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Notes on Noise (repost)

I live in a fairly dense urban area. So it's more common than not to have shared walls, ceilings, and floors with your neighbors. But most of the old construction in my city is made from wood: wood framing, hardwood floors, and hollow walls--and everything is nailed on top of the joists or directly onto the studs. The result? All your neighbor has to do is walk back and forth, talk, or open and close doors and drawers, and it ricochets through the building into your apartment.

So, I've spent a lot of time trying to find affordable ways to alleviate the noise. This is easier to do if you have a lot of money, or if your neighbors are amenable...and I had little money and my neighbors were not. I'm going to share some resources and some things I've learned about the products on the market today that can help alleviate some of these noise problems.

If you search the web for soundproofing, you'll find a number of great forums and companies that sell soundproofing products. Where should you start? Here are a few resources:

Soundproofing with Dave - A blog with lots of information about groundbreaking home-improvement products that dampen sound
The Green Glue Company resource pages -- I'll get more into Green Glue in a minute, but they also have a lot of explanatory and educational pages about different kinds of noise, and how to deal with it. This link is called "Dealing with Impact Noise." Great resource.
The Super Soundproofing Company -- this company, in Southern California, sells a lot of soundproofing materials for reasonable prices, and gives advice on its website about how to deal with different kinds of noise-- even simple things like how to quiet your dishwasher.
The Super Soundproofing Community Forum -- read about what other people are dealing with, and give each other advice about what works and what didn't.
The Acoustical Source - from Pennsylvania, another advice site that recommends problems and solutions for different types of noise (airborne versus impact, etc.)
Acoustics 101 - This site might be helpful if you're looking for construction advice, whether it's a home music studio or an entire home.
The Soundproofing Company
This company also sells soundproofing products and gives advice on solutions, such as dealing with ceiling noise and wall noise. Well organized, and a good read. Thanks to Ted for contacting me!

Specific newer products:
QuietSolution (makers of QuietRock soundproof drywall) -- I've used this product on a couple of walls in my apartment, by removing the 1/2" gypsum that was there when I moved in, then putting fiberglass insulation between the studs, and then putting a 5/8" piece of QuietRock back onto the studs. It's a huge improvement! It's not cheap -- it's about $80 per 4x8 sheet -- but it might be all you have to do. The drywall really does dampen sound. One thing you need to know, though -- it's really heavy, and it's hard to cut. It feels more like concrete.
Supress Products (makers of Supress drywall, a competitor to QuietRock) -- similar in concept to QuietRock, but without the ceramic-like surface on one side, Supress seems to be made of 1/4" sheets of gypsum with a thick, viscous layer of sound-dampening material between each one. They say that this is a great product if you're worried about having trouble with wireless signals after you install the new drywall, but I have to say that I've noticed no difference between the wireless transmission before and after I used the competing product, QuietRock. My cell phone reception was terrible before AND after.
Green Glue -- This product, which comes in tube canisters and really is a ghastly, pale green color, should get applied to the surface of a layer of gypsum and can be used as a sound dampener between an existing layer of drywall and a new layer of drywall without having to demo the existing wall. I did this by my laundry machine, which is near a shared wall with my neighbor, and while we were applying the second layer of gypsum with the Green Glue, I could hear my neighbor's machine getting quieter...and quieter. It does work, and you can buy it by the canister (about $17 per tube) or by the case. I also know someone who just built a recording studio using two layers of ordinary gypsum on each side of the wall, with a layer of Green Glue between the two layers, and inside the wall itself, simple fiberglass batting. The studio--used by rock musicians--was successful.
Homasote-- Homasote 440 is made from recycled cardboard and is fairly successful at absorbing some noise. I've used it on a wall behind my stereo speakers to keep the noise from going into the framing, and I think it works pretty well. It's about $27 for a 4x8 sheet, and is probably a good makeshift product to use on a common wall if you're a renter and you're looking for something portable that can be unscrewed and removed later, and you have no other options. But beware -- don't get it wet!

There's some really helpful videos for do-it-yourselfers on YouTube, too. Here's one of them, from Arthur Noxon of Acoustic Sciences, on how to soundproof your doors and window wells (for musicians). He's got a bunch of them online, and they're really helpful.


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