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Old 8th August 2011, 08:48 AM   #1
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Default Signal to noise ratio of a house....?

We have just bought a house and are moving from a fairly quiet area to a much more noisy location. It is near a freeway and service road. The dominant noise will be traffic.

What are the best methods to reduce the noise experienced inside the building.

We are obviously looking at double glazing. At the moment there is no thermal insulation in the ceiling cavity. That will go in and may also reduce a little of the sound.

Some people have said we ought to grow shrubs between us and the freeway. Intuitively that seems of limited value or else they will need to be very dense and a lot of them to be effective.

The walls are wood.

That's as far as we have got. I would be glad to hear from anyone who has advice and good (or bad) experiences in this area.

Thanks, Jonathan
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Old 8th August 2011, 09:31 AM   #2
Dr_EM is offline Dr_EM  United Kingdom
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Double glazing is certainly a good idea. It's very common in the UK and is effective in reducing noise levels.

I think the relatively lightweight wooden structure will work against you though. To block sound out, particularly low frequencies which include engine and road noises, you need lots of mass. There are products designed to boost the mass of a wall with the aim of reducing noise:

"Studiospares" Acoustistop 1.2Mx3M Sound Blocking Sheet at Studiospares

I'm sure such things can be obtained in Australia too. Also the type with foam either side of the high-mass sheet:

Sound Stopper Acoustic Panel 2M X 1.2M X 14mm at Studiospares

Which should be even more effective.

I'm not sure about shrubs, they seem too transparent acoustically. A wall would likely help, but may be too visually intrusive.
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Old 8th August 2011, 10:11 AM   #3
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Thanks DrEM. Yes, that's what I felt about the vegetation too.

Ditto the wall. Out of bounds due to cost and aesthetics. Plus the living quarters are upstairs which is a factor.

Thanks for other suggestions. Jonathan
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Old 10th August 2011, 07:48 PM   #4
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Vegetation does help, surprisingly enough, but mostly at higher frequencies; since highway traffic noise is fairly 'white' source screening planting - providing its high enough and dense enough - subjectively may help more than you expect (The real problem with traffic noise is that roads form pretty effective line sources, and so lSPL only drops about 3-4dB with doubling of distance)

What's the house construction /materials generally? For dealing with environmental noise like this the first line of defense could be simple envelope airtightness ie dealing with leaks and draughts around existing windows - while double galzing helps somewhat, its by no means a panaceas and often commercial replacment DG units only offer maybe 10dB over single -glazed windows for reasons I wont bore you with just yet.
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Old 10th August 2011, 08:17 PM   #5
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Give it six months. Visitors will comment on the noise and you'll say "What traffic?"

al/ who used to live next to a railway marshalling yard
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Old 10th August 2011, 08:36 PM   #6
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LOL! You're not wrong. My bro had a flat right next to (10yards from) a major suburban train line in London, and yes, you do get used to it quickly.

Anyway - as far as the OP is concerned: mass and airtightness is everything, but if you can't do 'added mass ' (eg an extra layer of drywall inside) do address all openings with seals. For example, consider that adding a keyhole can knock 2-3dB off a an (expensive!) Rw40dB doorset...

Adding (fibrous) insulation will only really help if it is between two massy skins eg in a void between inner and outer mass layers where it would usefully add damping. But adding insulation to an other wise empty loft will actually have a negligible effect on sound intrusion since it adds very little mass/m^2 (- though if you rely on AC it may pay for itself quickly!). Another layer of dense plasterboard with skim coat on the ceilings would have a greater effect on acoustic isolation.

temper everything so far by realising that you'd have to spend quite a lot even on a new build to get significantly beyond 38dB or so attenuation through a facade overall. (BTDT, I'm an architect who seems to specialise in buildings with acoustic sensitivities...)
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Old 14th August 2011, 01:13 AM   #7
Ron E is offline Ron E  United States
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spray-in foam insulation in the exterior stud cavities is very effective both thermally and acoustically. It can be retrofit with 2 holes per studbay, iirc.
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Old 14th August 2011, 01:27 AM   #8
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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I live on a busy and noisy road. My listening room was a garage with thin walls and a thinner garage door. It felt like I was out in the road with the traffic. And we live 150 meters from the local firehouse. Those sirens are loud.

In October I rebuilt the room. Gone is the garage door and that wall is now a double decoupled wall with lots of insulation. Insulation in the attic, too. All walls now covered in gypsum board with insulation. Did DIY acoustic panels on the walls. Thick carpet. Noise is now drastically reduced. Also have double glazing in the living room (lounge) and that helps a lot for hearing the TV. We now run its volume much lower.

If you can't do drastic stuff like this, then sealing an insulating are a big help. Even my double decoupled wall wasn't very effective until it was complete and sealed.
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