Completely Soundproofing a Nursery in a 2 bdr Condo

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Topic: Completely Soundproofing a Nursery in a 2 bdr Condo

Home and Garden February 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Completely Soundproofing a Nursery in a 2 bdr Condo

My husband and I have a baby, and since he was born we have been unable to have company over without disturbing either his naps or bedtime.  He has gradually become a heavier sleeper, however, our place is small and the walls are thin.  Even when there is no company, we have to be careful with the noises we make.  We want to just be able to go on about our lives within our home during naps and bedtime.  Also, his window faces an alley and there is constant construction going on.  As I said, he is sleeping heavier, however, anyone dealing with the alley noise and thin condo walls would find it difficult to get some continuous, solid sleep.  Also, we use a fan, noise machine, and sometimes turn the dryer on to help drown out the noise, but we still have to be somewhat quiet.  I miss having people over! 
I prefer not to have advice on how to further drown out the sounds.  I exclusively am posting to learn of anyone else that has successfully soundproofed a room in there home (including windows-double/triple-paning, walls and door – although I know a door can only be soundproofed somewhat to allow for circulation) or if there is anyone that specializes in this specific task that can be recommended.  We are not interested in doing this job – we want professional help.
Just in case anyone is worried, we plan on having 2 monitors in our room (the 2nd as a back-up in case the 1st goes out) once the nursery is sound-proofed.
Thank you!!!

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I can’t provide specific recs in the city, but some friends of mine in Boston did this.  They ended up hiring a sound engineer to figure out exactly what they needed for their space. It worked wonders.  I think further down the forum there may have been a request for sound engineer recs for a basement reno, so you might want to look at that post.

There are a number of first steps to take to “soundproofing” a room – though despite you seemingling wanting to not have any noise enter this room, I think you are still dealing with sound isolation as soundproofing would require very thick walls with various materials of various density to achieve your goal and would not really be pratical in small places.  Most sounds studios have walls that are between 16″ and 20″ thick.
You mention that the nursery has an exterior wall and at least one interior wall that is shared with another room.  Does the floor or ceiling of the nursey serve as the ceiling or floor for another room that is within your control? (I.e is your living room under the nursey?)  If so, you’ll need to treat each of those surfaces as well, making sure you overlap where walls/floor/ceilings meet.  You’ll also need to treat any mechanical vents and ducts that open up into this and another room.
The trick is to create a wall or floor/ceiling that has mass and density of various thicknesses to reduce the soundwaves that are going through the wall.  Your current “thin” interior wall is probably just that – single piece of drywall (plaster on lath if it’s an unrenovated house) on each side of a 2×4 stud wall.  The easiest way to get a lot more sound isolation is to put some batt insulation (R-11, non-faced would work well for sounds and HVAC!) in the wall and put another layer of 5/8″ or 3/4″ drywall on one side of the wall (there’s little advantage to putting it on both sides).  Some also put a layer of builder’s paper between the two pieces of drywall.  You can treat the ceiling of the space of the nursery (or the below room) the same way.  Adding carpet with a good pad to the nursery would greatly help. There’s a product called Quietrock that works better than just drywall for a cost.  If you are willing to give up another 3.5″ to 4″ along the length of the wall, you can double up and stagger the studs to get even more isolation.  I wouldn’t see this being worth it in most urban cases.
As for the exterior wall, is it brick or stud with siding?  If brick, most if not all of the sound would be coming through the window opening.  Use some caulk to fill any gaps between the frame and window jambs/sill.  Installing a double insulated glazed window will also increase the sound isolation much, but is also costly and you may find yourself wanting to replace other windows on that side of the house to be consistent from the exterior.  If you don’t already have them, get some heavyweight, floor to ceiling curtains that you can close while he’s sleeping.  Way more cost effective than replacing windows and you’ll be surprised with how much noise they block.  Also, consider installing a storm window, lots of companies and hardward stores make these custom fit.  Triple glazed windows are great, but again cost is high and they are little better than double.  If the exterior wall is stud with siding, treat it the same you would an interior wall – insulation and another layer of 5/8″ or 3/4″ drywall.
As for the door, get a solid wood door (lots at community forklift) and put a sweep on the bottom and some weatherstripping around the head and jamb of the opening.
There’s also plenty of cheap non-construction ways to increase sound isolation such as putting up some wall hangings, put some bookcases along the shared wall, lay down some rugs and carpet (in both rooms), taking off your shoes…  By reducing the amount of sound reverberation, you will reduce the amount of sound tansmitting through the walls.
That’s a much longer answer than I was aspecting to write, so hope it helps.

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