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How to make sound proof walls in a townhouse

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Question: I live in a townhouse, where my neighbors unit and mine share a bedroom wall. I can hear them snoring, and I think there is no insulation as it is an internal wall. What are my options for solving this problem?

A: A shared wall is often called a “party wall” but it is no party when a neighbor’s snoring keeps you awake. Sound transmission through shared walls is a common problem, so it is not surprising that there are several products available to help. These include voice-resistant rubberized paints, special types of drywall and thick membranes designed to be applied under a new layer of drywall. Insulation can help but is usually not enough. “Decoupling” your wall, so your neighbors are not attached to the wall, or adding mass (or both) will help much.

About 10 years ago, other neighbors wrote with a question of your own, rather than asking neighbors to sneeze. At the time, Gary Ehrlich of Hush Acoustics, a consulting firm in Fairfax (703-534-2790;, It is recommended to remove the drywall on the reader’s side, build a second wall about 2 inches apart, insert the bat insulation and cover the studs with two layers of a 2-inch drywall. Removing an existing drywall will increase the depth of the air gap between the units, and adding two layers of thick drywall will increase the mass, he said.

Nearly a decade later, are there better solutions available? Well, in the sense that some people save floor space, Ehrlich said, they still run their business but no longer advocate small housing projects.

The most cost-effective solution is to add a second wall about ½ inches from the existing wall, he said. But he also noted that people hate losing ground space. If that is a problem, they suggest modifying their previous suggestion, so only a 3½-inch wide strip is made: build a new wall about 2 inches from the existing wall, but use metal studs 2½ inches deep, one inch less than two-four-wood studs. And instead of using two layers of a 2-inch drywall, install a single layer of 2-inch drywall, which improves the sound blockage you have now.

Add grooves of acoustical sealant, which is designed to fit and shrink to close the gap between the drywall and the bottom edge of the floor. If there are any other places where the new drywall does not meet with the existing drywall, also use sealant there. (Tightbond Acoustical Smoke and Sound Sealant’s 28-ounce tube is $ 9.99 with Ace Hardware.) Close the drywall-to-drywall joints with joint compound and drywall tape as you would in any drywall installation.

If saving space is more important than saving money, Erlich recommends exploring some of the options that have flourished in recent years. Instead of building a separate wall, you can remove the existing drywall on your side, add resilient sound-separate clips, and attach channels to hold the new drywall. It separates the side of your wall from the other. You will lose a room bar that is only 1⅝ inches wide, saving just under two inches. But those savings come at a price: $ 50 in box acoustic solutions for 50 clips.

Or you can remove the existing drywall and skip the clips, then install the drywall in the middle with a sound-dumping layer – no need to cut the room size. QuietRock makes 4-by-8-foot sheets 5-inch thick, similar to drywall used in most residential walls. But the Quietrack version has two thin layers of paperbacked gypsum, with a sound-dampening layer in the middle. At Lowes, it’s $ 54.98 per sheet, compared to about $ 13 for a regular 5-inch drywall.

QuietRock also makes 2-inch thick panels that, unlike the 2-inch panels, do not have paper between the two sheets of gypsum. Sold as EZ-Snap or QuietRock ES, these panels can be cut to shape by scoring with a utility knife, then folded into a normal drywall. Plates with paper in the middle have to be cut with saws, which creates more mess and hassle. QuietRock website, quietrock.comFind-A-Dealer has a feature, which helps customers locate suppliers.

Erlich said the homemade version of Quietrack could be made by sandwiching two layers of the common drywall with a green glue-proof compound. You will need two 28-ounce tubes of caulk-like compound for each 4-by-8-foot sandwich. (A dozen case in Acoustical Solutions is about $ 317.) Install one layer of regular drywall, then drill the compound grooves on the back of the other sheet, a few inches from the edges, and a random but fairly uniform pattern. Then turn the panel to the first layer, where the screws bite into the studs.

Another space-saving solution is to remove the existing drywall and install a mass-loaded vinyl or rubber sheet product to the studs, then place it on top with a new layer of drywall. Mass-loaded vinyl is a thick, heavy, rubber-like material. The 4-by-25-foot roll of the AudioSeal sound barrier, which is a 1-inch thick, costs $ 172.99 on Acoustical Solutions; It weighs 100 pounds and covers about 100 square feet. Peacemaker Sound Barrier, made of similar but recycled rubber, costs $ 110 for a roll of the same size.

If you don’t care if you lose space filled with an existing drywall, it still makes sense to remove the membranes before installing them. The fact that the sheets are a little limp behind the new drywall helps eliminate the noise that goes through the wall.

And with any alternatives, it’s important to seal the edges with acoustical sealant. If the wall has any electrical outlets or light switches, you’ll want to surround the back and sides of the box with sound insulation materials like ATS Acoustics Putty Pads ($ 37.35 per 10 box on Amazon).

If all this sounds more work or cost than you’d like to undertake, there are options to drown out your neighbors’ snoring: earplugs, noise-canceling headsets and white-noise machines.

Do you have a problem with your home? Send questions to [email protected]. Put “how” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

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