Child’s Bedroom Soundproofing
We built an addition to our home and our master bedroom shares a wall with our youngest son’s bedroom. Unfortunately, any noise in our room is heard in his room. Talking, TV (even low volume), listening to radio – it is all heard in the next room which keeps him awake (or wakes him up) and provides us with no privacy. Do you have any solutions, short of ripping out the wall and replacing it, to put on the wall to stop the sound?
HOW NOISE COULD AFFECT YOUR CHILD
We have all been there: a quiet nursery; a dozing infant, and then suddenly, a baby is woken up by some noisy disruption or another. It’s heartbreaking to hear the cry of a suddenly fussy baby, and even worse to see their parents tasked with the impossible job of getting their baby slumbering again. However, the effects of noise can be even more detrimental than a fussy fit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a menagerie of consequences to noise pollution, especially in children. These issues can range from physical problems to cognitive and psychological problems. Noise pollution can be responsible for a noise-induced threshold shift (a shift in the range of your child’s ability to hear), impaired cognition, stress hormone, sleep disturbance, and effects on reading, concentration, memory, and attention.
But fear not – we have more information for you to help make the choices that will keep your baby’s surroundings peaceful and calm.
There are a few things to consider, but fixing the problem is not an impossible task. We receive a lot of inquiries from people who, of course, want an easy and simple solution that will not create a big mess. Occasionally this is a possibility, but to get the job done correctly, some construction is almost always involved. Let’s take this one step at a time.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOUNDPROOFING BABY ROOM
Soundproofing your baby’s nursery, child’s bedroom or entire apartment is not only practical but healthy as well. WHO classifies noise as a pollutant and environmental stressor. Sounds at 85 decibels and above are classified as harmful–and while we are fortunately not often exposed to those levels of noise, many everyday activities come close. For example, a freeway at a distance of 50 feet gives off 70 decibels of noise. If your apartment or baby nursery is in proximity to busy roads, an airport, or even loud neighbors and barking dogs, you may want to consider soundproofing.
I would first ask you to inspect the air gaps around your child’s bedroom door. If, in fact, the sound is leaking through the perimeter of the door, sealing up the air gaps around the door is going to be not only one of the more cost-effective first steps but also one of the most effective means to keep sound out of the room.
Flanking refers to the ability of sound to travel through space like water. It diverts around physical barriers to sneak through cracks and crevices of all kinds. Doors are a common culprit of noise leakage, especially as many homes are fitted with hollow-core doors as opposed to doors with a solid core. You can take one step to seal off your baby’s nursery from the potential hubbub of the apartment living by soundproofing the door.
Sound is similar to water when getting in/out of spaces. Both water and sound are going to follow the path of least resistance. A one-percent air gap around the door can leak thirty percent of the sound from one side of the door to the other. A one-quarter inch gap at the bottom of the door will leak a very significant amount of sound into your son’s room.
This issue can be fixed by installing our door seal kits. These kits are very easy to install onto most doors. If you have carpet in the doorway, you will need to install a threshold which you can get at any home supply center. The seal will need a hard surface to seal onto. The standard kit (17/32″ wide) will cost approximately $247.00 which includes the automatic door bottom as well as the jamb seal for the sides and top of the door frame. The heavy-duty kit (7/8″ thick) will cost approximately $470.00 and simply provides a better seal than the standard kit.
Windows are another common access of noise to your home. When you think of the times you could hear the couple next door arguing as if they were in the next room, the liability may lie with your windows. An easy and affordable way to soundproof the windows of your baby’s room is by installing soundproof curtains. Try the Acousti-Curtain, which deflects sound and blocks 60-80% of outside noise. There are also sound blankets. A great option also are soundproof window inserts.
Many apartment residents have experienced the pain of wondering why your upstairs neighbor seems to wear steel-toed boots right above your baby’s nursery. Those in a house may need to tiptoe to their upstairs office when their child’s room is on the first floor. There are soundproofing solutions to noise transmitted through ceilings. One such option is Fabric-Wrapped Acoustic Ceiling Baffles, which hang vertically from the ceiling and provide both acoustic quietus and aesthetic appeal. There are also soundproofing Ceiling Clouds, which hang flush with the ceiling and are ideal for smaller rooms. These high-end, fiberglass-core soundproofing mechanisms work to absorb noise that travels throughout a room and provide a quieter and more peaceful home.
INSPECT YOUR WALLS
If the sound is coming through the wall itself, it becomes a bit more of an involved solution. I would first ask you to inspect the wall to see if there is a common return cavity for the HVAC system. This will commonly be a very weak link in the wall construction and a direct conduit for the sound. If not, I would ask you to carefully listen while standing in your son’s bedroom to try to determine if there is one particular area in the wall where the sound is making its way through the structure.
There are a few things that can be done, and choosing which depends on the severity of the problem, and the amount of work that you are comfortable with or willing to do.
Except for an occasional hammer mishap while hanging picture frames, most walls do not have holes or other obvious pathways for noise. However, noise can still pervade an apartment or home from room to room via the walls, as anyone whose child owns an irritating sing-a-long toy may already know. Luckily, there are effective and affordable methods for soundproofing walls. The WallMate acoustic wall fabric is great for sound control applications.
For a stylistic flair, there are also decorative fabric wrapped custom acoustical wall panels. These are custom fabric-wrapped soundproofing panels that can be installed on top of the existing drywall.
Now, let’s continue with another approach- which is the RSIC-1 Sound Isolation clips. These clips are a product that is designed to “float” a new layer of the drywall off of the structure. I would suggest installing the clips on the noise-source side of the wall and filling the air space between the existing wall and the “new” layer of sheetrock with our 1″ Quiet liner to deaden the airspace even more. The installation would require extending outlets and receptacles approximately 2″ toward the interior of the room, installing a new layer of drywall, taping, mudding and re-installing the trim along the floor. This is a fairly involved process but will be the most effective if done correctly. I have had the best reports from customers who have decided to go with the RSIC-1 clips with regard to all of the other products that I offer.
Another approach is with a layer of Barrier Decoupler on the common wall – under a “new” layer of sheetrock. This product will increase the amount of density and mass between the two spaces. The more mass you introduce between a noise source and a receiver, the weaker the sound is when it gets from one side of the barrier to the other. This installation would also involve re-doing the sheetrock on one side of the room – similar to the RSIC-1 Clips, but would be less effective.
OTHER SOUNDPROOFING OPTIONS
Another way to help attenuate the sound is with a layer of Green Glue, which is a liquid, waterborne, viscoelastic damping compound which represents the highest performance product of its type. This product is also used with another layer of sheetrock. The Green Glue is smeared on one surface in a random surface pattern. The two layers of rock are then pressed together, and the new layer of rock is crewed through the existing layer, back into the structure (studs). A simple definition of Viscoelastic is A shock-absorbing rubber-like material. The product changes the airborne wave of energy into heat energy by taking advantage of the liquid, yet elastic “maze” of “glue.” People have been very happy with the result compared to the cost.
Using any or all of these methods to soundproof, you’ll guarantee an atmosphere for rest and relaxation for your child’s room. The only noise we can’t help you with is the sound levels coming from your actual kids. Good luck with this project!