Soundproof a Home From Street-Noise: Complete guide


For many of us, home is where we relax, escape from the outside world, and experience moments of blissful peace. But all too often, our fortresses of solitude are invaded by the sounds of traffic, neighbors, pedestrians, and construction, seeking to disturb us and jolt our minds out of their restfulness. This may be a symptom of modern life, but that does not mean we have to put up with it. In this article, you will explore how to soundproof a home from street-noise and restore the zen of a peaceful home. 

street noise in the US

During my childhood and my teenage years, I used to live in a big house in the suburbs of Stockholm and although the neighborhood was quiet-peaceful, my father was obsessed with soundproofing everything in the house. However, not until I moved to the city center I realized how necessary soundproofing can be.

The traffic jam was insane and since my street is constantly crowded with people, the noise was simply unbearable. Of course, since I already have some great foundations in soundproofing thanks to my father, I’ve decided to soundproof my apartment. And I am very happy about that decision!

While searching the internet I’ve realized that many people are facing the same issues when it comes to street noise and that’s why I’ve decided to put all this together and help you to soundproof a home from street noise.

Let’s get started!

How to Soundproof a Home From Street-Noise: Step-by-Step

Soundproofing

Before people even start soundproofing your home, there are some things that they usually have some doubts about. The first thing is whether soundproofing really works and the second one is if does – how soundproofing works?

Soundproofing works by adding extra obstacles that sound waves must travel through, reducing the energy of each wave until it is inaudible or dampened to such an extent that it is barely audible.

By reading this you probably now understand that soundproofing indeed works and therefore, it’s definitely worth investing some money and time into it. Luckily, there are many cheap and effective ways that you can use to soundproof a home from street-noise so keep reading!

Using Heavy Soundproof Curtains to Soundproof a Home

soundproof curtains to soundproof gaming room windows
Photo credit: snoringsource.com

By installing thick curtains on the windows facing the street, you can cut off a substantial amount of sound that can otherwise enter your bedroom space. Make sure you opt for thick curtains that complement the color scheme of other design elements in the house, you will be surprised to know the huge amount of choices that you will get in the market!

This is the most common question: What’s the easiest way to start soundproofing your house?”

Probably the easiest way to start soundproofing a home is to install soundproof curtains on all the important windows, for example, the windows that face any highway road.

Soundproof curtains are simple to hang, relatively cheap, come in a huge variety of styles and work incredibly well, but it’s important to understand exactly what they can and cannot do. Like most things, soundproof curtains aren’t a miracle cure, but they can have a massive effect if they are used correctly. Here’s what you need to know. 

How do soundproof curtains work? 

If you compare a soundproof curtain to a normal curtain, you’ll notice several big differences. 

  • Soundproof curtains are much bigger than normal curtains: Curtains like this tend to be huge, with a drop length that can almost reach the floor, and a width far greater than the width of your windows.
    This allows them to cover the maximum area around your window, which is where the vast majority of sounds will get into your house. This can make a major difference. Even having a small area around the window uncovered will let a lot of sounds through. According to the experts, an area as small as 1% uncovered can let through as much as 50% of the sound. 
  • Soundproof curtains are incredibly thick and dense: The thicker and denser a material, the more of the energy of a sound wave they can release from it, reducing the volume when it reaches your ears. There are some other advantages here, which we’ll touch on later. 

Other advantages of soundproof curtains 

Further, soundproof curtains aren’t just good for damping outside sounds. Other huge benefits can also contribute to a better night’s sleep, or even save you money. Here’s how. 

Soundproof curtains normally act as blackout curtains 

Because they’re so massive and thick, soundproof curtains are very effective blackout curtains. You might even see them advertised as blackout curtains, instead of soundproof. 

And light pollution from outside lights has been linked to insomnia, which more than 30% of adults in the USA currently struggle with. So your new investment will be serving double duty, insulating you from the sounds outside, and keeping you in a nice, dark room so you can get the best night’s sleep possible and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a new day. 

Soundproof curtains will save you money on your heating 

This is because soundproof curtains are just another level of insulation. 

As much as 35% of the heat produced by your house can be lost through poorly insulated windows, and having another thick barrier in front of them will slow this airflow. This means warmer winters, cooler summers by locking in air conditioning, and lower energy bills as you’re not having to constantly heat your house.

