How To Quiet Your Home
First it was trains, planes and automobiles. Then lawnmowers, leaf blowers and barking dogs. Now it’s loud music, big-screen televisions and home theaters.
If we were playing “Jeopardy,” the question would be: “What noise is driving people nuts?”
Noise used to be a problem that primarily affected people living in apartments, condos or other attached housing—think creaking floors, thumps on walls, loud music and thundering exercise equipment. And while noise persists for the condo crowd, it’s also screaming its way into more densely populated suburbs.
Ironically, a large amount of the unwanted noise in today’s homes originates IN today’s homes—the earsplitting sound of our children’s music, or the earth-shaking rumbles produced by surround-sound systems.
Some state-of-the-art products can help with this problem, but first, a look at the classics:
–Drywall and/or insulation: Homeowners can add a layer of drywall or some insulation to the wall cavity. Both of these are easy and relatively inexpensive, but unfortunately, the difference is barely noticeable to the human ear.
–Party walls: A better way to reduce noise is with staggered studs or even a double-stud wall. This alternative is reserved for major remodels or new construction where new walls are to be built. It requires more material and labor, and you’re going to lose several inches of floor space to the thicker wall.
–Resilient channels: Metal channels are attached to wall framing, and wallboard is then attached to the metal channels. The idea here is to “float” the wall, so sound is isolated. It’s not a practical solution for existing construction, but it can deliver good results if everything is installed perfectly—small mistakes can ruin the added soundproofing.
These systems are still used, but they appear rather archaic when compared to new products that reduce sound that would otherwise penetrate windows, doors, ceilings, floors and walls.
Certain-Teed, for example, manufactures a light-density fiberglass insulation batt that is installed between studs. Georgia Pacific makes a low-density product that is installed between studs and drywall. Temple-Inland makes a sound-deadening fiberboard. And Owens Corning produces a fabric system to envelop rooms.
Quiet Solution has developed some of the simplest and most cost-effective products. For example, they make a wallboard called QuietRock that looks and is used like regular drywall, but includes a viscoelastic polymer—what they call their “special sauce.” Simply stated, this treatment converts acoustic energy or “noise” to heat energy, which people can’t hear.
Viscoelastic what? Sounds pretty intimidating, but Quiet Solution CEO Kevin Surace puts it simply.
“It’s a revolutionary, high-tech, sound-damping product masquerading as just another building material,” he says. “It’s not fancy. It doesn’t call attention to itself. It just works.”
What makes this product so exciting is that it can be applied directly over existing wallboard without the need to tear down existing walls. For example, a standard sheet of 5/8-inch gypsum board added to a typical drywall-and-stud wall reduces sound coming through the wall by about 2 decibels—barely enough to be noticeable. But one sheet of QuietRock added to a typical wall reduces the sound coming through by about 20 decibels—a 75 percent reduction in sound.
If you’re remodeling a bedroom or home theater, all you need to do is screw on a layer of QuietRock and use an acoustic sealant around the perimeter. In new construction, one sheet of 5/8-inch QuietRock has the same noise reduction effect of eight sheets of standard drywall.
For the really noise challenged, Quiet Solution also manufactures floor and ceiling systems and windows—good news for the condo crowd.