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Flanking noise through post war party walls

Previously I wrote about flanking noise around the party walls of pre-war houses so now I will talk about post-war houses.  These are normally built with a cavity in the external structural walls and it is this cavity that can allow the easy passage of noise around the party wall into adjoining homes.  We have already discussed how to address flanking noise through floors and ceiling

The problem with cavity walls is it is not only the cavity allowing the free passage of noise around the party wall but the internal masonry skin is often of low density blocks.  In the early days these would be known as “breeze” blocks but in more recent years they have been replaced with even lower density blocks called “Thermalite” blocks.  The Thermalite blocks are more efficient at allowing noise to be transmitted through them into adjoining rooms and are a particular problem with flats when flanking noise travels up and down through these blocks into flats above and below but the soundproofing of flats is an issue I will discuss in a later article.  The best way to soundproof these walls to reduce flanking noise transmission is to install a 50mm M20AD solution but can be expensive so should only be installed in extreme cases where the flanking noise is more of a nuisance.  If you still want to look at the M20AD solution to reduce flanking noise through a wall go to our web page via the following link M20AD To soundproof a wall.

And back to the cavities within the walls and the best way to treat these is to have blown mineral wool installed that will have the advantage of giving additional thermal insulation.  Other types of thermal insulation such as injected foam or polystyrene will not be as efficient at absorbing the noise and could actually compound the problem making the noise being heard even clearer.

More information on how to soundproof a party wall can be found on our web page via this link soundproof a party wall.

This article explains how flanking noise uses the cavities and lightweight masonry of walls to gain access.  More about how to soundproof a party wall will be published in the near future.  If you want to see how we can help soundproof a room or garage, go to our web site via this link.  Soundproof a garage.

For more information on soundproofing products for walls go to our web site or call us on 01993704981.

Soundproof a Floor Question and Answer

Recent Question

I recently bought three rolls of Tecsound 50 to soundproof a floor where airborne noise was particularly bad from downstairs neighbours. I filled all gaps between skirting boards and the hardboard over the floorboards with acoustic sealand. Over this went the Tecsound 50, on top of this went Duralay System 10 underlay and on top went a heavy twist pile carpet. 

However this has made zero difference and I can still hear normal conversations and snoring from the flat below and believe that the only way forward is to rip everything back up and fully pack the floorspace with acoustic mineral wool. 

Do you have a heavier grade than the 45Kg AMW? I understand that 60 to 80Kg is optimal. Also, the floorspace in question was covered by exactly two rolls of Tecsound 50 – how many slabs would be required to cover the same space (given this will be packed between joists.)

Our Answer

Thank you for your email and the feedback on the acoustic performance you have so far experienced.  As long as flanking noise is not skirting round the floor, the application of mass is the best way to help block and reduce noise from the other side.  With the application of 2 layers of Tecsound 50, 10kg per sq mtr of mass would be added to the floor.  This will have had an effect at reducing noise but noise at night is much more difficult to address particularly with low frequency snoring.

Lifting your floorboards to install acoustic mineral wool will not make a huge difference although always beneficial.  Using the correct density AMW you will achieve an improvement of around 2dB and on its own, with no additional soundproofing measures, will not be an audible improvement but worthwhile as part of an overall upgrade using additional soundproofing materials.

I fear that there is not an effective solution to reduce the noise you are experiencing from below at night because this is a time when all of your normal background noises are switched off and you are trying to sleep.  This is a time when you are more aware of noise that would not disturb you during the day.

If your budget allows and you are prepared to lift the floorboards, by all means install 100mm of AMW100 acoustic mineral wool as a loose fit between the joists.  A denser AMW will not perform any better and could make the noise issue worse.  Once installed, screw back the floorboards, seal and refit with at least two layers of Tecsound.  Then instead of using the underlay you bought that has no value at reducing airborne noise, use our 15mm QuietFloor Plus acoustic underlay instead.  This will be adding a further 15kg of mass to the floor per sq. mtr. and far more effective than the underlay you have at present.  The underlay you have is only tested to reduce impact noise which is not what you are looking for.

More information on our QF+ underlay and AMW can be viewed on our web site via the following links

QuietFloor Plus

Acoustic Mineral Wool

Current prices are also on our web site.

