The Ultimate Blocking Neighbor Noise Quiz

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

We are constantly bombarded by annoying sounds as we go about our daily routines. The last thing most people desire is a lot of neighbor noise penetrating their home. There are many options to help minimize unwelcome sound from outside our homes. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of sound control.

How does sound travel?

When objects move they cause vibration that sets air particles vibrating. Vibrating air particles transmit sound waves until they reach your ear, where they are translated into intelligent sounds for the brain.

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What is the unit of measurement for sound level?

The unit of measurement for sound is called a decibel (DB). The higher the DB level, the louder it is to our ears.

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What is considered the highest level of sound that a human can tolerate without experiencing pain?

The threshold of pain for sounds heard by humans is about 120 DB. The lowest sound level that a human can hear is zero DB.

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What is the usual level of a typical conversation?

According to Vanderheiden, a typical conversation measures at a level of around 60 DB. A human yell can reach a level of 128 DB.

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Can we make our homes less susceptible to noise from outside sources?

There are several simple and inexpensive strategies for reducing outside noise penetration. Most solutions consist of adding materials to block, absorb or isolate sound waves.

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How are materials measured or rated for their ability to block or absorb sounds?

Sound transmission class or STC rating is the way sound suppression or absorption is measured for a give material. STC rating can give a good indication of how many DBs of sound a material can stop from penetrating its surface.

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What STC rating must shared walls have according to the 2006 version of the International Building Code (IBC)?

According to the 2006 version of the IBC, shared walls must have an STC rating of 50. The problem is that most states take years to update their codes to standards based on the IBC.

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As of the end of 2009, what version of the STC had most states considered standard?

Unfortunately, most American states still have IBC standards for STC based on the 2003 code. The 2003 code only calls for a minimum STC of 33, which does little to block sound.

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What is one of the best transmitters of neighboring sounds and one of the easiest to fix?

Walls that abut with neighbors’ walls are the best transmitters of sound from one home to another. Fortunately, walls are an easy surface to add additional materials to that significantly increase your level of STC.

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What is a typical method for construction of common walls between townhomes or apartments?

Most common walls are constructed with staggered studs, an air space between walls, insulation, and drywall. A wall like this will exceed the common standard of STC 33 but still leave much to be desired when it comes to the neighbor’s noise.

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What is the quickest and cheapest way to increase your walls STC rating by about 10 points?

You can gain 10 point of STC by simply screwing a second layer of standard 5/8 inch drywall directly to the studs under the existing drywall. Once the drywall is attached, you can crack fill, sand and paint as per normal drywall procedures.

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What can you do in the case of more extreme noise issues from a connecting apartment or home?

By installing QuietRock on your connecting walls, you can raise the STC to an average of 58. Adding a second layer can increase the STC to 80, which is almost completely sound proof.

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According to Homasote, by what percentage can you reduce noise coming through a wall by using their product?

According to Homasote, adding their panels to a wall will reduce noise levels by 20 percent. They claim that you can wrap their panels with any fabric you choose to give a room a decorative flair.

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What can you do to reduce noise coming from above your apartment or condominium?

Both a second layer of drywall in conjunction with Green Glue or a suspended acoustic tile ceiling with an air space are excellent solutions for reducing noise from an apartment above yours. Green Glue claims that their product works equally well on walls and under flooring.

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What percentage of noise reduction does Green Glue claim if applied according to their instructions?

According to greengluecompany.com using their product according to instructions can reduce up to 90 percent of noise passing through a floor, wall or ceiling. That is an impressive noise dampening performance.

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What is a good first strategy for reducing noise from an apartment or condominium below your home?

All three of these choices will work, but a good first strategy is to install the thickest possible pad below your existing carpet or new carpeting. New floors are an expensive option that may not be permitted in your home.

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What is a good solution for handling noise when your budget is limited or you are renting for a short term?

A good inexpensive solution is a white noise generator. These portable radio-size devices produce an extensive variety of quiet sounds that trick your ears into ignoring unpleasant noises like footsteps, radios or TVs.

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What is the average STC of a standard hollow-core apartment entry door?

A typical hollow-core apartment entry door has an STC between 20 and 25, which will easily transmit normal conversation from a hall. You can switch the door to one rated at around STC 55, but these tend to be heavy and expensive.

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All homes have significant sound infiltration through windows. What is a typical STC number for most double pane windows?

A typical double pane window has an STC rating around 26. One rather expensive option is to retrofit with windows rated at a maximum of around STC 56.

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What is another significant source of noise transmission in apartments, condominiums and town homes?

Metal ductwork, especially on shared heating or cooling systems is a significant sound conduit. Ducting can actually amplify sound, so you may want to look into adding sound attenuators to ducting.

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