In the quiet realm of our own homes, The last thing you want in your quiet, peaceful home is the intrusion of noise from the outside world. Whether it’s the uninvited hum of traffic, the clamor of noisy neighbors, or the distant echo of a city's hustle and bustle.
Those seeking an escape from the chaos find themselves looking to install a sound barrier fence. That being said, is a plastic fence a good sound barrier? Not compared to the alternatives out there.
That’s why we’ve decided to put together this guide to help you understand the shortcomings of plastic before introducing you to the best type of fence for sound barrier. Our sound barrier fence is made from the top grades of cedar, and the results speak for themselves!
G&B Quality Cedar can meet all your cedar board needs. This blog is informational only and not a replacement for expert advice. Please consult a professional before starting any building project as your needs and specifications may vary and it may not reflect the most current building codes, regulations, or industry standards.
A Brief Overview of Sound Barrier Fencing
Fencing has historically been a defining feature of property lines, offering both a sense of privacy and security.
But with the rise in urban noise and the increasing need for serene environments, homeowners are now turning to fences with a different expectation: sound reduction.
How do these barriers work, though, and what makes one material more effective than another?
Understanding Sound Transmission
Sound is simply a form of energy, transmitted through vibrations in the air.
When a noise source - be it a revving engine or a dog's bark - creates these vibrations, they travel in waves, bouncing off various surfaces until absorbed or dissipating.
The intensity, frequency, and speed of these waves determine the type and level of sound we perceive.
Purpose of Sound Barrier Fencing
The primary role of sound barrier fencing is to create a buffer between the noise source and the listener. For homeowners, this often means reducing street noise, loud neighbors, or environmental sounds.
Whether you're a parent of a napping toddler, a professional working from home, or just someone seeking solace in their backyard oasis, a sound barrier fence is designed to help you achieve that much-needed auditory relief.
A fence designed to reduce noise doesn't merely block the sound, though. It aims to absorb, reflect, or diffuse these waves, ensuring they don't reach our ears with the same intensity as they originated.
Key Qualities of Effective Sound Barriers
So, is a plastic fence a good sound barrier? Before we get into that, let’s look at the properties of an effective sound barrier in general:
Density: The denser a material, the harder it is for sound waves to pass through. A high-density fence acts as a formidable barrier against noise, preventing a significant portion of sound from penetrating through.
Height: Sound waves will flow over barriers if they're not high enough, much like water. Thus, an effective fence should be tall enough to prevent sound waves from simply traveling over the top.
Absorptive Materials: While reflecting sound waves is useful, absorbing them is even more efficient. Materials that can absorb and dissipate sound energy reduce the risk of noise bouncing back and forth between the fence and other surfaces.
Tight Construction: Gaps, holes, or cracks in a fence can act as conduits for sound. An effective sound barrier fence is tightly constructed, ensuring no spaces where sound can sneak through.
Now, let’s get to the root of this conversation - is a plastic fence a good sound barrier?
Is a Plastic Fence a Good Sound Barrier?
The appeal of plastic fencing is obvious. It’s affordable, readily available, and known for being durable against weather conditions.
That being said, is a plastic fence a good sound barrier? Let’s look at its properties to find out once and for all.
Analyzing Plastic's Properties
At first glance, plastic might seem like a reasonably effective material. It's solid and can be built without gaps, which are two basic requirements for a sound barrier. Here are some of its characteristics:
Lightweight: Unlike denser materials, plastic is relatively light. While this makes for easy installation, it's not ideal for sound insulation. Remember, density plays a crucial role in determining a material's sound-blocking capabilities.
Non-Porous: Plastic's non-porous nature means it doesn't absorb water, making it great for longevity but not for absorbing sound waves.
Flexibility: While some flexibility is good for withstanding external pressures, too much flexibility can cause the fence to vibrate with sound waves, inadvertently amplifying certain noises instead of blocking them.
The Shortcomings of Plastic for Sound Insulation
Given its intrinsic properties, plastic has some clear shortcomings when it comes to serving as an effective sound barrier. It lacks density, which is a key to reducing sound transmission.
But that’s not all. Its flimsy nature is prone to vibrating in response to sound waves - introducing a new and perhaps more annoying source of noise.
This, coupled with the fact that it won’t absorb sound because of its porous nature, means that no - plastic fencing is not a good sound barrier. The good news is that there are superior alternatives more readily available than you may think!
What is a Better Sound Barrier Fence Material Than Plastic?
From pressure treated to cedar fence, there are so many different materials you can build a fence from. However, one stands alone as the most effective choice: Cedar. Here’s what sets it apart from the alternatives…
Why Cedar is the #1 Choice
Cedar is the premier building material for fencing in general. It’s also a great choice for everything from saunas to siding. But, what makes it such a great sound barrier material?
Natural Density: Cedar is renowned for its dense grain structure. This density is essential for effective sound attenuation, as denser materials disrupt sound waves, making it harder for them to pass through.
Texture: Unlike the smooth surface of plastic that can reflect sound waves, cedar's natural texture helps absorb and diffuse them, reducing noise levels.
Aesthetic and Acoustic Appeal: Beyond its acoustic benefits, cedar also offers a beautiful, timeless appearance that can elevate the aesthetic of any property. Its rich, warm hue combined with its natural sound absorption makes it a favorite for those who prioritize both form and function.
Environmental Impact: Cedar is a sustainable choice. Responsibly harvested cedar doesn't contribute to deforestation, and it's biodegradable, meaning it won't linger in landfills for centuries like plastics.
Flexibility in Design: Cedar fencing can be designed with few to no gaps, ensuring maximum sound reduction. Plus, its adaptability means you can have a fence that meets your specific aesthetic preferences while also serving as an effective sound barrier.
