We live in a semi and we hear everything from our neighbours half. We are not sure there is insulation between the halves. What options do we have for sound proofing? It is driving us crazy and have put alot of work and money into the house and don't wish to move but we need to make it liveable.
Hi Kim, tough question to answer. I got into this quite a bit when I was the property manager at a private school and had to spec the requirements for practice music rooms to be used during classes. We actually built a separate wall in front of the existing and installed double exterior doors with triple glazed windows and acoustical seals all around. Sound is basically waves of different frequencies. Sound (as you are discovering) will travel through any small opening and actually vibrate the building materials if it is loud enough or the right frequency. If you just want to cut down the sound transmission as cheaply as possible, you should seal any openings (switches, plugs, plumbing, behind stair stringers, etc.) on your side of the common wall. You have to look everywhere and you will be surprised what you can find and fix. Anywhere that air can get through, sound can get through. Spray foam, Safe and Sound, and acoustical sealant will become your best friends. If you want to go all out on the project, the only way is to open the walls up and see exactly what is going on. You will start by sealing any openings on your neighbors side (from your side), move any plugs or switches on your side that are in a common stud bay, install Safe and Sound or equivalent, install 5/8 drywall with acoustical sealant on all structure, tape and 2 coats of compound, seal all openings on your side, Z channel at right angles to the studs (to minimize the contact area) and another layer of 5/8 drywall. This would be your finished wall. This combination of techniques, materials, and air spaces will absorb different sound frequencies and do an excellent job of sound proofing your common wall. There are probably web sites that describe constructing home theaters or sound studios that can give you even more detail.
This is definitely a job for an acoustical engineer and an experienced contractor. This is not an area of expertise that most contractors have.
Good luck with whatever you decide!
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