Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray
High ceilings have been used throughout the centuries to give homes, churches, and commercial buildings a sense of grandeur. With more space for sound to travel, you may think that high ceilings reduce noise, but this is not the case.
So, do high ceilings reduce noise? Buildings with high ceilings are prone to more noise. Sound waves travel further and are less absorbed, so the noise will be more significant. Homeowners looking to minimize the noise caused by high ceilings have to customize a few products at their place.
Suppose your home or commercial property has high ceilings. In that case, chances are you have been affected by the loud and sometimes distorted sounds in the building. For so many, the lure of high ceilings blinds us to the reality of what living or working in the environment will mean for our ears and those of our neighbors. We’ve put together some information for you regarding high ceilings and how you can manage the noise.
Why Did Houses Have High Ceilings Long Ago?
Before the Second World War, ceilings were known to be as high as 3m. That is quite a lot higher than our current standard of 2.4m. You may be wondering why ceilings were made high back then, and you are not alone. Historians have surmised that higher ceilings were needed because the smoke from gas and oil lamps needed to travel up and away from the people in the house.
The higher ceilings also provided natural ventilation and a cooling effect. Did you know that in homes with high ceilings, there is a temperature difference of up to 5°F between the floor and ceiling? Since they did not have air-cons back then, it helped to have high ceilings to keep their homes cool.
Now let’s chat about the noise in these houses. Houses with high ceilings did not historically have problems with noise, and there is a scientific reason for that. The fashion long ago was to furnish your house with luscious fabrics, rugs, lamps, and soft furniture. Even the ceilings were decorated, and all this décor and furniture helped absorb the sound waves before they traveled up to the ceiling and reverberated back.
Do High Ceilings Reduce Noise Nowadays?
In short, the answer is no. High ceilings do not generally reduce noise nowadays. In fact, the opposite is true. While houses of yesteryear may have been filled with luxurious furniture and sound-absorbing décor, our tastes are a little more minimalistic these days. What this means for our homes is that sound tends to travel further and becomes a little distorted along the way.
If you find yourself in a house with high ceilings and a large amount of unwanted noise, there are a few options available to help absorb the sound in your building. While high ceilings may not reduce the noise in your building, the sound can be managed.
Why Do High Ceilings Create More Noise?
The science behind why rooms with high ceilings result in more noise is actually pretty simple. Basically, the sound waves are created by the source of the sound traveling. When a room is furnished with items that absorb sound, the noise will not be an issue. However, if the high-ceilinged room is sparsely furnished, or if you have used furniture with a minimalist feel, you could experience a fair amount of noise and distortion of sound.
When we have a high ceiling, the volume of the room is increased. This means that the sound waves need to travel a long distance before coming into contact with the hard surface of the ceiling. This long-distance results in a higher reverberation rate. The higher reverberation rate means that the sound we hear back is sometimes slightly different from what was initially made.
Having a room or building with high ceilings can be somewhat distracting for anyone, but especially for those with hearing loss. The high reverberation levels in these spaces can distort speech and make conversation difficult to follow.
How Do You Dampen Sound In A Room With High Ceilings?
It is possible to dampen the sound in a room with high ceilings. Suppose you are considering using methods to dampen the sound in your home. In that case, it will be helpful to have some pointers and information before you make your decisions. We have gathered the best information to help you understand what is needed and what options are available to you.
One way to create a barrier for the sound in your home to be absorbed is to attach beams to your high ceilings. The best material to use for your beams is fiberglass, which can be covered in fabric to help absorb sound. Beams give a decorative effect to your ceiling, as well as help with the noise in the building.
Ceiling clouds are available as Nimbus and Saturna clouds. Nimbus ceiling clouds are placed at the top of the ceiling while the Saturna absorbs sound that travels between the sides of the room. To get even more from your ceiling clouds, consider staggering the heights of your Saturna clouds and hanging a few of your Nimbus clouds. This will help catch any sound waves that would otherwise have escaped absorption.
Acoustic Ceiling Tiles
Acoustic ceiling tiles are used in a grid design to help dampen the sound in a room. They can be used in a suspended or dropped grid. The tiles are made from various materials, including foam, wood, fiberglass, and polyester. The dropped ceiling effect can be used to hide wiring and other unsightly objects needed for the building and also to help with the acoustics of the building.
They do lend a slightly commercial feel to a room, so if you are looking for solutions for your home, this may not be the best option aesthetically.
Melamine Acoustic Foam
This foam is typically white and is glued onto the ceiling to help dampen the sound in a room. The foam tiles are patterned and are incredibly effective at absorbing sound.
Melamine is regarded as fire safe, and the tiles are easy to install. Like the ceiling tiles we mentioned above, if you are looking for solutions for your home, you may need to research the look of melamine foam to see if it is a good fit for you.
Things To Keep In Mind When Considering Sound Dampening Options
- When considering options for your space, consider what is already in the room in question. The amount and type of furniture, drapery, and carpets will determine how much sound absorption you need to install.
- It is essential to notify your local fire marshall of any installations on your ceilings. They will be able to tell you if you are violating any codes or creating fire hazards.
- Consider how you would like the end product to look and if your planned installation will impact your desired aesthetics of your space. You may need to decide if you value the room’s sound or the aesthetics more.
High ceilings were used in the past to help with ventilation and cooling for homes. The sounds of the house were absorbed mainly by the furniture, so noise was not an issue in these high-ceilinged homes of the past. Today, homes with high ceilings are typically not built with acoustics in mind. Sound waves travel far to reach the ceiling, so more noise is created in these spaces than in those with low ceilings. There are ways to dampen the sound in areas with high ceilings, and these should be researched before you decide which solution to use.