Sound Barrier Fence

Building a Soundproof Fence

Author: Eric Dellolio

Last Updated: May 24, 2024

Read Time: 10 Minutes

Building a Soundproof Fence


Eric Dellolio

Last Updated:

May 24, 2024

Read Time:

10 Minutes

Author: Eric Dellolio

Updated: May 24, 2024

Read Time: 10 Minutes

Fences are best known as barriers meant to keep things contained or keep things out, but they often don't do much for sound.

When we think of barriers, we think of sound barriers. A soundproof fence is very doable and can go a long way in creating a quieter, more enjoyable outdoor experience.

We'll break down the different types of fences, the best approaches, and the right materials you'll need to turn your fence into an effective sound barrier!

Fences are best known as barriers meant to keep things contained or keep things out, but they often don't do much for sound.

When we think of barriers, we think of sound barriers. A soundproof fence is very doable and can go a long way in creating a quieter, more enjoyable outdoor experience.

We'll break down the different types of fences, the best approaches, and the right materials you'll need to turn your fence into an effective sound barrier!

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Popular Fence Soundproofing Materials

Understanding Outdoor Sound Barrier Soundproofing

Who Might Need a Sound Barrier Fence?

We've seen it all from residential fences to pickleball courts to construction site barriers! Even in the most private neighborhoods, noises can come from all over, and sometimes you're the culprit! Here are some of the sound barrier fence projects we've seen:

The Four Keys to an Effective Noise Reduction Fence System

There are four key concepts when it comes to fence soundproofing that you'll need to know to build an effective barrier. Fence height, fence placement, fence density, and fence construction.

Key #1: Fence Height

As a rule of thumb, if you can see it, you can hear it. This is the acoustical line of sight. Step one is removing the line of sight to the source of the noise. The higher you go, the easier it is to keep sound out. Now, because sound waves don’t travel in a straight line, sometimes you can still hear it, even if you can't see it. This is known as the diffracted path, which is the path sound waves take after encountering an obstacle.

People often overlook the importance of fence height for creating an exterior sound barrier. As a general rule, once the barrier breaks line of sight 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 sight. 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.

Sometimes it’s easiest just to see a picture:

key concepts for a soundproof fence

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, if you place 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 sight rule.

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 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 simply putting the open leftovers in the back of the fridge behind some other me.

Key #3: Fence Density

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 be 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 New Soundproof Fencing

In soundproofing, the best place to be in a project is the start. Soundproofing existing structures is certainly doable, but it's always easier, more efficient, and significantly more cost effective to soundproof before anything has been built.

For fences, the same applies. You have the luxury of building a fence with soundproofing in mind. Building the fence itself is the first step, making sure it is tall enough and close enough to the noise source to make a difference, then comes deciding on the right soundproof material and installing those materials. Here are the numbered steps we recommend.

Need help soundproofing an existing fence?

STEPS to build a NEW sound barrier fence

Step One: Building the fence Structure

In case you missed it, check out our section on principles to building a fence for soundproofing for some more in-depth recommendations on building a fence properly. The main focus is building a fence that is high enough, wide enough, dense enough (next step), close enough (to noise source OR to you), and fully airtight.

Pro Tip

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.

What Fence Materials Work Best for Noise Reduction?

When building a new fence, you should consider the type of material you use. Generally speaking, heavier or denser materials block out more sound. That's why materials like wood and brick will perform better from the start than a chain link fence. However, when adding soundproofing materials to the fence to increase the density, there are ways to get the best bang for your buck! We'll walk you through the comparisons to help you make the best decision.

Wood Fence

Price: $$
Est STC Rating of Material: 18-24
Pros Cons
Easier installation
Cost efficient
Some maintenance required
Easy to add soundproofing material to improve the STC rating
Soundproofing effectiveness depends on type of wood and install method
standard wood fence

Vinyl Fence

Price: $$$
Est STC Rating of Material: 25-30
Pros Cons
Easy installation
Often installed with bottom gap
Low maintenance
Expensive alternative
Clean aesthetic and generally no gaps between pieces
Difficult to add soundproofing material to improve the STC rating

Brick Fence

Price: $$$$
Est STC Rating of Material: 40-45
Pros Cons
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

Metal Fence

Price: $
Est STC Rating of Material: 20-25
Pros Cons
Easier installation
Least effective sound barrier
Cost effective
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

Chain Link Fence

Price: $
Est STC Rating of Material: 0
Pros Cons
Very affordable
Blocks no sound without modifcations
Sturdy and easy to hang sound blankets to block or absorb sound or hang MLV to block noise
Some are prone to rust and bending
Plants & vines easily get entangled
chain link fence

Natural Fence

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 fences are nice, but there isn't much you can do to improve these from a sound perspective.
natural tree soundproof fence

Step Two: Selecting the right soundproofing material

If you’re building your own fence, you'll get the best results if you combine the fence with materials that are proven to work. There will usually be two approaches – adding mass to a light barrier (also making the barrier more airtight than it was) and adding absorption to the noise source side of a fence when the fence is close to the noise source.

There are different approaches for different size fences and different fence types.

Commercial Fence Soundproofing Material

For commercial fences found at construction sites, industrial plants, and manufacturing facilities, a lot of times you'll deal with noise ordinances. Our Quiet Quilt™ Outdoor Soundproof Blankets are perfect for hanging on a tall chain link or wood fences to help create a barrier so you can do what you need to do without any complaints. We've also put these sound blankets together in an easy-to-use fence kit that allows you to get all the blankets you need in one.

