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Sound Barrier Fence

Building a Soundproof Fence

Building a Soundproof Fence

Most of the information you find on our site discusses how to help make you comfortable in your vehicle, so it feels like a second home. But what happens when you’re uncomfortable in your first home? Our own sanctuaries can be flooded with noise from the outside world, or if you’re like my family, flooded with complaints from the neighbors for all the noise coming from your house.

So whether you’re trying to keep the party out, or keep the party in, controlling the noise around your house is important to feel at home. As they say, good fences make good neighbors (and pretty good sound blockers as well). With a few tips and the right materials, you can turn your fence into an effective sound barrier to keep your home quiet.

Most of the information you find on our site discusses how to help make you comfortable in your vehicle, so it feels like a second home. But what happens when you’re uncomfortable in your first home? Our own sanctuaries can be flooded with noise from the outside world, or if you’re like my family, flooded with complaints from the neighbors for all the noise coming from your house.

So whether you’re trying to keep the party out, or keep the party in, controlling the noise around your house is important to feel at home. As they say, good fences make good neighbors (and pretty good sound blockers as well). With a few tips and the right materials, you can turn your fence into an effective sound barrier to keep your home quiet.

Free USA shipping
Free USA shipping

Popular Fence Soundproofing Materials


Quiet Quilt™ Sound Barrier Blanket
BlocknZorbe™ Multi-Purpose Sound Panels
Luxury Liner™ Roll of Mass Loaded Vinyl (1 lb / 2 lb)

Understanding Outdoor Fence Soundproofing

Who Might Need a Sound Barrier Fence?

Even in the most private neighborhoods, noises can come from all over. Sometimes even from yourself!

  • Traffic and Road Noise
  • Cookouts and Parties
  • Construction
  • Power Tools and Lawn Equipment
  • HVAC Units
  • Pool Pumps
wooden fence

Fence Soundproofing Materials And How Well They WOrk

If you are planning to build a new fence for your home, you should consider the type of material you use. Different types of fences have different levels of soundproofing effectiveness. Generally speaking, heavier or denser materials block out more sound, but this may not be practical for all households.

Before constructing a fence be sure to check your local regulations and HOA guidelines. Depending on the size of your property, the type of material, and the perimeter you’re constructing, the job can be very complex and it may be necessary to seek the help of a contractor.

BRick

Price: $$$$
Est STC Rating of Material: 40-45
Pros Cons
Expensive
Extremely durable
Difficult and lengthy install
Add sound absorbing material to the side facing the noise to increase the STC rating by up to 7 points
Challenging to repair down the road
soundproof brick fence
Recommended Sound Absorbing Covering:

Wood

Price: $$
Est STC Rating of Material: 20 (hollow) to 35 (solid)
Pros Cons
Easier installation
Soundproofing effectiveness depends on type of wood and install method
Cost efficient
Some maintenance required
Add sound absorbing material to the side facing the noise to increase the STC rating by up to 7 points
standard wood fence
Recommended Sound Absorbing Covering:

Metal

Price: $
Est STC Rating of Material: 20-25
Pros Cons
Easier installation
Least effective sound barrier
Cost efficient
Some people find it unattractive
Add sound absorbing material to the side facing the noise to increase the STC rating by up to 7 points
Less durable (rust, high winds)
metal fence
Recommended Sound Absorbing Covering:

Natural

Price: $$ to $$$$
Est STC Rating of Material: N/A
Pros Cons
Looks great (a fence without a fence)
Unreliable sound barrier (lots of potential for gaps)
Green solution to blocking noise
Difficult to plan & takes time to mature
natural tree soundproof fence

Chain Link

Price: $
Est STC Rating of Material: 0

Nothing wrong with a chain link fence. It's a great fence.

It won't block any sound though, unless you install one of our Quiet Quilt Soundproof Blankets on it.

A chain link fence can be pretty awesome once it's gotten a Quiet Quilt upgrade (STC 32).

chain link fence

The Four Keys to an Effective Soundproof Fence

There are a couple key concepts when it comes to fence soundproofing. The first is the acoustical line of site. If you can see the source of the noise, you’re not blocking it. The second is the diffracted path, which is the path the sound wave takes after encountering an obstacle. A bigger angle of diffraction makes a better noise barrier. Sometimes it’s easiest just to see a picture:

key concepts for a soundproof fence
key concepts for a soundproof fence

When constructing your fence, there are a few easy tips to keep in mind to create the most effective sound barriers.

Key #1: Fence Height

As a rule of thumb, if you can see it, you can hear it. Now because sound waves don’t travel in a straight line, if you can’t see it, sometimes you can still hear it, but step one in soundproofing is removing the line of sight to the source of the noise. The higher you go, the easier it is to keep sound out.