Other Materials to Consider
While cedar stands out as an exceptional material for sound barriers, there are other options worth exploring:
Mass-Loaded Vinyl (MLV): This is a thin but heavy material specifically designed for soundproofing. Often, it's used in conjunction with other materials, like being attached to a wooden or metal fence, to improve their sound-blocking capabilities.
Stone or Brick Walls: These materials are incredibly dense, making them excellent for sound attenuation. While they can be more expensive and less flexible in terms of design, their effectiveness is unquestionable.
Composite Fencing: Made from a blend of wood fibers and plastic polymers, composite fencing offers a balance between the aesthetic appeal of wood and the durability of plastic. It's denser than pure plastic fencing, making it a more effective sound barrier.
Acoustic Fencing Panels: Specifically designed to reduce noise, these panels are often made of layered materials, including absorbent fibers and dense compounds, to both block and absorb sound.
While plastic might seem like a tempting, low-maintenance choice for fencing, it falls short. Materials like cedar are leaps and bounds ahead when it comes to creating a peaceful, quiet environment.
And, you can gain access to the best sound barrier fencing online at G&B Quality Cedar Products. We’re the most trusted choice for cedar lumber for sale. That extends beyond sound barrier fencing to standard cedar fencing, cedar deck boards, cedar siding, and a whole lot more.
Tips on Bringing Your Sound Barrier Fence to Life
Our blog has a ton of resources on how to make a cedar fence if you want the full scoop. Otherwise, here’s a quick guide to bringing your cedar sound barrier fence to life.
Selecting the Right Cedar Grade
You know that cedar is the best sound barrier fence material. But let’s get more specific - what is the best cedar for a fence? We believe it’s Western Red Cedar. Here are a few specific grades you can select:
Clear Grade Cedar: This is the top-tier choice, offering uniform appearance without knots. While it's a premium option, its consistency provides excellent sound attenuation.
Knot-Free Cedar: A mid-tier option, it may have some minor imperfections but still offers significant sound reduction benefits.
Green Cedar: A more rustic choice with knots and imperfections. While it may not be as uniformly dense as clear grade cedar, it still offers good sound reduction.
You can learn more about the various grades in our guide to Western red cedar grading.
Design Considerations for Maximum Efficiency
We recently compiled a list of cedar fence ideas, but the design you’ll want to choose for a sound barrier is very specific. Here are a few things to consider:
Height Matters: The taller the fence, the better it will be at blocking sound. Consider a fence that's at least 6-8 feet high for best results.
Seal the Gaps: Sound can seep through even the tiniest of gaps. Ensure that cedar boards are tightly fitted together.
Double Up: Consider a double-layered design where two layers of cedar boards are staggered. This ensures gaps in one layer are covered by the board in the other layer, providing extra sound insulation.
DIY Fence Installation vs Professional Service
You’ll have two choices in terms of actually getting your sound barrier fence installed - you can attempt to build it yourself or you can leverage the help of a professional. There are pros and cons to both approaches:
DIY Approach: While building a fence can be a rewarding project, it requires research, tools, and precision, especially when the goal is sound reduction.
Professional Service: Engaging professionals can ensure that the fence is not only aesthetically pleasing but also optimized for sound reduction. They'll have the expertise to avoid common pitfalls and can work faster than the average DIY enthusiast.
Our advice is to leave it to the pros. With something like your home, or more specifically, your peace of mind, it’s worth investing in the best of the best.
Maintenance Tips for Sound Barriers
Before we bring our conversation on plastic sound barrier fencing to a close we want to leave you with some tips on maintaining your fence. This will maximize the cedar fence lifespan:
Regular Inspection: Check your cedar fence periodically for gaps or damages that might compromise its sound-blocking capabilities.
Seal and Protect: Use a high-quality sealant to protect the cedar from weather elements. This not only prolongs the fence's life but also maintains its sound-blocking efficiency. Learn more about when to stain new cedar fence in our blog.
Avoid Water Accumulation: Ensure the base of your fence isn't prone to water accumulation, which can weaken the wood over time.
Clean Gently: When cleaning your cedar fence, avoid using harsh chemicals or pressure washers. A gentle wash with soapy water and a soft brush is typically sufficient.
Final Thoughts on Plastic Sound Barrier Fencing
The quest for peace and tranquility in our homes often leads us to consider various sound barrier solutions. In summary, plastic won’t cut it as a sound barrier fence material. It’s not going to offer the calm you’re looking for.
In contrast, cedar emerges as a superior alternative, blending aesthetics with efficient sound-dampening qualities. But not just any cedar - the best western red cedar fencing in North America here at G&B Quality Cedar Products.
Don’t force yourself to deal with the frustration of noise preventing you from enjoying your backyard or finding a sense of peace inside. Discover the cedar difference and ensure the serene silence you crave.
Reach out to G&B Quality Cedar Products today to learn more or request a quote. Your journey to a quieter, more peaceful environment begins with a single step!
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G&B Wholesale Lumber Incorporated is not responsible for any loss, injury, or damage that may occur as a result of following the suggestions, tips, or recommendations provided in this blog post. Building projects involve inherent risks, and it is essential to exercise caution, obtain proper permits, and engage qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The inclusion of external links, references, or recommendations in this blog post does not constitute endorsement or guarantee the quality, reliability, or suitability of the linked sources. The reader should independently verify the information and assess its relevance to their specific circumstances. The author reserves the right to modify, update, or remove the content of this blog post at any time without prior notice. It is recommended to check for the most recent updates or consult with professionals to ensure the information is current and applicable. By reading this blog post, the reader acknowledges and accepts the above disclaimer and agrees to use the information provided responsibly and at their own discretion.