4.2 How do I improve the noise insulation of my apartment? | Owners Corporation Network

4.2 How do I improve the noise insulation of my apartment?

In buildings, acoustic treatments can be added to reduce the impact of sound emanating, entering or being received into specific areas. Sound is controlled by three means:

·         Firstly treatment of the source (e.g. building an enclosure around the source such as around compressors, or adding acoustic treatment to the area where the sound is coming from to absorb the energy of the sound waves)

  • Secondly treatment of the path of the noise (e.g. erection of barriers such as building walls on freeways)
  • And finally treatment at the receiver end. (e.g. noise blocking or absorption techniques such as installing curtains, furniture or wearing earplugs)

Some acoustic treatment options include:

Screening:When the noise is from an external source such as a main road it may be possible, if planning authorities permit, to screen with a noise barrier. These can be effective providing that the direct line of sight between traffic and house is concealed by the barrier.

Double glazing:The weak point for sound transmission to and from a building is most often via the windows. Traffic noise, people noise and general environmental noise can be very annoying. The glass is often only thin 3 mm thickness glass which is not very effective in stopping noise. Double glazing will usually afford noticeably better protection than single glazing, but in areas of high external noise it might be preferable to have double windows with a large air gap and acoustic absorbent material in the reveals. A secondary acoustic window fitted inside the existing window, or a cheap alternative magnetic insert effectively double glazing the window.

Acoustic underlay:Everybody who has experienced apartment and unit living will know the annoyance of someone walking on the ceiling above them or playing loud music in the room next door. Current trends towards the use of timber floors often replacing carpets, has highlighted the problem of inter unit noise

There are many ways that noise from floors and ceilings can be correctly acoustically treated.  The easiest way to reduce impact sound transmissions is to cushion the blow. For example, carpet with a high quality pad is considered one of the most effective impact sound transmission reducers. It reduces both the impact noise of people walking on the floor and airborne noise from voices, television and radios. Other resilient floors such as vinyl, cork, and rubber have slight give which cushions blows and also helps to increase the IIC rating. In addition, "floating floors" such as hardwood or bamboo installed over a resilient underlayment also helps to increase the IIC rating of the finished floor. Quite the opposite, concrete covered directly with hard, unforgiving surfaces such as ceramic tile, stone, hardwood, and bamboo can create quite a noisy surface to walk on. This is because there is no give in the floor system.

Pads and mats:Are generally not effective if the basic flooring is transferring significant noise. The may help if placed under specific noise creating objects such as a piano, or a stereo.

False wall or ceiling:If someone has installed a timber floor above you without taking the correct acoustic measures and you can’t get it resolved form their end a practical solution is to install a secondary ceiling. Noise through common walls can also be reduced by the addition of a false wall. This is done by fixing a layer of sound insulating material, commonly plasterboard, separated from the ceiling or wall by a large void containing acoustic quilting or installation under the existing ceiling. The false wall must not be connected to the party wall because that would allow sound transmission paths. The quality of construction is an important consideration if optimal levels of attenuation are desired. This treatment can reduce both impact noise and air borne noise by over 80%.

Door seals:Noise from the foyer of modern apartments. For example most entry doors are solid core doors to achieve fire rating; however, many are missing the most important noise control - seals around the door. Once the seals are installed, the noise can be reduced dramatically.

Water pipe wrapping:Another noise common to both apartment living is noise from water pipes. If the pipes are accessible they can be acoustically wrapped with pipe wrap.