How to Minimise Structure-Borne Sound


Structure-borne sound transmission can be a significant nuisance in both residential and commercial environments. This type of noise is caused by vibrations that travel through the building structure, such as those from machinery, footsteps, or even loud music. Successfully minimising this type of sound requires careful consideration and specific strategies, including figuring out noise reduction coefficient meaning. Below are steps and considerations for reducing the transmission of structure-borne sound within buildings.

Understanding Structure-Borne Sound

Before attempting to address structure-borne sound, it’s essential to understand its pathway. It typically originates from direct contact between a sound source and the building components. Unlike airborne sound, it is transmitted through solid materials, like the floors, walls, and ceilings.

Identify the Source

Isolating the origin of the noise is crucial. This could be from impact sources such as footsteps, moving furniture, or machinery. It’s important to know what type of sounds you’re dealing with in order to apply the most effective solution.

Decouple Structures

One of the most effective ways to prevent sound from travelling through a building is to decouple the structures. This can be done by using resilient channels or isolation clips to create a mechanical break in the structural path the sound travels through.

  • Use resilient mounts for machinery.
  • Install floating floors or use anti-vibration pads or mats.
  • Consider resilient channels for drywall installations to reduce wall-to-wall transmission.

Add Mass

Increasing the mass of walls, ceilings, and floors can reduce the ability for sound to vibrate through them. Materials such as mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) can be added to existing structures to increase density and sound damping.

  • Use thicker drywall or add an additional layer of drywall with damping compound.
  • Install MLV on walls, ceilings, and under floors.

Use Damping Compounds

These compounds convert sound energy into a small amount of heat, dissipating the vibration energy and effectively reducing the sound transmission.

  • Apply damping compounds between layers of drywall.
  • Look for paints or plasters that contain damping compounds.

Add Insulation

Insulation materials can absorb sound and dampen vibrations within cavities in the structure.

  • Use sound-absorbing materials like rockwool or fibreglass inside walls and ceilings.
  • Install insulated ductwork to prevent sound propagation from HVAC systems.

Absorb and Disperse Energy

Adding soft materials can help absorb sound energy, and designing spaces to disperse vibrations can prevent sound from focusing in one area.

  • Incorporate carpeting or rubber flooring.
  • Arrange rooms and furnishings to diffuse sound energy.

Regular Maintenance

Loose components or deterioration can increase the transmission of structure-borne sound. Regular maintenance can help.

  • Tighten fittings and fixtures.
  • Replace worn or damaged impact isolators or absorbers.
  • Keep machinery well-maintained to minimise vibration.


Minimising structure-borne sound often requires a combination of approaches, from decoupling structures and adding mass, to using sound-absorbing materials and maintaining equipment. Each situation may require a tailored approach depending on the noise source and the building’s construction. For severe cases or complex buildings, consulting with an acoustic engineer might be necessary to achieve the best results.

Remember that the key to effective sound dampening lies in identifying the source of the sound, understanding the sound’s pathway, and then disrupting the vibrational energy as much as possible along that route. Through careful planning and the implementation of sound-dampening strategies, you can create a quieter and more peaceful environment.

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