Just How Soundproof Are Townhomes?


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Townhomes are a collection of multi-floor homes along a stretch that share a wall or two with adjacent homes of similar, quite often exact, design. While this type of housing is the ideal mix between an apartment and a single house, the proximity to other homes can cause issues related to noise pollution.

Townhomes are typically not soundproof. The sharing of walls and sometimes an HVAC system means many familiar, daily-living sounds can be easily heard even when they’re not happening in your home.

In this article, we’ll explore why a townhouse isn’t soundproof. I’ll also explain how to soundproof your townhouse so that you don’t have to worry about being disturbed by your neighbors (or other people living in your home).

Why a Townhome Isn’t Soundproof

Before you soundproof your home, it’s best to identify the exact sources of noise pollution and consider how best to block out the sounds. For example, if you’re staying in a basement, most of the disturbance should be coming from above you.

If this is the case, you’ll want to soundproof your ceiling using standard soundproofing techniques. Here are some other possible sources of noise pollution when you’re living in a townhome:

HVAC System

In most interconnected townhomes, there’s a centralized HVAC system that regulates temperature. The passage of air through the vents and sounds of the system itself can significantly increase the sounds you experience at home.

Walls

Most townhomes are protected from noises above and below, but a significant portion of the sounds you experience come through the walls. Conversely, the noises coming out of your home can be easily overheard by the neighbors.

In some townhomes, the walls are separated by layers of drywall, which offers little protection from noise. Other accommodations have thicker walls to divide neighbors, but in some cases, these walls may not entirely block out unwanted noise.

It’s best to assess the kind of walls you have and devise a strategy to minimize sound depending on what you’re dealing with. 

Doors

Some older townhouses have shared doors that – while they may have been used in the past – are usually neglected today. These shared doors provide a thin and permeable barrier between two homes, allowing excess noise to pass through easily. 

Even main doors tend to be thinner than usual, and most of your noise pollution tends to enter through these doors.

Windows

Open windows are a relatively obvious source of outside noise. Aside from removing the windows entirely or barricading them, there’s little you can do to block out sounds when the windows are open. 

However, with the right tips, you can limit the amount of noise entering your house when your windows are closed.

How To Soundproof a Townhome

Now that you know the different apertures through which noise can enter your townhome, let’s figure out how to limit the sound.

The HVAC System

The HVAC system can be dealt with in two main ways.

The first is a soundproof curtain which is the simplest approach to noise-proofing the HVAC. The second option is installing a sound maze, which involves more elaborate construction work and is a surefire way to block out most noise from the HVAC. 

That said, no matter which option you choose, you need to ensure you’re soundproofing your vents in a way that prevents reverberation without adversely affecting the airflow.

Soundproof Curtains

Installing a curtain or sheet in front of the vent is a straightforward, non-invasive way of shielding yourself from excess HVAC noise. All you need is a soundproof curtain or blanket, cut it down to size and prop it up in front of your vent.

Sound Maze

A sound maze is a more effective method of blocking out external noise without significantly affecting the airflow. You’ll need acoustic foam to create an effective sound maze, but be sure to get the thin variety.

Watch this YouTube video on how to create a sound maze:

Thicker foam will reduce airflow, and it’s more complicated to use while designing the maze.

Walls

Soundproofing the walls is pretty cumbersome, so make sure you have the time and money before you start with the work.

If you’ve got regular brick walls (as is the case with most townhomes today), consider adding more layers to your wall to block out noise. You can start the soundproofing process by adding layers of drywall onto the existing wall surface and test to see how much sound passes through. However, drywall alone isn’t enough.

For better soundproofing, consider investing in mass-loaded vinyl, a material that can be used as effective soundproofing if handled correctly. You can stick this material to your walls and place the drywall on top for a neat finish.

You’ll want to use an acoustic sealant to stick this material and fill any gaps or cracks in between to block out or limit the noise passing through appropriately. To reduce sounds even further, you can consider hanging heavy drapes in front of the walls to dilute the noise.

Doors

The ideal solution for shared doors with no purpose is to knock them down and fill the space in with a wall. 

However, if it’s the main door or a door that you need to keep for whatever reason, there are a few techniques you can use to limit sounds passing through:

  • Drapes: Hanging heavy drapes in front of the door can significantly reduce sounds. However, keep in mind that they won’t completely eliminate noises or echoes, only reduce the decibel level.
  • Solid Doors: Many homes have hollow doors that allow sound to enter your house easily. If you’ve got a door that allows sounds to pass through easily, consider replacing it with a solid core. You can also seal the apertures with acoustic foam to further reduce noise pollution.

Windows

While removing windows is impractical for obvious reasons, limiting the amount of noise entering through them is possible.

The solution can be as simple as adding acoustic foam to the gaps in the panel or using sealant to close any holes or cracks in the frame. Modifying your windows in this manner will drastically reduce the sounds that enter your home when your windows are closed.

Final Thoughts

Townhomes are the ideal living solution for those who want to be part of a social community but still retain their own space and modify their homes according to their preferences.

The only drawback of townhouses is that they tend to be noisy. Luckily, you can use some of the solutions outlined in this article to block out most sounds and ensure you live in a more peaceful environment.

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