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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


Luxury Liner™ Roll of Mass Loaded Vinyl (1 lb / 2 lb)
Luxury Liner™ Sheets 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
Highly effective sound barrier
Expensive
Extremely durable
Difficult and length install
Challenging to repair down the road
soundproof brick fence

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
standard wood fence

Metal

Price: $
Est STC Rating of Material: 20-25
Pros Cons
Easier installation
Least effective sound barrier
Cost efficient
Some people find it unattractive
Less durable (rust, high winds)
metal fence

Natural

Price: $$ to $$$$
Est STC Rating of Material: N/A
Pros Cons
Looks great (a fence without a fence)
Unreliable sound barrier (even if hedges very thick - lots of gaps)
Green solution
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.

Just not for soundproofing. Let's move on.

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. A general rule is that you want your barrier density to be greater than 4 lb / sq ft. Scientifically, more mass blocks more sound, 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. Wood is accessible, fairly easy to install, and looks great. If you’re building your own fence, it’s best to incorporate mass loaded vinyl during the construction, ideally in between your fence panels. Mass loaded vinyl works so well for fences, because it’s thin relative to its density and it’s very durable for outdoor use.

Heavy and dense fencing made with brick or concrete shouldn’t require additional soundproofing if constructed correctly. 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
Now, for applying your 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.
 

At this point you can choose to add wooden panels to one side and leave the mass loaded vinyl exposed or add panels to both sides and hide the material. Our recommendation is to cover both sides to create a mass loaded vinyl sandwich. We find this to not only be more effective at blocking noise but it's also more aesthetically pleasing.

How to Add Soundproofing to an Existing Fence

Wood
If your fence is already constructed, you can still add material after the fact. If you have the time and patience, you can remove your fence panels from the frame, add the material as you would if you were constructing it for the first time, and re-add the fence panels.
 

If that seems too overwhelming, you can nail or staple mass loaded vinyl directly to the structure as is. Be sure to overlap the material to ensure you don't have any gaps where noise can get through.

 

Chain link
Although it may seem silly to try and soundproof a chain link fence, it’s actually a fairly simple process. 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 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.

Luxury Liner MLV Rolls Will Beef Up That Soundproof Fence

Our Luxury Liner Rolls are made of the highest quality materials and come in convenient rolls up to 135 square feet to help you tackle complex and large soundproofing projects. A versatile and easy-to-install material, this durable mass loaded vinyl can be used for your home, car, RV, shed, or anywhere that you need a little quiet time.

  • Offered in two standard thicknesses, 1 lb and 2 lb.
  • Extremely durable, Luxury Liner is building grade, automotive safe, flexible, tear resistant, and fire resistant.
  • Options for 1/8” thick (1 lb) or 1/4” thick (2 lb) make MLV discrete and versatile.
  • 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!

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