Improving the sound and quiet of home sweet home
Cut out unwanted noise with these tips for soundproofing and enhancing the acoustics in your home
Sound is not something that often comes up when talking about designing and renovating a home. We tend to focus on the aesthetics, but it is an essential element - especially when we are living and working in the same place.
Letting the sound of traffic disrupt your sleep or having neighbours complain about the TV volume while you are watching Netflix late at night are not situations anyone looks forward to.
That is why it is important to plan for soundproofing and room acoustics - especially if you live near a busy road or in a dense residential area. There is a difference between the two, according to Mr Edric Hwang, co-founder of acoustics-focused design studio Ehka F.
"Soundproofing refers to the prevention of sound transmission from one space to another, like the din of roadworks while you are indoors," he said.
"Acoustics, on the other hand, refer to the amount of reverberation or echoing that can be heard within a room when one is speaking or playing music."
Both are equally important during resting and working periods.
"When you are in a room with proper acoustic treatment, instead of being distant and echoey, your voice will be clearer and easier for others to focus on during a conference call,"added Mr Hwang.
Fortunately, improving the sound in your home is easy when you plan ahead and use the right materials.
Replace hollow-core doors or add seals
Still able to hear the TV even though the door is closed?
Standard Housing Board doors have a hollow core that lets vibrations and, therefore, sound in. You can remedy this by replacing them with solid-core ones, which cost between $1,200 and $1,800 each, depending on the size.
For an immediate, less expensive solution, adding top and bottom seals to existing doors can block unwanted sound. Invest in aluminium ones, as rubber and foam are less effective.
Replace regular windows with soundproofed ones
Replacements can start at $2,400 per window, but they can be a good investment if you live right next to a busy road or train track. After all, who can put a price on a good night's sleep?
According to Mr Hwang, many HDB-approved window contractors can provide soundproofing solutions.
Use soft furnishings or acoustic panels
Damping or reducing resonance in a room can be as simple as adding a thick rug or thick curtains as these absorb or damp sound well.
In areas with higher noise levels, you may need sound-absorbing panels such as the Oddlaug ones by Ikea. It is also possible to get custom ones that range between $220 and $450 a panel from companies such as Ehka F - these can be easily added to walls with minimal or no renovation.
Opt for wooden flooring
Said Mr Hwang: "As a general rule of thumb, wooden floors are usually less reverberant and echoey than concrete or tiled floors."
He advises hiring contractors who specialise in acoustics to have your home effectively treated and soundproofed since the materials and skills needed are different from those used in a standard renovation.
This article was first published in Home & Decor Singapore (homeanddecor.com.sg).