How to Reduce Traffic Noise from a Balcony
After a long day, there’s nothing better than catching the evening breeze and kicking back on a balcony with a cold drink by your side.
Or, on a lazy Sunday morning, enjoying coffee and breakfast on the balcony with the warmth of the sun beaming down on you.
A balcony is one of the finer things you can enjoy as a homeowner or apartment dweller. But if you live in the city or on a busy street, noise intrusion is an inevitable (and irritating) reality of having a balcony.
What are ways you can reduce traffic noise from a balcony? How effective is soundproofing your balcony and the surrounding areas of your home? Can you really make a noticeable difference in the amount of noise your balcony absorbs and experiences?
In this article, we’ll explore some different approaches to minimizing noise pollution from your balcony so you can enjoy peace and quiet both inside and outside your living quarters.
Let’s get started!
Build a Fence or Perimeter Wall
Whether your balcony faces the front or back of your home or apartment building, if you’re in serious need of noise control, the best thing you can do is construct a perimeter wall or fence in the adjacent yard.
A perimeter wall or fence can act as a primary barrier against noise coming from the surrounding street and neighborhood. These can filter out more noise before it reaches your balcony. The less noise your balcony has to absorb, the quieter it will be.
Building a perimeter wall or fence might not be possible if you rent or your property manager does not allow this kind of home improvement project. But if noise pollution is a complaint, your landlord or property manager may be willing to add in a fence or wall.
The materials used to build your fence or perimeter wall are essential to its effectiveness. Dense materials have greater soundproofing capabilities; the more compact and close a material’s molecules are, the more noise and vibrations it can block out.
So, what kinds of perimeter walls, fences, and materials are most effective against noise pollution?
Best Materials for Soundproofing Perimeter Walls
Concrete is by far the best soundproofing material for walls due to its high density and molecular compactness. The higher and thicker the concrete wall, the more you’ll be able to reduce traffic noise from your balcony.
A small to medium-sized concrete perimeter wall is generally not expensive to install. However, it is not a DIY-friendly project as it often requires professional help, unless you have prior experience working with concrete or have a friend who can help you install it. And while it may be a more laborious home improvement project, it can yield other benefits in addition to soundproofing your balcony and the rest of your home.
Some will argue that a perimeter wall in the front of a home reduces its curbside appeal. But for many homeowners, the added privacy and security of a perimeter wall are qualities they look for in a home, especially if they have pets or children who like to play out in the yard. If you live in an area that’s prone to heavy rainfall and street flooding, you can also prevent more water from seeping into your yard.
If you’re concerned that a concrete wall will be a major eyesore, think again. There are lots of beautiful concrete wall designs and ways to spruce up and add personality to your perimeter wall. For example, you could hang vertical plants or add a garden along the periphery of the wall. You could also stain, stamp, hand carve, or add texture to the concrete itself.
Another alternative to concrete is brick. Brick is also a high-density material with strong and durable sound-absorbing qualities, and it can enhance your yard and better complement your home’s exterior design.
What’s the Best Fence for Noise Reduction?
If you’re struggling to get on board with the idea of a concrete or brick perimeter wall, a fence can also serve as an effective soundproofing barrier and help reduce traffic noise from your balcony.
While high-density materials like concrete, brick, or masonry are best at reducing noise pollution, wood and vinyl also have significant soundproofing qualities.
Thick wood and vinyl are best at reducing traffic noise from a balcony. Remember: The heavier the mass, the more noise you’ll be able to block out. With a balcony in the equation, you’ll want your fence to filter out as much noise as possible before it can reach the balcony.
The higher the balcony, the higher your fence should be. Noise can still travel over a fence; if your fence isn’t high enough, you will still be able to experience more noise and vibrations from your balcony.
Soundproof Nearby Windows
Adding a fence or perimeter wall to the part of the yard your balcony faces is one of the more effective ways to reduce traffic noise — but soundproofing the windows of your home or apartment can also reduce the amount of noise your balcony experiences.
Soundproofing your windows can certainly reduce the amount of noise you experience indoors, but how can they reduce the noise from your balcony?
The more sounds and vibrations the surrounding windows can absorb, the fewer reverberations can occur on your balcony floor, walls, and furniture.
Soundproofing nearby windows alone might not drastically reduce traffic noise from a balcony, but with the right materials and as a supplement to other methods, they can be effective.
How Can You Reduce Traffic Noise Through a Window?
Does your home or apartment have single-pane glazed windows? If so, and you live in a busy neighborhood, chances are you experience a lot of noise both on your balcony and indoors. Fortunately, there are a few different ways you can soundproof single-pane glazed windows.
For starters, consider installing double-pane glazed windows if your budget allows for it. Although they can be an investment, double-pane glazed windows have the most effective soundproofing qualities — plus, they can better insulate your home and improve your home’s energy efficiency!
If you’re working with a tighter budget, adding acoustic curtains or window film can subtly cut down on noise pollution. However, an acoustic curtain and window film won’t cut it. To significantly reduce traffic noise through a window or from your balcony, you’ll need to up the ante and bust out some caulk and soundproofing sealant!
Take the time to check for cracks, gaps, and holes along the window frame, as well as the perimeter of your balcony. Cracks and holes allow more air and noise to seep through your balcony and enter the rest of your home.
How to Soundproof Your Balcony
Now that we’ve explored ways to soundproof the yard and windows surrounding your balcony, what types of changes can you make to the balcony itself to reduce noise pollution?
Insulate the Walls of Your Balcony
With proper insulation, the walls of your balcony can better absorb and filter out noise coming from the street below.
Adding insulation to your balcony walls may not be possible if you rent and your landlord or property management don’t allow this type of home improvement project. But if you own your property or receive permission to add insulation to the walls of your balcony, the insulation can create a quieter balcony and home atmosphere overall.
Basic fiberglass insulation for the wall cavities of your balcony should suffice. Fiberglass batt insulation is among the cheapest insulation materials, and it can also prevent more moisture and water from seeping through the balcony and into your home.
Add Furniture, Rugs, & Plants
Furniture and objects can also absorb more noise and soundproof your balcony!
Flower pots and hanging plants make great additions to your balcony barrier and opening. Even if they only absorb a slight amount of noise, they can add more privacy, improve your balcony’s air quality, and create a relaxing environment.
Consider placing a shaggy, large, or thick rug along your balcony floor. A rug may not be the best option if you live in a hot or humid climate; however, it can help absorb more noise, provide warmth on cooler days and nights, and add ambiance to your balcony.
Last but not least, if you’re looking for ways to soundproof your balcony, take this as an opportunity to upgrade your balcony furniture. Think non-hollowed metal or wooden couch frames, soft textiles, dense cushions, thick coffee tables, pillows, and throw blankets.
Remember: The more objects on your balcony (and the denser they are), the more noise you’ll be able to block out.
How Will You Reduce Traffic Noise from a Balcony?
In many ways, a balcony is the heart of a home. After all, it’s where you can entertain guests, enjoy meals, or retreat to when you need some quiet relaxation time.
Nothing can dampen the atmosphere of a balcony more than noise pollution, but by taking the right approach to reduce traffic noise from your balcony, it can continue to serve as an amenity rather than a hindrance.
If soundproofing your balcony is on your to-do list, let us know how you plan to reduce the noise so you can pave the way for the balcony of your dreams. We’d love to hear from you and how you plan to use these ideas to minimize the noise!