In large remodeling projects there is a delicate balance between day-to-day minutia, and the end goal; which presumably is to create the most comfortable and efficient living space, while staying within budget. Onsite personnel such as the project manager and carpenters are particularly prone to losing site of the bigger picture, getting caught up in daily responsibilities, and overlooking seemingly minor tasks in an effort to stay on schedule. Neglecting such details however, can adversely affect the quality of life for occupants in the future. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced designer or architect supervise the project to ensure that no scope of work is overlooked.
One such detail (that is undetectable until residents actually move into the home) is soundproofing. Anyone who has spent a sleepless night tossing and turning while a thundering baseline from a neighbor’s party rumbled through their bedroom would undoubtedly agree that soundproofing should not be overlooked.
Since the project on Fairmont Street involves a split-level residence, we took careful measures to ensure that sound would be contained to each floor by way of the following:
- Spraying high-density foam insulation between the second-floor joists. In addition to creating a sound barrier, this spray foam is far more efficient than regular bat insulation. (Eliminates 50 percent of sound.)
- Dropping the first-floor drywall ceiling below the second-floor joists by suspending a metal grid several inches below the second-floor joists. This stops vibrations and sound waves from traveling through the floor joists to the second floor. (Eliminates 25 percent of sound.)
- Installing a rubber mat between the suspended metal grid and first-floor ceiling drywall. This further stifles vibrations between floors. (Eliminates 25 percent of sound.)
We also took measures to minimize internal noise on each floor by way of the following:
- Gluing and screwing all subfloor and stair treads. (This eliminates the pesky squeaking of a loose floorboard.)
- Installing bathroom and kitchen fans with low noise levels and unrestricted ducting. Fan noise levels are measured in sones (lower is quieter), with a typical spot fan generally carrying a 3-4 sone rating. Any fan rated at 1.5 sones or below will be very quiet.
- Setting vibrating kitchen, and other appliances on rubber mats, away from walls.
Lastly, we wanted to be sure to reduce sounds coming from the outside. This is of particular concern in an urban neighborhood where traffic, sirens, and rowdy neighbors can create unwanted disturbances. Measures we took to muffle outside sounds included the following:
- Spraying high-density foam insulation in all exterior walls (this will be discussed further in a later Insulation post).
- Installing solid-core doors on all entryways.
- Sealing all pipes and wires where they enter the home.
- Installing double pane windows.