We insulate our properties, often with the primary concern being about warmth and energy efficiency, but what about noise pollution? Sound can travel both internally and externally, so how far can you go to insulate or soundproof a property to reduce the amount of noise that passes through rooms and floors? Here we look at some of the options.
In principle, installing insulation between your home’s ground floor and first floor should keep sound, vibration and even heat from passing from one level to the next. This will also improve thermal insulation in both the room above and the room below, keeping both of those rooms more comfortable and quieter.
Modern homes, businesses, and commercial structures can all be important contributors to environmental noise pollution. As a result, the quality of your life, your ability to work, and your ability to operate a business may all suffer.
Soundproof insulation installed within your floors is a good option to investigate. In this post, we will look at the different types of sound that can enter buildings, as well as the different types of sound insulation that are now available on the market.
You can seal the air cavities that occur between floors and allow for the transmission of ambient sound by using acoustic floor insulation. You could also reduce the space in which the floors and joists can wobble, resulting in less vibration noise. When combined with the right gripper strip or pointing tape, this form of insulation can be a very economical way to insulate your home from noise.
How sound travels in the home
Sound travels in two directions: through the air and physically through impact.
- The sound of a television or music coming from another room, as well as the sound of people conversing, are examples of airborne noise, often known as ambient noise.
- Impact sounds include the thump of anything hitting the floor and the sound of someone walking around upstairs in heels or shoes with thicker soles.
Acoustic insulation must be able to handle both types of sound in order to be successful. If you have noisy teens, laminate or wood flooring on the upper levels of your home, or simply want to be able to have calm discussions, insulating your floors with some form of soundproof insulation or acoustic insulation material is a great option.
What Kinds of Sounds Do You Hear?
The sounds produced within your property can be classified into two types: impact sound and airborne sound.
Airborne sounds are those that pass through the air. This could be caused by sound travelling between floors, such as conversations, televisions, or radios. It’s also possible that the noise was created by planes flying overhead or even by street traffic.
Impact sounds are the noises produced when one object collides with another. This could have happened as a result of someone tapping a hammer on a wall or a heavy falling to the ground.
Flanking sound refers to sound waves that travel from one area to another in an indirect manner. Walls with fractures, walls with voids, or insulation with gaps between them can all allow sound waves to pass through. It may be difficult to totally eradicate flanking sounds, especially in older structures.
What is Soundproof Insulation?
Acoustic insulation, commonly known as soundproof insulation, works in two ways. They either absorb or delay the transmission of sound within a room.
These can be used in a variety of buildings. Soundproof insulation could be installed to suppress outside noise, such as on busy city streets. However, it might also be used to reduce noise transmission within a building, such as in a block of flats with loud, boisterous discussions.
Acoustic insulation is more commonly used than soundproof insulation because, in most cases, this insulation will not completely soundproof a room or property, just reducing sound passage.
Although soundproof insulation does offer substantial benefits and is even a necessity in some building projects, it does not give you a perfectly quiet space.
What Is the Best Material for Soundproof Insulation?
When it comes to determining the best soundproof insulation materials, it is important to consider which areas of your building require soundproofing and whether you want to absorb or prevent external sound.
The following are the most common types of soundproof insulation available, all of which are pretty efficient in reducing unwanted noise.
Acoustic Insulation Products
Acoustic insulation materials are made with the express purpose of reducing unwanted noise. They can absorb sound waves and act as effective soundproofing in a range of settings.
The most straightforward way of insulating property is using acoustic wall panels. These are usually hung over a wall or placed on the floor to provide sound absorption within spaces. Acoustic panels come in a variety of styles that are appropriate for both business and residential situations.
While their design makes them more suitable for big public commercial spaces rather than for houses, these panels will help to minimise noise within a room by absorbing sound waves. The biggest downside is the aesthetics because the acoustic panels will be visible in your room and may not mix in with the decor.
While acoustic wall panels can be added with ease, there are other types of acoustic insulation that can be added to internal and external walls to help reduce the transmission of sound. Different insulating materials provide different levels of acoustic insulation and some offer additional benefits including thermal performance.
Some of these are more difficult to install retrospectively, and would be best installed either at the start of a project, or when a property is already in need of insulation upgrades. There are companies that specialise in soundproofing solutions products, such as Rockwool, and these types of products are suitable for a range of applications, including partition walls, party walls and external wall systems.
While acoustic insulation is very specific in its purpose, a number of other insulation types still possess some noise insulation properties, even if they are perhaps less effective than specific acoustic insulation products such as acoustic foam, acoustic insulation roll, and acoustic insulation boards. This includes the following:
Mineral Wool Insulation
Mineral wool rolls or batts, along with rigid boards provide thermal and acoustic insulation and can be fitted between studs or joists to give excellent sound absorption.
Mineral wool is excellent as an insulation material, and will effectively absorb both impact and airborne noises from the floor above.
Glass Mineral Wool (Fibreglass) Insulation
Because of its thermal and acoustic insulation capabilities, glass mineral wool, often known as fibreglass, is a material that can be used effectively as an insulator.
