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53mph

Sound insulation help

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Hi guys, 

I know this is off the usual topics, but I'm sure there are people on here with experience in studio building who can help.

So, I'm sitting here in my living room and I can hear my neighbor beneath me skyping his family back home, and I would like to NOT hear him.

I own my apartment which is on two floors, but the one beneath us is rented. The guy who lived there when we moved in was silent as a mouse. She's when we did the renovations, I laid new laminate floors with a good, but not special, underlay because I thought there was no issue with sound.

Then a year or two ago a couple moved in. Initially all was good... Then they started hosting their extended family in the one bedroom apartment...then the loud music started. I had to do a serious soundproofing job on a partition wall above their kitchen which was acting like an amplifier. I used weighted vinyl and green glue for the job, and it worked. I highly recommend the product. However...

Now, the issue is with his voice in the living room. I'm considering taking up our laminate flooring  and adding something to block the sounds coming up.... And that is where I need help.

Most products on the market are concerned with sounds passing down (footfalls etc..) but few discuss blocking voices rising up. I've considered heavy vinyl sheeting, but I've been wondering... Has anyone ever used 'lead' sheeting for sound proofing? I know that lead is a great sound proofer because it's inert. But I've never seen anyone mention it as underfloor insulation. 

Any suggestions? Ideas?

Cheers guys

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I know this is OT and not much help, but why do those people always have such poor taste in music?

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8 minutes ago, bdickens said:

I know this is OT and not much help, but why do those people always have such poor taste in music?

I don't want to start an issue over the people themselves. They are young. They've also just had a kid....for all the wrong reasons... I'm sure they will move someday. But if I can fix the problem my end, then I don't need to worry about them.

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As far as frequency goes, high frequencies are 100% directional and the human ear is more sensitive in the area where human voices normally sit. The same principe apply though. What stop sounds from passing through is air and mass. Maybe the sound is being conducted through the walls? It's hard to tell without knowing the exact setup. Apartments are tricky to get acoustics right because they're built... The way they are.

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What about covering your floor with a nice rug?  I'm not talking about something permanent, just something to see if that really helps.  As Bruno said, the way apartments are designed might be your biggest issue.

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The house was originally built in the 18th Century. The external walls are thick solid red brick, which does not carry sound. I've done the 'placing my ear to the surfaces' test to see which parts of the structure are carrying the sound and it was in two places:

1) a newer partition wall built with modern brick and without sound insulation mattress under the brickwork. I hate those 70s brick builds - they are like sound boxes.

2) the floor. the sound carries up in two distinct places in the floor which must correspond to the layout of the room below.

When we moved in I took the ceilings apart in our part of the building, so I know exactly how they are below my feet (the building was originally a three floor family town house - since divided into 4 flats). Half meter thick wooden beams traverse the floor with wooden planks across. In the 70s someone installed a lower ceiling with wood panelling and polystyrene insulation (which acts like a drum) so the sounds below are hitting this wooden skin and vibrating (ampliofying) in the air cavity below my feet. On top of the wooden structure, at some time, a solid concrete and tile floor was built (I'm guessing about 3 inches deep), and when we moved in, I put down a wooden laminate floor on top. I considered using a product that I used in my previous apartment against noise from below called fonostop duo FONOSTOPDUO_FONOSTOPTRIO-IT.pdf (indexspa.it) but this time I went with the most expensive underlay that the company selling the flooring could offer - it's like a heavy fake vinyl underlay, but I don't think it's very effective.

The rug idea is a good one - we already have one big rug in the living room. 

So, my question is - has anyone ever used heavy lead sheeting underneath laminate floor to block noises rising upwards?

Cheers

Edited by 53mph

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After all the expense of trying to 'soundproof' your place, why not just buy the place below you and you'd be the landlord. Might be cheaper (and more effective) in the long run. 🙂 

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If you've got laminate and vinyl on the living room floor, how did you put an underlay underneath that? I would be carpeting the living room and putting a decent soft underlay underneath the carpet. When you carpet the room, you have to nail in the wooden risers all around the skirting board which will take it up about a centimeter or so, then you place the underlay in between the wooden risers and then place the carpet on top of that so you end up with about 2 centimeters of sound proofing but even if sound does get through, the carpet deadens whatever sound is in the room. Vinyl or laminate flooring is going to magnify whatever sound does get into the room from any source. A rug might help but it won't be as effective as professionally laid carpet. I cannot see how placing hard underlays or lead underlays under vinyl or laminate is going to do anything to stop the sound getting through and even worse, the high frequencies ricocheting around the room once they get in, which magnifies it.

