Soundproofing Quick Tip #3
Here’s another quick tip to help soundproof your room or rooms to make it just a tab bit quieter.
When soundproofing windows and curtains you may not be able to do everything you want to help keep your living space as peaceful as possible. Perhaps you rent so you can’t change the windows to soundproof ones and maybe your roommate doesn’t want heavy curtains but silk ones instead. What ever the various reasoning maybe there are still a few options available to you so don’t give up hope just yet!
Furniture and art! You obviously don’t wish to block any windows or exits trying to keep out the sound but various furniture and art will help you out as any sound will get absorbed just at least a little bit in most circumstances when coming into the room.
Lets look at art! While paintings may not seem like they would help due to being so small/flat, sound loves to bounce off very large flat surfaces like a bare wall. A wooden frame around the painting not only helps reflect sound coming from the side but the entire painting creates a small space between itself and the wall which can also help reduce sound. Another popular option is a tall bookshelf as a full bookshelf creates a very solid “wall” that will likely be at least a half a foot thick and will stop sound in its tracks. As like the painting it helps reflect sound coming from the side (in a much bigger way obviously) and is a solid barrier against any sound coming from directly behind it. Just make sure the bookshelf is filled with thick and heavy books or it may not be as helpful as you would hope. The other types of furniture can be anything like a couch or seat will help but usually due to the lower height they won’t help as much as like a bookshelf could.
What about Placement!? Placement location of the furniture is also important because if there is a noisy wall behind you due to neighbors, you should look at what you can place between them and where you’ll be in the room. Placing a few bookshelves behind you with your couch in the middle facing your entertainment center should greatly help keep the neighbor’s party noise out of your room while you’re trying to pay attention to a movie. When filling up the room with furniture and various art you will not only reduce the options for noise to easily bounce off of but will also help absorb it before it gets to your ears. A side benefit to all of this is it also helps prevent sound you’re making from leaving the room and creating a noisy situation for others.
Good luck on decorating your rooms and reducing the noise!
Summer heat: The good and the bad.
After spending a wonderful day outside in the summer sun you’ll want to come home to a nice cool home to rest and relax the night away. Perhaps you just need to take a break for a few minutes to get something to drink. In either case when you get inside you’ll want your home to be perfect and relaxing when you arrive.
The unfortunate thing is though, that the summer heat while nice outside is terrible inside and it’ll find its way in if you don’t have good curtains. A room with no curtains and wide windows can heat up a room to well over 100+ degrees without much effort during the summer time on those cloudless days. Even if you crank on the air conditioning this may not be of much help and you’ll be wasting money trying to keep a room cool that you aren’t currently in. Your own sauna in the house that you don’t wish to be there when you arrive home.
Insulated curtains to the rescue!
What kind of curtains will help you in the summer greatly? Insulated curtains as they are specially made to keep out the summer sun and allow you to keep a room much cooler. This can save you a few dollars a month or even more depending on how much direct sunlight the room gets. This cost will be easily recuperated by the savings on lower cooling costs and will be well worth it before the summer even ends. A great deal of curtains sold on any website will be insulated to help keep that room at the perfect temperature you want!
But sometimes curtains won’t specifically state insulated when you see that perfect curtain you wish to buy but there are ways to tell if they will help at least a little bit. The first way is check to see if the side that faces the window is padded with a white “foam” or layer to help reflect light. The next method is check to see if the curtains are blackout as this will stop any sun from getting in especially if they are 99% blackout. No sunlight will always immediately mean less heat and this is exactly what you’re looking for! Another term to of course look out for is thermal though it’s usually paired with blackout or insulated. Not all sites will list the words together but usually if thermal it’s made to help out during the really warm and really cold seasons. Lastly check to see if a heavy fabric is used as even though they may not be stated for blackout or insulated, a nice heavy fabric curtain can still help keep out hot air coming into the house from a window that doesn’t tightly close.
But what about my awesome silk curtains!
While silk curtains have a nice lovely designs and flow freely in the wind they may not help so much in terms of keeping the room nice especially during the summer. However a insulated blackout curtain with a very heavy fabric in the end is best for your room if you wish to keep it cool during the summer and warm during the winter. It maybe a bit costly up front but the savings made overall will be more than worth it! You can always bring out the silk curtains during the spring and fall seasons when insulated curtains don’t have as much use.
Lets talk about the basics of drywall in your house.
Drywall is your first line of defense in keeping unwanted noise from coming inside. Due to the fact that it’s a solid panel of plaster it gives great reduction to noise and a benefit towards thermal resistance. In most cases drywall between one house from the next will be fairly standard with the chance of thicker drywall being used in which case helps reduce noise even more. Usually however thicker drywall is put up in areas where more privacy is wanted like in an office area or between bathrooms.
The great part of drywall is the noise reduction.
