Airborne and Structure Borne Noise: Major Differences Explained in Detail

Airborne and Structure Borne Noise

Airborne noise is transmitted by air and the atmosphere and is created from a noise source such as the TV, radio, someone speaking, or the barking of dogs. And structure-borne noise is generally created by an impact such as footsteps. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 12.5% of children and teenagers and 17% of adults have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.

And if you live in an apartment, then you would experience all types of noises whether your upstairs neighbor’s dog is barking or the construction noise right outside your window. However, in some cases, you might not understand which ones are airborne noise and which are structure-borne noise.   

In this article, we have explained the differences between airborne and structure borne noise because, in residential environments, you will mostly face either airborne or structure-borne noise. Also, here we have covered how to reduce both these types of noise and to deal with sound control you must understand how sound travels. 

So, let’s get started.

Differences between Airborne and Structure Borne Noise

If you are searching for soundproofing your house then probably you have read on ways to overcome both of these noises but the source of both noises is totally different.

So let’s discuss each one of them separately, which will give you clear ideas.

What is Airborne Noise?

Airborne noise from the name itself explains that noise which born due to the atmosphere or air and in simple term it need a medium of air to travel from one place to other.

Probably you have heard a noise coming from the neighbor loud music, whispering or barking of dogs and that is all we call Airborne noise. But do you know the principle behind how it works?

Airborne noise is generated from any sound-generating source, which travels through the air, and in case found any barrier like walls, windows, or doors it tries to pass through it by vibrating the solid materials.

If you are seating inside the room then this solid vibrating noise will again come to the air atmosphere and will start vibrating the air particles and this continues until it reaches your ear.

Such noise is known as Airborne noise, which is generated due to the sound source no matter what it is and that is why you have definitely heard the loud music of the party going on beside your house or near your stay because it got a medium of air to travel.

Till this, point you got an idea of what is Airborne noise, so let discuss what is Structure borne noise and how it generated.

What is Structure Borne Noise?

Structure-borne noise is also known as impact noise where the origin of the noise is due to the impact of any object on others, Due to an impact cause vibrations and as a result, noise generated.

If you are living in an apartment then you have heard the below noise types.

  • The noise of the footsteps from the person living at the top of your apartment
  • The noise generated due to the fall of any object on the floor
  • The impact of a chair or any material on the existing floor.

Above explained all the ways are the reason for the impact of noise and due to them the vibrations in the structure of the building. These vibrations cause resonance in the structure, which transmits from one place to another and will start vibrating the air particles and reach your ear.

Ideally, all the structure-borne noise is generated in solid materials like wood, steel, concrete, etc. Hence here the origin is not any noise source but the impact of objects which makes the real difference between Structure borne noise from Airborne noise.

How Both Airborne and Structure Borne Noise Are Closely Related

Here is the major highlight to learn:

  • In our previous learning, the only difference we found is the origin of the noise, where airborne noise is generated due to a sound source however the structure-borne noise is due to the impact of the objects.
  • End transmission to the hearing of the noise is only possible through the atmosphere air as every noise by creates vibrations will reach the human ear through only air.
  • The medium requires to travel airborne noise is atmospheric air but for structure-borne noise the prime need is to have any solid structure

I imagine the above three are the key factors you should aware of in case you are dealing with airborne and structure borne or impact noise.

After learning the major differences, the next question that can click your mind is how to reduce these noises and what major changes are required to prevent or block such noise, so here are our additional Tips.

How to reduce Airborne Noise

If you are planning to deal with any noise then the first point of focus would be to identify the medium of noise and in the case of Airborne noise, it is air.

If you have any corners with holes that allow air to pass through, then it will also create an opportunity for noise to come through. So let discuss what are the probable fixes you would need to work on.

1. Soundproofing Window

Due to the thin layer of glass window and no proper installation by the professional cause noise get a good chance to pass through the window.

Here are various tips on soundproofing a window that is affordable and easy to implement very quickly and you can also use soundproof curtains to minimize the echoes within the room generated by airborne noise.

