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Loud Noise

Soundproofing: A Term So Incorrectly Used

“I can’t work out why adding mass to the party wall in my daughter’s room hasn’t been effective soundproofing.”

This was a direct quote taken from an email that I received when talking to a client about sound proofing in his home to prevent TV noise transmission from a neighbouring property.

It’s strange because these types of questions, queries and complaints are sent all the time to Hush for us to offer our advice. This is something we endeavour to do.

The fundamental issue in our industry is that there is so much poor advice out there. It is a mountain to climb to ensure clients, whether in the trade or domestic are getting the right advice.

The client mentioned above was a DIY client that was trying to reduce sound from the neighbouring property. He went to his local builders merchant for advice and to purchase the products for the job. They sold him ‘soundproofing plasterboards’ and ‘sound proofing insulation’.

Let me throw it out there right now, there is no such thing.

It’s actually a nonsense term

The word soundproofing is thrown around so easily in the acoustics industry. Yes, it is a generic term that is used so people of all backgrounds can understand what certain products do, but it is actually a nonsense term. It is very difficult to ‘soundproof’ something. To ‘soundproof’ something it would need to be airtight and non-liveable, not something you want for your everyday home in the UK is it? Therefore, when someone is buying acoustic plasterboard, they shouldn’t be sold it so that they think it is the saviour to all their problems. Yes, it will be acoustically better than a standard plasterboard but it will not ‘soundproof’ and stop all noise between two connected properties.

I heard an advert on one of our nations most listened to radio stations the other day that was promoting ‘soundproofing’ plasterboards from one of the UK’s biggest builders merchants groups. It made my blood boil as it is promoting nonsense into the industry. Likewise, insulation is not ‘soundproof’ either. There are so many variants on insulation that it is important that you get the right product, thickness and density for sound absorption. The next person that says to me, “I have used that really good sound insulation, it’s called Kingspan” will drive me to insanity, I’m not joking! Kingspan, the market leaders in thermal insulation yes, one of the biggest and most reputable thermal insulation companies in the world – yes. Manufactures of acoustic insulation – no.

We owe it to the construction industry to get the correct information out there.

These kinds of comments all come around because of poor information in our industry. It is from this misinformation in our industry that we are getting so many noise complaints. People are buying or living in properties that are poorly insulated against noise and this will have a serious effect on us in the future. Lack of sleep, stress and anxiety are just a few problems that can be caused by poor acoustics within properties.

There is no straightforward answer in this industry that will cater for all acoustic problems. The answer to the problem depends on the client, what they are prepared to spend or do within their properties to reduce the passage of sound. However, whether a client is prepared to spend thousands or hundreds of pounds to try and solve the problem they are suffering, it shouldn’t alter the fact that they are owed the correct advice. We owe it to the construction industry to get the correct information out there.

The building industry is a hard enough place as it is, things change all the time, too many people are trying to find a quick profit or things are getting built too cheaply/quickly without thinking about the consequences. Therefore we feel that Hush’s advantage within the acoustics industry is that we will ensure we are giving out the best information to the industry and are always here and happy to help, not matter how big or small the development is.

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