Fences for Sound-Proofing

Answered by Jeffrey ~ September 30, 2010 ~ No Comments

The back yard of our Waukesha, Wisconsin, home is near a very busy freeway. We can have a fence up to 6' high. Will any fencing material, at any cost, reduce the highway noise so we can enjoy the back yard more?

Launa O. ~ Waukesha, Wisconsin

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Launa, I don't imagine it's much fun having the sound of traffic on the interstate interfering with your backyard evenings. There aren't any fences that are going to completely block out the noise from the highway, but there are some that might help quite a bit.

I'm not sure how many houses are in your neighborhood or if you live out in the country, but if there are a lot of homes involved, you might want to approach the local government there in Waukesha, Wisconsin to see if they would be willing to install a soundproofing barrier to protect the neighborhood from unwanted noise from the freeway. Many neighborhoods on the East Coast that back up to our many highways have these types of barriers and they seem to work pretty well.

However, if you're on your own in having to resolve this issue, then a fence along your rear property line might help a lot. Most people who specialize in these situations agree that soundproof fencing needs to be at least 8 feet tall to work. Even though you have a 6 feet limitation on your fencing you should be able to get a waiver from your homeowner's association or local jurisdiction if it's for soundproofing purposes. There is no sense in spending the money to install a fence that is 6 feet tall when an additional 2 feet could make a huge difference in how much sound is blocked.

You don't mention how much of your property is along the highway, but a masonry fence is usually the best solution. Unfortunately a masonry fence that's 8 feet tall is going to be pretty expensive even if your backyard is only 50 feet wide. When I say masonry I'm referring to fencing material such as brick or stone.

A fencing material that might be a little more budget friendly would be wood with soundproofing materials added. The fence is constructed much the same as the privacy fencing you see between the backyards of townhomes and all the wood fencing material should be treated for moisture unless you plan to paint it on a regular basis. Use 4 inch vertical posts 6 or 8 feet apart in post holes filled with a concrete mixture for stability and you can used 2 inch by 4 inch material horizontally between the posts as nailers for your fencing slats. An 8 foot fence should have at least 3 horizontal members between the posts, but 4 might be better.

The fencing slats on your side of the fence should be tight against each other and the seams should be caulked when the fence is finished. The slats on the highway side should be spaced a little bit apart to allow the sound to penetrate to the soundproofing material; I would say 1/2 inch to an inch.

There are many types of soundproof materials you can use for the cavity of the fence; I would check with local companies around Waukesha and also on the Internet. Some of the systems require two different materials to be installed. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's recommendations on how the products should be installed. Good luck!

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