What material would help with soundproofing my apartment while minimising loss of space?

What material would help with soundproofing my apartment while minimising loss of space?

  • Property Clinic
  • Apartments

Question

I refer to the article in Property Clinic on July 11th, about soundproofing. I kept a copy of an earlier article on the same topic and it said the problem can be addressed by a secondary “isolating” wall, absorbent insulation board such as Rockwool or a heavy plaster coating.

I live in a one-bedroom apartment and the insulation is not great. But the size of the living room (4.1m x 3.4m), which is next to the neighbouring apartment, means I can’t really afford to lose much space.

Is there any material which would help with soundproofing, whileminimising the loss of space?

Answer

Thank you for your follow up query to my answer on July 11th which concerned noise transfer issues between two older houses beside each other. As mentioned in the article, there are clearly defined standards of sound insulation that need to be achieved in party-wall construction to meet the 1992 building regulations.

But it is not uncommon to find problems in the standards of sound insulation in older properties.

In that situation, the recommended steps include infilling holes or gaps in the party walls with a dense mortar mix or upgrading the sound insulation with a noise-insulating material.

Your situation is slightly different and your options are more limited.

For instance, you won’t be able to use external soundproofing materials . It is also unlikely there are gaps between your apartment and adjacent ones that you could check for and infill to reduce noise transfer from airborne sources. These sources include voices, television and so on, or from any impact, such as people banging on walls or floors.

Also, if your apartment was built after 1992, it is likely that it already meets the required sound insulation standards.

So, yes, you are going to have to make a trade-off between sound insulation and internal space.

Realistically, any improvement is going to involve taking up some space but you might be able to find an acceptable compromise.

Whereas an ideal solution from a sound-insulation point of view might involve taking up considerable space using the methods outlined in my previous answer, a compromised solution would involve constructing a relatively thin layer of, say, a cement and sand rendering which would be no more than 20mm thick, so allowing an improved sound insulation standard with a minimal overall impact to the size of the room.

If you decide to go down this route you should use a registered builder.

Val O’Brien is a chartered surveyor and member of the Building Surveying Professional Group of the SCSI.

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