Home Forums General Discussion How can you retrofit exterior noise control?

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    Beverley Ohline

    I am working on an HPA for a property which is landlocked behind and above the properties on the main road. Access to this property (and a parallel neighbor) via a shared driveway which divides roughly into a “y” in front of my client’s garage and adjacent master bedroom. The shared access did not become a problem until a new neighbor moved in. The new neighbors are a family with many teenage children with cars which come and go late into the night and into the early morning hours. The night noise keeps my clients awake in the master bedroom where they installed double glazing but found it inadequate.

    My clients want advice on how to keep the night noise from penetrating their peaceful enjoyment. There is not adequate space to plant trees or form an earth mound to block out the sound. The clients are considering a sound-proofing fence (could use advice on how to sound-proof a fence) but are concerned the fence will make ingress more difficult for both my clients and the neighbors also. The clients also are considering sound-proofing the master bedroom which has a large double-glazed window on the exterior wall in question.

    I understand that addressing sound-proofing at the design stage is best and retrofitting is expensive and labor intensive. The sound-proofing I’ve seen calls for adding double exterior sheeting, sound proof insulation and double interior wallboard. Even if the clients did these remodels, wouldn’t the window remain a problem? (The clients found installing double glazing did not create an effective sound barrier.) Would heavy, lined drapes, perhaps floor to ceiling and across the entire exterior bedroom wall, help? Do you know of any soundproofing materials – maybe acoustic tiles that can be applied to the interior wall – that might offer a less costly but effective solution? All suggestions are welcome. Thanks

    Vicki Cowan

    Hi Bev,
    Happy New Year!
    Sorry it’s taken someone so long to come back to you. Your forum post must have been drowned out by loud Christmas caroling… I have asked a couple of people directly if they have insight for you – hopefully someone will have some ideas to your gnarly question!
    As an aside, I do wonder if we are having a bit of trouble with the HUB and people getting notifications… about to talk to the hosts of site on that particular issue.
    Hope all well down south… I am just back in Welly after lovely break in Mackenzie country and Central Otago and of course my hometown of Dunedin!
    Kind regards,

    Richard Popenhagen

    Hi Bev
    Sound is a tricky thing to deal with, people have different tolerances to sound, what is acceptable to one person, can drive another person to distraction.
    Sound waves pass through any small gaps and cracks quite readily. This is often referred to as “flanking path” sound pathways. Can be quite difficult to seal off all those gaps to stop the sound entirely.
    You don’t mention whether the window frames are timber or aluminium. The condition of any rubber seals (if there are any), or sealing off gaps is also critical to ongoing performance.
    Just installing standard double glazing is unlikely to reduce the sound to an acceptable level. As a comparison, standard double glazing only gives a perceived sound reduction (what a human ear detects) of 5 to 20% compared to single glazing. What the double glazing company should have suggested is making one of the sheets of glass in the double glazed unit a piece of laminated glass. This upgrade would have given a perceived sound reduction of between 50 to 55%.
    Sound proofing the fence is unlikely to work as the sound waves will travel over the top of the fence and still create a nuisance. Additional sound tends to bounce off neighbouring buildings and reflect back across the boundary from all different directions.
    In light of the fact that they have already spent their money installing double glazing, they are unlikely to want to pay for it to be changed to incorporate laminated glass (but they might if the problem is so invasive), then the one option that may bring about an improvement is thick multi-layered drapes. These would need to incorporate a nice thick dense layer in the middle of the other layers. It is hard to quantify whether this would give the level of sound reduction required to meet their needs. The other problem is during day time when the curtains are open, you are back to being only as good as the windows are. Also can be an issue in summer when the windows are open for ventilation.
    As a trial, before they commit to spending lots of money, you could suggest hanging a two or three layers of thick blankets over the windows at night to see if that gives an improvement. If it does they could them look a installing a permanent long term solution in the form of thick layered curtains. These blankets or curtains would need to sit hard down onto the floor and seal to the walls around the other edges.
    I would be interested to hear what they do and the outcome achieved.

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