Insulation is used to keep consistent temperatures inside of a home, which is particularly useful this time of year here in Washington State. However, insulation has multiple properties that make it useful for soundproofing. For homeowners with properties near busy roads or train tracks, insulation can make a huge difference and reduce the amount of street noise they can hear inside of their homes.
According to Mathias Basner, a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the term “noise” can be used to describe “unwanted sounds.” Humans never stop hearing, even when they’re asleep. Noise influences both auditory and non-auditory health. Unwanted sound and other noises can trigger panic responses. Loud noise can damage hearing. But that’s not all. According to research published by Basner and his team in The Lancet, noise is associated with sleep disturbance, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment in children. Essentially, noise acts as “an unspecific stressor on the body. Prolonged periods of unwanted noise can cause the body to release stress hormones like adrenaline, and can negatively affect blood hormones like cholesterol.”
The insulation forms a barrier between a source of noise and adjacent areas (such as the walls of a house), and it absorbs vibrations to reduce the amount of noise in the home. Not all types of insulation are suitable for this purpose, however. Consider reflective insulation, which is meant to reflect heat from the sun and doesn’t act as a sound absorber or barrier.
Airborne noises come from outside of the home, such as sounds from traffic, voices, trains, and airplanes. Airborne noises also include sounds from televisions, speakers, and other sources inside the house. Impact noises, however, include sounds from footsteps and vibrations. Insulation helps reduce both types of noises.
There are multiple different types of insulation, including:
Batt insulation is by far the most popular type of insulation to use for soundproofing due to its density and thickness.
Batt insulation works to block sound by absorbing air (and, therefore, the sound waves traveling within it).
Fiberglass insulation is the most common form of insulation found in American homes. The benefits of fiberglass insulation include:
However, fiberglass insulation also comes with a few disadvantages, such as:
Mineral wool insulation, also known as rock wool insulation, is another common insulation material in the United States. Some of its advantages include:
However, mineral wool insulation also has a significant disadvantage: it’s incredibly harmful if inhaled. The small slivers of mineral wool can lodge into the skin. It’s possible that mineral wool inhalation can lead to cancer due to its ability to slice DNA and cause cell mutation within the lungs.
Cellulose insulation consists of recycled paper, including newspaper and cardboard. There are multiple benefits to cellulose insulation, including:
Some of the disadvantages of cellulose insulation include:
Most insulation types will help reduce noise within the home. However, high-performance mineral wool and fiberglass tend to be the best choices for soundproofing.
With a decade of experience in the Pacific Northwest, including Lakeview, WA, Northwest Weatherization is dedicated to conserving and sustaining energy through weatherizing homes in the area. The talented staff cares about their customers, and every effort is made to provide an affordable service. Call today for a free estimate!