How to Increase Sound Resistance of a Wall

Sound resistance data in NBC

People often ask me how to improve soundproofing of an existing wall, how to increase sound resistance of a wall.  Well, it depends on the assembly of the wall as is.  In this article I will provide numerous examples.

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Increasing sound resistance (sound transmission loss) of a wall

Lessons from Sound Resistance Tables.

Canadian National Building Code, 2015 release, lists sound resistance (also called sound transmission loss) data for hundreds of common wall and floor/ceiling assemblies.  The data was obtained through testing by National Research Council acoustics lab. NRC is one of the most reputable labs in the world. Other sources of reference information for sound transmission loss data are listed in my other website Soundproofing Calculator.

I will discuss few observations that I have deduced from the data. I will present sound resistance value (STC) of a typical wall assembly. Then I will present increases of this value when assembly elements are added to the wall.  Something a contractor may do to soundproof an existing wall. To help you interpret subjective effect of changes in sound resistance, refer to Table 1.

STC changes

Subjective perception

0.5

Slightly perceptible loudness change

3

Clearly noticeable loudness change

10

Halving of perceptible loudness

20

Quartering of perceptible loudness

Table 1 - Subjective perception of changes in STC

Increasing sound resistance by adding an extra drywall.

Original wall: Wood 2 x 4-inch stud wall has one layer of 15.9 mm Type X drywall on each side, no insulation (wall number W1d).  This assembly has STC 32. Wall number is a reference to the National Building Code.

Improved wall: If an extra layer of 15.9 mm Type X drywall is added to each side (wall number W2d) without adding insulation, sound resistance will increase from STC 32 to 36, that is by 4 STC points. If insulation is added as well (wall number W2a), sound resistance will increase to STC 38, that is by 6 STC points.


Original wall: Steel 2 x 2.5-inch stud wall 400 mm on center has one layer of 15.9 mm Type X drywall on each side, no insulation (wall number S1c). This wall has STC 35.

Improved wall: If an extra layer of 15.9 mm Type X drywall is added to one side of this wall without adding insulation (wall number S2f), sound resistance will increase from STC 35 to 37, that is by 2 STC points. If insulation is added as well (wall number S2b), sound resistance will increase to STC 44, that is by 9 STC points.

If an extra layer of 15.9 mm Type X drywall is added to the other side of this wall as well, without adding insulation (wall number S3h), STC will increase from STC 35 to 42, that is by 7 STC points. If insulation is added as well (wall number S3b), sound resistance will increase to STC 51, that is by 16 STC points.


Increasing sound resistance by adding resilient channels.

Original wall: Wood 2 x 4-inch stud wall 400 mm on centre has one layer of 15.9 mm Type X drywall on each side, with insulation (wall number W1a). This wall has STC 36.

Improved wall: If resilient channels are added to one side (wall number W3a), sound resistance will increase from STC 36 to 45, that is by 9 STC points. If an additional layer of 15.9 mm Type X drywall is added over the resilient channels as well (wall number W4a), sound resistance will increase to STC 51, that is by 15 STC points.


Original wall: Wood 2 x 4-inch stud wall has two layers of 15.9 mm Type X drywall on each side, no insulation (wall number W2d). This wall has STC 36.

Improved wall: If resilient channels are added to one side, 600 mm on centre (wall number W6l), sound resistance will increase from STC 36 to 47, that is by 11 STC points. If insulation is added as well (wall number W6b), sound resistance will increase to STC 58, that is by 22 STC points.


Takeaway: increasing sound transmission loss of a wall

Adding elements to an existing wall can have only a slight benefit, or up to a quartering the perceptible noise level, a significant noise reduction.  This depends on the assembly of the existing wall and what changes are done to it.  Keep in mind that in many retrofit situations, only one side of the wall can be modified, resulting in less benefits. To find out how much soundproofing you need, check out this article.

Soundproofing depends on may factors, not all of them are presented in this article.  If you wish to contact the author of this article to obtain an advice specific to your situation, click on the button below.

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About the Author Ivan Koval

The author is the publisher of the Soundproofing.Expert website. He is a soundproofing and building acoustics consultant working in Toronto and GTA, Ontario, Canada. Telephone (416) 471-2130

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