2. Soundproofing Door

The next major area which causes airborne noise to come into the room is the door. Almost every door has space left below the door or around the joints with frame connections.

In addition due to the thickness, noise can easily pass through the door. Hence you can fix this by soundproofing a door where you can use the best Door sweeps and soundproofing foams and acoustic sealant to fill the gap.

3. Soundproofing a Wall

Here is the major problem with most houses Airborne noise in most cases generated from the neighbor’s house, so how to block or prevent the transmission of noise from another side to yours.

The only way is doing soundproof a wall, where you can use drywall, mass loaded vinyl (MLV) to increase the mass of the wall. If you have gone through all the suggested guides you will not be left with any queries.

In addition to this, I advise going through the detailed guide on how to soundproof a room to minimize the noise generated from the different sources using different soundproofing materials.

How to Reduce the Structure Borne Noise?

As we learned the reason for the generation of structured noise is the impact of the different objects, where the most often is from the ceiling or floor so how to fix this issue let’s discuss the reason and their quick fixes.

1. Soundproofing a floor

Flooring causes the main reason behind impact noise due to footsteps or falls of any object on the floor, so why not fix it and minimize the structure-borne noise.

Flooring is the key area that is made of a total of four layers Joist, subfloor, underlayment and floor covering ideally underlayment is optional for flooring but if you facing any issue of impact noise then definitely use this under the subfloor.

We already explained, how using underlayment can reduce the impact noise and improve the Impact insulation class of the material. Make sure you visit all the tips shared on how to soundproof a floor.

2. Soundproofing a ceiling

Many of you have suffered the noise coming from the ceiling of your apartment due to the person living on top of your flat so why not fix this ASAP, there are various ways to soundproof a ceiling one of the most famous ways is to use drywall and insulation materials.

Better to set a new layer of drywall on top of the existing wall using the resilient channel will give you great results of structure-borne noise reduction.

Wrap Up On Airborne Noise And Structure Borne Noise

If you are in the middle of soundproofing then make sure to use the materials which have the sound transmission class (STC) as much higher as possible, which helps to block the soundwaves.

If facing an issue from the window make sure to add double glazing on the existing glass layer and if already used drywall with the wall then covers this up with a new layer of mass-loaded vinyl which adds additional mass on top of the existing wall.

Whenever you try to add an additional layer of mass on top of the existing layer make sure to use a resilient channel that helps to create decoupling and trap the noise within the layers and use soft thick materials on the floor to avoid direct impact with the floor.

Scientific research has already been done on the side effects to sleep in a noisy environment so make sure to reduce as much noise as possible.

If you have found any other useful tips to overcome airborne and structure-borne noise then feel free to share them with our readers.

FAQ: Airborne And Structure Borne Noise

There are many questions from people related to Airborne and Structure Borne Noise. Here I am giving you answers to some important questions.

Q1. How can you protect yourself from airborne noise?

Ans: If you are exposed to loud noise at work, you should wear hearing protection. This could be earplugs or earmuffs. Because airborne noise is transmitted through the air, it can be more difficult to protect yourself from.

Q2. What are the main sources of structure-borne noise?

Ans: Thumping, vibrating, and humming sounds are often caused by HVAC equipment, refrigeration units, pumps, and other machinery that’s mounted on or within building structures. These sounds can be transmitted through the structure itself, making it difficult to pinpoint the source of the noise.

Q3. Why is it important to understand the difference between airborne and structure-borne noise?

Ans: It is very important to understand the difference between airborne and structure-borne noise because they are two very different types of noise. That’s why, when you are looking for ways to reduce noise in your environment, you need to know which type of noise you are dealing with.

Hey, I am Kirtish Vyas a YouTuber and believer in making life peaceful, a couple of years back I started soundproofing my house, bedroom, studio, and Car to reduce the unwanted noise, and the same experience I am sharing on SoundProofidea. Read More