Are you troubled with road noise coming into your back garden or live close to a railway and cannot afford purpose made soundproofed fencing? Then why not build your own? First of all you will have to check with the local authority to ensure that you will not be infringing any planning laws and if necessary, apply for planning permission before constructing a soundproofed fence. Will it work? I hear you ask. Of course, but do not expect to soundproof out all of the noise you are being subjected to. A soundproofed fence should be constructed as high as possible for best results and this is usually at least 8ft (2.4m). Lower fences will still reduce noise nuisance from the other side, just not as efficiently. Let me explain how noise works. Noise flows a bit like air and water. It does not travel in straight lines which is why you can often hear traffic from some distance away despite obstacles that may be between you and the noise. This is because noise travels over and around obstacles a bit like rocks in a river and the only sure way of stopping it is to construct a total sound barrier a bit like a dam that it cannot get round or through. Although this is possible within buildings, clearly it is not possible outside so soundproof fencing is the best solution to reduce noise from nearby and the best reduction in noise will be experienced closest to the fence. This why it is worthwhile installing an acoustic barrier around your garden to reduce noise from nearby traffic. Although noise will still come over the top of the fence, direct noise will be significantly reduced and independent tests have shown that noise reductions of around 17dB can be achieved with an acoustic fence 10ft (3m) high and measured 16ft (5m) away. This will drop to around 12dB from 65ft (20m) and shows how you are being subjected to more noise flowing over the top of the fence the farther you are away from it, even though noise loses intensity over distance.
We all know that a purpose built acoustic fence will cost an arm and a leg but now we can tell you how to do this yourself for a fraction of the price but if you are not DIY motivated, your local builder should be able to undertake the work for you following these instructions. First of all you have to install the fence posts and these are usually 4” x 4” (100mm x 100mm) and have to be set into concrete footings about 2ft (600mm) into the ground. Remember, the heavy soundproof fence will be subjected to a lot of stress from wind and weather so will have to be securely fixed into the ground If the fence is going to be higher than 8ft (2.4m) then deeper holes will be required. Once the concrete has set you can fit the cross members to the posts. These are usually 2” x 4” (50mm x 100mm) timbers that are screwed to the posts and give extra support for the fence cladding. The number of cross rails will depend on how high the acoustic fence is going to be but as a general rule of thumb, they should be at 2ft (600mm) spacings above and beneath one another.
Once the fence frame is completed, before you start you will require the following sound insulating materials. SoundBlocker Membrane, a heavy mineral loaded soundproofing mat that the professionals use to soundproof ceilings and walls. This sound barrier material is supplied in rolls (10m x 1m) and Acoustic Sealant available in 380ml cartridges.
The rolls of membrane are quite heavy and unsupported so it is advised you have help when fixing it to the rails and it is best to choose a day with no wind. For a better result the membrane should be nailed using broad headed felt nails to both sides of the fencing ensuring the membrane is fully supported using the help you have enlisted. If too much weight is placed on not enough nails, the product will simply break away. The SoundBlocker Membrane is fixed to the rails ensuring the bottom edge is in contact with the ground and all joints are overlapped by at least 2” (50mm) and sealed with our Acoustic Sealant. It is important that all gaps and joints are sealed with the sealant otherwise sound will leak through making the soundproofing of the fence less efficient. Once the SoundBlocker Membrane has been fitted and sealed it is time to overlay with the fencing cladding of your choice and would normally be shiplap type fencing or a close boarded panelling. If you have just added the soundproofing material to one side of the fencing then that is the side the timber cladding should be fixed to. Whereas if both sides of the fence has had the membrane attached then the timber cladding will be required on both sides as well. Note! It is always better to clad both sides not just acoustically but to give added protection to the soundproofing membrane from deliberate or accidental damage and is common practice. When fitting the cladding, ensure the boards are in direct contact with each other and if necessary, seal them with the Acoustic Sealant.
Job done! Now sit back and enjoy the quieter garden you have now created.