Thin rowhouse walls need help to keep out the noise | Soundproofing with Dave

4.03.2006

Thin rowhouse walls need help to keep out the noise

Philadelphia Inquirer | 03/31/2006 | Your Place | Thin rowhouse walls need help to keep out the noise: "Your Place | Thin rowhouse walls need help to keep out the noise
By Alan J. Heavens
Inquirer Real Estate Writer

Question: I just bought a rowhouse in Fishtown. For some reason, I can hear my neighbors (and their annoying barking dogs) as if they were in the next room. It seems to happen on the first floor only. Is there anything I can do?

A:This much is true about rowhouses: Your neighbors are in the next room. In most rowhouses, the party wall is just one or two bricks deep, depending on how inexpensively the houses were built. And even a wall two-bricks deep will not deaden sound.

Plaster is what helps reduce the noise transfer from one house to another. At some point since the houses were constructed, an owner may have taken down the plaster and replaced it with a half-inch of drywall or worse, sheet-thin Masonite, neither of which has soundproofing qualities. Typically, it's the first floor where such changes are made.

In addition, rowhouses have chaseways that carry utilities and soil stacks and the like from the basement to the top of the structure. These act like sound amplifiers.

What to do? Replace the walls with a thicker layer of drywall and fill up those chaseways with acoustic insulation and foam. That should quiet things down."

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