The Sound of Silence - How to Soundproof a Townhouse or Apartment
Townhouse living has its advantages but it does not have peace and quiet from next-door neighbours!
Townhouse living has many advantages but soundproofing is not one of them. The sad fact is that townhouses are not freestanding and share several components with their neighbours, including interior walls. But the advantages of living in a townhouse outweigh the disadvantages so there has to be a way to make a compromise and soundproof a home so that the noises that surround you don't take precedence in your life.
Most people have come to live with everyday noise that is part and parcel of townhouse living, but there are occurrences that happen where noisy neighbours become a nightmare, whether it is screaming children or adults, barking pets, or loud noise. There are several easy DIY methods for soundproofing a townhouse and we take a look at a few that are proven to work and that you can put into effect in your own home.
The more upholstered pieces you bring into a room - the more the sound dampening effect.
1. Carpets, Rugs, and Mats
With the move away from carpets towards more easily maintainable flooring options, homes echo sound more effectively without the dampening effect of carpets. You won't believe the difference in how sound carries with laminate floors installed compared to the softness of sound in a carpeted room. During the process of converting my workshop back into a lounge, the original carpet was retained and a loose carpet was laid over the top of this. Initially, I was not aware of how effective a sound dampener this was until I sat in the garden outside the room while hubby watched a movie on FULL sound, of which hardly anything was heard outside.
Loose carpets, rugs, and mats dampen sound in a room by absorbing most of the noise and the thicker the carpet - the more sound is deadened. You might not want to lay carpet over the entire surface of your floors, but even a few carefully placed rugs will help towards soundproofing the space.
Much of the noise that enters a home is through open windows or doors. There is something you can do about this, depending on how much you want to spend.
Sealing around windows and doors
- Sponge-rubber sealing tape can be purchased at Builders and this is stuck around window and door frames to provide insulation and weatherproofing. The sealing tape also works to provide soundproofing and will reduce the amount of sound through gaps around windows and doors.
- Significantly more expensive than DIY solutions, having double-glazed windows installed will insulate and soundproof a home.
- Layered window treatments work extremely well for both insulation and soundproofing. Layer curtains over each other for a double treatment that will help to block out sound. Fabric blinds do not offer much protection compared to curtains but there is nothing against using blinds for light and privacy control and framing this with a curtain window treatment.
3. Soundproof Walls
Single-thickness walls between residences are the main culprit for the lack of soundproofing and, other than employing an acoustics or soundproofing expert, there are only a few DIY tricks for you try to deaden sound from neighbours.
Mount textiles on the wall
- We already discussed how textiles can be used to deaden sound in Point 1 above. The same applies to textiles such as tapestries and rugs hung on a wall. The achieved effect is the same as loose carpets and rugs and works to dampen sounds that come through walls.
Back framed artworks
- Framed artworks on their own will not have any dampening action on sounds, but when backed with a piece of softboard that you can buy at Builders, this does have a positive effect. Have a piece of softboard cut to fit behind a picture frame or inside a canvas frame that is hidden out of sight, weighs very little, and will help to dampen sound.
All of the above soundproofing techniques have been tried and tested and work when put into a home. Doing all 3 will substantially reduce sound levels both in your own place and the sound carrying from neighbouring units. All 3 above solutions are easy to put in motion and will cost very little, other than the investment of buying carpets and rugs, etc., or having curtains custom-made for windows.