How to Soundproof a Teenager's Bedroom
We all know how noisy teenagers can be. Loud music, games consoles and playing musical instruments etc. The million dollar question is how can you reduce the noise without breaking the bank?
Obviously it will be illegal to throttle the little darlings as well as not very practical so a more sensible approach must be to reduce their noise nuisance that will not cost an arm and a leg. First of all you could always ask them to turn the volume down. This sometimes works but as a last resort, you can cut the electric plugs off from their equipment, a measure that I have successfully used with my own teenagers in the past. Alternatively you could relocate them to the garage that ideally would be about half a mile away from you and the nearest neighbour but I fear there will not be many garages that fit into this criteria.
So this leaves the final option of trying to reduce the sound emitting from their rooms because, hopefully, this is where they will be enjoying the ear deafening levels of music they think is essential. Soundproofing! That is the answer but hang on a minute, isn't that expensive? Read on and we will tell you how to go about reducing the noise from the rooms of teenagers and for this we will assume their room is a bedroom in a normal house.
How Much Noise Can You Stop?
It is usually impractical to completely sound insulate a room within a domestic property but if the following advice is taken, reasonable levels of sound reduction can be achieved which will reduce any noise nuisance affecting you and your neighbours. The work can be conducted by anyone with a reasonable degree of DIY experience or as a last resort, get a man or woman in who can do it for you.
Searching For Gaps
The first stage is to lift the floorboards and check if the joists are supported by the party wall because sometimes sound can leak through gaps that have opened up around the joists. If these are evident, seal them up with flexible acoustic sealant then loose fit between the joists 100mm of Acoustic Mineral Wool which is produced to the optimum density to give maximum sound absorption. This will cost up to £10 plus VAT per square metre depending where it is obtained. If this is too much, go for normal fibreglass loft insulation that although not as efficient, is better than nothing. Once installed, replace the floorboards and screw them down tight to eliminate any possibility of squeaking.
Sound absorption between the joists will not be enough to reduce the noise coming through the ceiling so you will have to screw up more plasterboard to the ceiling and we suggest you use high density acoustic plasterboard usually identified by the colour on one side and high density plasterboard is blue. This type of plasterboard is also not expensive and a typical 1.2m x 2.4m x 12.5mm panel should be less than £10 plus VAT. The more layers of this that can be added to a ceiling, the more efficient the soundproofing will become.
How Carpets Can Help
Now for the floor above and first off, always avoid bare floorboards or laminate type flooring because those types of floors always contribute to and amplify any noise being generated within a room.
Why The Type of Underlay is Important
You will need a decent deep pile carpet on top of a felt type underlay and that will help reduce resonance within the room and therefore, the overall noise levels and will benefit any adjoining rooms including those above and below. If a more efficient sound insulation system is required, the underlay can be replaced with an 'acoustic' underlay.
This is a more efficient underlay that is designed to reduce airborne and impact noise through a floor. One of the most popular of these is 15mm thick QuietFloor Plus and unlike normal underlay, is supplied in panels because it is so heavy. QuietFloor Plus comprises heavy soundproofing mats on either side of a sound and impact absorbing layer of foam. The overall weight of the product is about 15kg/m2 and to our knowledge, is the most efficient noise reducing underlay available and is very easy to install.
The panels are 1200 x 600mm so are quite easy to handle and install but first you have to fix packing strips around the perimeter of the room and the carpet grippers are fixed on top so they are the correct height to allow for the extra thickness of the underlay. Once the perimeter strips are fixed the panels of underlay are laid across the rest of the floor with all the joints tightly butted to one another and secured with jointing tape to ensure they stay that way. Trimming, when necessary can be conducted with the aid of a sharp Stanley type craft knife. Once down the carpet is then laid directly over the top without the need for any additional underlay. Due to the slight increase in thickness of this system, some adjustment may be required to the bottom of doors to ensure they open and close properly without rubbing on the carpet. OK.
What About Your Walls?
You have now dealt with noise through the floor but you have a neighbour that you want to remain on good terms with so what can be done to reduce noise going through the party wall?
Soundproofing the wall will immediately spring to mind but hang on, have I not heard that soundproofing a wall will not always work because of flanking noise? Yes that is true and flanking noise is noise that can flank around soundproofed walls and floors via paths such as cavity walls or holes in the wall usually where floor joists are fitted into the wall and is a bigger problem in modern post war houses and any that have external cavity walls. With these flanking noise will easily travel through the cavities and into adjoining rooms through the lightweight blocks used for the inside skin of the walls.
If cavity wall insulation has not yet been installed and the budget will stretch enough, have blown mineral fibre insulation installed which will help absorb and reduce the noise travelling through the cavity and give you the bonus of a warmer house that will be cheaper to heat.
Where More Sound Escapes
Another area where flanking noise can penetrate is where joists are sometimes supported by the party wall. We have already covered the floor joists but it would be advisable to check the ceiling joists as well and seal those if there are signs of gaps opening up in the masonry around them. And if there is none or insufficient loft insulation in place, now is the time to add some more using the fibreglass type that comes in rolls. The final thing that can be done before starting on soundproofing the wall is to add another layer of 15mm high density plasterboard to the existing ceiling of the room. Now for the party wall within the room and for best results you will need to lose about 5.5 inches (137mm) of room space and will consist of the following.
Fix 2 x 3" (50 x 75mm) wooden frame about 1 inch (25mm) away from the wall and infill with 4 inches (100mm) of Acoustic Mineral Wool which should be touching the party wall and flush with the front of the wooden frame. Then screw Resilient Bars across the frame followed by two layers of ½ inch (12mm) Acoustic Plasterboard and for an enhanced result, sandwich 2mm (1/8 inch) soundproofing mat between the panels. If it is not possible to lose this much space then a smaller wooden frame can be used and if necessary, screwed directly to the wall but always infill with mineral wool and screw the plasterboard to the frame using the Resilient Bars. This system will cost you about £35.00 plus VAT for the sound insulation plus the cost of the timber and fixings.
Windows and Doors
Now for windows and doors. The doors are easy and if the usual lightweight internal type can be upgraded with Acoustic Doorseals around the frame and Soundproofing Mat to add mass to the door that will help block and contain some of the noise. These are also available in kit form for about £84.95 plus VAT but if you are fortunate enough to have heavy doors fitted, then you can use just the acoustic seal kit without the heavy mat at a cheaper price. Windows should be good quality double glazing which can be assisted with heavy lined drapes which also help absorb some of the noise within the room. That's it. Job done!
About This Article
Sound Service (Oxford) Ltd. provided the information contained within this article and if you need any further advice on any noise issues, they are the people to contact. They offer a wide range of DIY based soundproofing solutions for walls, floors and ceilings. All systems come with detailed installation instructions and can be viewed online prior to ordering. No soundproofing will reduce the noise 100% but a lot can be done to reduce it at a budget to suit your pocket. Certain types of noise will require thicker systems so you are always advised to discuss your individual case with the team at Sound Service to enable you to install the best products for you.
For more information and advice please check out their user friendly website www.keepitquiet.co.uk or call them on 0845 363 7131