Nowadays people are continuously exposed to several kinds of low to medium to high frequency noises in their homes as well as in commercial buildings. This can be a nuisance as well as have long-term adverse effects on productivity as well as health. Outdoor noise from traffic, aircraft, dogs, loud neighbors, construction, ventilating systems, equipment, etc. often affects the atmosphere in a building.
Fortunately, there are practical and economical solutions for all types of noise problem you encounter. There are several construction materials that are advertised as having noise reduction characteristics. Some are highly effective while others don’t perform as well when it comes to soundproofing. Different noise frequencies and different transmission modes require different materials and location matters as well.
The most common soundproofing materials that are effective for such purposes in walls, floors, and ceilings are:
1- Panels: they can be made from drywall, damped drywall or sound-deadening fiberboard. Drywall (also called Sheetrock) is a great inexpensive alternative and the only difference between the first two is that damped drywall incorporates a sound damping layer. Sound-deadening fiberboard (soundboard or acoustical board) has a low mass, which makes it less suitable for walls, but it is a great choice for floors as a spacing layer if additional mass is not necessary.
2- Mass-loaded vinyl: the highly dense, flexible membrane is sold under several brand names and provides a good source of mass, but can be expensive.
3- Insulation: standard fiberglass insulation provides excellent sound absorption, albeit this is a minor factor in soundproofing. It is as effective as mineral wool, and less costly. Foams give great thermal insulation but perform poorly in terms of soundproofing.
4- Sound Curtains: the so-called noise control curtains are industrial products and incorporate a heavy layer of mass-loaded vinyl to block out sound.
5- Damping compound: also known as viscoelastic adhesive under brand names Green Glue Noise proofing Compound or QuietGlue Pro is used as a damping layer between layers of drywall, plywood, or subflooring. It is a highly effective and economical noise reducer but not all viscoelastic adhesive products provide similar damping capabilities.
6- Acoustical sealant: sometimes called acoustical caulk is used to prevent sound leakage. Without proper sealing, the effectiveness of all the other soundproofing components will be significantly reduced, as noise will find its way through cracks.
Apart from all these raw building supplies, it is important for contractors and developers to understand the importance of structural elements, such as windows and doors in soundproofing. Pre-built units that are specifically engineered to be soundproof, work very well and can save time and money.