For more information on all of our acoustic products go to our web site www.keepitquiet.co.uk or call us on 01993704981

More on noise through a party wall

As I have mentioned before, noise though party walls takes different forms and those which are loud are anti-social noise that can only be addressed by outside authorities.  From now on we will talk about normal levels of noise such as talking that should not be heard during the daytime.  Assuming it is normal levels of noise that have to be addressed we have to also think about flanking noise.  Now flanking noise is noise that skirts around the party wall via the hollow sections beneath floorboards and also above the ceiling.  With pre-war buildings these are usually the only areas that can be treated to reduce flanking noise transmission because there are no cavities in the structural walls that would otherwise allow the free transmission of noise.  Chimney breasts and internal attached walls are other areas that can allow flanking noise but are usually impractical to effectively soundproof.

Firstly we will deal with pre-war houses and flats that usually have solid structural walls that do not require additional treatment.  This means the floor and ceiling and these should be treated before doing anything with the party wall to reduce flanking noise in those areas.  With the floor it will be necessary to lift the floorboards closest to the party wall and insert between the joists immediately adjacent to the wall Acoustic Mineral Wool.  If the joists are supported by the party wall then install enough to cover 1200mm from the wall and along the space between the joists.  If, on the other hand, the joists are parallel to the wall, then simply insert the acoustic mineral wool in the space between the first two set of joists then replace the floorboards and screw them down.  Once refitted, overlay with 2mm of SBM5 soundproofing mat that will seal up the joints of the floorboards.

The same infill treatment using acoustic mineral wool should be carried out on the ceiling but if it is a top floor bedroom ceiling there may already be thermal insulation in between the joists and it is not wise to remove it.  The ceiling itself can be upgraded with an additional layer of 15mm high density acoustic plasterboard that will add mass and therefore improve the sound blocking performance of the ceiling.  Now the floor and ceiling have been acoustically treated we can look at what can be done to soundproof the party wall and I will cover this in my next article.  In the meantime if you require any further information on how to soundproof a party wall go to our web page via this link soundproof a party wall.

This article is just an introduction to flanking  noise that can skirt round  party walls.  More about how to soundproof a party wall will be published in the near future.  If you want to see more about how we can help soundproof a home go to our web site via this link. Soundproof a home.   Or call us on 01993 704981

How to Soundproof a Party Wall

Until now we have been discussing the type of noise that can be heard through party walls such as airborne and flanking noise and we have detailed how to address flanking noise.  Now we will talk about how to soundproof a party wall.  To obtain the best results when soundproofing any wall loss of space will be required and the more space that can be lost the better the soundproofing results will be.  Also, if the wall to be treated has a chimney breast the results are not going to be as good as a wall without a chimney breast.  This is because a chimney breast is directly linked to the other side of the wall and so will allow flanking noise ease of passage and flanking noise is noise that skirts round any effectively installed acoustic treatment.  It is possible to totally enclose the chimney breast behind an independent soundproofed wall then that would give good noise reducing results but rarely is this possible because too much space would be lost.

We will commence with describing the most efficient method of soundproofing a wall and we will assume it is a normal wall with no impediments although the same treatments can be applied to walls with a fireplace but for best results, the fireplace should be bricked up with high density blocks first.  The best treatment that will soundproof a wall is the independent stud wall and this will take up just under 6 inches (150mm) of room and is installed at least 25mm away from the wall to be soundproofed.  An acoustic infill of mineral wool is installed then the frame is clad with 30mm (2 x 15mm) of high density Acoustic Plasterboard.  For an enhanced result, SoundBlocker Quilt can be used instead of mineral wool and more information on this can be viewed on our web site.

If the amount of space required for the independent stud system cannot be spared then the next best thing is to fix the stud directly to the wall which will save at least 25mm.  But fixing anything less than 2 inches (50mm) deep stud will not be worthwhile.  The rest of the acoustic treatment remains as detailed above with the exception of fixing the plasterboard.  When stud is directly fixed to walls it is essential the acoustic plasterboard is decoupled to reduce flanking noise and this is done by screwing Resilient Bars across the stud frame then screwing the plasterboard to the bars.  As the name suggests, the Resilient Bars then act as a flexible decoupler that isolates the plasterboard from the frame and wall making the sound insulation of the wall more efficient but not as efficient as an independent stud system.

If even the direct fixed stud system is losing too much space the next system that can be used is the M20AD system referred to in an earlier article and the M20AD system will take up no more than 2 inches (50mm) of space.  This system breaks away from mechanical fixings and comprises three layers that are glued.  The first layer is just over ¾ inch (20mm) thick and this is the M20AD sound insulation that is a high density recycled rubber sound insulation that is bonded to the wall using our aerosol contact adhesive.  Once the M20AD has been securely fixed, two layers of 15mm high density acoustic plasterboard is then glued on top using the same adhesive.  More information on the M20AD system along with comprehensive installation instructions can also be viewed on our web site.

