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Question DetailsAsked on 9/20/2011

I'm in Townhome & trying to figure out how to add insulation/soundbd on outside of my walls. Per assoc rules, unable to alter inbetw walls

I'm in a Townhome and am trying to add insulation and/or sound board to add as a barrier to my neighbor. Due to association rules, I'm unable to do anything inbetween the wall space from my unit to next door. So, I'm trying to figure out if I can add anything on the outside of my walls that would add as an extra barrier -- insulation or sound board. Please note, I've looked at the soundboards at Home Depot and Lowes, and they are for inbetween the walls. I'm looking for something, that would meet building code, but on the outside of the walls within my room?

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Voted Best Answer

The rules from your HOA most likely are to protect the fire walls / fire barriers that are required between living units. Any modifications to these walls may allow flame or heat to spread from one unit to another. So any work you do to your side of a shared wall, you need to keep this in mind.

That being said, sound travels in waves, and any hard surface can reverberate those waves to pass the sound on. The hard surfaces of your wall; the masonry, wood studs and solid gypsum board allow the sound to pass into your area. So even putting insulation, which disrupts the sounds waves, in the wall may not solve the problem as the structure itself may still carry sound.

So the idea becomes to disrupt the hard, smooth surfaces of your shared wall.

There are several things you can do to help muffle and break up the sounds. First, look at any fixtures that are mounted on the wall, such as wall lights, outlets, data / TV ports, etc. These sound portals can be sealed by removing the covers or fixture, and packing insulation around the boxes / holes (not IN the boxes; don't cause a fire). You can find at Home Depot foam plates (they are often sold with the 'outdoor' boxes) that you put between the box and the cover plate or fixture. These help disrupt sound and plug any holes that allow sound from the other side of the wall to pass by the plate.

Next look at your furniture; any furniture pressed against the wall will actually help sound pass through (especially hard furniture like book shelves). Look to pull furniture a half inch or more away from the wall, and when possible place cloth or leather furniture at the wall.

Next is wall hangings. Drapes, Wall Rugs, paintings / pictures (without glass) all help block sound and break up sound waves. Glass in picture frames will vibrate and add to your problem. Book shelves mounted to the wall may also add to your sound problem. But a floor book shelf, that is full of books and other soft items will actually act a a block or barrier to the sounds.

Look at your room layout. When possible place 'noise blocking' items against the shared wall. Putting your couch looking toward your neighbors, with the TV on that wall may allow you to turn on your TV or stereo and override the sound coming through. Speakers on this wall, facing out (toward your space) will have the similar affect when you use the radio/stereo. If you use an armoir for your clothes, try locating this on the shared wall, so your furniture and clothes inside will block the sounds. Rebuilding your closet on to the shared wall, and removing the existing one may be an option without losing floor space in your bedrooms. The clothes inside and extra walls will help.

Adding another layer of gypsum board (drywall) directly to the wall may seem like a good idea, but in reallity it takes a lot of material before you block the sound significally. Also consider, on top of the mudding, taping and painting you probably already have thought about, you also will be redoing any trim at the floor and ceiling, as well as any outlets or fixtures in that wall. These are not minor DIY items. You also will be losing floor space.

If you decide you do want to add another layer or two of gypsum board to your shared wall, you put furring strips up (horizonal, attached to the studs) and you can put construction felt between one or both sides of the furring strips to make a 'sandwhich'. Then you mount your new gypsum board to the strips. This will give a slight air buffer and again help deaden any sound passing through the wall studs / wall board.

If the sound is just horrible; they sound like they are in the room with you, you can frame a new wall in front of your shared wall, anchored to the floor and ceiling joists. Two options; you can use 2x4 studs and build a wall that is 1/4" off of your existing wall. Fill the cavities with insulation or sound batting. Caulk all joints, including at the floor and ceiling. Then install new gypsum board and trim. This will add a 4" +/- barrier between you and the neighbors, while making your current rooms smaller. The second option is to install the wall studs on flat, still 1/4" off the wall (to prevent transfer) fill this much shallower area with insulation, caulk all joints, hang your gypsum board and trim. This reduces the amount of lost room space, but also makes less of a barrier for insulation. (Insulation loses its effectiveness if it is squashed; it is the air space in the insulation that is doing the work for both sound and moisture (heat)). So packing batt insulation won't work, blown or loose insulation will work, but will need to be added to after a few years of settling.

Either way, avoid the temptation to install outlets, fixtures or TV ports on this wall; keeping it a solid barrier is your best way to prevent sound passage.

Hope this helps! Good luck.

Answered 9 years ago by Kenny Johnson

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