Silence is more musical than any song – Christina Rossetti
Joyce Kilmer once wrote, “I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree”, and he was right.
There is nothing quite as relaxing as sitting in the shadow of a tree in your own yard, with only a book and the delicate, gentle sound of nature for company.
All too often though, that little bit of heaven can be ruined by the noise that your neighbors make and the frantic pace of life that drives every other resident of your neighborhood to constantly live their lives at a thousand miles an hour.
Trying to enjoy a little peace and solitude in the comfort of your yard, can at times, feel as though it’s an impossible dream that’s forever destined to remain just out of reach.
There is, however, a little light at the end of the long and frustrating tunnel that leads to that dream scenario.You can enjoy your garden fantasy, and you can make it a reality and spend as much time in the serene embrace of your own paradise.
And the only things that you’ll need to make your dream come true are a couple of free days, some help from your friends, the right tools, a couple of bags of ready mix concrete, a roll or three of widely available soundproofing material, industrial-strength adhesive, fence rails (enough so that can run three between on each post) and enough fencing and posts to create your own utopia.
You’ll also need the know-how to build your own Eden, but that’s where we come, as we’re going to guide you through each and every step that you’ll need to follow to build your own soundproof fence.
Planning Is Everything. Be Prepared.
The secret to any successful endeavor is proper planning.
Every journey starts with the smallest step, and while it might not seem like a hugely important part of the equation, the first step on the road to building your fence is knowing how much wooden fencing and how many posts and rails you’ll need and how high you’ll want your fence to be.
That means measuring the distance you’ll want it to cover and the height that you’ll need it to reach at least twice.
You know that old saying “measure twice and cut once”? That’s doubly important when you’re building your own fence, as even though there isn’t any cutting involved (at least there isn’t yet, but there will be later on, so be ready) at this stage, the measurements are crucial.
If you’re intending to use ready-made fence panels (and we recommend that you do as it will make your life infinitely easier), then ideally, you should plant a fence post every five to eight feet, which means that you’ll need a pretty precise measurement in order to ascertain how many fence posts and panels you’ll need.
While a lot of professionals will tell you that eight feet between posts is okay, we’ve always thought that five was easier to work with and that the less distance you leave between posts, the easier your fence will be to build and the sturdier it’ll be when you’re finished.
And when you know how long and high your fence is going to be, you’ll also know how much mass-loaded vinyl you’ll need to completely cover it and transform it into a sound dampening barrier that separates you from the rest of the world.
What Is Mass-Loaded Vinyl? Why Am I Using It For My Fence?
Right about now you’re probably scratching your head and asking yourself “What is mass-loaded vinyl? What does it have to do with building a fence?”.
We’re glad you asked and that you didn’t just skip past it, as it’s the mass-loaded vinyl that’s going to make your fence soundproof.
Mass-loaded vinyl is a composite material that’s made from vinyl, which makes it flexible and easy to manipulate, cut, and shape to the required size and any natural, high-density element.
The denser an object is, the more sound it will absorb and deaden and so the higher the density of the element that’s used in mass-loaded vinyl, the better it will be at dampening and deadening any noise between it, and in this case, you.
Most mass-loaded vinyl uses Barium Sulphate, as it has a relatively high density which makes it perfect for the role that it’s destined to play, and is also non-toxic, which means that it’s completely safe, and won’t pose any danger to you or anyone else who comes into contact with your fence.
While we’re on the subject of your fence, the reason mass-loaded vinyl is so effective is that it’s easy to use and incredibly effective and efficient at what it does.
And if we’re honest, it’s also ridiculously affordable and incredible value for money, and in this day and age, every cent counts, and every dollar matters.
Will My Fence Really Be Soundproof?
We need to make an important distinction between soundproofing and sound deadening, and we might as well make it here before we go into any more detail about how you’re going to build your sound deadening fence.
The truth is, your fence isn’t going to be completely soundproof.
There’s no way that a fence could, or would ever be able to protect you from all of the noise of the outside world. It’s impossible – well maybe it’s not impossible, but it’s far beyond our limitations and those of your bank balance and pocketbook to make a completely soundproof fence.
Having said that, your fence, which will be dressed in mass-loaded vinyl will reduce all of the noise that your neighbors and the denizens of the outside world hurl at you by around fifty percent, which should help you to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of your yard or garden and find the peace that you’re so desperately searching for.
Finding What You Need
The best way to source the mass-loaded vinyl that you’ll need to find is by surfing over to a third-party online seller, and purchasing as much as or as little as you’ll need to complete the job.
For everything else that you’ll need, you’ll be far better off heading to your local hardware store.
If you tell the clerk what you’re going to do, she’ll be able to sell you exactly what you need, so you’ll only venture out of the store with the tools, posts, rails, and panels that you’ll need to complete the job and enough concrete to secure your fence posts in place.
And, because it’ll be easier and will shave at least a day off your schedule, make sure you purchase pre-treated fence panels.
They’ll be a little bit more expensive than the normal panels, but the extra that you do pay for them won’t hurt your budget too badly as you won’t have to buy creosote and brushes and treat the panels yourself and lose a day of your time in the process.
It’s Time To Go To Work – Soundproofing Your Fence
By soundproofing, we of course mean sound deadening, and in other words, it’s time to add the mass-loaded vinyl to your fence panels.
