Noise Problems In New Homes

Noise issues in new homes

Recent design trends in modern homes, such as open-concept layouts, large windows, hardwood flooring, glass stair railings, and granite countertops, cause noise problems in new homes. Open concepts have increased noise transmission and reverberation within and outside the homes.


In modern homes with these features, paying attention to noise issues is more critical than ever. Many architects do not realize the importance of acoustic design in addressing noise-related challenges. New home purchasers are unaware of noise problems associated with open-concept house layouts.

Underappreciated problem with open concept layout

Open-concept house design is modern and aesthetically pleasing, but it is not for everyone. Buyers of new open-concept homes must be aware of the unavoidable noise problem of this type of house layout.

  • Open concept design creates large spaces with often unpleasant reverberation.  Noise from living spaces carries to bedrooms, making sleep difficult for small children or family members with a shift work schedule.
  • New houses with multiple washrooms have more sources of plumbing noises becoming disturbing.
  • Modern home theatre with powerful multichannel music systems needs more soundproofing to keep the noise from other parts of the house.
  • Large windows, standard in new houses, allow more exterior noise to enter the interior.

Several clients retained me to help with reducing noise in brand-new homes.  Applying all noise control measures described in this article is usually not feasible in a completed home. The acoustic treatment needs to be specified by the architect during the design of the house.

Noise control in homes under design.

It is too late to mitigate noise problems when house construction is completed. I recommend these measures to be built-in in a new home:

  • Avoid open concept layout unless you can live with the associated noise problems.
  • Install rock wool insulation in all interior walls and ceilings.  This will increase the acoustic separation between rooms.
  • Install solid core (not hollow) doors in all rooms and washrooms, except closets.  Solid doors provide better noise resistance.
  • Install resilient channels in all ceilings (except the top floor) to reduce footstep noises in the spaces below. This treatment also improves airborne noise resistance. Consider installing two layers of drywall over the resiling channels for even more improvements.
  • Consider installing a floating floor with acoustic underlayment.  This further reduces impact noise.
  • Attach all drainpipes with rubber attachments to reduce plumbing noises.
  • Be cognizant of sound propagation and reflections for open-concept design. Install sound-absorbing panels at appropriate locations.  This is the only acoustic treatment that can be easily added to a completed home.
  • Get an acoustical consultant to design partitions with sufficient sound resistance for rooms requiring unique noise isolation (bedrooms, home theatre, gym). This usually requires the use of sound-isolation clips or building a double wall.
  • If exterior noise is problematic, install bricks or stone on exterior walls; do not use stucco. Pay special attention to selecting acoustical windows. 

Noise in multi-family homes

In addition to the above items, a basement apartment, a townhouse, or a condominium party wall must have sufficient noise resistance.  Note that the minimum noise resistance required by the building code (STC 50) is just a minimum.  Many people are not satisfied with the minimum level of noise resistance.  Check this article explaining how much soundproofing is required between dwellings.

If you are unsure about your noise control needs, and your architect does not give you sufficient guidance, contact an acoustical engineer.

We always appreciate your comments.  Please use the form below to submit your thoughts.

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

follow me on: