Reduce Noise By Soundproofing Your Bathroom When Remodeling

Sound Proofing Your Bathroom

Reduce Bathroom Noise With Soundproofing When Remodeling

Today, thanks to lightweight home construction, open floor plans, and noisy appliances, machines, and even the kid's video game consoles, homes are noisier than ever! Unless you add some form of soundproofing, it can be intense at times. 

One area of the house that you want to keep quiet is the bathroom! Bathroom noises aren't ones you typically want to broadcast all over the house, but often that's exactly what happens. Soundproofing your bathroom can solve this issue so you'll be free to sing in the shower at the top of your lungs, blow dry your hair, or flush the toilet without the rest of the house being disturbed.

Adding soundproofing to your bathroom is easiest when you're remodeling. However simple sound control doesn't necessarily require a gut to the studs remodel. There's a lot you can do using simple materials and design tricks. 

Let's look at some options for soundproofing during a remodel, along with some tips to reduce noise in your bathroom if you're not quite ready for a remodel. 

Controlling Sound

Sound is the energy produced when an object vibrates, creating waves in the air around it. Our ears detect these vibrations and register them as different types of sound. These waves are affected by the materials that they come in contact with. Because bathrooms typically contain large areas of hard materials like tile and parallel walls, sound waves tend to “bounce around” the room. Lower, or bass sounds tend to be the most difficult to control as they resonate more off of large flat surfaces like walls and floors. 

Controlling the sound in an environment consists of using softer materials, for example, rock wool insulation, to absorb high and mid-range frequencies, and using techniques such as creating non-parallel surfaces, or leaving some air space between walls,  to control low-end sound. Soundproofing the bathroom consists of both minimizing noises coming from within the bathroom and preventing household sound from entering.

These concepts are the same, whether you're building a recording studio, a house, or remodeling a bathroom.

Simple Steps To Dampen Bathroom Noise

If you're not ready for a complete bathroom remodeling, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your bathroom from transferring sound as you plan your renovation. The easiest is bringing in materials that absorb, or break up sound waves. Here are some tips:

• Carpeting in the bathroom is not typically practical, but bringing in thick, plush material that will stand up to humidity and frequent washing can help to dampen sound.

• Cork Flooring tiles are an attractive alternative to bathroom mats. They absorb noise, look great and will not be damaged by normal bathroom heat and humidity.

• In a residential setting like a bathroom, creating non-parallel walls might not be practical, or aesthetically pleasing. To reduce echoes in rooms with parallel walls, add shelves, racks or other accessories, put up a painting or hang potted plants on the walls or from the ceiling. Fill racks with folded thick, fluffy towels on towel racks and cabinets to help absorb sound.

• You can also find decorative padded wall panels wrapped in acoustic fabric that is designed to work as both soundproofing and artwork. Using a hanging door storage unit on the inside of the door can also work to absorb sound.

• Small gaps can also transfer sound, Apply caulking around door frames, windows, and fixtures like the sink. This will also reduce the ability of sound to escape the bathroom.

• Rattling pipes or a loud banging noise (called water hammer) can often be a sign that your home's water pressure is incorrect. This can be addressed by refilling your system's air chambers or installing equipment to regulate water pressure.

While these are all short-term fixes that can improve your ability to control sound in the bathroom, the best solution is to address soundproofing when remodeling your bathroom. Here are some tips for serious soundproofing for peace and quiet in the bathroom (and the rest of your house!).

Soundproofing Your Bathroom During Remodeling

If you're planning on remodeling, you have a variety of options that you can incorporate during construction that are effective, inconspicuous and affordable. Controlling sound comes down to three tasks; reducing vibrations, plugging sound leaks and absorbing sound. Here are some tips for doing all three during your bathroom remodeling.

Hidden behind the vanity, this owner’s suite has the toilet separated in its own water closet.

Build A Water Closet

Putting the toilet in a separate room with its own door presents a second layer of separation between a master bedroom space and the toilet that serves it. If you have the room and the budget, this can be the best way to help isolate the toilet-portion of bathroom noises from the rest of the bedroom suite.

Add Mass

Sounds are vibrations, and the best way to stop vibration is with heavy, dense materials that stop noise in its tracks. This can be accomplished in a remodel by adding mass to the walls. While brick and stone are ideal, it's an impractical material for use in a residential bathroom. The best way to add mass is to add a second layer of drywall inside the room. To increase sound control, overlap the boards to cover seams.

Add Caulk Between Layers

An extra step that can reduce sound transmission even further is adding 3/8” thick beads of acoustical caulk between the layers of drywall. The caulk minimizes the transmission of sound vibrations between the layers.

Add Plenty of Insulation to Ceilings, Walls, and Floors

Fiberglass is ok, but for best results use rock wool which is used in professional soundproofing installations. To cut down on impact noise, like footsteps, apply gasket tape or foam joist tape to the floor joists. Replace the sub-flooring and then install an acoustic underlay on top of it before installing your finish flooring.

Wrap Ducts and Pipes

Another potential source of noise is your HVAC ducting and water pipes. These are relatively easy to treat. Sound-deadening duct wrap can work to significantly reduce noise. When it comes to pipes, regulating water pressure can reduce issues like banging and rattling and wrapping pipes with insulation can perform double duty, lowering noise, and insulating pipes, which can reduce energy use.

Solid core doors are used in this condo bathroom to help dampen noise from the bathroom and laundry to the bedroom.

Use Solid Core Doors

Solid doors are much more effective at reducing sound that hollow core doors. They are slightly more expensive, but it's more than worth the expense in terms of soundproofing. Adding a sweep to the door can cut airborne sound.

Masking Noise

Make more noise to hide the noise? Yes, it’s a real possible solution. While it will be annoying in a room such as a master suite or main bathroom, it can be practical for a powder room. Buying a cheap, noisy vent fan and setting the switch so that it turns on when the light turns on will help to create white noise that can mask sounds that might otherwise be heard outside of the powder room.

Look For STC Ratings

Soundproofing products often come with a Sound Transmission Class or STC rating. STC is a measure of how many decibels of sound reduction a product provides. The higher the STC rating, the more effective sound reduction. An improvement of 10 STC makes the noise seem like it's been cut in half. A rating of 3 STC or less is nearly imperceptible. 

Noise has become a byproduct of our busy likes, and noise pollution is all around us. Sound control in the bathroom, whether it's using soft bath mats and rolled towels, or starting from scratch and properly insulating ceilings walls and floors, can add a layer of privacy for everyone in the home. Fortunately there are many quick, easy fixes to reduce noise; however, the most effective measures are best done during a remodeling project because they involve modifying the way the space is constructed.

Don’t Expect Perfection

Unless you have quite a large space and quite a large budget, then don’t expect a perfect result.

If you're planning a bathroom remodeling, or are just looking for ways to temporarily reduce noise until you're ready to schedule a remodel, give the experts at Degnan Design Build Remodel a call. Our designers can offer you tips for controlling sound in and out of the bathroom until it's time to remodel. 

This article was updated by Abe J Degnan on 6/17/2019.

Additional Information on Bathroom Remodeling