There’s nothing like feeling the serenity in a home which absorbs noise like a ravenous black hole.
Modern interiors that are filled with open-plan spaces and hard surfaces often look great but can do little in the way of shielding third party noises like your 75-year-old neighbour’s bedroom antics or noisy traffic.
Alas, there is a solution. Pay close attention to your doors, windows, floors, walls and ceiling as these are the noise-absorbing interior hacks that could save you from endless sleepless nights.
Up The Wall
Cover plasterboard walls using products made with materials boasting a noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of at least 0.85 (with 1.00 representing total noise absorption).
Fabric wrapped acoustic wall panels are a popular option for those of us with paper-thin walls. Available in a variety of fabrics, colours and patterns, installation is almost as simple as hanging a framed photo and it looks hella-cool in the home.
Carpet is becoming increasingly unpopular and aside from bedrooms, most homes and apartments now have floorboards, tiles or linoleum, all of which amplify noise.
Absorb some of the sound with thick, shaggy rugs placed around the home, particularly in high traffic areas where you might even consider layering a few different rugs on top of each other. Size matters – so go big or go home and consider attaching a foam-rubber backing or sound-absorbing padding to the underside of rugs.
Whereas hard surfaced will reflect sound waves, softer ones will absorb it. So think beyond just rugs and buy some wall-hangings, plush pillows, and a fluffy oversized couch for maximum noise absorption.
Grow Your Concrete Jungle
Concrete might not sound too cosy, but it looks awesome – especially in a masculine setting – and is one of the best materials at absorbing sound.
Cork floorboards are similar, in that they absorb most sound it comes into contact with. However, if you can’t give up your beloved floorboards, go the floating route. Floating boards maintain a gap between the sub-floor to dampen sound.
Employ Curtains & Drapes
Forget flimsy curtains because noise-absorbing and sound blocking drapes (with a thick wool core) are a real thing, and perfect for guys dealing with street noise.
If this option is too pricey, invest in some decent lined curtains made using thicker materials like velvet, which has the added benefit of insulation and keeping the cold conditions outside where they belong. Plus, they’re great for privacy and blocking out light.
Shield Your Appliances
The washing machine and the dryer are two of the noisiest household items. Dampen the monotonous rumbling with foam insulation (the kind used in recording studios) inside the laundry walls.
Strategise Furniture Placement
Placement is key when it comes to noise absorption. For example, if you and a neighbour have a shared wall separating your properties. Line this wall with furniture to keep Mr and Mrs Jones out of earshot. A bookshelf stacked with literature, linen and other nick-knacks will go a long way to reducing noise.
Look At Sound Blocking Doors
Sound blocking doors can be expensive, but the benefits are tremendous for those living in noisy environments. Unlike standard doors made with hollow core construction, ‘solid core’ doors stifle the transference of noise.
Particleboard-core and composite-core doors are also better at barring sound than their hollow counterparts. If you’d prefer not to go down this route, there are simpler alternatives to muting your doors. One of the easiest is to use weatherstrips or self-adhesive soundproofing tape to prevent noise creeping in through the cracks around the door.
In fact, the majority of noise comes via these cracks rather than through the door itself, making a secure seal almost as important as the door’s core.
Don’t forget the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor, where rubber bulb weatherstripping gaskets and a door sweep will suffice.
Become A Spakfilla Fella
Cracks and holes in your home or apartment will promote sound and air leaks. Go over your walls, doors and windows with a fine tooth comb and fill in any holes with Spakfilla or weather-strips.
Chaulking around windows is another way to seal gaps, or you could buy acoustical seals that allow another layer of glass to be applied over the original window pane. Remember, though, that acoustical sealed windows cannot be opened.