Reduce noise with acoustic fencing for your backyard
If you’re looking to reduce noise in your backyard or home, finding the perfect acoustic fencing for your needs comes down to 3 main factors:
- Noise source
- Noise type
- Fence material
Noise and sound are different; sounds include things we don’t mind hearing, like the gentle warbling of magpies in the mornings, or the calming trickle of your water feature.
Noise, however, is unwanted sound that you don’t want or need; and understanding the noise source and type is crucial to picking the right solution for you.
First, you need to be specific about what you’re actually trying to drown out. Some common residential noise sources include:
- Traffic noise from busy or main roads
- Air-conditioning units or hot water heaters
- Vocal noise from neighbours or animals
- Pool pumps or tools like chainsaws, leaf blowers and lawn mowers
- Music from radios, sound systems and instruments
Once you’ve specified what you’re dealing with, you can narrow down the kind of acoustic fencing you’re going to need:
- Traffic noise will most likely require a tall acoustic fence made from thicker, higher performance materials than traditional timber or metal fences can offer.
- Acoustic enclosures around the source may be better for A/C units or hot water heaters.
- The last three noise sources listed above can be solved by a sturdy boundary solution.
|Change in Noise Level||Subjective Rating||Subjective Response|
|0 dB||No reduction||No Change|
|1 - 3 dB||Slight reduction||Perceivable difference|
|3 - 5 dB||Moderate reduction||Noticeable difference|
|5 - 10 dB||Good reduction||Up to a halving in loudness|
|10 dB and more||Extensive reduction||More than a halving in loudness|
Noise type is important if you’re measuring the level of sound you need to reduce; it can also help you compare different products against the decibel (dB) reduction they’re offering. Without getting too technical, a 10dB reduction will generally reduce the noise you can hear by half.
It’s also useful to know if it’s airborne noise or impact noise:
- Airborne noise is any noise travelling through the air, which acoustic fencing can effectively take care of.
- Impact noise is passed through materials – think of banging doors, scraping furniture, vibrations from loud music – which a fence may not do as much for.
Metal and wood offer minimal sound protection and provide aesthetics that age badly. Brick and block offer strong noise attenuation, but they can be incredibly pricey and their wide strip footings and heavyweight nature aren’t suitable for all locations or applications.
That’s where modular fencing comes in; it’s the ‘in betweener’ that combines noise reduction and affordability, all within a beautiful render-look finish.
To help you find the perfect solution for your needs, ModularWalls’ Executive Director, Jason Harvey (JH), has offered specialist advice for each kind of noise reduction issue.
How can ModularWalls help with my noise reduction needs?
JH: We have a range of different acoustic solutions, from acoustic fencing to sound absorbing enclosures. Choosing the right solution for you is all about what you’re trying to achieve, so I’ve broken it down into some common residential noise reduction projects that you can flick through:
How to reduce neighbourhood noise
For regular neighbourhood noise (lawnmowers, over-excited dogs, crying babies, etc.), I would suggest that our SlimWall acoustic fence is best. It’s our most affordable solution, and offers a 20+ dB reduction, making it an easy, effective choice for the average homeowner.
How to reduce traffic noise
To effectively tackle traffic noise, the wall needs to be as close as possible to the road, providing a physical barrier between house and noise – if you live on the high side of road, you may need a taller wall. Also, the closer you are to the noise wall, the better it'll perform; noise moves in straight lines for the first 10m, and then changes into vertical waves. However, the fence or wall can still be effective at 20-30m if you go higher.
I'd personally recommend TrendWall (if you're after a sleek fence post aesthetic) or VogueWall (for a more robust wall post aesthetic), as they offer a noise reduction of +25dB and meets or exceeds 95% of acoustic specifications we see. They've been used by McDonalds, KFC, Caltex and ALDI, as well as along highways for road noise barriers, because it’s the best acoustic performance for price. Basically, you’re getting commercial-grade noise reduction with a beautiful residential aesthetic!
How to reduce noise from air-conditioning units
Going back to noise types, HVAC units emit low frequency noise, which needs to be absorbed rather than reflected.
AcoustiSorb is our noise absorption panel, and the highest performing composite noise wall panel on the Australian market, with a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of <0.9. It’s more expensive than our other panels, but it’s incredibly powerful and effective; recently, it was used in the Opera House stage renewal project and on the Harbour Bridge, simultaneously!
Using our AcoustiSorb panels, you can effectively ‘trap’ the noise at the source with a custom-designed acoustic enclosure.
How to keep in noise from your entertaining area
It’s not always about keeping the sound out! If you’re an avid entertainer and have noise-sensitive neighbours, you may want to reduce the noise that you’re making.
The thing to keep in mind here is roof lines; if you have a hard structure (pergolas, balcony, etc) that ends above the height of the noise wall, it can sometimes reflect the noise to neighbours…but that’s usually assessed on an individual project basis.
Make sure you talk to your neighbours so that you both agree on what’s necessary. If you decide to go higher, make sure you check how much it'll shadow either person’s property.
Do timber or metal fences reduce noise?
JH: Timber fencing doesn’t achieve any acoustic requirements, unless they use a weighted or hardened timber, which drives costs up. Ultimately, you really aren’t saving a lot of money by going with timber, and you’re settling for a less durable and higher maintenance solution.
Metal fencing has very limited acoustic ability and doesn’t meet any acoustic requirements at all.
Do brick walls reduce noise?
JH: Brick walls offers strong acoustic benefits, with a noise reduction of up to 40db…but for twice the cost. For what we’ve seen around Australia, the modular wall, at half the price, will exceed the requirements of 95% of acoustic projects presented.
We can even customise our panels to achieve a 40db reduction if it’s needed, by using a thicker skin, which gives it greater density and thus a greater acoustic performance.
JH: If you’re really unhappy with the level of noise you’re experiencing, check your state’s EPA guidelines – while they aren’t laws, they do provide a good background with what’s acceptable within a community.
Written by Evelyn Kandris
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