How to reduce noise pollution: a homeowner’s guide

Sometimes neighbors can be quite noisy. Hey, sometimes you’re the one who’s noisy. In both cases, something needs to be done, right? Every homeowner deserves a little bit of peace and privacy. On this article, we will cover some soundproofing tips to protect your house from noise pollution — or to insulate the noise pollution coming from your house.

First, nerd-talk to better explain sound concepts: sound waves bounce off objects and surfaces differently. Some are more absorbent than others, some act as diffusers, others even resonate… so, inside a house — a construction usually made combining wood, glass, concrete and several materials — sound waves can get really disperse. Once one wave starts to lag in relation to the other, or one becomes more high pitched than the other… the perception of an annoying noise is created, and, depending on several things, even perpetuated somewhere else — like a lower floor resonating the noise vibrations coming from upstairs.

So, the main thing for you, homeowner, to keep in mind regarding our sound insulation and soundproofing tips is that sound only exists within a space. It’s all a matter of controlling the direction of sound waves; either blocking them or dispersing them in a way they are not omnipresent anymore.

How to soundproof a window

The first thing homeowners need to figure out when protecting themselves from a sound is its source. If the sound is coming from the window, you can appeal first to magnetic acrylic windows. You can find them on Amazon for a fair price, and they are most likely to do the trick. Magnetic acrylic windows are super easy to install, and most of the times won’t even be noticeable to anyone.

If the problem persists, think about adding as many layers of curtains you can. There are some that are specifically made for sound insulation, however, since not every type of curtain might go along with your overall décor, just make sure you get the thickest type of curtain(s) you can.

If you live in a house, another good way to diffuse noise is to put some objects outside near the window. Since noise most of the times is produced by humans, it might also be a good insulation tip to get you some privacy. Imagine you’re living near a highway; even if you have the acrylic windows on, you don’t want drivers peeking inside your house all the time, right? And to have the blinders shut all the time will make the homeowner consume more electricity because the lights will be on most of the time. A simple fence can block and diffuse sound, but if your view is amazing and you wish to preserve it, no problem: consider planting a tree close by, as it can reflect sound waves in another direction, spreading noise and making things quieter to you.

But noise pollution can be coming from insulation errors and even through your doors. With the latter is easy: try changing your doors to a less hollow kind. Now, the former warrants a little more work: you need to find insulation holes on power boxes, plumbing connections in your wall and throughout the house. Better call professionals!

One last piece of advice for homeowners out there worried about the noise reduction is buying a white noise machine to damper the sound coming from outside. If you can’t beat them; confuse them!

How to soundproof the ceiling (or your floor!)

Say you have a Reggaeton-loving neighbor downstairs or an energetic 7-year old neighbor upstairs… first: we feel your pain. Second: diplomacy is 100% your best weapon there, because the truth is that there’s not much you can do on your end to fix this sound insulation matter. The real resolve comes from your neighbors, so kindly reaching out to them is the best course of action.

Regarding the neighbor downstairs, you can try to muffle his production of sound a little bit with thick rugs and carpets on your floor. But with respect to the neighbor upstairs, an insulation solution to her noise problems on your end might be a little expensive. Soundproof ceilings are the best way to absorb noise pollution, but if you — or your landlord, in case you are renting — cannot afford to make soundproof ceilings… you could anonymously send a rug as a gift to her house? Or slide a business card of a soundproof ceiling professional under her door?

Kidding aside, if diplomacy doesn’t work or you don’t want to deal with the neighbor (or Landlord), you can also look for an apartment on a higher floor. The least amount of sound production above you, the quieter your house will be.

How to soundproof yourself

What if you are the one hearing complaints about noise pollution?

Most of the soundproofing tips we have made so far apply backward; if you’re blocking sound coming from outside your house, you are also blocking noise pollution from your house out. So rug the rooms nicely, get a more solid door, check for insulation errors… go through the whole nine yards of silence, homeowner! There’s no rest for the noise-affected. Literally.

But also, enforcing silence goes a long way. Homeowners should make silence a conscious habit. Are you a good neighbor? Think about your routine, analyze what are the causes of noise: is it partying with friends after-hours? Maybe have the “pre-party” at the house and then move to a bar or a club after-hours? Is it stomping on the floor because you work out indoors? Can you do it at a gym or during better hours? Can you get thicker yoga mats to damper the noise?

One final “noise inside your house” scenario: say no one is complaining about your noise pollution, but you yourself are the one who’s a little bothered by, not necessarily the volume, but the acoustics inside your house. Let’s go back to sound nerd talk: if sound waves bounce off surfaces — softening and even canceling some of its frequencies — it’s important for you to populate your room. Different shapes, fabrics and disposition of furniture and other kinds of objects will compose more natural sounding noises, helping you get rid of echo and other annoying ambiance sounds.

There’s nothing better than dealing with professionals. Find a real estate agent and let him/her connect you with soundproofing professionals to help make your house a quiet retreat