How To Choose Your Acoustic Curtain? 

Soundproof curtain

Many of the best soundproof curtains are sold on their ability to block light and trap heat in your room. 

You will not find many curtains being sold as ‘soundproofing curtains’ but there are plenty that is listed as ‘insulated curtains’ or ‘blackout curtains’. 

Fortunately, curtains that are good at blocking sound, light, and heat all share the same properties. 

They are thick and very dense, they are oversized so that the window is amply covered and so that the curtain has pleats (which help to dampen sound) and they are usually made from a material like velvet which helps block sound, light, and heat. 

There are numerous different types of pleats that curtains can have, including box pleats which can use up to 3 or 4 times the amount of fabric as a flat curtain. This is referred to as ‘fullness’, for sound damping we recommend you get a curtain with at least 100% fullness. The more fullness your curtain has, the greater the sound damping impact will be, you can even get curtains with up to 200% fullness!

Density blocks sound, unsurprisingly dense materials will weigh a lot!

Heavy curtains with lots of pleats in will block sound far more effectively than lighter flatter curtains. This is because they are far denser. They are made from much more material meaning they have far more fibers to absorb and reflect sound. 

Heavy curtains are often sold as insulated curtains which is why they are much thicker. Insulated curtains are particularly good at reducing low-frequency sounds such as the sound of passing traffic. 

The weight of a curtain is largely dependent on its size, however for a standard-sized curtain. A sufficient weight to block sound would be above 0.9kg / 2lb.  

thick-curtains-rolled-up

Best Types of Soundproofing Curtains to Soundproof a Home

A truly soundproof curtain is something that doesn’t exist, however, sound dampening or sound-absorbing curtains do exist. While they won’t block out sound completely, they will reduce reverberation and help minimize sound transfer that ultimately can help you out to soundproof a home. Curtains that are best at doing this are made from materials that trap small pockets of air inside them. The best materials for soundproof / sound- damping / sound-absorbing (or whatever you want to call them!) curtains are: 

Velvet

Velvet is put together in what is known as a pile weave structure. This structure consists of small loops which are all weaved together in one direction in loops. This means that velvet traps air (helping it better absorb and block sound) and it also makes it feel very smooth. 

Kilo Serge

Kilo Serge is what the giant curtains you get on theatre stages use, it is also commonly used in recording studios. It is made from densely packed wool which traps air making it great at absorbing sound. It usually only comes in black so it is often used as a curtain lining for a more attractive looking curtain in domestic properties. 

Extra tips when buying soundproofing curtains

Curtain Size 

Curtain size is important for dampening sound. Bigger size is always better with curtains. 

Curtain Length 

As a rough guide, you should aim to get curtains that are up to 30cm (10 inches) longer than your window. 

This will allow them to drape on the floor which will help to prevent sound from traveling through the air underneath your curtain. 

If possible, you should get curtains that are long enough to hang from the ceiling down to the floor, this will trap more sound. 

Curtain Width 

Your curtains should be wide, very wide! The recommended width for a curtain is at least three times the width of your window. This seems extreme however the width will allow your curtains to have lots of pleats in the curtains which will help to trap and absorb sound waves.  

Finally, if you decide to purchase soundproofing curtains for your home then you should consider these on Amazon. They are my personal favorites!

Insulating the Floor to Soundproof a Home From Street-Noise

If your room is in a location with two different noisy neighbors playing upsetting loud music, you will have challenges. 

When you get home from a busy day, you are aiming at having a restful night, and this may not be the case as noise will deter your sleep. 

Whether you live in a house, an apartment, or a condo, noise from other floors can get really annoying. The solution? Improve the sound insulation of your floors and ceilings. I’ll tell you how. 

However, if you wish to maintain a good relationship with your neighbors, you should not ask them to reduce the noise. 

The best way is to find a way that will prevent their sound from getting into your room. This calls for you to decide on soundproofing your house. 

A rug is a great choice that will play a significant role in assisting you in calming your apartment. 

Therefore, there is a necessity of swinging to a different pattern, which will assist you in soundproofing the roof. Consequently, you ought to consider the layering of carpets. 

