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Concrete soundwall: Noise reduction?

Concrete sound barriers could be your solution to peace and quiet.

Noise pollution has been a major concern of health deterioration due to restlessness and sleeplessness. We should not have to compromise our quality of life to bear with our noisy neighbors. Whether you live near a school zone, construction site, high traffic area, or any areas with excessive noise, concrete sound walls are the most effective methods of cutting down the noise!


By reading this article you will understand what you can do to reduce the level of intrusive noise entering your home.

To begin, let’s understand the nature of sound waves. Sound waves are very similar to water, as it would bounce off objects and flow through holes. For instance, sound waves from cars zipping past your home would bounce off your driveway and flow through the windows that you have opened in your living room. However, unlike water, sound waves can also pass through objects that are thin and uncompressed. This means, even if you had closed your window, sound waves can still potentially pass through your drywall and enter your home.

*Depending on object density, sound may still able to penetrate it!

Another rule to remember how sound waves travel is the “line of sight”. If the source creating the sound is in your sight, then you’ll be able to hear it! This means if you live on a hill, you may want to build a taller wall!

An important factor to look at is sound wave intensity, which is measured in decibels. The loudness of sound generally doubles when sound is increased by 10 dB. According to Harvard Medical School Health Letter, studies have shown prolonged exposure to 85 or more decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. More importantly, physiological damage can also occur at lower levels!


The following table retrieved from illustrates the intensity of sound at factors of 10 dB:

  • 0 – 1 dB                          Faintest sound that can be heard

  • 30 dB                              Quiet conversation, soft whisper, quiet suburb

  • 40 dB                              Many computer hard drives range an average of 40-50 dB, whisper [five feet]

  • 50 dB                              Light traffic at a distance of 100 feet

  • 60 dB                              Conversation at one meter, or average street traffic at 100 feet

  • 70 dB                              TV, noisy restaurant [constant exposure], busy traffic [at one meter]

  • 80 dB                              Heavy city traffic [25-50 feet], alarm clock at two feet

  • 90 dB                              Pneumatic drill [or hammer] at one meter

  • 130 dB                            Sound vibrations felt, thunder or near a four-engine jet at thirty meters

  • 140 dB                            Gunshot blast, or jet plane take-off at close range [approximately 200 feet]


Chart: Correlations of dB levels to causality of noise.

In Canada and the United States, general permitted noise level exposure in a 80 dB to 90 dB environment should not exceed 8 hours.

At 80 dB, heavy city traffic is one of the most pervasive unwanted noises transmitted to residential homes! When noise pollution hit your front lawn, precast concrete sound barriers may be an ideal solution for stopping the noises from reaching your ears.

According to National Precast Concrete Association, “concrete’s greater mass reduces sound penetrating through a wall by more than 80% compared with wood or steel frame construction”. precast concrete sound barriers will provide you the peace and quiet that you’ve been looking for.

*Wall up and say good bye to those traffic noises

Finally, before you head out to build your precast concrete sound barriers you may want to consider the following points:

- Understand where most intrusive noise are coming from
- Decide on the level of decibels reduction you want your sound barriers to have (not all walls provide equal noise reduction)
- Understand the maximum permissible height that you can build your sound barrier (ranges differently in each province/state, check with your municipality)
- Determine the thickness of your sound barrier (thickness usually equates with price)
- Determine the design your sound barrier (some concrete walls have holes, which would not be ideal in reducing noise level)

Good luck concrete sound barrier hunting!


Sound travel in "line of sight"

Sound travel in "line of sight"

70 dB A busy restaurant

70 dB A busy restaurant

90+ dB Heavy power tools

90+ dB Heavy power tools

130+ dB Gun shots

130+ dB Gun shots

Wall up and say goodbye to the noise

Wall up and say goodbye to the noise

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