How to Soundproof a Timber Frame (Best 7 Ways)

In this blog post, we cover the topic, “How to soundproof a timber frame?”, and address the question of why choose timber-framed houses. We also discuss types of sounds in timber houses and tell you the seven best ways to soundproof a timber house.

How to Soundproof a Timber Frame?

Soundproofing a timber frame can be made easy if you know these seven best ways to do so;

  • Insulating Existing Timber Frame
  • Building Room-within-a-Room (RWAR)
  • Adding Resilience
  • Increasing Density or Adding Mass
  • Upgrading Windows and Doors
  • Properly Installing Fixtures and Lighting
  • Ventilating the House

Why Choose Timber-Framed Houses?

There are many reasons why timber-framed houses are widely admired by people. Above all else, they are economical and take minimal construction time. Let alone, these two factors make them a great choice for construction. 

However, these aren’t the only reasons and timber-framed houses are also widely preferred because of their design versatility. Modifying timber houses is also relatively easier and low-cost and this further strengthens the case. 

Not to forget, timber is lightweight, flexible, and naturally-equipped to withstand earthquakes. 

Types of Sounds in a Timber Frame

In terms of sounds, timber frame houses aren’t wholly different from other houses and noises travel to and from them through one of the common three ways.

  • Airborne Noise Transmission
  • Impact Noise Transmission
  • Flanking Noise Transmission

Airborne Noise Transmission

Airborne noise transmission occurs when pressure waves from sounds induce vibrations on objects and surfaces. They tend to vibrate the objects with the same frequency and this generates sounds. 

The most effective way to restrict airborne noise transmission is by adding mass and increasing density. Sound waves find it easy to penetrate through lightweight and thin surfaces while finding it hard to transmit from harder and thicker ones.  

Impact Noise Transmission

Impact noise transmission is when one object strikes another object and the sound & vibrations are transmitted through impact. These may include the sounds of steps on hardwood floors or hammer thud on the wall.

Normally, soundproofing materials are required to reduce impact noise transmission in homes.   

Flanking Noise Transmission

Flanking noise transmission is the diffusion of vibrations or noise through the structure of a building. Using insulation materials and decoupling techniques are effective to reduce flanking noise transmission. 

7 Ways to Soundproof a Timber Frame

Here are the seven ways you can soundproof a timber frame house. Even using one can make a difference though it is best to use more than one to achieve perfect insulation. 

  • Insulating Existing Timber Frame
  • Building Room-within-a-Room (RWAR)
  • Adding Resilience
  • Increasing Density or Adding Mass
  • Upgrading Windows and Doors
  • Properly Installing Fixtures and Lighting
  • Ventilating the House

Insulating the Existing Timber Frame

The first thing you can do to soundproof the timber frame is insulating the existing one. Normally, timber structures only have a frame and an external cladding. This system is inadequate for soundproofing and taking any measures to do so without insulating the structure will probably go in vain. 

That’s why the first thing you need to do is insulate the existing timber frame. A timber frame is a hollow frame and you need to add insulation materials between the cavities to make it soundproof.

Thermal insulation is a good way to do so, however, you can also use acoustic mineral wool or Rockwool. These materials provide both thermal and sound insulation.

After insulating the existing structure, you can use various soundproofing techniques to achieve sound insulation such as adding mass by installing medium density fiberboards (MDF) or oriented strand boards (OSB). 

Building “Room Within A Room” (RWAR)

Building Room-within-a-Room (RWAR) is a highly effective soundproofing technique, normally ignored by many. Adding a new decoupled wall on the old one can help you restrict the airborne sounds from transmitting to the main room. 

The idea is to build a smaller room that contains all the sound and stop sound transmission to the other part. As the RAWR is an add-on and not part of the original frame or structure, it also helps in reducing flanking noises.

Building isolated stud frames of timber and metal can help you accomplish the RAWR soundproofing technique. Leaving a 10 mm distance between the frame and RAWR is ideal to achieve the best soundproofing. 

Additionally, you also need to fill the empty cavity in between with insulation material to absorb sounds and minimize echoing. A 60 kg acoustic mineral wool is a good material choice to do so. 

What’s more amazing is that you can also do this with your flooring and ceiling to achieve the best sound insulation. All you are doing is decoupling the main structure with the help of a new independent one. 

Adding Resilience

Resilience is all about the material’s ability to move, flex, and absorb vibrations and impacts. The best way to understand this concept is through the example of a car suspension. 

The suspension springs in the car are added to absorb the vibrations through road impacts and bumps and give you a smooth, comfortable ride. Taking these springs out will result in a lot of vibrations, noise, and uneasiness.

You can do the same thing with your house by adding a resilient system. This system normally encompasses plasterboards. The idea behind adding plasterboards or similar material is to add something that effectively moves, flexes and absorbs both the impact and airborne sounds.

Nowadays, many resilient systems are available in the market that is relatively thin yet equally effective. They are often fixed to the stud frames with suspended mass layers. Their slimness is equally important as they take minimal space and provide high performance.