Just wait till the baby starts screaming and the domestic violence starts, hopefully, being an apartment, you won't have to put up with the barking dog to add to the chorus. Oh, the joy of apartment living. Seriously though, they can be very different. I lived in high rise apartments for a while and they were dead silent, couldn't hear a thing above, below or sideways (they were also fully carpeted) but then also a unit block that was terrible (also had hard flooring).

You might need to consult a sound proofing expert to get their opinion before spending huge dollars on something that to me anyway, sounds as if it will do nothing.  I can't see how more hard layers is going to change anything.

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I suspect lower frequencies are the greater issue. Hard floors (i.e. concrete) can be excellent conductors of sound (depends on the coupling) and sounding louder in your space than the space they are generated in. Mass is your friend, as noted earlier (not 'hard'). Pb is denser than concrete = greater mass/unit volume. If it's higher frequencies, there could be an air gap somewhere, but doesn't sound like it. 

My experience has been granite mill spaces built in the 1880s. Wonderful places, 14 ft ceilings, awesome acoustics, ton of character. I've researched and tried green glue, glue patterns, layers of dense drywall, decoupled hangers, etc. They all work to some degree and might attenuate it enough depending on mixing levels and tolerance for ambient noise. 

I'm moving to an isolated adobe structure in the desert at the end of a chunk of fiber optics. Better option than prison or unscheduled stress. 🙂

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Alternative solution.

If you have as hard of a floor as it sounds like you do, place some large speakers facing down directly onto the floor.  Play Yoko Ono songs 24/7 for a week at a high volume (it's highly suggested that you take a vacation during this time).  When you return, you'll find that the noises from below have magically stopped (plus you'll have more space which can maybe be used as a studio?).

 

😜

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one thing to note: if you can hear them, they can hear you 🙂 so all your impact noises, music, speaking, chair dragging, etc. 

the proper solution will require several things:

 you need to add additional mass  and preferably some damping to the floor above - and depending on the actual framing etc structure there will be limits due to weight as well as door openings etc. as a general rule, the quieter you make certain sections the more other sections will appear louder - so best to plan on extensive coverage rather than spot coverage. one option is mass loaded vinyl under concrete board, covered with underlayment and carpet - you'll be raising the floor about 30mm and this not going to be as effective compared to changing the ceiling below to prevent sound coming up. the upper stairs floor mass, if doing the suspended ceiling, can be added between  the joists  along with insulation to fill the cavities.

and you need to put in a suspended (or otherwise decoupled) ceiling downstairs. this is best accomplished with spring isolators, hat channel, and 2x drywall layers. 

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14 hours ago, craigb said:

Alternative solution.

If you have as hard of a floor as it sounds like you do, place some large speakers facing down directly onto the floor.  Play Yoko Ono songs 24/7 for a week at a high volume (it's highly suggested that you take a vacation during this time).  When you return, you'll find that the noises from below have magically stopped (plus you'll have more space which can maybe be used as a studio?).

 

😜

That's not very nice.

 

It's funny, but not very nice.

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@bdickens Very true!  I believe anyone who intentionally plays something by Yoko Ono is probably guilty of a felony. 😁

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On 1/18/2021 at 6:35 PM, Bapu said:

After all the expense of trying to 'soundproof' your place, why not just buy the place below you and you'd be the landlord. Might be cheaper (and more effective) in the long run. 🙂 

I have considered that and the owner has offered. My day job situation is a bit too precarious at the moment though. I'm facing redundancy, but also been offered a new career opportunity. So swings and roundabouts.

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There is a high chance that you'd get better results by paying for insulating a few critical parts of the ceiling/walls in the apartment below, rather than your own. I was/am in a similar situation with my apartment. The studio flat next door and my apartment used to be parts of the same, large apartment. So the wall between them is quite thin. I could easily and clearly hear my neighbor having a conversation next door. So when I renovated my apartment, I installed pretty serious soundproofing on that wall. 6cm thick soundproofing foam behind two layers of drywall. On a 24 sq. m. wall. So not cheap. The result is that I can no longer hear normal conversations next door. But the new tenant has a puppy, and I can easily hear him bark; quite loud, too. I'm sure that the results would have been better if I could have convinced the owner of the studio apartment to install some cheap sound absorbing foam on their side of the wall. Increasing sound absorption is, most of the time, a lot cheaper than limiting sound transmission, once you're dealing with resonance through walls, pipes, heating systems, and so on. 

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22 hours ago, fitzroy said:

the wall between them is quite thin

Had this problem at my 2nd location. It was "sold" to me as a double wall, but might as well have been tissue paper. My poor neighbor could hear my laptop speakers. 

The best results for that location were achieved by pulling down the wall on my side, hanging a  new wall (denser) on decouplers and green gluing a 2nd dense layer of drywall on that from floor to ceiling. Also substantially caulked around the edges (mating with a granite wall was not exactly a tight fit). Made a pretty big difference but... 

