Suggestions for soundproofing for duplex party wall?

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Posted by: from Calgary
3/10/2015 at 1:48:32 AM

We have an issue with vibration type noises from a duplex neighbour. The sounds are primarily from impact noises from the other unit, that being walking, running up stairs, opening/closing drawers/cupboards. Both units have hardwood on the main and upper levels. The hardwood doesn't have a sound underlay and is installed on top of a 3/4" OSB subfloor on joists 14" high with 16" distance between each joist. The party wall is 2 sheets of 5/8 drywall with 2x4 studs, 16 o/c with batted insulation, then 1 airspace and the same on the other side. There is also a 26ga T shaped metal firestop installed as part of the party wall.

The party wall seems to be doing its job quite well in the fact that we don't hear any voice/music/tv sounds coming through the walls. Everything that comes through seems to be vibration type stuff.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

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Date/Time3/10/2015 at 11:34:14 AM

The sound you are experiencing is the lower end of the sound spectrum, bass. Low end frequency is extremely difficult to control. We have dealt with noise issues in gun clubs, studio's and joined housing. The mid and high end frequency (ie. t.v, talking, plates, forks hitting knives...) is easy to do and sounds like they did a good job but that low end noise, the thuds, pounding, running up stairs is hard to remove.

In my experience, without making this a crazy priced renovation, you stick with it. Basically building a room inside a room, lining the walls with sand, acoustic drywall etc... is the only way.

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Jesse in Calgary
Date/Time3/10/2015 at 2:17:02 PM

Would cutting open the ceiling and spray foaming the joists around the party wall help any? Or pulling up the hardwood and laying a sound suppression underlay? This would both be done on our unit, so would it be effective or not because it wouldn't be addressing the source of the noise - just our side of the transmission of the noise?


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Date/Time3/10/2015 at 8:23:25 PM

One of cheapest ways to have the problem solved is to add resilient channel underside of the structural joist (between the joists and ceiling drywall). It is also recommended on some of the rated wall assemblies on the building code. This would separate the drywall from your structural elements which are causing vibration transmission. Keep in mind that it will not perfectly solve the issue, but it would be helpful. Noises from jumping or tapping will be still noticeable, but noises due to walking/playing music etc will be way less noticeable. I have done it as a contractor, and I have suggested it to unit owners as an engineer for couple of projects, and it worked out.

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Jesse in Calgary
Date/Time3/11/2015 at 3:25:13 PM

Thanks Reza.

I just wanted to confirm that you would recommend this for a side by side duplex as opposed to a upper and lower unit like a condo? Our unit is a 3 story place with a poured concrete foundation/basement with the two units being side by side and having essentially a 3 level party wall. So would you suggest adding the channel and drywall to both the basement ceiling as well as the main level ceiling?

In order to do this would you be dropping the current drywall ceiling, installing the channeling and then reinstalling new drywall and then tape/paint? While the drywall would be down would you also spray foam any area of the joists near the party wall?


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