Noise protection: 6 tips for a quieter home

Noise is not only annoying, but also harmful to health. Street noise and neighbors are the biggest sources of noise you’ll encounter in your home. We show you how you can protect yourself against this with constructional measures.

It is getting louder and louder around us. Cars, trains, airplanes, construction sites – the noise level is increasing not only in urban areas. In addition, there may be noise from neighbors, which will not allow you to rest even in your home.

Statistics show how big the problem has become. According to a survey by the German Federal Environmental Agency, 76 percent of people feel disturbed by street noise. Nearly 60 percent say they are bothered by their neighbors. Noise is a problem that must be taken seriously. The possible effects are not only on the ears, but also on the heart and head: people with regular, high noise exposure have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and depression.

of people in Germany are disturbed by street noise.

Protection against sound is therefore important for your well-being. The easiest way would be to implement active noise abatement, i.e. to eliminate or at least reduce the sources of noise pollution. Even though a lot has happened in this area in recent years, overall noise pollution continues to increase. Therefore, there is often nothing left to do but to use passive noise protection and to protect your home against the sound.

For everyone it is important that at least your own four walls offer the peace and quiet you need. That’s why we’ve put together six tips to help you protect yourself against the noise.

Info: What does the unit decibel mean??

Decibel table: Sound levels of known ambient noises

Noise and sound levels are usually indicated in the decibel scale (dB). This includes not only the pure volume, but also our sensation. Whispering and breathing, for example, are around 10 to 20 dB, a normal conversation around 50 dB. Above this level, the human ear quickly becomes uncomfortable: a motorcycle at 70 dB, a jackhammer ten meters away at 90 dB and a circular saw at 100 dB are considered disturbing by most people.

Tip 1: Listen carefully during the visit

The best thing to do is to get an idea of how loud it is or can get before you move into the new dwelling. Especially if you feel quickly disturbed by noise. First impressions can be deceiving: A street can appear quiet, but be busy and noisy during rush hour. It is not possible to say exactly how loud the neighbors are during an inspection. However, pay attention to whether the walls and corridors are particularly sensitive to noise.

So take a walk around the neighborhood and try to spot potential sources of noise. It is best to visit the property several times, at different times of the day and on different days of the week. It is important to have periods of time when you are at home and do not want to be disturbed by noise. You may be able to invest in noise protection before you move into the property – for example, soundproof windows.

Tip 2: Install soundproof windows and doors

One type of noise protection measure is the installation of soundproof windows. There are six different classes of protective windows, which are defined in the VDI guideline 2719. The simplest windows insulate up to about 29 decibels, the highest class keeps out over 50 decibels.

When considering the installation of a window with sound insulation, you should clarify what type of insulation is suitable for you. For this you need a sound level meter. If you measure below 29 decibels at your open window, a single window is usually enough. If the noise level is higher, you need correspondingly better insulated installations.

When installing soundproof windows, it is important that not only new panes are installed. Effective noise protection works as an interplay of panes, frames, seals and brickwork. These should be coordinated with each other.

You should keep in mind that only closed windows protect you from noise pollution. This sounds obvious, but it can have great consequences for the indoor climate. For the most part, it is enough to limit ventilation to shock ventilation. However, this can be difficult in hot summers. If living and sleeping is basically only possible with closed windows, you should think about installing a sound-absorbing ventilator.

The installation of noise control doors can also help to reduce the noise level in the house or apartment. Doors are divided into three protection classes, which keep out noise to different degrees. The highest class 3 resists up to 42 dB and is used, for example, in doctors’ offices. Protection class 1 protects against sound up to 32 dB.

By the way, shutters and curtains can also serve as noise protection measures. These are cheaper, but also less efficient than soundproof windows and doors.

Tip 3: Insulate walls and ceilings against noise

A woman with headphones in her apartment

The following applies to walls and ceilings: A lot helps a lot. The more solid and heavy a wall is, the more sound it keeps out. Cavities in the walls can therefore have a detrimental effect. Retrofitting walls is possible in principle, but should be done by professionals.

You should be careful with subsequent insulation for the purpose of energy renovation. This can have both positive and negative effects on noise protection. Often a relatively loose insulation protection is put in on the outside and the thickness of the external plaster is reduced for it. Because the exterior plaster has a higher density, it may be that the sound is kept out worse than before the insulation was applied.

If you want to protect yourself against noise from above, you can install a sound-absorbing false ceiling. This involves using drywall panels to hang a sound-absorbing layer under the actual ceiling. In most cases only little height is lost in the room.

It is also possible to install impact sound insulation on the upper floor. This is a sound-absorbing intermediate layer up to five millimeters thick that is placed under the floor.

Tip 4: Relax with a noise barrier in the garden

Noise insulation is an important issue not only in your four walls, but also in the garden. Because only in silence you can really enjoy the time behind or in front of your house or apartment. Especially when it comes to keeping out street noise, a noise barrier is the method of choice for many garden owners. These are made of wood, concrete, brick, plastic or glass.

While hedges are not very suitable as noise protection measures, a noise protection wall can be an alternative for a larger garden. This consists of earth or plantable concrete elements.

Whether a noise barrier or wall: both are relatively high and also serve as a visual screen.

Tip 5: Let carpeting absorb the sound

A practical and inexpensive variant of noise protection is to lay carpeting. Carpet absorbs sound due to its structure and is therefore well suited.

By the way, this also applies if you want to relieve your neighbors a little bit. A carpet in the children’s room is not only nice for the little ones, but also spares the nerves.

Tip 6: Check whether you can get support from the state

Under certain circumstances, you may receive state aid for subsequent noise protection measures. If you make a major change, you can be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of your expenses incurred by installing soundproof windows, for example. You can claim it if a new road is built near you or something else changes in the traffic routing, which will affect you greatly. For reimbursement, contact the road construction authority.

In addition, the K supports renovation measures with grants and favorable loans, provided that energy aspects are also taken into account.

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