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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.

QuietPanel Soundproofing for Party Walls

QuietPanel is an ultra thin 27.5mm thick easy applied soundproofing solution to upgrade the sound insulation of party walls.  QuietPanel should be used on single party walls of masonry construction or lighter weight stud walls to obtain the best performance.  Thicker solutions of noise control will usually give better results when trying to reduce noise from neighbours through party walls but sometimes thicker solutions are not always possible for various reasons. 

This is why we introduced these thinner acoustic panels which are designed for when thicker, more efficient soundproofing systems are not possible due to the close proximity of doors or windows.

This thinner system of sound insulation for walls is very popular and is also a favourite of construction companies when refurbishing houses or flats.  Because the QuietPanel system is so thin, it is often used to upgrade the sound insulation of walls dividing bedrooms or other rooms in the home.  These days, new properties are often built with lightweight stud walls to separate rooms and because they do not have the density of the older masonry walls are not as efficient at reducing sound transfer between rooms.  Because stud walls nearly always perform badly for noise control unless acoustically treated during construction, it is necessary to upgrade them when more privacy is required for noise insulation but now they can be upgraded using the QuietPanel system that is easy to screw on and takes up very little space.  So more  privacy can now be obtained without losing too much space and using a system that will not break the bank.

For more information on QuietPanel including technical specifications and installation instructions, go to our web page via this link


or call us on 01993704981

Soundproofing Floors #2

Our last article was an introduction into noise through floors and ceilings and how to reduce the noise nuisance.  This article follows on from that and will now talk about flanking noise that is noise that skirts around the floors and ceilings and can reduce the effectiveness of any noise control measures that may have been taken or about to be started.

Flanking noise is noise that can travel through other parts of the building and is usually through lightweight walls such as breeze or Thernalite type walls that form the inner skin of structural cavity walls.  These walls are more common post war and more recently, breeze block walls have been superseded by the even lighter Thermalite type blocks.  Although breeze or clinker blocks allow flanking noise through them, the Thermalite type blocks are even lighter and will allow flanking noise an easier route through.  Installing blown mineral wool into the cavity will help reduce this noise problem otherwise, the cavity walls will have to be treated from inside the room and the best way to treat these is to apply either our 50mm Thin Wall soundproofing solution or the even thinner QuietPanel system at only 27.5mm thick.

So if the property is of pre-war construction, it is likely that you will achieve a greater degree of soundproofing due to flanking noise being less likely to be an issue.

Our next article will concentrate on bringing a separating floor up to the minimum requirements for noise control.

Noise Control through Floors

This article is going to be the start of a regular series where we discuss noise through floors and ceilings and solutions that can be adopted.

Many flats were constructed in the days before noise control formed part of the Building Regulations and in many cases were the subject of a change of use.  This is when large houses and other buildings have been turned into flats for multi-occupation.  It is this type of property, usually with timber suspended floors that often suffer from noise created by neighbours below and above.  Noise from neighbours through floors and ceilings is not only disturbing but can also be injurious to health as is often discussed in media these days.

If you have the co-operation of your neighbours and are prepared to put up with the disruption of removing floors and ceilings, separating floors can be upgraded to comply with the current Building Regulations for the control of  noise from neighbours.  On the other hand, if you can only treat the problem from your side of the divide, that is possible too but of course, will not reach the same degree of soundproofing but will still be beneficial at reducing the noise nuisance.

Although we will discuss solutions to reduce noise nuisance from affecting you, it must be realised that noise at night will almost certainly be heard, no matter how much attention paid to installing noise control measures.  Introducing properly installed noise control measures should reduce any noise being heard to much more acceptable levels and if the noise at night is constant, usually within a short space of time the body gets used to it and will no longer disturb sleep.  People living next to busy roads for instance nearly always go straight to sleep.  It is when they move from a quiet environment to a noisier one sleep problems will be encountered because they are not used to it.  The trick is not to let it bother you, just relax and you will be surprised at how quickly you will become used to the noise.

Loud noise will always be heard such as shouting or music being played at high volumes.  This is anti-social behaviour and if having a quiet word with the neighbours does not resolve the problem then you have to refer the matter to the local authority who have the powers to deal with the problem but this should be your last resort.  It is always better to negotiate rather than confrontate  (new word just invented because it rhymes).  When presented with the problem of excessive noise from neighbours, rather than go pounding on their door and having an angry confrontation (correct spelling) with them, instead, politely ask them back to your place for a drink so that you can discus the problem and possible solutions.  In many cases, neighbours may be unaware and mortified they are disturbing others and will take steps to address the problem.  That way you will remain friends with the neighbours which is something to be valued.  Friendly neighbours are like gold dust and should be cherished.

