Our lives are noisier than they’ve ever been. Whether it's beeps and chirps of our mobile phones or the roar of planes overhead, noise pollution is a real problem, and it’s harder than ever to find a moment of peace and quiet, even in our own homes. We're more aware than ever of noise pollution - Apple's latest watch will even warn you if things are getting too loud.
But there are ways to control the volume levels in our life, without the need to resort to earplugs or elaborate noise-cancelling headphones. Whether you want to cut out street noise, or dampen noisy neighbours, here are a few ways you can get sound smart.
If traffic noise ruins all your days at home and you can’t hear yourself think over the sounds of car alarms and ambulance sirens, then double glazing your windows should be one of your first ports of call. Modern double glazing comes in a variety of styles and finishes to fit any building, with timber frames becoming more common if the traditional white plastic puts you off. While installation costs can be relatively expensive, there are a number of benefits to double glazing beyond simple noise reduction. Double glazed windows are far better insulated than single glazed alternatives, meaning that heat stays in, or out, meaning your home is more energy efficient and bringing your heating bills down. And if you’re really looking for ways to cut out noise - or cut down your bills - then triple glazing is also beginning to grow in popularity. Talk to an experienced window fitter to see what your options are.
It’s a simple fix, but one that can have a big impact - carpeting a room instead of having exposed floorboards helps to muffle noise and reduce sound carrying through a property. If you’ve ever lived in a flat, you’ll know the difference between having upstairs neighbours with carpets and those with wooden floors - and the same applies to your own upstairs space. But it’s not just noise between floors which is affected - thick carpets, with a good level of underlay, can help dampen outdoor noise too as it lowers audio vibrations. Carpet and flooring specialists can talk you through what's available.
A slightly more radical solution, but one that can have big benefits, is to further insulate your walls from noise. It is possible to add extra layers of plasterboard to your existing walls with sound insulating layers beneath, to help dampen noise coming through the walls. There are various methods and materials used to do this, and the choice can depend on whether the main issue is airborne noise (such as people’s voices, or the noise of a television or radio) or impact noise (such as footsteps, or washing machine). There are also products you can buy which hang on your walls to add extra layers of soundproofing - often made in stylish designs to resemble artworks. Speak to a builder to see what they can do for your home.
Like a chain, your soundproofing is only as strong as its weakest link. It’s easy to overlook doors when thinking about how sound travels through your home, but they can play a large part in transmitting noise. If you have hollow interior doors, they can be replaced with solid versions that will help deaden noises. Rubber or fabric edging can also help seal the gaps around the door and prevent noise leaking through - as well as cutting out draughts. Talented carpenters can show you what will work for you.