Heathrow Runway 3 noise issues

Heathrow Airport,  Runway 3 Noise

Chris “failing “ Grayling today announced the go ahead for the third runway at Heathrow. Perhaps it was to deflect his failings within the rail sector in his role as transport minister, who knows? But we here at Soundstop want to look at the implications and ramifications for all the residents who will be affected by noise. The government has announced a series of packages contained in this document, a paper that is as clear as mud. The most relevant detail is placed towards the end. It reads:

“Under the scheme, homes in the designated zone closest to the airport with higher levels of noise (the inner zone) would have the full costs of their noise insulation covered by the airport. Up to £3,000 in noise insulation would be offered to homes further away from the airport (the outer zone).

We propose that a third party assessment, free of cost to homeowners, would be made to determine the extent of each home’s needs within the eligible insulation zones. Our insulation package could include:

Acoustic double glazing in windows;
Ceiling over boarding in bedrooms; and
Loft insulation and ventilation.”

We here at Soundstop, like so many others, believe that the scale of disruption and noise to residents who live around Heathrow, will be immense. More residents than ever before will suffer. While the design of aircraft over the last few years has made them around 50% quieter on departure, the frequency of flights is going to increase dramatically. According to a government analysis, when Heathrow builds the third runway, more than 2 million people will be exposed to additional aircraft noise.

Major airports are, however, under a legal obligation to develop strategic noise maps and produce Noise Action Plans based on those maps.

BAA has signed up to a scheme that offers free double glazing to mitigate noise. Hounslow council believes it is nowhere near enough –  particularly for local schools who have already been deprived of vital renovations when Labour’s schoolbuilding programme was scrapped by Michael Gove. The cost of properly soundproofing children’s classrooms for the Borough’s 60 schools under the flight path is something Hounslow says it cannot, and should not have to, pay for.

The bottom line is that unwanted aircraft noise will cause misery to many more people than ever before.

Here at Soundstop we have experience in reducing the suffering and annoyance caused by unwanted noise. That’s our business, and we can help.

Window soundproofing

First and foremost, you need to look at your windows. Realistically speaking these will be the major failing point for most people. It is important that you think about triple glazing, not just double glazing.  But in reality, with the very heavy bass frequency sound that an aircraft produces, the better bet is to install a secondary glazing unit,ideally at least 10cm in front of the existing unit, which will cope far better with bass frequency. From a cost perspective, secondary glazing units run at around £500 per window. The drawback is that some of these secondary units mean that window opening is tricky so you will need to think about installing air-conditioning units.

Ceiling soundproofing

For residents much closer to the flight path they will also notice that sound will be coming through the upstairs bedroom ceilings. This is particularly the case where the ceiling leads onto a simple loft space that is not insulated and the only protection from the aircraft sound might just be be the tiles on the roof. In these cases, you will need to increase the mass of your ceiling.

A simple project would be to add insulation ideally dense insulation in between the joists above. Here we recommend at a very minimum 45kg mineral wool slabs, but better still 60kg mineral wool slabs. This will help with thermal conductivity leaving your house warmer in the winter as well. The joists can then be overlaid with chipboard and ideally a layer of acoustic plasterboard over the top.

Where this isn’t possible dues to access to the loft, you will need to think about soundproofing the ceilings. This isn’t as hard as one would imagine. We have a number of possibilities but the most effective and mess free method is to use the genie clip system which is described on this page. Taking up minimal space it will make a very significant difference to the sound that will be coming though what is often a very thin ceiling.

People also think that walls are an issue. In practice a well-built brick wall will offer reasonable noise protection. For this reason, we recommend the insulation of walls to be done only after addressing the windows and ceilings.

Please let us know your thoughts and any suggestions on where affected residents might turn to seek relief from the anticipated noise of runway 3.

5 Soundproofing Myths

We get asked a lot of questions at soundstop. And it has helped us create a tope five list of soundproofing myths that we wanted to share.

Five Soundproofing Myths
1) Egg boxes on the wall.
Or the modern equivalent of acoustic foam on the wall. This will only improve the internal acoustics of the room.
What we mean by this is that the room will have less echo. The foam egg boxes rugs on the wall all act to break up the hard surfaces meaning the sound doesn’t easily echo back into a room. So, if you have lots of hard surfaces and are troubled by echo then think about adding soft furnishings wherever you can.

2) Soundproofing wallpaper will fix my problem.
The science of soundproofing is much simpler than most people think. But one of the key ingredients which cannot be got around, is the need to add weight or mass. This is governed by a thing called mass’s law. All soundproofing reverts back to this simple idea. The more weight between you and the problem the better the soundproofing.

3) Injecting foam into the cavity will do the trick.
The problem with this is twofold. First foam is very light weight so although you might cut down on the echo in any void you are not adding to the mass. Which we know is very important when soundproofing. Secondly you can’t see where all the foam is actually going and hence you won’t know if the whole wall is completely filled. Even tiny gaps in soundproofing can have a very material effect on the final result.

