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Sound Control

We’re in the process of restoring and renovating a 100+ year old house into a B&B. We need to sound-proof the rooms (for obvious reasons…), and we have heard of a product like drywall, but was a sound proofing type of material. Are you familiar with this? — Mark & Wanda Johnson, Westcliffe, Colorado

Of the traditional materials, sand plaster has very good sound reduction qualities because it has a higher density and more mass compared to modern materials such as gypsum wallboard. If you are taking out plaster in your renovation, you could put sand plaster back in. You might add a layer of traditional sand plaster using a method called “back plastering.” A layer of lath and plaster is added between the studs of the wall, within the stud-space.

Modern remodeling systems for sound control include adding high-density insulation to the inner wall space, such as dense-pack blown-in cellulose which can be done with little damage to existing plaster and finishes. Another high-density alternative would be adding cement-board, commonly used in bathrooms around the shower. There are systems of special hardware to hold the edges of the panels in a channel that dampens some of the sound vibrations of the panels.

John Leeke is a preservation consultant who helps homeowners, contractors and architects understand and maintain their historic buildings. You can contact him at 26 Higgins St., Portland, Maine, 04103; or by E-mail:; or log onto his website at:

© John Leeke

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