Soundproof Fences: Do They Work? What Type Is Best?

If you suffer from noise pollution in your home, a soundproof fence may be the most practical remedy available.

Soundproof fences do exactly what they say on the tin—while they won’t transform your property into a silent haven, they will insulate your home and yard from street noise. 

Do Soundproof Fences Actually Work?

While the word “soundproof” may be slightly inaccurate, as they won’t block 100% of noise, soundproof fences do work and, providing you choose the right type of fence and install it correctly, can be very effective at blocking sound.

soundproof fence

Also known as sound barrier fences or acoustic fences, they create an obstacle against soundwaves coming from outside your home and are great at reducing backyard noise.

Sound travels in straight lines until something blocks its path. Depending on the surface it hits, some of the sound will travel through and the rest will be deflected.

Hard, thick surfaces, like soundproof fences, will deflect most of the sound and only allow a small amount through.

Outdoor noises such as lawnmowers and traffic sounds will be sent back in the other direction when they hit a soundproof fence—meaning less sound will come to your home. 

Features of a Quality Soundproof Fence

For a soundproof fence to provide enough sound insulation to protect your home, it should have the following features:

  • Ease of installation: Whether it’s you or a professional (get a quote here) installing the fence, the less labor-intensive it is, the better.
  • No gaps: A surface needs to be solid to deflect the sound. Any holes or gaps in the fence will allow sound to travel through, so this feature is critical.
  • Acoustic properties: To ensure it is dense enough to prevent soundwaves from coming through from the external environment. Check the NCR rating of the product you buy—the lower the number, the more sound is deflected.
  • Durability: To make it long-lasting and soundproof for many years to come and prevent more costs later on down the line.

Types of Soundproof Fences

Whether it’s highway traffic, rowdy neighbors, or construction, there are endless reasons why you may hear lots of noise coming from the street outside.

Soundproof fencing is the ideal way to combat this, offering not only privacy and protection for your property but creating a noise barrier at the same time. 

There are several types of fencing to choose from that will suit different properties and homeowners better.

Some are specially made as acoustic fences and will be installed by professionals, whereas others can be put together to work as a sound barrier.

As a general rule, they need to be solid and thick to block sound waves, yet still look like a regular backyard fence.

1. Mass Loaded Vinyl

mass loaded vinyl fence

This is a material made from layers of thick vinyl sheets that includes particles of metal to increase its mass, therefore making it extremely soundproof.

Usually sold in rolls or sheets, mass loaded vinyl is durable, flexible, and weatherproof—just make sure the one you buy is for outdoor application. 

Pros

  • Can be installed on any type of fence.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Flexible and durable.

Cons

  • Can tear on installation. 

2. Walls

soundblocking wall

Walls of stones or bricks as well as cement walls are one of the best options for soundproof fences.

While they may be expensive and time-consuming to install, their density means they block out the most sound waves, making them ideal for areas with high noise pollution.

No matter what material the wall is built from, it’s advised to avoid any pores or gaps to ensure the best sound insulation.

Pros

  • Durable.
  • Long-lasting.

Cons

  • Expensive and difficult to install.
  • Susceptible to cracking.

3. Timber

soundproof fence

Solid wooden fences made from quality, thick timber are effective at blocking street noise. If there are gaps in the panels or the wood isn’t thick enough, it won’t be effective. 

Although wood is less durable than other materials, you can insulate it with mass loaded vinyl or corrugated metal as well as weatherproof paint to increase its lifespan.

This will also help make the fence more soundproof and filter out more noise.

Many homeowners love the visual appeal of a timber fence, so closely packed boards of strong wood such as redwood, cedar, or oak will be your best bet. 

Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing.
  • Easy to install.
  • Cost-effective.

Cons

  • It must be premium, thick wood. Thin wood won’t block much noise.
  • Less durable, it can be susceptible to weather damage as well as termites and rot.

4. Corrugated Metal

corrugated soundproof fence

Metal can be used alone or on top of another fence to provide sound insulation, as the material is solid and heavy enough to block noise.

It’s best to buy corrugated metal that is resistant to corrosion and water, to ensure it’s long-lasting.

Pros

  • Easy to install.
  • Can be added over a regular fence.

Cons

  • Aesthetics aren’t the best.
  • Gets hot during the summer.

5. Brushwood

a brushwood fence

This type of fence is built using undergrowth along with small twigs and branches from trees.

While it’s relatively cheap to install and extremely long-lasting, the fence needs to be at least half a meter wide to have any effect on noise reduction.

Pros

  • Long-lasting.
  • Affordable.

Cons

  • Aesthetics may not work with all home designs.
  • Must be very thick to be effective.
  • Not suitable in areas prone to bushfires.

6. Berms

a berm

A berm is basically an earth mound, these are great at blocking sound although building them is difficult and not always practical in many cases.

If you can make them high enough, berms make excellent sound barriers, and then you can add another type of soundproof fence on top of it for privacy and more noise insulation.

Pros 

  • Cheap.
  • Blocks out lots of sound.