It’s easier to add the vinyl to the panels before you build your fence, as attempting to staple it a fence that’s already erected just makes extra work for yourself as it’s exponentially harder to do, and we promised (well, the title did, and as wrote the title, we made the promise and as our old dad used to say, “A promise is a promise”, so we’re not going to break our word) that we’d keep the whole process as simple and straightforward as possible.
Roll out your vinyl and carefully measure it into strips that you can hang from the top to the bottom of each panel, and make sure that each length you cut will completely cover a panel and leave no part of the wood exposed.
Once you’re happy with the measurements, cut each length of MLV (that’s mass-loaded vinyl) carefully and place them on one side. After you’ve cut enough strips of vinyl to completely cover your fence, it’s time to start attaching them to the panels.
Cover each of the fence panels, one at a time so that it doesn’t dry before you get the chance to attach the MLV to it, with the industrial-strength adhesive that was part and parcel of the materials that you purchased from the hardware store (and that we told you that you’d need at the beginning of the article), and then carefully lay enough strips of the MLV on the panel that you’re working on to completely cover it, smooth out any imperfections and make sure that each strip is firmly pressed down on to the adhesive.
It doesn’t matter if the strips of MLV overlap each other, in fact, it’ll increase their effectiveness if they are, what does matter is that the bond between the adhesive on the panels and the MLV is smooth and straight.
So take your time and remember, as long as you do things slowly, there’s less chance that anything will go wrong. Once you’ve finished “gluing” the MLV to every panel, leave them alone for a couple of hours to give them enough time to completely dry.
As soon as they are dry and secure, use a staple gun to punch between five and ten staples into every strip of MLV to ensure that they’re fastened to the panels properly and they won’t come loose in even the wildest storm.
And you don’t need to worry about the MLV being torn up and being beaten by the elements, as it’s completely weatherproof. Now that the panels are ready, you need to fix the posts in place.
Fixing The Posts In Place
It’s time to implement the five feet rule, so carefully measure (in a straight line) five feet intervals and mark each one by pushing a stick into the ground.
This is the least fun part of the whole exercise and we’re sorry that you’re going to have to go through it, and if there was anything that we could do to lessen the burden for you, we would.
You’re going to have to dig a hole for each fence post, at each of the intervals, and the hole is going to have to be deep enough to accommodate a third of the length of each fence post.
Once you dug the holes, it’s time to mix the concrete. Depending on the type of concrete that you’ve chosen and how strong you want it to be, you’ll need to add the right amount of water to it in a wheelbarrow and mix it until it’s ready to pour.
If you’re unsure of how much water to add to it, pay a quick visit to YouTube and spend thirty minutes or so watching a couple of the many tutorials that are online before you start mixing.
When the concrete is ready, fill each of the holes that you’ve dug about two-thirds full with concrete and quickly push a post in.
As soon as you’re sure the post is straight, fill the remaining third of the hole with some of the earth that you dug out of it and move on to the next hole and post.
Repeat the process until all of the posts are in place and then go and make yourself a cup of coffee, and wait for the concrete to set. It should take at least a couple of hours, so be prepared to wait.
It’s not an easy job, so you’ll probably need to call a buddy to help you to do it, as making sure that each post is straight while you backfill the hole it’s in can be tricky, but as long as you have someone to help you, it shouldn’t take too long and it probably won’t shred your nerves to pieces. Probably, being the operative word.
Securing The Rails
Ideally, this is another two-person job, as you’ll need someone to hold each of the rails while you hammer a couple of nails in to secure it to a post. Don’t start trying to fix the rails to the posts until you’re sure that the concrete is dry, or you’ll just end up knocking the posts over and having to start securing them in place all over again.
Each rail needs to be nailed to two posts and each post needs to have three rails nailed to it. One at the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom.
Less haste means less waste, so take your time to do it properly, and make sure that you ask the same friend who helped to secure the post in place, to help you make sure that the rails are well and truly nailed to the posts.
When you’ve finished, take a moment to step back and congratulate yourself on a job well done, as the framework you need to fasten your fence in place is now complete.
Finishing Your Sound Deadening Fence
The finish line is almost in sight, and you can nearly breathe a sigh of relief. But before you do, you’ll need to fasten your panels in place and secure them to the framework (or if you prefer, the rails and posts) of your fence.
Before you start, make sure the side of the fence panel that’s been dressed in MLV is facing toward and not away from you. There’s a multitude of reasons why you’ll want to make sure that the MLV is on your side of the fence, and we’re pretty sure that you can imagine at least a couple of them.
This is definitely a two-person job as one of you will need to hold the panel in place while the other either screws or nails it to the rails and the posts.
Don’t worry about driving nails and screws through the MLV, it’s flexible and tough and shouldn’t tear, but even if it does, there’s a quick fix that will address the issue that we’ll tell you about momentarily.
Again, the golden rule is to take your time and as long as you do, all will be well.
Now that your fence is built and secure, quickly check the MLV to make sure that it hasn’t ripped or torn while you were driving nails and screws through it.
If it has, you can use heavy-duty electrical tape to patch any problem areas and the repairs won’t have any discernible impact on the sound deadening and dampening ability of your fence.
The Final Fence Verdict – Does It Work?
Nothing in life is perfect, and sometimes you just have to find the solutions that enable you to live the best life that you possibly can, and a sound-deadening fence is one of those answers that’ll help you to find the peace and quiet that you need, and deserve.
Will it completely eliminate all of the noise in your yard? No, it won’t, but it will drastically reduce the amount of unwanted racket and din that’s currently making life in your garden miserable and anything that can help to make you smile and relax again is, at the end of the day, completely worth it.