How to reduce building impact sound?

Excess sound within buildings can drastically affect usability and popularity – no matter the function or use of the structure.

To reduce this, many steps can be taken in the design and construction phase to lead to peaceful, usable spaces.

But what do you do if you move into an existing building and have limited options for structural changes? How do you reduce building impact sound then?

Different types of sound pollution

Buildings that are plagued by sound pollution often find that it can be categorised into two main areas, including:

Airborne sound

Common airborne sounds include music, TV sounds, dogs barking, and chatting.

Using the air to travel rather than the building’s structure or contents, these sounds can travel through building elements like windows or doors or inadvertent cracks between elements like the floor and walls or around sockets.

Impact sound

Conversely, impact sound occurs when physical items make contact with each other and travel through the building’s structure using vibrations.

Most common examples of this include banging doors, loud footsteps, and objects falling over.

Impact sound is often the most wearisome for building users as it can travel further than airborne sound and doesn’t decrease in volume at the same rate – so taking steps to reduce it as soon as you notice it is important.

How to reduce building impact sound

If you can’t make very invasive structural changes, you could be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t much you can do to reduce building impact sound – but you have a few options. These include:

Improve with acoustic walls and ceilings

While it may not be possible to knock down and rebuild the current walls and ceilings, you can improve what is there.

You can use acoustic ceiling panels, sometimes also called acoustic baffles, to control noisy spaces.

Suspended from the ceiling, these panels absorb sound on all sides and reduce the transfer to other rooms and spaces.

Likewise, for the walls, you can use acoustic panels. These work in much the same way to reduce acoustic reverberation.

The main benefit of these acoustic ceiling panels and wall coverings is that they can be retrofitted into existing spaces with the minimum of fuss and can be designed to boost the aesthetics of your space – a win-win for building users.

Swap out hollow doors

Internal doors can sometimes have a hollow core, which makes them cheaper and allows for increased design potential.

However, this can help impact sound to pass through, making spaces seem noisier.

Instead, look for solid doors with sound insulation and swap them out for your existing panels – you’ll be surprised at the difference this can make.

Plus, as long as the doors are the same thickness and size, it’s a simple swap that won’t damage the space and can be restored if you choose to leave.

Seal all electrical outlets

Have you noticed little cracks around the electric sockets and light switches, etc?

Chances are, these unsightly fractures are also making it easier for sound to travel!

To correct this, you can use a cover plate, or apply construction filler – which are inexpensive and quick non-invasive fixes.

Use sound-minimising flooring

The finished flooring you choose can make a big difference in how sounds reverberate and spread throughout buildings, so it is worthy of consideration.

If you can, a plush carpet with a good quality underlay is the best way to go, but for more functional spaces, you can consider luxury vinyl and area rugs in break-out spaces.

If you have a bit more to invest, you can also consider looking for specialist acoustic flooring – which is often installed with performance underlays, backing, and padding.

Choose plush furnishings

Have you noticed that empty rooms always echo more?

Counteract the amount of hard surfaces in the space by choosing softer and thicker furnishings, like padded sofas, window coverings, and cushions.

These furnishings can still be made of easy-to-clean, hardwearing fabrics but adding these to the room will make a noticeable difference and can make it much comfier, too!

Take action and see the difference in days

Rather than pondering how to reduce building impact sound, why not use your time to find non-invasive and quick soundproofing installations and accessories?

Not only will they be less expensive than you think, but the difference in noise levels can be staggering.