A more recent solution and the thinnest that can be installed so by definition, the least efficient soundproofing system is QuietPanel at 27.5mm thick.  The QuietPanel system was introduced due to popular demand because in many cases a noise reducing system for party walls is required but space is limited due to the close proximity of windows or doors so the QuietPanel system was introduced for those instances for those with limited space and know this is the least efficient system to soundproof a wall but realise that something is better than nothing.  QuietPanels are supplied as a one part application and are simply screwed to any masonry wall using screws and plugs.

Now you have been given an insight into what is involved when considering upgrading the soundproofing of a party wall and I hope this article and the previous three have proved useful.

Flanking noise through post war party walls

Previously I wrote about flanking noise around the party walls of pre-war houses so now I will talk about post-war houses.  These are normally built with a cavity in the external structural walls and it is this cavity that can allow the easy passage of noise around the party wall into adjoining homes.  We have already discussed how to address flanking noise through floors and ceiling

The problem with cavity walls is it is not only the cavity allowing the free passage of noise around the party wall but the internal masonry skin is often of low density blocks.  In the early days these would be known as “breeze” blocks but in more recent years they have been replaced with even lower density blocks called “Thermalite” blocks.  The Thermalite blocks are more efficient at allowing noise to be transmitted through them into adjoining rooms and are a particular problem with flats when flanking noise travels up and down through these blocks into flats above and below but the soundproofing of flats is an issue I will discuss in a later article.  The best way to soundproof these walls to reduce flanking noise transmission is to install a 50mm M20AD solution but can be expensive so should only be installed in extreme cases where the flanking noise is more of a nuisance.  If you still want to look at the M20AD solution to reduce flanking noise through a wall go to our web page via the following link M20AD To soundproof a wall.

And back to the cavities within the walls and the best way to treat these is to have blown mineral wool installed that will have the advantage of giving additional thermal insulation.  Other types of thermal insulation such as injected foam or polystyrene will not be as efficient at absorbing the noise and could actually compound the problem making the noise being heard even clearer.

More information on how to soundproof a party wall can be found on our web page via this link soundproof a party wall.

This article explains how flanking noise uses the cavities and lightweight masonry of walls to gain access.  More about how to soundproof a party wall will be published in the near future.  If you want to see how we can help soundproof a home or garage, go to our web site via this link.  Soundproof a home.

More on noise through a party wall and flanking noise

As I have mentioned before, noise though party walls takes different forms and those which are loud are anti-social noise that can only be addressed by outside authorities.  From now on we will talk about normal levels of noise such as talking that should not be heard during the daytime.  Assuming it is normal levels of noise that have to be addressed we have to also think about flanking noise.  Now flanking noise is noise that skirts around the party wall via the hollow sections beneath floorboards and also above the ceiling.  With pre-war buildings these are usually the only areas that can be treated to reduce flanking noise transmission because there are no cavities in the structural walls that would otherwise allow the free transmission of noise.  Chimney breasts and internal attached walls are other areas that can allow flanking noise but are usually impractical to effectively soundproof.

Firstly we will deal with pre-war houses and flats that usually have solid structural walls that do not require additional treatment.  This means the floor and ceiling and these should be treated before doing anything with the party wall to reduce flanking noise in those areas.  With the floor it will be necessary to lift the floorboards closest to the party wall and insert between the joists immediately adjacent to the wall Acoustic Mineral Wool.  If the joists are supported by the party wall then install enough to cover 1200mm from the wall and along the space between the joists.  If, on the other hand, the joists are parallel to the wall, then simply insert the acoustic mineral wool in the space between the first two set of joists then replace the floorboards and screw them down.  Once refitted, overlay with 2mm of SBM5 soundproofing mat that will seal up the joints of the floorboards.

The same infill treatment using acoustic mineral wool should be carried out on the ceiling but if it is a top floor bedroom ceiling there may already be thermal insulation in between the joists and it is not wise to remove it.  The ceiling itself can be upgraded with an additional layer of 15mm high density acoustic plasterboard that will add mass and therefore improve the sound blocking performance of the ceiling.  Now the floor and ceiling have been acoustically treated we can look at what can be done to soundproof the party wall and I will cover this in my next article.  In the meantime if you require any further information on how to soundproof a party wall go to our web page via this link  soundproof a party wall.

