize the sound travelling throughout the house.
Sound waves are made up from both low-frequency and high-frequency vibrations. They move through air and hit objects and bounce around, creating vibrations that we hear as sound.
If we can block the sound waves, or stop the vibrations they cause, we can help reduce the sound. When it comes to designing solutions for sound problems, you have two approaches: Create a barrier to block the sound and stop it from entering the space; and find a way to absorb the noise to deaden the sound and stop it from reverberating. You should do both.
If you’re dealing with an existing problem, your contractor will have to tear back to studs — true noise remediation is not a Band-Aid solution.
The first step is to make sure the space is completely sealed — that all the gaps and penetrations into the space are closed with an acoustical sealant. Check around all vents, pipes, ducts and seal them.
Make sure to insulate all wall and ceiling cavities for sound absorption with mineral batt insulation. This will dampen sound.
Put up a double layer of drywall, and make sure it’s mould-resistant if you’re using it in a basement space. This heavy layer of gypsum board will create mass to help block sound. There are specialty drywalls available on the market, some with thin layers of metal or rubberized membrane in them to help block sound. They work, but they are expensive.
Have your contractor hang the drywall using resilient channels. They are a type of metal strapping that allows your contractor to hang your drywall without it actually coming into contact with the supporting structure. That dampens the vibration so noise won’t transfer through the walls. It isolates the sound waves and reduces their radiation through the structure. Make sure he uses flexible acoustical sealant around the edges and doesn’t miss the electrical box cut-outs and any penetrations.
Generally speaking, sounds ‘bounce’ or ‘reflect’ off hard surfaces, such as walls and floors. Softer surfaces such as carpets and drapes and upholstered furnishings will cut down on that reflection — or ‘absorb’ it.
So you could take other steps that involve finishes you choose. For example, a drywall ceiling will reflect more sound that a ceiling tile. There are acoustic ceiling tiles that specifically help reduce noise levels in room. But many people don’t like the look of ceiling tiles. I like them; they’re really practical for basement spaces, where you’ll need to get at plumbing, ducting or the cables for the new media room that you’ve gone to all this trouble to build.

Catch Mike in his new series, Holmes Inspection, airing Thursdays at 8 ET/PT on HGTV. For more information, visit *www.hgtv.ca](http://www.hgtv.ca/). *
For more information on home renovations, visit *makeitright.ca](http://makeitright.ca/).*

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