Increasing Density or Adding Mass

There isn’t any other way to block airborne sounds other than mass addition. Adding mass is the most effective way to block sounds from penetrating through the walls, ceilings, doors, windows, and floorings of your house. 

The heavier, denser, and thicker the object, the harder it is for sound waves to penetrate through it. That’s why adding mass to structural elements of the house such as walls, floorings, and ceilings is the best way to soundproof timber frame houses.

Walls are perhaps the most important element of the house. Covering internal wall frames with multiple dense, heavy material layers helps them achieve the needed thickness and mass, and help you achieve the desired sound insulation.

Acoustic grade plasterboard and mass-loaded vinyl are usually used to soundproof wall frames through this technique.

Upgrading Doors and Windows

Windows and doors are the ultimate weak links in the house as far as soundproofing goes. They have relatively lesser mass than walls and aren’t strong enough to block external sounds. 

You can overcome this issue by upgrading doors and windows. Even switching to solid-core doors from hollow-core ones can make a big difference. However, you can also step it up a notch with a double door system encompassing two solid core doors.

You also need to seal the gaps and crevices in the door frame to effectively block sounds and achieve the desired level of insulation. Similarly, you can double or triple glazing to insulate and soundproof windows. 

Weatherstripping tape is an excellent material to effectively seal the window frame and door gaps. 

Properly Installing Fixtures and Lighting

When it comes to soundproofing, little things can have a big difference. In simple words, even small holes and openings can transmit big noises. Generally, it only takes 1% uncovered space to transmit 50% of noise. 

The best way is to opt for minimal fixtures and holes and properly seal each one. Another thing you can do is have all the fixtures and power sockets surface mounted. This means installing them on the wall layers rather than into the wall layers.

Additionally, you can use trunking to run the cables on the walls. This also simplifies maintenance as you don’t have to dig into the soundproof walls to fix a minor electrical issue.

Ventilating the House

A soundproofed room is normally nicely-insulated and airtight. However, taking away the airflow will make the room warm and unlivable. That’s why you must add a good ventilation system alongside soundproofing measures to achieve the desired result.

Drilling a hole for ventilation is relatively better than opening large windows and doors for airflow. Furthermore, you can also insulate the air ducts to minimize sound transmission through these openings without restricting the airflow.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we covered the topic, “How to soundproof a timber frame?”, and addressed the question of why choose timber-framed houses. We also discussed types of sounds in timber houses and told you the seven best ways to soundproof a timber house.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Soundproof a Timber Frame?

Are timber-framed houses soundproof?

Timber-framed houses are naturally-equipped to absorb more sounds and resonate less. This natural sound-deadening ability of timber makes it better at soundproofing and insulation. 

There are specialized acoustic metal frames that minimize resonance by converting vibration energy into heat through the dissipation of sounds. However, they still cannot match the natural sound-insulation characteristics of timber. 

That’s why timber-framed houses are generally considered relatively better at soundproofing than metal. But they are not soundproof. 

How can you soundproof wood?

Despite its superior sound-absorption properties, wood does also create resonance, especially hardwood. This resonance becomes a problem with hardwood floorings that create echo and reverberates the sound.

One effective way to soundproof wood is by adding a sound damping compound or resilient underlayment. This improves the overall sound absorption and restricts the sound waves from striking and bouncing off the hardwood surfaces. 

Is timber good sound insulation material?

Timber may have relatively better sound absorption characteristics however they are poor in blocking noises. That’s because they are lightweight and we need mass and thickness to block sounds. 

However, timber sound absorption properties aren’t perfect as well and you need additional enhancements to nourish their sound absorption and achieve the desired sound insulation. 

What is the most soundproof wood?

Numerous wood kinds are good in soundproofing and these include Acoustic Plywood, Oriented Strand Board (OSB), Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), and Cork. 

What is the lifespan of a timber frame house?

The timber-framed house can have a lifespan in the range of 10 – 40 years. In the construction industry, it is widely considered that the average lifespan of timber-framed houses is 25 – 30 years. This range is for softwood timber-framed houses.

References

https://www.rdcfinehomes.com/news/2016/2/25/sound-proofing-a-wood-frame-home/#:~:text=Premium%20soundproofing%3A%20If%20you%20really,transmitting%20through%20the%20wood%20framing.

https://www.soundproofingstore.co.uk/how-to-soundproof-a-home-music-studio-practice-room-timber-construction

https://www.houzz.com/discussions/3528483/soundproof-timber-frame-interior-walls

https://www.petermueller.be/wood-frame-construction-arguments/soundproofing/

https://www.marshallday.com/media/1340/2b_presentation_sound_insulation_of_timber_framed_structures.pdf

https://www.homeownershub.com/uk-diy/soundproofing-timber-frame-865896-.htm

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=48915

https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/advice/soundproofing-and-noise-control-guide

https://forum.buildhub.org.uk/topic/6793-soundproofing-floorsceilings-in-mbc-timber-frame/

https://www.acoustics.org.nz/sites/www.acoustics.org.nz/files/journal/pdfs/Ballagh,_K_NZA2003.pdf

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