Noise in the home.

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Blog, How to/ Tips | 2 Comments

Our homes; we take for granted the many functions we perform within them on any given day. When designing a house, I spend a great deal of time considering and designing for these varying functions. Where it gets tricky is that the differing tasks each member of the household will undertake, can affect others. I’m talking specifically about noise in the home: Like a TV blaring next to a bedroom in which somebody is trying to sleep. Or a stereo in the lounge room that prevents someone working in the study next door. No doubt the start of plenty of disagreements that can occur in the home.

Isn’t this just part of living with others? Yes, but it does not have to be the issue it so often is. If you are building or renovating there is a way around it. It must however be thought out and addressed on the drawing board. When designing houses for my clients, I ask several questions as to how they operate. I determine such things as if they use a study for just that, study. Many use a study to just pay bills and surf the web, tasks where noise is not an issue to what they are doing. Some kids are set up to do their homework in the study, others in their bedrooms. By finding out how they intend to use the spaces, I can then design the layout of the house to effectively zone it.

Zoning a house is the grouping of rooms of similar purpose so that the different areas have minimal impact on each other.  Zoning works for two purposes:

1. Noise Control:
In a well designed house nobody should be disturbed when they are in a room that needs quiet, such as a bedroom or study, by noise occurring in a room adjoining it such as a living room, hearing the TV or talking.

By creating a zone for public and living spaces, these noisy areas can be located away from the quiet zone, which includes bedrooms and a study. This allows everyone to do what they want, when they want, without affecting anyone else.

2. Climate control:
Zones can also be used for climate control. It is a waste to heat and cool an entire house all day, when some spaces are only used at night, such as bedrooms, and others just during the day, such as living spaces. By clustering together those spaces used during the day, and doing the same for those used at night, we can fit a heating or cooling system that heats or cools just the spaces we use when we use them.

See the example below, where the two zones are physically separated to have no impact on each other.

Double storey:
Zoning gets trickier when it comes to double storey houses. Gone are the days when concrete was used as the upper floor structure. The expense is just too great, and with that we lose its inherent ability to cancel out most noise. As a result timber floor structures are used today, which readily transmit noise and banging. Where possible bedrooms should not be positioned over noisy areas such as living rooms, where the noise easily permeates up through the floor. This is not always achievable, as there often isn’t the space available upstairs to position these rooms elsewhere. In which case there are excellent soundproofing systems that can solve the issue; these should always be employed as the second option, as they add further expense.

With so few houses designed without giving noise any thought, it is no wonder that we just accept it as the way it is. If you are lucky enough to be embarking on having a new house designed for you, zoning reduces your battles, and your energy bills. That’s two thumbs up.

In a future blog post, I will discuss how to reduce noise entering from outside your house.



  1. Melissa
    July 6, 2013

    Interesting comments about noise control in concrete homes. For 14 years, we lived in a full brick concrete slab home. The noise control was amazing – great when the kids had their friends over, making heaps of noise in the downstairs rumpus while I was upstairs doing my own thing. Unfortunately it wasn’t our forever home, so we sold and have just moved into a brick veneer house. We are gradually getting used to the extra noise, and keep reminding ourselves how spoilt we were having a full brick concrete home before. If I ever built a new home (and had sufficient funds!), I would definitely consider concrete for its noise and thermal qualities. Otherwise, I like your ideas about zoning.

    • Darren Naftal
      Darren Naftal
      July 8, 2013

      Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Unless people have lived in houses that have either concrete or timber floors upstairs, they don’t realise the difference in noise between the two.

      Since concrete is so expensive to use upstairs these days, zoning achieves the same without the added costs.


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