Advice needed to soundproof brown stone wall with metal plated wood door in front!

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by nanonils, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. nanonils

    nanonils New Member

    I would very much appreciate your advice to choose the best sound proofing method to reduce the noise from my neighbor's apartment who watches TV into the early morning every night. I think it may be best to inject foam (e.g. Dow Great Stuff Big Gap Filler into a hollow space between a gate and brick wall:

    The setting: old factory converted loft apartments. We have a visually stunning white painted clinker brick wall with a white painted sliding gate in front that seems to be thin metal plated wood (i.e. it can be drilled). About a half of it is in our bedroom and the other half in our living room. The gate cannot be moved anymore as the wall that separates our bed and living room has cemented it in place. Because there is 4 foot step down towards her apartment the noise comes only from a 4 by 3 feet area that requires sound proofing.

    The wall with the gate must have been the end of the building before a second part was added which is now the living room of my neighbor. She is older and perhaps slightly hard of hearing and has kindly mounted her HDTV against this brick wall (we think) resulting in the space and the gate acting as a resonating body. She is unwilling to change the location of her TV and the landlord won't do anything but permits me to try insulating it myself...

    The material: From our side towards my neighbor there is a 2 inch wooden gate that is plated with relatively thin metal sheets (feels almost like thick foil or aluminum, should be easy to drill) then a 1 inch hollow space (not sure whether any fiber material is in there already but would have been hard to slide the gate over) and a 2 - 3 inch brick wall.

    My plan: drill holes in a grid pattern covering the 4 by 3 feet area with about 4 inch distance and inject Dow Great Stuff Big Gap Filler stuff seems to expand nicely but I don't know whether a lot of expansion equals less mass and less sound proofing. Or is bigger foam bubbles better?

    Is there any better filler? What would you do? Slap a foam pad against the outside (partially ruining the looks)?

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2009
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    How about slapping a picture up.

    In most condo's, they use either staggered studs, or two separate stud walls for sound insulation.
    The idea being, that the vibration from one panel doesn't vibrate the second panel. The mounting studs don't touch.

    It's about isolating the vibration.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    There is a lot of science and art to soundproofing. Any hole or gap will channel and let sound through, so blocking them is the first critical step. Then, if the entire wall is acting as a sounding board, you need to block that sound. Once you've blocked the holes, you may want to invest in some panels designed to suppress sound - some are quite expensive and won't work if you have any gaps. The best ones have a lead sheet embedded in a drywall sandwich. A less expensive alternative is sound suppression clips used to hang a layer (or two) of sheetrock from those clips. This decouples the walls.

    Maybe offer to buy the lady a nice pair of wireless headphones. then, she can wander around the house listening not only to the TV, but music as well, and not bother anyone.
  4. Dana

    Dana In the trades

    Filling the cavity with low density foam will make the problem WORSE, not better, since i'tll mechanically couple the two timpanic surfaces.

    Mass is your friend, and vibration-absorbing fiber-fill is your friend. Dense-packing blown cellulose insulation into the gap to 2.5-3lbs/ft^3 density will provide both, to very good effect.

    A second layer of sheet rock on your side will add mass, and if glued in place with vibe absorbing adhesive it has significant benefit.

    Of course, pulling the neighbor's power line at the transformer can be a very effective (abeit short term) solution too...:rolleyes:
  5. nanonils

    nanonils New Member

    Wow! I'm really perplexed. Glad I asked you. I was about to buy a drill and injectable foam. I had used this foam already to fill in the gaps surrounding the door. I have no idea what's actually behind the door.
    I have attached two pictures from our move in prior to arrival of furniture. You can see that there is no way to move the door.

    What I don't understand after reading about the "Green Glue" following your link ( is why injecting foam would make things worse while this green glue would dampen it.
    Does it remain liquid as it is a viscoleastic thus not providing coupling or is it just the mass of it? Would it potentially squeeze through gaps and land in my dear neighbors HDTV (could be the most expensive but definite solution yet...)?
    Could I simply use sand? E.g. I could drill a larger size whole in the upper area and pour sand in between.

    With a stethoscope I have now localized the noise fairly precisely to the lower third of the bedroom side of the gate. No clue why only this area would transmit.

    Attached Files:

  6. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Thanks for the pictures. I was having a hard time picturing what you meant, and now I'm going "oh, those! I've seen those a bunch of times.