Carpet as a way to insulating the floor

soundproof a home floor

 

Like thick curtains, carpets are a good measure to contain excessive noise. The soft texture of the carpets provides a good surface that absorbs unnecessary sound reflections in the room. This function is very effective in controlling disturbances caused by noise. The carpets not only reduce noise pollution, but they also give the room a pleasant and comfortable warmth and then offer you space where you can perfectly rejuvenate your feelings of fatigue. 

Carpet Soundproofing Products 

A soundproof underlayment is a type of material that you should apply over the subflooring (many times plywood or Hardie board) and underneath the final flooring (wood, laminate, or tile) 

Common underlay materials are cork, vinyl, rubber, and foam. These materials are dense and offer good sound isolation and impact damping(footsteps). Here are some of the top acoustic underlayment for wood, laminate, and tile floors. 

1. Roberts Super Felt Premium Underlayment 

Roberts Super Felt Premium Underlayment

 

Made for soundproofing floors and to cushion flooring, Roberts Super Premium Underlayment is a high performance felt underlayment, made in part from recycled fibers using a high heat manufacturing process. 

The felt is dense making it a good material for absorbing noise, rather than reflecting it.

  • Thickness: 3.0 mm 
  • Density: 14.5 lbs./ft.3 
  • STC Rating: 66 
  • IIC Rating: 67 

2. QuietWalk Plus 

QuietWalk Plus

QuietWalk Plus underlayment is an excellent alternative to Super Felt. While slightly less dense (11.5 vs 14.5 lbs./ft. 3) but boasts similar noise proofing properties, all for a competitive compared price. 

The performance and versatility of QuietWalk Plus make it one of the best underlayment for laminate, hardwood, and engineered wood floors. You can also put it under 5mm+ thick vinyl, LVT, and WPC/SPC planks (but not ceramic tile). 

  • Thickness: 3.1 mm 
  • Density: 11.5 lbs./ft.3 
  • STC Rating: 66 
  • IIC Rating: 71 

 3. Roberts First Step 

Roberts First Step

The First Step is another premium acoustic underlayment from Roberts Consolidated. This product is a foam material, which creates a layer of open-cell foam to allow air to flow and circulate underneath to inhibit the growth of molds. This means unlike other underlayments; the t Step can be installed onto subfloors above or below grade. 

  • Thickness: 2.0 mm 
  • Density: 5.5 lbs./ft.3 
  • STC Rating: 66 
  • IIC Rating: 68 
     

Strategies for Soundproofing Ceilings 

Installing a Drywall

Soundproofing your ceiling is also super important when soundproofing your home from street-noise. In fact, for soundproofing the ceiling, you can add a drywall layer to it. This is because drywalls are known all over for their high usefulness in the case of soundproofing.

soundproof-ceilings

Step-by-Step Guide on Installing a Drywall

  • Add fiberglass insulation: Exposed joists in the basement offer the chance to install fiberglass bats. While you’re at it, add a layer of drywall.
  • Install acoustic tiles: The commercial look is an acquired taste, but acoustic tiles can suit a home office or study. The panels, held by a metal grid, are made of fiberglass, sometimes with sound-interrupting foil or MLV layer. 
  • Add a second layer of drywall: Acoustic drywall has two layers of gypsum separated by a soft polymer. It can cut perceived sound by half. 
  • Add mass-loaded vinyl sheeting, then drywall: Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) absorbs and interrupts sound. 
  • Attach drywall on resilient clips: By fastening these clips to your ceiling joists, you can install a channel to support the second layer of drywall — a second skin for your ceiling. A rubber bushing built into the clip halts sounds vibration. 

Installation of Acoustic Foam Panels to Soundproof a Home

acoustic foams to soundproof office cubicle

You may be wondering about the need for this item since you are not soundproofing a music studio. However, there is a necessity of going this extra mile to eliminate noise. 

Therefore, if quietness is highly essential to you, this is one of the best alternatives. 

It is the ideal and best approach to soundproofing a room. More also, acoustic foam is a panel that is competent and excellent at the absorption of a variety of sounds. 

The acoustic foam panel is excellent and very effective at absorbing annoying sounds. Being very easy to install, all I needed to do was to hang them on the wall like one of the pieces of my art collection. 

