Soundproofing indoor and outdoor courts

Installing courts at your home can be a dream come true. No more driving to the gym to wait in line for a court to open up. Not only that, but you can invite friends over for a game and a hang, so you can play at your own pace and even take breaks without losing the court.

It’s not always a dream come true for your neighbors, though. Noise generated by indoor and outdoor courts can become a nuisance if not addressed. Depending on when you play, you may be interrupting peoples’ sleep or backyard gatherings. 

Implementing noise reduction measures can go a long way toward keeping your neighbors happy and maintaining your relationship with them. Let’s take a look at what causes noise issues and what you can do about them.

What makes courts so noisy?

As fun as they may be, courts are one of the noisier things you can add to your home or landscape. Each type of court comes with its own kind of noise, but the noise all boils down to the same basic issues no matter what sport you’re playing. 

When dealing with any type of court noise, you need to address both impact sounds and airborne sounds to achieve solid noise reduction.

Impact Noise

Impact noise is the result of one object or surface impacting another. Think about things like walking on hardwood floors, bouncing a basketball, or carpenters pounding nails into a new addition. 

The energy transfer between the objects casts sound waves throughout the immediate area, and that sound can travel.

Since most court sports involve a ball being bounced and heavy foot traffic, impact noise is a very prevalent source of unwanted soundwaves in indoor and outdoor courts. 

Airborne Noise

Any sound that travels straight to your ears from something within the room is considered airborne noise. Whether it’s people talking, a furnace running, or a television, these sounds are not caused by or exacerbated by vibrations within the floor or walls.

In the context of indoor and outdoor courts, most of the airborne noise we deal with comes from the players themselves. Exerting energy through sport typically results in grunts and yells, which can annoy nearby neighbors enjoying an afternoon in the garden. 

Noise Reduction in Indoor Courts

Houses have been getting larger and larger over the past few decades, and many people are converting their extra indoor space into basketball or racquetball courts.

 It sounds great to have a basketball court right in your home, especially if you live in an area that gets buried in snow during the winter months. However, if you live close to neighbors, it might not sound so great to them. To the neighbor, basketball noise can be downright miserable.

Indoor basketball courts generate a lot of impact and airborne sounds, and if the reverberation in the room is out of control, basketball court sounds can get really loud. It can bother neighbors and players alike. Luckily, there are ways you can create a soundproof basketball court without breaking the bank.

Install Mass Loaded Vinyl or Acoustic Mats

One of the easier ways to mitigate impact noise from the bouncing balls in your court is to treat the floor with acoustic materials. 

If you are just beginning construction on your court, or are involved in a major remodel, consider rolling out mass-loaded vinyl between the hardwood floors and subfloor. This will reduce the amount of vibrations transmitted through the floor, providing a notable decrease in the amount of impact noise traveling through the floor, with little to no effect on gameplay.

If mass-loaded vinyl seems like a bit more than you’re looking to get into, you can install acoustic floor mats directly on top of your existing floor for a good level of noise reduction. It’s a simple but effective solution. In fact, you can use these same mats on your walls as well. 

Lining your wall with acoustic mats helps absorb some of the noise and reduce reverberation inside the court. They also add enough density to keep those sounds from escaping the room.

Treat your windows

If you’ve got windows in your court, they are likely a large source of sound leakage. Standard windows are not equipped to provide any real acoustic benefit. If they are getting old and are on the way out anyway, you might consider installing soundproof or double pane windows. New windows will have better seals than your old set, and a setup with two panes and an air gap between them will ensure they significantly reduce sound transmission.

If you aren’t looking to replace all your windows right now, window inserts may be a good route. They can be installed directly over your current windows and deliver many of the benefits of new windows. As an added benefit, they’ll help block outside noise as well.

Treat walls with acoustic panels

A great way to keep noise from escaping your indoor court is to minimize the amount of sound it generates. Hanging acoustic panels on the walls keeps reverberation down by absorbing sound waves at the walls, and that reduced reverberation means there is less sound that needs to be kept at bay. 

They also look great and can be printed with nearly anything you like. 

Whether you want motivational quotes, fine art,  or images of your favorite players, acoustic panels can personalize your court and make it feel like home.

Treat your ceiling with acoustic ceiling clouds

Those high ceilings in your court aren’t doing you any favors. A great way to deal with them is to install acoustic ceiling clouds. Since the ceiling is one of the largest, hardest surfaces in the room, placing a buffer below it stops it from contributing to uncontrolled reverberation. They also look cool and can take your court design to the next level.

Noise Reduction in Outdoor Courts

One court sport that’s been gaining in popularity over the past few decades is pickleball. It’s a great point of discussion when talking about noise reduction because pickleball decibel ratings can be quite high. The game is played with hard paddles and a fairly hard ball, so pickleball noise tends to exceed tennis court noise. So, how far does the sound of pickleball travel?

If your court is over 100 yards from the nearest neighbor, you likely won’t be bothering anyone too much. But, as that space decreases, the need for noise reduction measures increases pretty quickly. If the nearest neighbor is within 50 yards, you almost certainly need to decrease sound levels coming from the court. 

You could play with a practice ball, which is quieter than a regulation ball but isn’t always a realistic solution for competitive play. You can also try a quieter paddle. This may help a bit, but for real noise reduction, you’ll need to look at improving your court’s acoustics. Here are a few pickleball noise solutions to consider.

Install a fence

One of the most effective ways you can reduce the number of pickleball noise complaints you receive is to add a fence that has some decent density. A solid fence constructed of dense materials like stone or brick will prevent a good deal of the pickleball noise from escaping the court. If you decide to go this route, remember that the thicker the wall, the better.

If your housing association doesn’t allow any kind of privacy fence, you can achieve a satisfactory level of sound reduction by fitting a chain link fence with sound absorbing curtains. They cut the amount of sound that escapes the court and even reduces reflections and reverberation within the court. These sound curtains are the best way to retrofit an existing fence, and used in combination with a new chain link fence, are much more cost-effective than constructing a brick or stone wall.

Direct gameplay away from neighbors

If possible, each end of your court should face away from nearby structures. Due to the way we play and the way sound waves bounce off pickleball paddles, more noise will come off the ends of the court than the sides. Orienting the court toward your own house and an empty field will direct the bulk of the sound to areas that are less bothersome to neighbors.

Landscape your property

Aside from creating beauty in the backyard, landscaping can also help mitigate sound to some extent. The more dense objects you can place between your court and neighboring properties, the less sound will reach those properties. Things like retaining walls and large planters are beautiful buffers between your game and your neighbors. Noise reduction never looked so good!

Hire an acoustic consultant

Sometimes problematic noise takes some creativity to control. Developing a sound noise reduction plan is something that takes acoustic knowledge many of us don’t have. If you don’t know how to block out noise on your own, consulting with someone who specializes in acoustics can be a lot of help. Learning how to reduce sound is an excellent first step, but reaching out for help will deliver the results you really want.

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