So you have just purchased your home but when you first looked at it, you didn’t realize just how bad the traffic noise in the backyard really was. Now you are committed to a 30-year mortgage and asks “What can I do Dr. Bob? Well, I’m glad you asked.
You can construct a soundproof or a sound-control fence. Now will this fence block 100% of the traffic noise? I’m afraid not, but will it make your backyard life tolerable? You bet it will.
There are some things that you need to know about building an effect sound control fence that will make it more effective. First and foremost, you new sound control fence needs to be 8 ft above the noise source. Now you need to check with your city or township to see if they have height ordinances regarding fences. If they will only allow a 6′ high fence, you can always build an earthen berm to increase the height of the backyard where the fence will be erected.
Now lets talk about the fence itself. I recommend building a cedar or redwood slatted fence as high as possible, (8ft being the minimum height above the noise source). The term “Above the noise source” means simply this, if the noise is coming from an automobile muffler, then the fence technically needs to be 8′ above the cars tailpipe. This should be simple enough. If you fence isn’t exactly 8′ above the noise source will it not be effective? Of course it will, but at the 8′ level you will get the best sound blocking.
Let’s talk about constructing your fence. The new redwood or cedar fence will have at least 4″ X 4″ posts mounted in concrete footings and sunk at least 2 ft into the ground. You will want as stable a foundation as possible for your new sound control fence as you will be adding heavy sound blocking agents to it. Once the posts are set and the concrete has cured, you will then add the fence cross members. These are generally 2″ X 4″ beams that connect the posts together and offer extra support for the fence slats. Now once the fence framing is complete, you will then be ready for the soundproofing membrane to be installed. You will have already called the professionals at Soundproofing America and ordered a product called “mass loaded vinyl”. Mass loaded vinyl is a loaded vinyl soundproofing barrier that comes in rolls that are 35’x 4′ or 30′ x 4 ½’. Once you have your rolls of mass loaded vinyl and the acoustical caulk and tape that go with the MLV, you are ready to install the soundproof membrane for your new fence.
Your first step is to stretch the MLV along the frame of the fence, you want to make sure the that the MLV extends all the way down to the ground so that the sound does not leak though the bottom of your fence. Once the MLV is stretched across the fence frame, you will staple or nail the MLV to the frame. I recommend that you overlap the MLV by at least ½” and that you will liberally caulk between the overlap with acoustical caulk. You will also want to caulk the outer perimeter of the MLV membrane with the acoustical caulk. The next step is to tape the caulked Seams only with a PVC seam sealer tape along with the acoustical caulk.
As soon as the MLV membrane is secured to the fence framing and all the seams and perimeter have been caulked and taped, it is time to slat the fence. You will use 8′ dog eared slats and but the slats as close together as possible, it is also a good idea to caulk the seams of the slats themselves, but this is absolutely not essential.
I would also recommend slats to the other side of the fence in an effort to protect the MLV membrane from the elements. This is a common practice, but once again is not essentials for good sound blockage.
One final note, some of my customers use a combination of both mass loaded vinyl and America mat closed cell foam as the septum for their sound control fences. By adding the closed cell foam you are adding sound absorption to your fence as well as the best in sound blockage. If you use both of these weather proof products, you will want to leave at least a 1/8″ gap between the slats on the side of the fence that faces the noise source. In other words if you are using both America mat and MLV you will need to slat both sides of the fence and leave the gaps on the side facing the traffic for example. These septum fences work great for loud and obnoxious neighbors as well. I hope this give your new hope for having a nice quiet backyard.
This is Dr. Bob…..Out!!!!