    Only way you're going to get that soundproofed, is from her side (any idea how they closed off the doorway on her side?).

    Or, put up a wall, across the whole room, closing off that door & brick wall completely.

    I suppose you could go just part of the way across the room, box back to the brick... but I wouldn't want to guarantee the soundproofing. Hard to seal against brick, compared to sealing against drywall.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
  7. nanonils

    nanonils New Member

    I have to work with what I've got:
    1. no access to apartment or cooperation from my neighbor
    2. uncooperative landlord who won't soundproof himself but also doesn't care too much about minor modifications that I could do

    If this is really just brick|space|metal-covered wood gate wouldn't foam instead of the space at least provide some additional muffling? If it worsenes the problem how much would that be? Perhaps I should just give it a try as this seems to be the most minimal approach.

    Maybe I can put some proofing material up to 1/3rd of the gate in addition on the outside of the gate and cover it with something to flow along the wall like the upholstered headboard of a bed (which we don't have to keep it minimalist). I have attached a photo to better explain that.

    Attached Files:

  8. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    That "gate" used to be a door. On her side, there's a doorway: not brick. Maybe they closed it off with drywall or something & you've got an open space the foam would fill back there, but maybe her TV is actually mounted directly onto the back of that door.

    The right way to have renovated that space, would involved removing that door and the track, completely, and bricking up the doorway. Clearly they didn't do that, since they left the door...

    If you're trying to soundproof it, you don't just have the door itself to worry about, you also have to worry about any gap / seam between the door & the brick.

    Only way I can see to make it actually soundproof, would be to frame a new wall - doesn't have to be very thick, I'd use 1-5/8" metal framing for this - with insulation in it, and a layer of fiberboard ("soundstop") under the layer of sheetrock. You'd lose about 2-1/2 inches, in front of the current door.

    Anything less than that, is probably a waste of time & money. Unless you think something like this:

    might work, but you'd still have to cover the whole wall to get any relief... at which point I think the price difference gets pretty minimal.
  9. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    I'd have someone put stud walls up over the lot, insulate with fiber glass batting and install drywall.

    All that brick looks like my unfinished basement once did!
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Most of the sound is transmitted by the studs which are fastened to both wall surfaces. To minimize the sound transmission you have to "decouple" the two walls. That is usually done by essentially making two discrete walls which are independent of each other. Then they can be further isolated by weaving a sound deading material between the two walls to dampen airborne sounds. Installing a layer of 2" thick styrofoam panels on your side and then decorating them would go a long way to reduce the sound level.
  11. Shimoni

    Shimoni New Member

    Definitely the right way to go. Once you have that up you can than add the Green Glue with another layer of drywall (The Green Glue has to be sandwiched between 2 layers in order for it to perform).
  12. nanonils

    nanonils New Member

    As a quick (and much delayed) update. The problem is essentially gone: being the stubborn me, I figured the most minimal thing with little to loose would be to simply inject foam in the bedroom into 4 drill holes in the bedroom and gaps that were present. I did use elastic and expandable foam as I noticed the gap to change depending of the outside temperature and humidity. I used a foam that that is commonly available in US ********* home improvement stores and recommended for windows (as it is more flexible and adjusts in expansion to gap changes).

    1. I heard screaming coming from the other side of the wall when injecting. Didn't think much of it. I was later told that my neighbor was looking at her white brick wall when suddenly green-yellow sausages seem to appear in various places (she thought she lost her mind).
    2. It did drastically reduce the noise problem. Likely there was an open communication to my neighbor both on the other side of the door and towards the apartment below me.
    3. TV sounds from her room transmitted more clearly (grrr).
    4. I realized that the actual sound problem with the TV noise was my neighbor from downstairs: I could now distinguish between behind the door/wall and coming through the floor. This is because I did not screw around with other half of the door that can be seen in the living room shot (see above photo). In the living room I could much louder hear the sound from below and barely the TV of my neighbor on the other side of the wall. I also occasionally noticed some hints of mystery food and cigarette smells. That was gone after the injection as well.
    5. My neighbor from below moved out - now it's completely quite...

    Conclusion: I did fill a gap primarily toward the apartment below that much reduced noise in my bedroom. You were right that direct sound transmission through the wall increases with injectable foam that turns more solid due to resonance.

    Thank you for all your advice! I was ready to put up studs and another drywall as the next step!
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