Northern Virginia is a busy place. There is a lot going on throughout the day and night which leads to lots of traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. And not just on the area highways – traffic is everywhere in between.
We’ve built a lot of our homes in some of the busiest areas in Northern Virginia. We’ve had sites that backup to Rt. 66 and I-495. We’ve built on Washington Boulevard in Arlington (twice!) and Westmoreland Street in Falls Church (four times!). You name it, we’ve probably built on it or near it. Some of the clients who have built on busier roads have opted to use sound reducing building materials. If you are considering a build on your perfect (but busy street), you might want to read on.
Here are measures you can take to minimize the outside noise you hear inside your brand new home.
Extra Insulation (Inside & Out)
There are a few options when considering extra insulation for noise reduction. Spray foam is one of the best insulation products on the market. It provides an air block and also helps with reducing noise.
We used spray foam insulation at this spec home we built on Sycamore Street in Arlington several years ago.
The house was close to 66 and a block away from East Falls Church Metro Station. Lots of traffic at all times of the day. The foam did wonders – most visitors couldn’t believe the difference. It’s not cheap but it works.
Spray fiberglass insulation is a close second in terms of reducing street noise. It is a bit more affordable than the foam and while not as effective as the foam, it does help.
Many clients who opt for sound insulation will only install it in the exterior walls adjacent to the street. For example, if their home faces a busy street, they will opt to install the extra insulation on the front of the house only.
You can also add extra insulation to the interior house walls and floors to reduce noise. I decided to insulate the walls of my laundry room, my master bathroom and all secondary bathrooms. While it doesn’t eliminate noise, it does help to reduce it. I would do all of this over again.
Sound Reducing Window Sashes
Most window manufacturers offer sound reducing window sashes. They cost more money but they can be effective in reducing street noise.
As with sound reducing insulation, clients will typically choose certain windows to have these special sashes instead of installing throughout the entire house.
Sound Dimming Drywall
Sound dimming drywall (like Soundboard) is a product that can be used on areas in the house adjacent to the street. It is more expensive than regular drywall but it is highly effective in reducing outside noise.
We’ve had some clients elect to incorporate all of these measures and some pick and choose based on their needs and their budget. I’ve yet to find a client who regretted their decision to use these materials. In fact, I heard from a client recently who commented about the sound reducing measure they did in their home built in McLean back in 2012. He said, he was very pleased with the things we did in his home to reduce the noise from Rt. 123 and he would recommend it to anyone concerned about it.
No lot is 100% perfect. But don’t be scared of a little less than ideal. It’s all about compromise! And often we have solutions for you to mitigate some of those less-than-ideal circumstances. Give us a call, tell us about your lot, and we will give you our best advice!
Dream Big. Build Smart.