High ceilings and large French windows – sounds like the stuff house dreams are made of, right?
In reality, this combination might look good, but will sound bad in most urban Indian homes.
Do any of us really focus on how sound will travel through our living spaces, how noisy or peaceful our house will eventually be? Not really! But the sounds from the daily humdrum of life — utensils being washed in the kitchen, TV blaring out music in the entertainment room, or a child in the apartment above playing with a ball — can start causing disturbance and lead to high levels of irritation.
And how can one miss those sweet noises that we’re increasingly getting used to – that truck driving down the road, those drills and cleaners outside your house, that whirring dryer. They’re unavoidable, aren’t they? Frankly, there’s a lot that can be done before we give up!
Whether your house is under construction or being renovated or you’re simply doing a makeover, here’s what you can do to ‘sound-proof’ your house and your peace of mind:
If your house is under construction
Reduce noise in a planned way while your home is getting built from scratch
1. Get your walls and ceilings to absorb or reflect sound!
Sound travels in waves and can easily creep into other spaces where it’s unwelcome! To prevent this, you need noise barriers or absorptive materials. Commonly, people buttress ceilings and walls with glasswool or foam. Nowadays, however, there’s a whole host of things that you can do!
- Install acoustic tiles or panels,
- Clad ceilings with perforated gypsum boards,
- Clad walls with MDF boards or integrate MDF boards in the ceiling when it can take the weight,
- Install fibreglass on the ceiling giving the impression of a false ceiling, or
- Use plasterboards
Of course, you can do one or more of these things depending on the amount of ‘soundproofing’ you want.
2. Avoid creating large hollow spaces in your house!
As much as possible, avoid high ceilings, long windowless hallways, and staircases. Definitely avoid placing them close to your living, entertainment, and bedrooms. As grand as they might look, they cause sound to bounce around. Wouldn’t you much rather get cozier rooms with lower ceilings, or install a false ceiling?
(Read more: 9 False Ceiling Designs for Bedrooms You Will Love!)
If you like high ceilings and long hallways, we’ve got you covered as well – just ensure you have enough ‘outlets’ for sound. A couple of windows here or there might just do the trick. Ask your architect or interior designer, they’ll definitely be able to help!
3. Think through the placement of your rooms!
Do you really want the puja room adjacent to the kitchen? Try meditating or chanting in the puja room while someone is cooking food in the kitchen. Imagine them using the mixer-grinder!
Do you really want your kiddo’s room next to the staircase? Every time you go down to the kitchen, he might be losing his concentration when trying to study. Washing machines and dryers also emit sound when in use. We recommend you keep your living and bedrooms away from your puja rooms, kitchens, staircases, etc.
If you can only make small changes
Reducing traffic and other types of noise pollution while you are renovating any area of your home
1. Sound-proof your windows and doors.
Instead of going for large slider French windows in the balcony, get doors installed that can be tightly shut, especially if that balcony faces the road. Larger the window, more the sound entering your house! If you still want to go for windows, double glaze them to restrict sound as it is one more barrier for the sound waves.
Also, get rubber seals installed around the edges of the windows and doors to tighten all spaces around. Else, windows could even rattle!
2. Invest in good-quality heavy doors.
Most doors, especially in apartments or houses handed over by builders, are made of panels which have a hollow core. We recommend you replace them with heavy doors made of wood with a solid core!
3. Retrofit your walls and ceiling with perforated panels.
Reduce sound-seepage from the overhead apartment by using perforated panels hidden inside your false ceiling. These sheets absorb the sound waves and limit their transmission. Similarly, add a few centimetres of these sheets onto your walls. For a professional finish, you could go in for special acoustics ceiling and wall materials that come with acoustics star ratings. The higher the star-rating, the more silence you can enjoy!
If you don’t want to renovate your house
How to fix sound problems in your existing home through small soundproofing tricks
1. Invest in wooden furniture.
Place it against the walls from where you plan to reduce noise seepage, for eg: against a common wall that is shared between the master bedroom and the entertainment room. Or a wooden bookcase against a wall shared with a noisy neighbour can help absorb some of the sound coming through the walls, especially if the bookshelf is home to lots of books.
Bookcase against wall
2. Use heavy furnishings and carpeting.
Carpets, in spite of their many flaws, are one of the most economical and doable ways of dealing with sound. As are heavy curtains and drapes. They all absorb sound effectively. Rugs help to a certain extent as well.
3. Change your furniture around.
If you’re already in a house that has hollow spaces around the staircase, or no false ceiling, just fill up the space aesthetically with heavy furniture, such as a console. Move other things around as well – just don’t place the TV under the nook in the staircase! It will create more noise and chaos.
Have you used any soundproofing methods for your home?
If you’d like to have an architect or interior designer help you with expert advice on soundproofing your home, you can find one on Urban Company Homes.