As pointed out in an older post your standard drywall usually has a rating of around 30 STC which is good for stopping noise but could be a lot better. Typically if more noise reduction is wanted the standard drywall which is 1/2″ thick is replaced by a 5/8″ thick drywall. In a few cases this thick drywall can be doubled up but then you have the problem of shrinking your rooms in order to accomplish this, especially if you’re upgrading an existing home. However a lot of people do not know of the possibility of upgrading your house’s drywall to special soundproofing drywall. These types of drywall normally will stay at the 5/8″ thickness but provide significant noise reduction.
The STC rating can almost double which in return in some cases is just like putting up two more layers of noise reduction from just one wall(if not more!). The best of the best which can be up to an STC rating of 80 would make it pretty much impossible for you to hear outside noise through the walls. You could probably be able to put a running lawn mower next to the wall and not hear anything. Perhaps you would hear a very very quiet hum in the background if you listened closely. Imagine never hearing a car on the road while next to a busy intersection or people talking near your house. However these really high end STC rated types of drywall are typically for commercial uses like in hospitals and areas where there is a lot of noise from machinery. Though don’t rule out the lower end version as they can make a world of difference and still be quite affordable.
Costs between different drywall types.
Unfortunately there is no real standard pricing in terms of drywall but the general guideline is something like around $8-10 dollars for a panel. Soundproofing drywall will typically be between 3-4 times that a panel so it is quite the difference in price. But if you want to stop outside noise for good or at least in part of your house that extra expensive will be quite worth it. Always shop around though and get estimates as there’s a good chance you can get a discount between various companies. If you’re a do-it yourselfer, you have even a better chance of saving additional money but it will of course take some time to be properly installed. Installing drywall is something that can’t be rushed as every crack and hole just means less sound reduction and higher heating/cooling costs. Which brings us to the last point that while the costs maybe higher you will save money on heating/cooling costs due to the thickness and special materials used.
Is it worth it for me?
It really depends on how bad of a sound issue you are having. If it’s just a little bit a noise then drywall is probably not the best path to take. Not to mention that if it isn’t a lot a noise your main issue may just be your windows in which case that will probably be typically cheaper to replace/upgrade than an entire room’s drywall. Or just some thick curtains will help resolve the noise. If you’re really unsure though ask around for free estimates and for builders to come out and give you their professional opinions. (Always get a second and third opinion too of course!) Also ask if you could get in contact with any past customers of theirs who had special drywall installed to see their thoughts on if they think it was worth the change.
Blackout curtains and soundproofing
A common question asked is if blackout curtains help with soundproofing at all.
In a sense yes all blackout curtains will reduce sound in a way but it will vary greatly between the types of curtains and how they were made. A curtain panel being blackout most of the time means that no or less than 1% of sunlight can come through the curtains. This nicely also means that there is far less room for sound to go through the curtains with no resistance. However if the curtains are quite thin it doesn’t matter if they are soundproof or not as the curtain in general can’t stop any sound. There has to be some sort of layer of fabric to stop the sound. If a curtain lists specifics like foam backing and/or several layers of coating then it will provide at least some soundproofing.
GSM is for paper!
You may have seen stacks of paper with GSM information on it but a bit surprised to see it listed while shopping for curtains. GSM known as grams per square meter is actually used for not only paper density but fabric density as well. When looking at the GSM listed on curtains the higher the number the more dense it is which in return can help block more sound and possibly more light. Common thin curtains will display a GSM of around 140 which is like the same as a t-shirt. Now if you compare a cotton t-shirt to a wool sweater, one keeps you far more toasty and feels a lot heavier. Wool can have a GSM of up to 550 GSM in some cases so right there you can see what kind of a difference the two numbers have. There are varied amounts of GSM per curtain and there really isn’t a standard GSM on certain fabrics. So while manufacture A has a 300GSM curtain with velvet, manufacture B can have a 200GSM curtain with velvet. If comparing two similar curtains that don’t have GSM listed, look at the weight of the two as it may show quite the difference. A much heavier curtain can mean a much more dense use of the fabric.
Sound, sound, and GSM.
This is a obvious thought in a sense because a higher GSM is going to block more sound in most cases. Curtains with a higher density is much harder for sound to sneak in compare to low density curtains. A quieter night for you with higher GSM curtains!
Will a low GSM curtain let in light?
Not exactly. It can help in some regards to determine if light will go through but you’ll also want to look at the fabric being used and the weave. Every manufacture is different with how they make their curtains with the same fabric. Some may have a different weave, use multiple different fabrics, or have multiple layers compared to the other. If unsure always read reviews listed on the seller’s site to see if anyone’s noticed any issues with light. A much higher GSM though will have a significantly lower chance of letting in light due to the density in general.
In the end.
On the final thoughts of GSM, the unfortunate fact is that not all curtains will list their GSM amounts so trying to compare two similarly made curtains in detail may not work. While typically a higher GSM will block more sound additional factors like the weave and type of fabric being used can make quite the difference.