Quiet Time: Dealing With Noise In A New Home

Posted on: 25 August 2016

There's no doubt that buying a new house — one that's completely new and that has never been lived in — can be a special experience. Here's a house that you get to modify as you see fit. However, new houses can also have a noise problem because of both their design and their components. Knowing how to make the house quieter can make your time in the house a lot more peaceful.


A classic stereotype of newer housing is the complete lack of soundproofing materials in the walls. There is some truth to this as some developments tend to have thinner walls, but not all builders work that way. Many builders install sound-dampening insulation in walls or use thicker layers of drywall. If you do end up buying a home that's on the skimpier end of the soundproofing continuum, you can do one of three things. One is to hire a contractor to gradually install sound-reduction material in each wall; this is likely the most expensive option because it involves opening up the wall, reinstalling new drywall, and repainting.

You can also install acoustic tile on the ceiling and at various points around the room; small foam tiles are easy to find. A third option is to decorate those walls — get tapestries and other soft materials that absorb sound waves before they hit the walls.

Great Halls

Multistory homes are often built with large foyers that span both floors. Living rooms are open as well, creating something often called a great hall. However, these great halls are also great at letting sound bounce around the house. Sounds from the kitchen at one end can be heard all the way at the other end of the house just because there's nothing to stop the noise.

For a quieter home, look for one where the majority of the design does not form a central cavern that exposes all of the rooms to the noise in the house. Look for designs where, even if the foyer spans both floors, the rest of the house is set back from the foyer, rather than around it.

Solid Interior Doors

It's very common for interior doors to be hollow and thin. The logic is that you're not dealing with things like traffic noise between the hallway and the bedroom, for example. But that also means that you can hear a lot of what's going on in the house. Replacing interior doors is one of the easier ways to soundproof a house, so if you buy a new home that isn't as quiet as you'd like, this is one very effective change you can make rather quickly.


How has the flooring in the home been treated so far? Did the builders put in carpet upstairs only? Is there carpet downstairs? Hard flooring upstairs, except in the bathrooms, can be a noise-maker that bothers anyone downstairs. If the builders did not install carpet, you'll have to include that cost in your estimate of how much it will cost you to really fix up the home.

Plumbing Replacement

Many new homes are built with plumbing pipes made from PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. This is a type of plastic that is tough and inexpensive, but it's also not very good at keeping plumbing noise down. It tends to be used for things like toilet and shower drains, magnifying the noise as water rushes through the pipes. Look for homes that have iron pipes — these will be more expensive — or gradually replace the PVC pipes in the home you buy for better noise control.

New homes really are wonderful, so don't let a soundproofing issue stop you from buying. There are ways to make the house quieter.