Wood floor soundproofing schematic (C) Steve Bliss J Wiley InspectApedia Properties of Soundproofing Materials and Sound Control Workmanship

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Building soundproofing materials & options:

Here we provide a list of soundproofing materials & devices used to control sound transmission in buildings: how to make a quiet home, office, or place of business using sound isolation for ceilings, floors, walls, plumbing, etc.

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List & Properties of Soundproofing Materials and Workmanship

Fire retardant foam insulation also blocks noise at a pipe chase (C) Daniel FriedmanLike weatherization work, effective soundproofing requires careful detailing and workmanship. Small holes and bypasses can lower field STC values to 15 to 20 points below laboratory values. Leaky edge joints, unsealed doorways, interconnecting ductwork, and unsealed electrical and plumbing penetrations all degrade acoustical performance.

This article series discusses noise and sound control in buildings, and includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.

Article Contents

Acoustical Sealant for Sound Control in buildings

While special non hardening acoustical sealants are often specified in commercial work, any high-quality sealant that remains flexible can be effective in blocking sound transmission. Butyl, silicone, and urethane caulk can all be used.

To prevent sound leaks, use sealant around electrical boxes, plumbing penetrations, and any other penetrations in the wall or ceiling surface.

For walls with STC ratings in excess of 35, apply a flexible sealant at the joint where the drywall meets the floor.

Acoustical sealant is also used to seal around the perimeter of walls or ceilings hung from resilient channel.

Details: Readers who need to know more about the use of acoustical sealants for sound control in buildings or who need to know where to purchase acoustical sealants should see ACOUSTICAL SEALANT CHOICES

Soundproof Acoustical Grade Drywall Products, Quietrock, QuietWood, & Sound-Resistant Windows

Special drywall products such as Quietrock® are sold in as many as eight product variations ranging from economy sound-transmission-resistant drywall to fire-rated and high performance soundproof drywall. According to the product manufacturer"

QuietRock replaces older techniques such as resilient channels, clips, sound board and vinyl and offer lower cost solutions than other methods with higher Sound Transmission Class (STC) performance.

The company, Quiet Solution, a division of Serious Materials, also produces QuietWood® "a multi-layer engineered internally damped panel ideal for use in existing or new construction, ... used in place of standard plywood in most applications" and QuietHome® noise reducing indows, additional sound-transmission resistant products.

Resilient Channel for Sound Transmission Reduction in buildings

Resilient channel (C) Daniel Friedman

Resilient channel such as Auralex RC8 is installed perpendicular to the studs or joists and needs at least 3 inches of free space in the cavity behind it to be effective.

Resilient channel is a specially-formed, metal device that, when used to hang drywall (instead of attaching the drywall directly to the wall studs or ceiling joists), significantly reduces the sound transmission of the wall or ceiling system.

The resilient channel material is secured to the studs and drywall is secured to the channel - providing a break in sound transmission through the wall.

Resilient channel for sound control is not effective if attached to sheet materials, such as drywall. It is also important to use the right length screws, so they do not penetrate into the wood framing.

Just a few screws into the wood can undermine the resilient connection and substantially lower the STC and IIC ratings.

Leave a 1/4 to 1/2-inch gap around the perimeter of a ceiling or wall hung from resilient channel and fill with an acoustical or other non hardening sealant.

Insulation Details for Sound & Noise Reduction in buildings

AirGuard laminate floor underlayment (C) D Friedman

Ordinary fiberglass insulation is an effective sound absorber in cavities and increases the STC rating of walls by 3 to 5 decibels. The insulation needs to fill only about three-quarters of the thickness of the cavity to be effective.

Adding more adds little additional sound protection, and stuffing insulation in too densely could actually increase sound transmission.

Cellulose insulation has about the same sound deadening characteristics as fiberglass.

Foam insulation is not particularly effective for sound control. Foam is too light to add mass to the wall and is not resilient enough to absorb sound.

Subfloor and laminate floor underlayment: for sound transmission reduction in floors also see NOISE CONTROL for FLOORS - our photo (above left) illustrates a sound-transmission-reducing flooring underlayment material.

Gasketing for Building Sound Transmission Control

Flexible, heavy rubber gasketing makes an effective seal against sound leaks as well as thermal leaks around doors and windows.

Either bulb- or magnetic-type weather-stripping is effective as long as it makes an airtight seal between the frame and door or window.

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.


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