Canada's Condominium Magazine
When you live in the city, you are almost always surrounded by noise. Loud neighbours, parties, crying babies, and traffic all contribute to your condo’s noise pollution. If it gets to be too much at times, then consider taking some steps to reduce the noise, especially if you live in a small condo with thin walls.
Replacing Doors and Windows
One method for reducing noise is to install soundproof windows and doors, which can block up to 90 per cent of noise. However, it does not block out all sounds. For instance, garbage trucks and other sounds with lower frequencies are more difficult to block than those that have higher frequencies. Soundproof windows are typically thicker, double-pane windows with laminated glass and additional air space between panes. Solid-wood-core doors are also excellent for blocking sound due to their mass.
More Bank for Your Buck
While soundproof doors and windows are incredibly helpful, they can be quite expensive. For this reason, it is generally better to focus on simpler, easier methods of noise reduction. Caulking and window inserts, for example, are far more affordable options. Be sure to check for gaps in window frames and leaks in window seals, patch holes around your windows, and fix any issues that are causing your windows to let in more sound through than they should.
Once you have checked the windows and patched up any problem areas, then you may want to consider window inserts. Acoustic window inserts reduce noise by over 70 per cent when place over single pane windows and 50 per cent when placed over double-pane windows. Energy-efficient inserts are available as well. These inserts block drafts, save energy, reduce outside noise, and significantly reduce or even eliminate condensation.
Tips for Noise-Absorption
Sound Absorption versus Reduction
In addition to blocking outside noise, many solutions can help to reduce noise by absorbing sound. If you are considering renovations for your condo, then there are several options available for absorbing sound to reduce the amount of noise coming through from outside sources, while also reducing the amount of noise your neighbours hear coming from your unit.
Flooring and Rugs
Concrete and cork flooring are some of the best materials for sound absorption. Floating hardwood is also beneficial, as installation includes leaving a gap between the subfloor and the actual floor. If changing the flooring is not feasible, then there are other options available. Rugs and carpet coupled with a sound-absorbing padding and foam-rubber backing are viable solutions that are less costly and time-consuming.
Draperies can be excellent sound blockers and absorbers, especially if they are made of thick, heavy materials such as velvet and wool. The best draperies also contain a mass-loaded vinyl layer.
Sheetrock is one of the worst materials, as it is a terrible sound absorber and can often be the cause of that thin, metallic sound you hear when talking on the phone. It also does next to nothing to reduce sound coming through from outside sources. Consider covering your walls with materials that have noise-reduction ratings of 0.85 or higher. One-inch-thick, fabric-wrapped acoustical wall panels are excellent sound absorbers.
The best part is that acoustic panels come in a wide range of colours and therefore can fit into any colour scheme and match your décor. Installation is also a breeze, as the process is only slightly more involved than hanging a photo. In fact, some companies will even duplicate high-resolution digital photos onto the fabric, making it look like nothing more than artwork.
These tips can go a long way in reducing outside noise, while also reducing the amount of noise coming from your own unit. It will make condo life much more enjoyable, especially for those who spend a great deal of time working from their home office. Be sure to pre-approve any significant changes and renovations with the condo board to avoid any issues that may arise. Any changes that are not permitted can be worked around with other solutions that are far less drastic.