Cons

  • Challenging to install.
  • Only possible to build half a fence, you must add something else on top.

Things To Consider With Soundproof Fences

There are a variety of things to consider when you’re looking to install soundproofing fencing, such as the type of sound you want to block out, the location of your home and the distance between your house and the fences.

Each of these will affect how much noise they block, as well as the quality of the fencing and strategic placement of them.

Fence Height

A short fence isn’t going to be much use as the soundwaves will simply travel over it.

Therefore, the higher the fence, the better.

Try to aim for at least 2 meters, although higher would be better.

The ideal situation is if your fence can be higher than your house—that way, any noise that gets past will go straight over. 

At the same time, the topography of the area around your house may also affect the soundproofing abilities of the fence.

If your property is located in a valley or even a slight dip, this is excellent as your fence has the opportunity to be even higher.

On the flip side, if your house is on a small hill, you’ll need an extra-high fence to provide sufficient noise insulation and reduce backyard noise.

Fence Density

Materials with a greater mass will protect against noise more effectively compared to thin fences, which will amplify noise and create vibrations from loud noises.

Denser materials such as concrete will do well in areas with heavier noise pollution.

Location

The space between your fence and your home will affect how well your soundproof fence performs.

a small picturesque garden

The greater the separation is, the more noise reduction you’ll get.

In the same way, the closer the fence is to the source of the noise, the shorter the sound waves will be before they hit the barrier, making it more effective.

Aim for at least 20 meters between the fence and your home, if your yard allows. 

Wind Direction

The direction that the wind is blowing can have a significant effect on the levels of noise you hear.

The wind is a champion noise transporter, and occasionally the wind is the noise. 

Sometimes this will come down to luck as the wind is often unpredictable and changes direction, so you have no chance trying to avoid it.

However, some areas have prevailing winds that are pretty consistent.

In this case, it makes sense to design your fence in the right position to take on this prevailing wind.

Noise Sources

As you may well know, many types of noise can affect you in your home, from construction and lawnmowers to traffic noise and neighbors.

Understanding the main sources of the noise you’re looking to block from your home will help you work out which soundproof fences are best to install. 

As an example, stone walls and mass loaded vinyl are ideal for combating road-noise, whereas a solid timber fence should be sufficient against noisy neighbors. 

DIY Soundproof Fences

If you’re not looking to build a new fence around your home and simply upgrade your existing one to be more soundproof, I’d recommend installing mass loaded vinyl.

It’s flexible and easy to work with, yet a highly effective sound blocker at the same time.

Here’s how:

1. Inspect your fence:

Start by making sure the fencing you have is solid enough to provide a base for the mass loaded vinyl. The fence needs to provide some soundproofing already, as the added material will simply add noise insulation. If your fence is too thin, low, or has lots of gaps, you might be wasting your time.

2. Measure your fence:

To work out the area of your fence, measure the height and length. This will ensure you buy the right amount of mass loaded vinyl to cover the fence. 

3. Decide on your fixing method:

There are two ways to fix the vinyl to your fence, either with adhesive or nail and hammer. Using nails and a hammer is the more popular choice and is best if you think you may need to replace the mass loaded vinyl in the future.

4. Collect what you need:

Purchase your mass loaded vinyl in rolls and gather your tools. You’ll need sharp scissors to cut the material and a pencil for marking. You will also need a drill, nails, and a hammer or nail gun if you’re going that route, or adhesive if you’d rather use that. 

5. Attach the material to the fence:

Cut the sheets according to the size of the fence. Then either apply adhesive to the fence, or drill holes in the places where the nails will sit. Fix the mass loaded vinyl to the fence securely, and you’re good to go.

Alternative Ways To Block Noise From Your Home

As well as soundproof fences, there are other ways you can block outdoor noise in your home. These include:

  • Installing double-glazed windows: Regular windows will allow sound into your home as glass is an excellent sound conductor. Installing windows with extra-thick glass, laminated layers, and space between the panes will increase the blockage of outdoor noise.
  • Hanging dense curtains: It seems too easy, but thick curtains will absorb and dampen sound much better than thinner ones. For even better effectiveness, you can double or triple the layers of curtains, or invest in specialized noise-absorbing curtains. Make sure your curtains cover the wall above and below the window for better effectiveness. 
  • Adding trees: Alongside your solid fence, try to landscape your yard with plenty of plants, shrubs, and trees. These have a substantial mass and will help to absorb sound.
  • Covering doors and walls with soundproofing materials: Such as mass loaded vinyl.
  • Sealing your doors: Add weather stripping to the frames of your doors throughout your home to stop the movement of heat and noise.
  • Repairing walls: Inspect for holes and cracks in your outer walls and repair them. Pay special attention to window frames and ventilation grates. 
  • White noise: While this won’t reduce sounds coming from the street, it will mask them with a more desirable sound. A nice idea is installing a water feature in the yard.

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Welcome to Soundproof Panda,

I'm Dan, I live very close to an internationally famous stadium which generates an awful lot of noise that I'd rather block out.

This is my place to document what I've learnt on my soundproofing journey.