There are many reasons why noise disputes between neighbours occur, it may be because you genuinely have noisy neighbours; however, this problem could be compounded due to the poor sound insulation on your dividing partitions. Historically many large existing were previously subdivided into smaller dwellings such as flats and unfortunately at the time of the building conversion, sound insulation was not given a high priority, so many of the dwellings suffer from adverse noise transference between dividing floor and wall partitions.
There are many ways to try and improve existing wall and floor partitions to improve the sound insulation performance of your property and even achieve compliance with Building Regulations Part E.
Acoustic Design Review
Improving Existing Floor Partitions
In our experience — of undertaking thousands of sound tests throughout the UK), refurbishment projects usually achieve 30–35dB for airborne sound and 70dB for Impact Sound if no previous acoustic upgrades have been made to the existing construction. Unfortunately these figures fall far short of the required 43dB & 64dB as defined in Building Regulations Part E. As sound levels double approx. every 10dB, if you fail by 10dB the sound travelling into your property from your neighbouring property will be twice as loud and may lead to future complaints from both parties.
To reduce airborne and impact sound transmission this usually means adding density and isolation to the floor construction. This can be as simple as adding a drop ceiling consisting of 125mm timber frame. The top of the frame must be a minimum of 25mm below the existing ceiling finish — such as lathe and plaster. Then, to the inside of the timber frame add 100mm of Acoustic Wool and two layers of sound-board tacked to the bottom of the timber frame — all boards to be lapped. This type of upgrade should improve your sound test results by approx. 15dB; however this is heavily dependent on the existing site conditions and quality of the onsite installation.
Improving Existing Wall Partitions
In many cases the standard onsite construction for existing internal walls may be a mixture of 100mm masonry with render applied to either side; or, 100mm timber partition with lathe and plaster to either side. Unfortunately neither of these existing wall constructions will have the acoustic properties to pass Part E in their existing state due to lack of mass and poor isolation values. The use of an additional sacrificial wall lining can reduce such noise complaints as well as more minor upgrades such as installing silent closure mechanisms on kitchen cupboards and bedroom wardrobes. If sockets are installed back to back in separating walls may also lead to complaints about noise arising when plugs are inserted and switches are activated as the wall will be weakened in this area. This type of acoustic upgrade should improve your sound test results by approx.8–10dB; however this is heviliy dependent on the existing site conditions and quality of the onsite installation.
If you would like more information in regards our acoustic design service or sound testing service sound testing, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternately, If you would like more information on how to prepare for your sound insulation testing please download our sound test checklist.