Your guide to soundproofing a wall

If you live near noisy neighbours or your children are being disturbed by sounds in the house, it could be worth soundproofing your home. Soundproofing reduces both internal and external noise pollution. It can also make your space feel more tranquil and relaxing.

Your budget and the types of walls you’re working with will determine the most suitable soundproofing material for the job, and acoustic slabs, acoustic roll and acoustic plasterboard are all capable of effectively soundproofing a property.


Benefits of acoustic insulation and soundproofing

Soundproofing your house can improve your quality of life. Reducing unwanted noise is one of the best ways to help you relax and feel comfortable in your own home, and gives you the privacy you need. It also allows you to live exactly as you like in your space, for example putting the children to bed and still being able to watch your favourite movie without disturbing them.A decrease in noise pollution is good for our health and well-being too. High blood pressure and some forms of heart disease have been linked to prolonged exposure to noise, while hearing impairment can derive from continuous exposure to loud sounds.


Are there any building regulations about soundproofing a wall?

Part E of the Building Regulations 2010 explains the acoustic requirements of residential buildings in the UK. This document was updated in 2015 and covers everything from acoustic insulation of separating walls and floors between dwellings to acoustic insulation between rooms within a single dwelling.

Residential homes are featured as part of this act. They must adhere to specific acoustic performance standards. A property must be adequately protected from both airborne and impact sounds, with the former being weather and aircraft noise, and the latter consisting of traffic and playground sounds.

A pre-completion test (PCT) checks a property is complying to these requirements. In some cases Robust Details (RD) can be used alongside, or instead of, a PCT.

You can find more information about Approved Document E here.


Which materials are best for soundproofing walls?

It’s a good idea to have a budget in mind before you start your project. This will enable you to pick the right material for your needs, and the type of wall you’re working with, without breaking the bank. Acoustic slabs and roll are ideal to use in the home, with the addition of acoustic plasterboard if you really want to go the extra mile.

Acoustic rolls

If the noises you’re seeking to reduce aren’t too loud, acoustic roll could be the perfect material for the job. It’s good at removing low-level noise pollution and is extremely easy to handle and install. It’s a solid choice if you’re a DIY novice too, as it’s far easier to adjust and fit compared with slabs.knauf-acoustic-insul-roll

Acoustic slabs

A good option for home use, acoustic slabs are dense and effectively block out noise frequencies from around the house. They can be used in conjunction with an acoustic sealant for optimum noise reduction.

Acoustic plasterboard

Acoustic plasterboard is like the cherry on the cake when it comes to soundproofing. To finish off soundproofing your wall, a layer of acoustic plasterboard can be added. In some instances, acoustic plasterboard can be used without the need for rolls or slabs, for example if you can’t afford to lose valuable space.


How to soundproof a wall

There’s no need to call in an expert when it comes to soundproofing a wall. If you’re a self-build pro this is a job you can take on yourself. The process differs slightly depending on whether you’re soundproofing an internal or external wall, but the idea remains largely the same.

Soundproofing an internal stud wall

As with any DIY project, it’s important to collate all the tools you’ll need for the job. Alongside basic building supplies and safety equipment, you’ll need resilient bars, acoustic sealant and ample insulation.

When you’re working on a stud wall, you can simply insert the acoustic roll straight onto the wall, making sure it’s fitted neatly between the timber studs. You’ll then need to fix resilient bars across the timber stud, ensuring the fixing flange is on the bottom edge. Each bar should be fixed at intervals of 600mm from floor to ceiling. Eventually, the plasterboard will be screwed into the resilient bars, so it’s a good idea to mark the position of each bar on the adjoining wall.

Screw on the first layer of acoustic plasterboard but make sure you leave a 3mm gap around the edges. You can then glue on a soundproofing mat, before continuing to add a second layer of plasterboard. Remember to screw it into the resilient bars and not the timber frame. Apply an acoustic sealant around all gaps and holes, before refitting the skirting boards and decorating your newly soundproofed wall.

Soundproofing an external wall

Before resorting to soundproofing an external wall, it’s important to Acoustic wall insulationinvestigate how the sound is penetrating your property. Exterior walls are thicker than internal walls and therefore don’t often tend to be the problem. You may find the culprit for letting noise in is actually an air brick, poorly sealed door or single-glazed window.

Air bricks can be sealed with sound-dampening gel, while secondary glazing and double glazing can combat sounds sneaking through window panes. Cheaper alternatives include window plugs or shutters, which are great solutions for rented properties. If you live in a semi-detached or terrace house and excessive noise is coming through the party wall, acoustic insulation may be required.

To install it, begin by removing the existing linings and thoroughly inspecting the party wall. It might require rendering but if it looks like it’s in good condition you can add vertical timber battens straight away. Maxi resilient bars will then need to be added horizontally from top to bottom at 600mm intervals, before insulation slabs can be placed between each bar. A layer of 17mm maxiboard can then be applied – this should screw directly into the resilient bars – leaving a small gap where it meets the ceiling and adjoining walls. These gaps should subsequently be filled with a low-modulus silicon sealant. Finally, fit a layer of acoustic plasterboard over the maxiboard by screwing it into the resilient bars. This final layer can then be finished using conventional plastering techniques and decorated to match the rest of the property.


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