Author Topic: what is the cost of soundproofing?  (Read 5040 times)


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what is the cost of soundproofing?
« on: January 18, 2006, 08:08:01 PM »

I am new to this forum and I am seeking information regarding the cost of soundproofing.  My specific problem is twofold:

1.) I have a shared wall with a neighbor and for the most part I hear them whenever they walk (low-frequencies), play loud videogames or even slam or close a door on the far side of their house. Our houses were built in the late 1940's and I think that neither house has proper modern insulation on that wall and that the walls are only inches thick.  I also think that because the walls are butted up against each other and that they are so old, that any sound that is created on the other side sympathetically vibrates both walls and I can feel the movement before I hear anything and this is startling to me.  

2.) Noise that is coming from the freeway which is 1/4 mile away via the front door of the house (I don't know what the STC rating on the current door is, but it's an old door), the front windows and three non-functional skylights.

In the case of #1, I must say that I have been living at this same residence nearly 20 years and have never experienced this level of awareness to the noise before.  I think this is because the new neighbors have removed all of the carpeting from inside the house and replaced the flooring with pergo floors. The end result is vibration on the floors and into my walls.

I've been on the Internet for a few weeks now looking at specific solutions to this issue (btw, the new neighbors are very nice people and the noise that I hear is from their routine movement in the house.  They are not a nuisance.) and have decided that soundproofing that side of my wall will ultimately be the best solution for long term privacy and enjoyment of my home.  

I am beginning to think now about preparing to pay for this project and would like to hear from other forum subscribers any experiences that they've had with the process.  Specifically, I would like to hear about any permit or licensing issues and am very interested about how much this stuff will cost in terms of labor, material costs and time on the project.

I have a two story home and I want to soundproof the western side of my house.  Specifically, I have FOUR walls that need to be soundproofed (two walls on the ground floor and two on the top floor).  If possible, I want to do these walls in sections either wall at a time or floor at a time.  

As for the windows and skylights, please give responses on how much it costs for a window and labor to install and if anyone has tried soundproofing windows themselves, please let me know.

I've recently inquired about soundproofing services from a couple of outfits here in the San Francisco Bay Area and they were reluctant to discuss this aspect of the project.  So, now I turn to the forums to try to get a sense of how much something like this will cost and how much I have to save in order to do it.

Thanks very much for your kind attention.


john bergstrom

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Re: what is the cost of soundproofing?
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 04:26:23 AM »

Construction rates vary from state to state, region to region, but if I had to make a rough guess based on my own construction experience, I think the soundproofing work will cost you $3000-5000, and replacing the doors, windows and skylights would add another three or four thousand. Who knows, it could be higher in the S.F. Bay area.  As for permits, the local contractor will know exactly what permits and inspections are necessary, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem, as long as you 'let sleeping dogs lie' and resist the urge to upgrade any of the electrical, plumbing or HVAC.  Those tend to be the killer inspections.  And the work can get VERY expensive, too!!

You said you had four walls to soundproof.  This is easy enough - you can have the contractor tear off your lath & plaster, modify the wall into a staggered-stud or even a double wall, insulate and add 2 layers of drywall on your side.  But you'll have to do something about the floor too.  Not hearing any noise coming through the wall but hearing a dull thud from the floor whenever someone takes a step can be even more irritating.  Your subfloor and your neighbors' are probably nailed to the same continuous floor joists and the noise can easily 'flank' around your walls.  You'll have to structurally decouple your floor from theirs.  Not being able to see your space, I can't really recommend what will work best, but some kind of floating floor is probably what you need.  You might do all that and find the ceiling is transferring noise too (the rafters/trusses being continuous from their space to yours.)  If so, you might have to do something about that too.  

It gets complicated with existing construction.  Sometimes it's better to start fresh and completely gut the space and apply soundproofing treatment as if it were new construction, rather than trying to do each element separately.  Quality control is much easier that way too.  

A lot of companies will try to sell you fancy, expensive products to soundproof your house, but you don't need them.  Stick to the basics.  You can get excellent results from plain-old drywall, fiberglass batts and resilient channel.  Get yourself a good book on noise control and familiarize yourself with the subject.  It's definitely not rocket science.  Here are two good books that I swear by:

"Noise Control Manual for Residential Buildings"
by: David Harris, 1997
ISBN: 0070269424

"Noise Control in Buildings: A guide for Architects and Engineers"
by: Cyril Harris, 1994
ISBN: 0070268878

(don't know if the authors are related)

Or, you can go to a good public library and put in the search term 'noise control' and get a list of books covering the same material.  
And if you're handy, you might feel comfortable enough to do some of the work yourself (and save a boatload of money in the process.)

Good luck,
John Bergstrom