Look out for our next article when we will discuss bringing an existing separating floor into compliance with the Building Regulations for the control of noise.

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.

Domestic Pump Noise and Soundproofing Solution

Domestic water pumps for supplying showers and taps are extremely noisy and very disturbing when being used at night.  Too many people do not take this into account when having one fitted and often have them fitted in cupboards or beneath baths where space is limited.  It is only after installation that they become aware of the noise problem these pumps give off but the pumps are so badly sited it is impossible to install an effective soundproofing solution to reduce the noise.  Most of these pumps are small so it is tempting to fit them into tight spaces where they will be unobtrusive but don’t do it because it will be a mistake.

Instead when considering the purchase of one of these pumps, also think about where it should be sited so that it can be acoustically treated to reduce much of the noise the pump would otherwise give off.  The best place is in a cellar if there is one or alternatively the utility room, the loft or anywhere else where there is plenty of space. 

Now for the best way to limit the amount of sound that the pump will emit.  For best results the pump should be sited in an area where it can be enclosed in a box that will be large enough not to allow too much heat build up.  It is not usually necessary to allow for ventilation because these pumps usually only run for short periods of time.  Once the site has been established prepare a resilient base for it as follows.

Cut to size a 10mm AV (anti-vibration) mat cut to the dimensions that the inside of the box will cover and glue it to the floor.  If the site is in a loft screw down a 25mm thick MDF panel onto the joists and make it large enough to support all the sides of the box.  If the loft is already boarded the additional MDF board will not be necessary.  Once the AV mat is glued down, glue on top of it a concrete patio slab available for a few pounds from your nearest DIY superstore, garden centre or concrete slab producer if you have one in your area.  Now glue another 10mm layer of AV mat on top of the slab followed by a ply or MDF board thick enough to take the screws the pump will be screwed on with.  The enclosure should be made using 18mm MDF and lined on the inside walls and top with 32mm sound insulation remembering to make the box large enough so as not to allow too much heat build-up.

Holes will have to be cut into the box to allow the pipes access to the pump and these should be about 6mm larger than the diameter of the pipes.  The pipes themselves should be flexibly fitted to the pump and not rigidly and the holes in the box sealed with flexible Acoustic Sealant.  If necessary, the box can be assembled with screws so that it can be taken apart easily should the pump require any future attention.

The soundproofing products that we can supply are as follows.

AV Mat 1m x 1m x 10mm

B6 Sound Insulation 1200 x 900 x 32mm

Acoustic Sealant in 380ml cartridges

Aerosol Contact Adhesive

More information on these can be viewed on the Domestic side of our web site www.keepitquiet.co.uk or go directly to our web page on how to soundproof a pump via this link https://www.keepitquiet.co.uk/pump_noise.html

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

Acoustic Mineral Wool

When upgrading the soundproofing of a stud wall or timber joisted floor, it is often felt by the uninformed that installing mineral wool will have the desired effect and magically soundproof the structure.  The reality is that often, there is no discernible improvement in reducing the noise that you want to reduce.  This is because the insertion of just mineral wool will only give an improvement of about 1dB.  A better result would be achieved if the correct density Acoustic Mineral Wool (AMW) is used and installed as a loose fit and not tightly.  This is because the AMW is a sound absorber not a sound barrier.  On its own, AMW will give an improvement of up to 2dB which would still not be noticed on its own.  It is designed to absorb the noise within the voids of stud walls and floors and will work best as part of an overall upgrade that would include the installation of sound blocking materials such as high density Acoustic Plasterboard for stud walls and ceilings, and high density floating floors which we will talk about in another Blog.

The thickness of installed AMW is also important.  It is another myth that the more you put in the better the soundproofing will become but this also is not true.  For timber joisted floors a maximum of 100mm (AMW100) is all that is required.  Any more would be a waste of time and money and again for stud partitions, just the thickness of the stud is required up to 100mm.

When a greater improvement is required, the AMW can be replaced with our SoundBlocker Quilt which we will also talk about in another Blog.  This Blog is designed to inform you that Acoustic Mineral Wool is an important part of any upgrade of the soundproofing of stud walls and timber joists but must be used along with other soundproofing materials properly installed to obtain the best results.  For more information on our Acoustic Mineral Wool and other soundproofing products, go to our domestic web site www.keepitquiet.co.uk

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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