Ultimately undone by the concrete floor which lacked a seam/gap between the two units. As discovered, the floor managed to conduct sound pretty well and the landlord refused to let me try cutting a gap in the concrete to fix it. 🙂  The sprinkler was also a bit suspect as it crossed the barrier between the units.  End result was a move after 6-7 months. At least they helped with that. 

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Thanks everyone for your advice and insight.

I know it is a complicated issue and each case is different. 

@jackson white I had a similar problem to you in my last flat. The neighbours downstairs united two flats and knocked through some 'non weight supporting' divisions. The effect was that they turned our floor into one big suspended floor with no walls to carry away some of the sound vibrartions. This meant that all the sound energy hitting one part of the floor would vibrate across the entire skin, and amplify in 'our' apartment. It made my life so hellish that I sold the flat at a loss just to get out. Just like in your case, this was the result of people modifying structures that have been designed, planned, and built for one use. I detest architects who come in and start casually knocking walls down as if it won't affect the structure somehow..

@fitzroy I would love to be able to redo the ceiling downstairs, but I know what is waiting in store beneath the wood panelling, because I did it in my house - very old wooden beams in need of attention, as well as all the dust and detritus. It would be a major job involving more than just insulating - and I know the landlord would not cover any of the work, and the renters have nowhere else to go. So, it's not an option.

@craigb I did that once in an apartment in London. It was a Friday night and the city boys living beneath our apartment came home from clubbing past midnight and decided to continue the party in their apartment - I had work the next day - so, I got my Marshall amp, lay it face down on the floor, got my 808, ramped up the volume bass and bpm and left it running for about half an hour. By the time I turned it off, they had turned their music right down.

@Tezza I think you misunderstood me, we don't have vinyl on the floor - I used the weighted vinyl on a dividing wall that was causing problems. You can buy these rolls of heavy density vinyl, stick them to the back of sheets of plasterboard (this adds a lot of weight) fix that to the brick wall, then I added green glue between another layer of plasterboard - and before anyone says "why didn't you use rockwool or decouple etc.." it was a very narrow corridor space and a needed a solution that would not make the wall grow by about 20-30cm. My solution added less than 10 cm to the thickness of the wall, and it worked. ;)

So - I'm going to try some rugs over the next few days (I had an old dog, which was why all the rugs were up, but he died last year) and see if it helps.

It's a shame no-one has any experience of using lead. The reason I mentioned this is because I once went to a recording studio in London built in an old MI5 building. They boasted about the great sound insolation because they built the studios in the old interogation rooms which were all lead lined....Just wondered if it was true or not. ;) ... about the lead, not the interrogation rooms.

 

Edited by 53mph

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2 hours ago, 53mph said:

It's a shame no-one has any experience of using lead.

FWIW, the physics are solid. It's (a lot?) more expensive, and (looking for my notes...) believe I determined 2x thick/dense drywall + green glue was a winner in the bang-for-the-buck. I talked them into letting me reduce the square footage by the extra 5-6cm.

As I'm sure you know, addressing all potential air gaps was critical and found temperature changes could be a bit problematic for older structures. 

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12 hours ago, jackson white said:

FWIW, the physics are solid. It's (a lot?) more expensive, and (looking for my notes...) believe I determined 2x thick/dense drywall + green glue was a winner in the bang-for-the-buck. I talked them into letting me reduce the square footage by the extra 5-6cm.

As I'm sure you know, addressing all potential air gaps was critical and found temperature changes could be a bit problematic for older structures. 

Your situation was probably much larger scale than mine.  For me, the sound was not passing 'though' a partition wall but 'up' the wall from below, so it was a case of trying to get the vibrational energy under control rather than the impact energy or airbourn energy. 

I did something unconventional by applying a layer of drywall with heavy vinyl backing directly onto the wall (no gap) and securely fixed it with raw plugs. In all conventional literature they will tell you to build an air pocket between the two walls and to have as little contact points as possible, but as I was dealing with vibrations (which come out as low frequencies) I decided to apply the idea of a car breaking system rather than an air gap system. Once that was in place I applied another layer of drywall with green glue backing with minimal drywall screws- the idea was that the energy passing up the wall would be slowed down by the first layer of vinyl, and anything passing through that would be reduced even more by the green glue. 

I had less problems with caulking the gaps. My corridor space is internal (no temperature changes, no windows) so I've had no cracking or structural movement.  It's true though that older structures are very difficult to work with. The old wooden framed houses where I live were meant to 'breath' with the extreme changes in temperature, and many of the modifications made in later years (mainly the 70s) caused all kinds of problems to these structures (cracked walls, uneven floors etc..). In fact, it's hard to find an architect or builder who understands how these old houses work. 

Thanks for all the feedback though - I love hearing how people have dealt with sound issues around the world. ;)

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