They are so classic that you would hardly notice they were acoustic panels because I used assorted colors to spice up my room 

You will find acoustic foam panels of different colors and sizes in the market at cheap prices. I will suggest you to have a look at these on Amazon. They come in a variety of assorted colors in spicing up of one’s room. Basing on the sound reflection concept, it is better to install the foam panels on the opposite wall. 

They will play an essential role in the absorption and reflection of sounds effectively which ultimately helps to soundproof a home effectively. Furthermore, there are a variety of acoustical board sizes, which include even bigger sizes. Regardless of the choice of acoustic boards you select, you will have played a significant role in noise absorption. 

If you decide to give them a shot, check out this video where you will learn how to install them:

Stuffing the Wall with Artworks and a Bookcase to Soundproof a Home

Being a bookworm, I had a lot of old books I thought I could put to use. With the abundance of reading materials, I had, I used them as a bookshelf to cover the wall and make it thick. 

You can use extensive heaps of reading material for more than dust gathering. If you and your noisy neighbor have a mutual wall, push a book cabinet against it. The bigger the cabinet, the lesser the noise intensity that can travel to your room. 

soundproof Bookcase

To be successful, I had to boost the sound-damping material on that bookshelf. And so, I ignored a neat or regular arrangement and stacked all my reading materials together pressing the books tightly together to reduce sound leaks. 

If you don’t have many books to create a book cabinet, hanging artworks might be a little costlier but also effective in blocking outside noise. 

Adding of Soundproof Weather-Strips to Windows and Doors 

Exterior doors and windows need effective insulation to keep your home efficiently warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are a variety of weather stripping options to choose from, and some of them (for sealing doors) can be used together in order to get the best coverage. 

When choosing weather stripping, be sure it is appropriate for its location. Weatherstripping must be able to withstand the wear and tear from friction (when opening and closing windows and doors), and fluctuations in temperature and weather. 

Here is a brief overview of the most common types of weather stripping: 

Adhesive-backed Foam Tape 

Pressure-sensitive, adhesive-backed foam tape is probably the most common, most affordable, and easiest weather stripping to apply. It comes ready to use in rolls of different dimensions. The tape keeps air from sneaking in between the door and the doorstop or between the two window sashes. It usually lasts up to five years and is ideal for sealing drafty windows and doors. You can find it here on Amazon.

Felt Strips

Felt strips have been used for years; they’re an old-fashioned and inexpensive method of applying weather stripping. Like adhesive-backed foam tape, felt comes in rolls of varying lengths, widths, color, and quality, and works well for windows and doors. You can purchase one here on Amazon.

EPDM Rubber Weatherseal Tape 

More durable than foam weather stripping, this self-sticking tape is an effective way to seal windows and doors and works similarly to foam weather stripping tape. This one on Amazon definitely does a great job!

Vinyl V Strips 

These consist of durable and flexible vinyl. Their “V” shape makes them effective for sealing any gaps between window sashes and frames, on both the top and sides of a wood window frame. They are simple to install with their adhesive backing. Find it here on Amazon.

Door Sweeps

Door sweeps go on the bottom of the interior side of an in-swinging exterior door to seal the air gap between the door and the threshold. When used in conjunction with one of the other door weather strips, they provide an excellent seal. You can purchase it here on Amazon.

Extra Tips for Installing Weather Stripping

Weather Stripping A Door 

  • Inspect and Clean the Doorstop and Jamb    
  • Then install  Foam Tape Weather Stripping 
  • Install Door Sweep 

Weather Stripping Windows 

  • Inspect and Clean Window Parts
  • Then install  Foam Tape Weather Stripping
  • Install Vinyl “V” Strips
  • Install Shrink Film Window Insulation

Final Words:

It could be annoying to live with noisy neighbors and around a busy street. I have experienced that myself which is why I got inspired me to soundproof my apartment from street-noise. The decision to learn how to soundproof a home and do exactly that is actually the best thing ever as it brought me peace at least while I am at home!

Hopefully, the techniques that I provided you will help you out with removing that noise that comes from the street and finally enjoy your home peacefully! Best of luck!

Further reading:

Soundproofing a Rented Apartment: Complete Guide

Cost To Soundproof A Room – Best Cost Comparison (2020)

 

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