Although the acoustic insulation given by glass mineral wool is not as efficient as that supplied by other varieties of mineral wool, it does provide a reduction in sound between walls and floors. Glass mineral wool insulation rolls and batts do have a tendency to droop in the space between floor joists or in a wall over time, creating gaps through which flanking sound can pass. This is one of the disadvantages of using this particular insulation material.
Blown Cellulose Insulation
This type of insulation is a fire-retardant substance that is literally blown into floor, ceiling, and wall cavities and is created from recycled paper fibres.
The process of blowing cellulose is sometimes known as “blown insulation”, and it can be used for both types of insulation, acoustic and thermal, filling cavities, spaces and gaps to give silent insulation that is superior to some of the insulation options available to you.
This type of insulation can be expensive since it requires specialised equipment to install, and there is also the risk of dampness, which can create health issues. When blown-in cellulose insulation is exposed to moisture, it can be irrevocably destroyed and must be replaced immediately.
Polyurethane Foam Insulation
Polyurethane insulation foam, which comes in open-cell or closed-cell designs, must also be installed by an expert.
It is sprayed into voids and cavities or straight onto the surface of a wall, for example, where it will expand up to 50 times its original size and then solidify, rendering it impervious to moisture and vapour.
Open-cell polyurethane insulating foam expands to 150 times its original size, creating a robust airflow barrier.
While polyurethane does have some soundproofing properties, it isn’t as good as glass mineral wool or mineral wool due to the fact that sound waves can pass through the solid surface that has been created, allowing vibrations to transfer.
Soundproof Insulation Mats
Soundproof insulation mats are thin rolls made of rubber or vinyl that are specifically intended to provide sound insulation between floors.
These are most commonly used as underfloor matting, which can be used on both concrete and timber floors. They can be used to connect floors in apartment blocks or multi-story office buildings.
The IsoRubber base, which provides high-performance acoustic insulation, and the iKoustic MuteMat line are two good examples of insulation mats.
The carpet absorbs impact sounds from the top floors of a home better than hard surfaces. The carpet and the underlay beneath it might lose cushioning and soundproofing qualities over time.
If your property is already carpeted upstairs and you are still finding that noise is still a problem then try replacing the carpet and laying a thicker underlay beneath it. Add thick carpets to the areas where impact noises are generated for a less expensive option.
Insulation For the Ceiling
Instead of focusing solely on the flooring, consider looking toward the ceiling. Insulation between floors can be installed above the ceiling plasterboard can help muffle impact noise from above. This is a time-consuming and filthy project, but it is an extremely effective method of soundproofing.
The current ceiling plasterboard is removed, and a layer of fibreglass or rock wool insulation is installed in the joist space to add ceiling insulation. This is best performed by a pro, especially when working around electricity or lighting. The ceiling plasterboard is then replaced and completed.
Again, this is not an easy task. However, it may be less expensive in the long run than replacing flooring across a home’s upper floors.
Where Should Soundproof Insulation Be Used in a Building?
Distinct portions of a building will have different needs in terms of noise reduction, as well as different options for soundproof insulation that can be installed within or on them.
Wall and loft insulation will surely help to decrease noise from the outside, however, floor insulation is the best solution for reducing noise between levels or storeys in your home or business.
The Best Floor Soundproofing Insulation
As we have already mentioned above, mineral wool rolls or batts between the joists is one of the best soundproofing insulation materials available and they will certainly dampen down excessive noise from above, and is effective for the reduction of both airborne and impact noise.
However, if you want to add soundproof insulation, you may have to entirely remove the current flooring.
It is also unsuitable for ground floors built on concrete foundations, which will include the majority of modern buildings. If this is the case then using a soundproof insulation mat might be an excellent alternative because it can be easily installed beneath flooring layers and can be used with mineral wool rolls or batts to provide excellent sound insulation between floors in areas such as shared living spaces or noisy commercial settings.
There are also solid insulating boards that can be used as an underlay within the flooring, giving further benefits.
Other Methods for Soundproofing Your Building
As previously stated, flanking sound can pass through gaps, fissures, and cavities. There are more things you can do to help limit sound transmission within your property.
Using wall sealing materials, particularly for windows and doors, can minimise noise within your building. Examine the window and door frames thoroughly for cracks or gaps.
A gap between the door and the wall can quash the benefits of your insulation. Soundproofing doors using typical insulating materials is not practical, however, installing solid interior doors on your property will help to reduce sound transmission massively.
Double glazing can help to lessen noise coming through your windows by restricting sound passage with a second layer of glass in your double-glazed window. Another wonderful option is to build bookshelves over noisy walls, as a full bookshelf can help absorb sounds.
Noise Insulation Solution Conclusions
To reduce noise between floors, first decide whether the sort of sound is causing the problem: airborne noise or impact noise. TV Volume, voices, the radio or even a telephone ringing are examples of airborne noises. This kind of noise can permeate the flooring, but it can also enter through venting or other holes. Soundproofing against airborne noise can sometimes be simple and inexpensive.
Impact noise is caused by something impacting the ground, such as big footsteps or someone trying to push a chair, causing vibrations throughout the house. Because this is tied to the design of the home, soundproofing against impact noise could be a more extensive project.
However, even without a complete refurbishment, it is still possible to decrease the amount of noise you hear, if you follow some of the tips we have suggested above.