Alternatively, you can choose to use our Quiet Quilt™ Outdoor Acoustic Blanket facing the noise source, to help absorb the sound. This works particularly well when reducing noise at a pickleball court!

Residential Fence Soundproofing Material

For residential applications, you're either the noisy one – trying to keep neighbors from complaining about a loud pet or music – or you have a neighbor with a loud pet or music, or perhaps there's unwanted traffic noise coming into your yard. Regardless of what you're dealing with, you need to add mass to your new fence so it can be more efficient at blocking direct line sound. Creating a mass loaded vinyl sound barrier will increase the mass of a wood, vinyl, chain link or metal fence so it can be just as effective as brick or concrete.

We recommend one of our reinforced mass loaded vinyl rolls for the job: Luxury Liner™ Reinforced Mass Loaded Vinyl and Luxury Liner™ E84 White Mass Loaded Vinyl. Both of these rolls are UV stable and have a high tensile strength to resist tearing while hanging. Measure out the height and width of your barrier to determine how many square feet of MLV you'd need. These can be installed using grommets and mechanical fastners. These rolls are off-white and grey respectively, but for those who don't like the look of these (they are an industrial product, after all) you can hang these between two layers of fencing. If doing so, you do limit your options a bit for fencing material.

If you did go with brick, concrete or even a heavy metal, make sure to add some absorption to the fence to control echoes with an absorptive facing like a Quiet Quilt™ Outdoor Acoustic Blanket or Charcoal BlocknZorbe™ Sound Panels.

Step Three: Install Materials without gaps

We often say sound performs like water, and your fence is the walls of the pool. If you have a hole that sound can go through, then all the sound is going to start flowing through those weak points. That’s why you want to make sure you get enough material for your full fence build, even overlapping the edges (2-3") of the blankets or mass loaded vinyl you are using to ensure you are getting 100% coverage.

wooden fence

How to Soundproof an Existing Fence

When you have a noise issue on the other side of your fence or have received complaints about your own noise, fret not! There is still a lot you can do in putting the same new construction principles in place with your existing fence.

The keys to soundproofing an existing fence are:
  1. Adding density to block airborne noise
  2. Adding sound absorption to help soften to barrier's reflective surfaces
  3. Make sure the fence is well sealed so no sound is leaking through

Is Your Fence Tall Enough? Wide Enough? Is it Well-Placed for Soundproofing?

As we've stated multiple times before, the only way for a barrier to be effective, it has to follow the 4 keys of fence soundproofing. You can make modifications to give your fence more mass and make it airtight, but that won't help if the fence isn't tall enough and wide enough, or if it's poorly placed (i.e., not close to you or close to the noise source). If your fence checks off those boxes, let's get to soundproofing it!

soundproofing lighter fences: Wood and Chain Link Fences

If you have one of these lighter fencing material, adding the right soundproofing material will improve the density so it can become a barrier. For commercial applications, chances are good you have a chain link fence. While 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 sturdy, cost-effective base, and it's super easy to hang our Quiet Quilt™ Outdoor Soundproof Blanket from. They'll turn a chain link fence into a soundproof fence with reinforced MLV to block (STC 32) and an absorptive vinyl facing to absorb. We fabricate these 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).
For our residential customers, we recommend either our Luxury Liner™ Reinforced Mass Loaded Vinyl or our Luxury Liner™ E84 White Mass Loaded Vinyl. Both are suitable for hanging from your fence with reinforced grommets and at a very budget-conscious cost! You'll want to cover the fence along the whole height and width with no gaps for the best performance.

soundproofing dense fences: brick, concrete, and metal fences

These tricky fences are already heavy, so chances are likely there isn't much that can be done to improve that except building brick fences higher. The thing that you're looknig out for here is acoustics. Many solid building materials are going to be highly reflective as well, which creates a different kind of noise issue: echo and reverb. Adding some absorption to the fence is the best way to improve results, and fortunately, we have some good solutions for that:
      • 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™ Outdoor Acoustic Blanket: These acoustic blankets are extremely absorptive and built for long-lasting outdoor use. Often used on construction sites in combination with a fence to reduce sound reflected and sound transmission through the fence.
key concepts for a soundproof fence
soundproof fence position matters

Alternative Fences and Soundproofing Strategies

Fence Soundproofing Around HVAC Units, Pool Pumps, and Others

If you have some stationary machinery on your property that generates a lot of noise, you can create a soundproof fence enclosure much the same way you would create a soundproof fence. This is extremely effective around HVAC units, pool pumps, or as a soundproof generator box.

With smaller, more targetted projects like a soundproof generator box, pool pump soundproofing, or AC unit soundproofing, you can create a soundproof fence enclosure to control some of the noise they generate. Place the barrier as close to the machinery as possible while still leaving enough room for maintenance and access. 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.

We recommend the use of Quiet Quilt™ Acoustic Blankets or Soundproof Blankets, or 2" Charcoal BlocknZorbe™ sound panels as a mass loaded vinyl alternative.

Be sure to check out our case study below for an example of how this helped with a neighbor's generator.

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.

Second Skin Case Study: 2" BlocknZorbe™ for fence soundproofing




"The goal was to attenuate the noise produced by our neighbor's emergency generator located immediately on the other side of our fence. After install, the noise is finally tolerable."

- Alan S.

fence noise blocking with blocknzorbe

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. We now sell these blankets in a Soundproof Fence Kit! Just request a quote and we will help guide you to getting the best fence soundproofing solution.

  • 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. If you have more backyard soundproofing projects, then you should check out our soundproof shed article!

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 1.800.679.8511