4) Sticking on a layer or two of acoustic plasterboard !
Now you would think that you are on the right track here. Plasterboard is heavy so if I stick it on the wall it will do the trick. Unfortunately, wrong! Plasterboard is heavy but so is the wall. So another absolutely key thing you need to know is that the plasterboard needs to be added to the wall but not directly to the wall. Your need to add it in a springy way. But more of that later.

5) Installing a built-in wardrobe or cupboards this will do the trick.
The wardrobe might work providing it was well fitted floor to ceiling leaving no gap at the top filled lots of clothes and the doors were nice and heavy and fitted well. This would reduce the sound. Book shelves with books sadly wont do the trick as the sound will leak all around them.

So what should you do instead?

Well first and foremost you can purchase ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones.
These are great things and don’t cost an awful lot to buy. Silence is now golden. The only real drawback is that you can’t hear anything else or if you want to chat or communicate in any way you will hear the dreaded noise again. Earplugs at night  are a real winner.

Try some white noise.
This is especially effective if you are trying to have a decent night’s sleep. Running a fan by the bed will drown out all other sounds and you get used to the sound of the fan quite quickly. There are other fancy white noise machines on the market but a fan seems to the trick for many people.

Finally you could try negotiating with the neighbours.This can often be a great way to get to know them. It’s a good idea from the outset not to open with the line” turn your bloody music down” This will just open up battle lines and its doubtful you can get back on good terms.
More tactful lines might be. I didn’t realise the walls were so thin. I hope I didn’t disturb you last night. A conversation will follow and you might come to an agreement without any finger pointing.

Direct to wall Genie Clips

After careful consideration, we can confirm that Genie clips “direct-to-wall” are a great soundproofing solution for those who can’t afford to lose too much room space.







At just 66mm ( 68mm with the optional Tecsound50 membrane upgrade ), this solution provides great acousic performance in a slimline package, and is well within the capabilities of the average DIY enthusiast, should the mood take you. As with all our solutions, full instructions can be found on our website, and you can of course ring us if you need any advice.

The Genie Clip System

We have recently been a lot of good things about the Genie Clip system. This is a new product in the UK. Designed in Canada it is a product that competes with resilient bars. From the look of them they feel like they should be very effective. Rather than relying on the springy nature of corrugated metal as used by resilient bars, the system relies on a rubber washer to keep metal components apart from each other. The manufacturers claim substantial improvements across the noise frequency spectrum particularly at lower, more tricky to deal with, frequencies. The system that works with a bespoke “furring Strip” is less mistake prone when doing a soundproofing job.
Image of Genie Clip


Here, at SoundStop, have recently begun selling Genie Clips for ceiling soundproofing and wall soundproofing applications, and the feedback we have had from customers is very good. Continue reading

Soundproofing a thin wall

A customer writes,

I have looked at your website and need further advice.My family and I have bought a 1928 semi-detached property in a “nice” area of Leicester, but the neighbours enjoy their music at different times of day and there is a substantial content of bass, which has driven my wife to her mother’s house, with our 2 very young children. This is an unacceptable situation for all concerned. The council’s noise pollution team have done all they can but 2 issues appear insoluble, from an enforcement perspective.  Continue reading

Sound proofing in the Highlands of Scotland

we are really needing to sound proof our semi dethatched home. We live in Inverness in the highlands and wondered if you would be able to recommend a good company up here who could help? any info appreciated,
thanks mary

Hello Mary and thank you for your email,

I can only imagine you need to soundproof your house because of noisy neighbours, that is usually the problem we find.

We have no one we can recommend by way of a company specialising in soundproofing in your area. What we tell potential customers who do not feel like undertaking the job themselves is to use local craftsmen such as carpenters and plasterers who are used to handling the materials used in soundproofing. No disrespect to general builders but they do tend to think soundproofing is something they know all about and go and leave the important bits out. Continue reading

Fitting soundproofing- Fitting Service

We are often asked about local fitting services outside london

Hello Terry and thanks you for your email. We are frequently asked for the names of installers of our soundproofing systems throughout the UK but it is impossible to service all areas.

What we suggest is that having chosen one of our Soundproofing Solutions, be it for a Wall, Ceiling or Floor, you print out from the Web page for that Solution the Application Instructions that can be found by clicking on the application button.  Continue reading

Cinder Ashblock


I have been reading your website with interest – we have a 1983 Bryant-built semi detached home, and although our neighbours are relatively quiet we hear lots of everyday noise (talking, laughter, radio, hoover etc) through the walls.  There are 4 rooms which attach to them, and it doesnt matter whcih room i stand in, I can hear then just as clearly – making me think that noise is maybe transmitting though the floorboards or maybe we have flanking transmission problems described on your website.  Continue reading