As a general rule, once the barrier breaks line-of-site with the noise source, you’ll get a 5 dB noise reduction. And then you’ll add an additional 0.5 dB of noise reduction for each foot above the line of site. For your typical street, you should be thinking about a barrier to be at least 8 feet high to even start to block out traffic noise, and the higher the better. Be sure to double check your local regulations as they often include a fence height restriction.

Key #2: Fence Placement

You may think that where you build your fence doesn’t make a difference, after all, a barrier is a barrier. But actually, by placing your sound barrier as close to the noise source as you can, the soundproofing can prove far more effective. Alternatively, you can also place the barrier as close as possible to where you hang out, to keep that area quieter. Both of these strategies take the most advantage of the line of site rule.

soundproof fence position matters
soundproof fence position matters

The diagram shows how height and placement of your fence can drastically change how well it keeps out noise. Think of noise as smelly leftovers in the back of your fridge. You can either seal the leftovers in Tupperware (blocking the source) or cover your nose (blocking the receiver), both are effective at stopping the smell. What wouldn’t be helpful is putting the open leftovers behind a kitchen cabinet...trust me.

Key #3: Fence Density

As you saw from our earlier breakdown of fence materials, the denser something is the better it is at blocking noise. As described in the Mass Law Curve, increasing density results in a higher STC rating (and more sound blocked). So the heavier your barrier it is, the more soundproof it will be. Keep that in mind when choosing your fence materials.

Key #4: Fence Construction

Sound moves like water (or smells), as it can move through the smallest of gaps. For the best sound blocking, you want as airtight of a barrier as possible. This means NO GAPS. Ensure your fence goes all the way to the ground. It works just like wall soundproofing. If you can fully seal up your barrier, it will make a world of difference in decreasing the outside noise you hear.

The other key for construction is length. Very short barriers can have what’s called end diffraction. Which just means the noise is going around your barrier. A general rule is that a fence should 4 times as long as the distance between the barrier and the source OR the barrier and the receiver.

Pro Tip

If you have two barriers facing each other (for example on either side of a highway), cover them with sound absorbing materials or tilt them. A vertical, sound-reflective barrier on opposite sides of a road can be more than 10 dB more effective if you treat it with sound absorbing materials.

How to Build Your Own Soundproof Fence

Building a DIY SOundproof Fence with Wood

Most of our customers opt to construct a wooden fence or chain link fence. Wood is accessible, fairly easy to install, and looks great. Chain link fences are cheap and easy to build, and great support for an exterior-rated soundproof blanket.

If you’re building your own fence, you'll get the best results if you combine the fence with Quiet Quilt Soundproof Blankets. These sound blankets can be used with wood fences, chain link fences, or any other structure where it can be hung. The fence should be at least 8 feet tall, as close to the noise source as possible, and have no gaps. They're frequently used on construction sites, in event spaces, and around industrial rigs.

Another option for fences is mass loaded vinyl. It’s best to incorporate mass loaded vinyl during the initial construction, ideally nailed or screwed in between your fence panels. Mass loaded vinyl works so well for fences, because it’s cost-effective, thin relative to its density, and very durable for outdoor use.

Heavy and dense fencing made with brick or concrete shouldn’t require additional soundproofing if constructed correctly, but they can benefit from an absorptive facing like a Quiet Quilt acoustic blanket or BlocknZorbe sound panel.

If you are working with metal or chain link, or your fence is already built, scroll down for tips on how to add soundproofing to an existing fence.

Planning the Fence
Remember the tips from the previous section. Be sure that you’re building it high enough to break your line of sight from the source of the noise, and place your fence either close to the source of the noise, or close to where you’ll be hanging out. Try to create a single uninterrupted perimeter, every break or gap compromises the effectiveness of your soundproof fence.
 
How to Soundproof the Fence
The strategy for fence soundproofing depends on the base material of your fence and whether you'd benefit more from adding density or absorption.
  • If you're adding density to create a barrier, the key is to install it with NO GAPS. With the Quiet Quilt Soundproof Blankets, the Velcro down each side makes it easy to overlap and seal between blankets. As for adding density with mass loaded vinyl, if the posts and rails of your fence are the frame, the mass loaded vinyl is the picture. Use nails or screws to attach the material to your frame, making sure to overlap the sheets 2 to 3 inches to ensure you don't have any gaps. Our recommendation is to cover both sides with wood panels to create a mass loaded vinyl sandwich.
  • If you're adding absorption to soften the barrier so that it reflects less sound and transmits less sound through it, you don't need to cover 100% of the fence but more coverage is better. The charcoal BlocknZorbe panels add density and absorption, while the Quiet Quilt acoustic blanket is an exterior rated absorptive blanket. Both options are extremely durable with long life-spans.