This article is just an introduction to flanking  noise that can skirt round  party walls.  More about how to soundproof a party wall will be published in the near future.  If you want to see more about how we can help soundproof a home go to our web site via this link.  Soundproof a home.

Noise through a party wall

Many people think that just applying a sheet of extra plasterboard to a party wall is all that is required to give a vast improvement to lowering the noise from their neighbours.  In reality there would be no noticeable improvement.  Noise from neighbours can take several forms and some which can only be addressed through action by the local authority because the noise they are making is loud and anti-social that cannot be silenced by adding soundproofing to the party wall.  Such anti-social noise would be music being played loudly so that it can be heard outside as well as your side of the party wall.  Or loud and raised voices, shouting and screaming, none of which can be controlled with the addition of sound insulation.  And finally, slamming doors.  With the exception of slamming doors, all of these noise problems can only be solved via action by the local authority.  Quiet closers can be fitted to doors so they close without slamming.Also, noise at night, even if it is not loud will most likely always be heard when in bed at night and awake.  This is because the normal daytime background noises in your own home that mask other noises are usually switched off at night and it is in this quieter environment that you are more easily able to hear other noises not normally noticed.  Again, it is unlikely that noise at night can be totally silenced but the upside is, if the noise is the same every night, usually you will get used to it and enjoy a good night’s sleep.Back to noise through a party wall and how to address it.  In the daytime if it is normal noise such as normal levels of speech (talking) or music, television and radio being played at reasonable volumes, good results can usually be obtained by adding soundproofing to the wall which will reduce noise from coming directly through the wall.  However, walls with a chimney breast cannot be soundproofed as efficiently as walls without a chimney breast.More short articles will be written about how to soundproof a home so keep a look out for them.  In the meantime, if you require any further information about how to soundproof your party wall go to soundproof a party wall .This article is just an introduction to the types of noise experienced through party walls.  More about noise through walls will be published in the near future and also how to soundproof them in more detail.  There will be more articles on noise through party walls and how to address it to follow this one so look out for them.

Noise in the New Year

Now that we are in the New Year and the festivities of Christmas is behind us you may be affected by additional noise from your neighbours or children playing their new sound system or computer games at higher volumes.  Or some other means of generating more noise than before from newly acquired equipment.  Well you do not have to put up with it but take measures to reduce the noise nuisance by installing strategically placed soundproofing measures onto your floor, wall or ceiling to insulate the noise coming through from the other side.  We at Sound Service (Oxford) Ltd. have been specialists in the soundproofing business since 1969 so know a thing or two about the subject and are always happy to give free advice via telephone or email on any noise issue you may have.  This will include advice on the best method of soundproofing to adopt according to your budget because spending more will not always get you the best.  For instance, to obtain the best soundproofing of a party wall you would install an independent sound insulated stud wall and this is one of the cheapest methods of noise control through a party wall.  In fact any stud system of noise control is usually cheaper and more efficient than alternatives, but of course, take up more space.  So if space is an issue we can offer alternative options starting from as thin as 27.5mm (just over 1 inch).  However, it is generally considered that more space has to be lost to get the best soundproofing results.

Noise through floors is usually an issue with older flats that were constructed prior to when consideration for sound insulation had to be built in.  Although having said that, some newly built properties built using an approved Robust Detail standard still have noise problems because they were not built properly or the wrong materials used.  But that is a different issue I will deal with at another time.

Back to soundproofing a floor.  If you live in a flat again the best solution entails an increase in the floor height and the greater the increase, the better the sound loss.  For best results a separating floor should be treated from the ceiling below, between the joists and the floor above but for this article we will assume you do not have access to the ceiling below and do not wish to lift the floorboards to install Acoustic Mineral Wool between the joists.  So we will just deal with what can be done with the minimum of work which just means removing existing floor coverings.  Once that is done you have the choice of simply installing an acoustic underlay instead of normal underlay beneath your carpets, laminate or wood floor or, if you can live with the additional height, install a properly soundproofed floating floor system that will raise the existing floor height by up to 30mm.  And for belt and braces, install acoustic underlay on top.