How to Add Soundproofing to an Existing Fence

Wood
If your fence is already constructed, you can still add material after the fact. First, check that your wood fence is an effective barrier on its own. Does it have gaps between the panels? Is there air space at the bottom of the fence? Is the fence tall enough to block the source of the noise? These are BIG problems, and will result in poor soundproofing.
 
If your fence is a good base for soundproofing, adding some absorption to the fence is the best way to improve results.
  • Option 1 - 2" Charcoal BlocknZorbe panels: These sound panels are rated to both block AND absorb sound (STC and NRC), so it's a 2-for-1 addition. The charcoal version of BlocknZorbe is UV stable and will outlive you at your house.
  • Option 2 - Quiet Quilt Acoustic Blanket: These acoustic blankets are extremely absorptive and built for long-lasting outdoor use. Often used on construction sites in combination with a wood fence to reduce sound reflected and sound transmission through the fence.

If your fence has gaps in it, you can nail or staple mass loaded vinyl to back 100% of the structure to fill those gaps and add density. Be sure to overlap the material and seal the seams to protect from gaps where noise can get through. If you can't close up the gaps, you're looking at building a new fence.

Chain link
Although it may seem silly to try and soundproof a chain link fence, it’s actually one of the best structures to support a soundproof fence because it's such a cost effective base. Our Quiet Quilt Soundproof Blankets are perfect to turn a chain link fence into a soundproof fence with reinforced MLV to block and an absorptive vinyl facing to absorb (STC 32). We fabricate the sound blankets with grommets and exterior rated Velcro so they are easy to install, easy to attach to each other, and stand the test of time (15+ years expected life, 140 mph wind load).
 
In a pinch, you can use mass loaded vinyl to soundproof a chain link fence too. Cut your material to be big enough to overlap about 3 inches on either side and drape onto the ground 1 to 2 inches. You can use grommets and zip ties to anchor the material directly to the chain link fence. Create as snug of a fit as possible with no gaps to get the most effective sound blocking. The addition of mass loaded vinyl to a chain link fence can actually create a clean look provided its installed precisely.

Soundproofing HVAC Units, Pool Pumps, and Other

If you have some stationary machinery on your property that generates a lot of noise, you can create a soundproof enclosure much the same way you would create a soundproof fence. Using the instructions above, build a barrier around the noise source, placing it as close to the structure as possible while still leaving enough room for maintenance and access. This is extremely effective around HVAC units, pool pumps, or as a soundproof generator box.

If you're barrier is going to be open on the top, just be sure to build your barrier 50% higher than the structure itself to effectively block the noise.

Finish Up with some Decorating

If you’ve ever been inside an empty house with no furniture or decor, you know how sound can carry, echo, and reverberate inside blank walls. Similarly, a fence alone, although great at sound blocking, can be improved with a few extras.

The additions of trees, shrubbery, gardens, and other landscaping and lawn decor can help absorb and deflect sound to help your patio hangouts feel more private. You can place items on either side of the fence to help with sound blocking as well.

In addition you can create “white noise” to mask the less desirable noises from the outside world. Consider things like water features or wind chimes that are pleasant to the ear. I’ll take a babbling fountain over the noise of highway trucks any day.

The Quiet Quilt Soundproof Blanket... it's the Hero We All Deserve

Quiet Quilt Soundproof Blankets make the absolute BEST exterior barrier that can be built without investing in a full-on enclosure system. Reinforced mass loaded vinyl, sewn vinyl facing, built-in grommets, and exterior rated Velcro make an impressive soundproof fence that can be installed just as easily on a construction site as it can as an HVAC enclosure.

  • Reinforced 1lb mass loaded vinyl (2lb available)
  • Vinyl coated polyester facing sewn over 2" absorptive fiberglass (1", 4" available)
  • Customize sizes, colors, and thicknesses
  • Used outdoors or indoors as soundproof fences and enclosures
  • Free shipping and made in the USA

Now To Enjoy A Little Outdoor R&R

There’s something serene about hanging out in our own backyard, listening to the wind whistling and the birds chirping. But that serenity can quickly be interrupted by the sounds of traffic and neighbors yelling. Although it’s impossible to keep out all unwanted noise, with some careful planning and a bit of time, you can create an effective sound barrier for your humble abode and make your backyard your favorite room in the house.

Second Skin prides itself on offering this best quality products for any home or automotive soundproofing project. Take a look at our full line and feel free to call us any time you have a project where you'd like some help!

Have questions about your project?

Call us at 1.866.570.5440