To soundproof a ceiling is a different issue and depends on the type of ceiling already fitted and the level of soundproofing work you wish to undertake.  The same principle of space applies as mentioned earlier and the more height you can lose the less noise you will hear from above (flanking noise aside which again, we will deal with in a later blog).  We will start with the assumption that you just want to do something to reduce the noise from above with the minimum of disruption and accept the best results will not be achieved but some improvement will be attained and that is to screw up an additional layer of 15mm Acoustic Plasterboard with 1mm of SoundBlocker membrane sandwiched between the old ceiling and the new plasterboard.  This is the thinnest solution and therefore, not the best unless the existing ceiling is lathe and plaster.  It is never advisable to remove lathe and plaster ceilings because they are acoustically better than normal plasterboard ceilings.  For better soundproofing and assuming you have an ordinary plasterboard ceiling this can be removed and replaced with a decoupled ceiling either using a Resilient Bar system or if space allows, a new, independent timber joisted ceiling suspended off wall mounted hangers.  Whichever method is adopted, an Acoustic Mineral Wool infill should always be loosely inserted into the cavity before applying the 30mm of high density plasterboard.

More specific information on these methods of soundproofing a wall, floor or ceiling can be viewed on the domestic side of our web site www.soundservice.co.uk or you can call us on 01993704981.

Wall Soundproofing

Many of our customers want to reduce noise through a party wall but do not want to lose much space or have limited space.  We all know the more space that can be spared the greater the soundproofing effect will be but for some, the noise they can hear through a wall is so annoying that although they an only fit a limited amount of soundproofing, any reduction is better than none.  We can help in these situations because we stock M20AD, a high density, recycled rubber mat that is both sound absorbing as well as a sound barrier and is only 20mm thick.  Because it has to be fitted with a double thickness of high density acoustic plasterboard on top, the thickness is increased by 2 x 12.5mm (25mm) or 2 x 15mm (30mm) for a greater improvement.  Therefore, the total thickness using this system would be 45mm of 50mm using the thicker plasterboard.  The 20mm thick panel is otherwise known as our Thin Wall Soundproofing System which has been successfully soundproofing party walls since its introduction into the UK in 1987 and is the best product for reducing normal levels of noise nuisance.  As the thickness is limited, reduction of loud noise or bass noise will never be as good but some reduction in these noise levels can still be enjoyed.

Installation is easy and all of the products are glued using our low odour, Sta-Put aerosol contact adhesive and cutting carried out using a sharp Stanley type knife.

For some people even 45mm is too thick so for these cases we offer a 27.5mm thick acoustic  insulation for party walls that is a one part application called QuietPanel or Ultra Thin Wall Soundproofing System and is ideal for party walls that have the close proximity of a window or door frame limiting the thickness of soundproofing that can be applied.  QuietPanel comprises a layer of high density acoustic plasterboard bonded to recycled soundproofing and this panel is simply screwed to the wall.  The panels are offered up to a wall then using a masonry drill, drilled through the panel into the wall to the required depth then secured with screws and rawlplugs that are fitted through the panel into the wall and tightened.  Again trimming can be done with a sharp knife or fine toothed saw.  Once installed, the joints are taped and the wall can be plaster skimmed to finish before decorating.

Both systems are stock items and can be delivered very quickly.  For more information on soundproofing a wall or party wall, go to our web site www.keepitquiet.co.uk or call us on 01993704981

Soundproof a Garage

We have many enquiries from people that want to soundproof their garage or shed so that little Johnny can bang away on his drums away from the earshot of their parents and neighbours.  Thinking of the soundproofing before installing the drum kit is always the best thing to do and it is not a difficult task for any body used to handling small tools such as a saw, hammer and screwdriver (powered is best).  All that has to be done is build a room within a room which is the basis of soundproofing any room.  For better results, a room within a room within a room will do the trick but usually garages and sheds are not big enough so we will leave that concept of soundproofing to the likes of bigger studios such as within the BBC.

There is an article on our web site that describes in detail all that is needed to soundproof a garage or shed and takes you through a step by step instruction with photographs.  To view this simply click on this link Soundproofing a Garage or Shed to take you there.  If the link does not work then simply copy and paste it into your browser address bar.  Once the soundproofing has been completed, sound absorption will be required within the room to absorb the reverberant noise otherwise the reverberation will amplify and distort the music being played and without it, the musician(s) will not be able to appreciate the true tone of the music produced.   For more information on the sound absorbers we offer for studios click on the next link Studio Acoustic Products then scroll to the bottom of the page.  The article and web pages describe all of the products required to achieve effective soundproofing and all of the products are also listed on our web site along with current prices.  To view all of our soundproofing and sound absorbing products go to the domestic side of our web site www.keepitquiet.co.uk

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