Does Acoustic Fencing Work?

A home should be a sanctuary where we can relax. However, noise pollution can seriously disrupt our peace. It’s terrible for our health, and it can cause hearing loss. So, if we’re suffering from the sound of a road, railway, or noisy neighbors, will acoustic fencing drown out the sound?

Acoustic fencing is an effective way to reduce the sound which enters the home and garden. It doesn’t completely block out sound, but it can reduce the noise of traffic, industry, or noise from your neighbors by up to thirty-five decibels.

An acoustic fence differs from a standard privacy fence because it absorbs and reflects noise, so it must be dense and strategically placed for maximum effect. If you’re considering investing in one and want to know more about how they work, we’ll take a closer look at acoustic fences below.

An image of a wooden fence in a private home.

How do Acoustic Barriers Work?

Acoustic barriers defend the home against sound, which travels in waves. Sound waves mostly travel straight and bounce off objects or absorb them, depending on their material and density.

Acoustic fences differ from privacy fences because they are much denser, taller, and solid, with no gaps. For an acoustic fence to function, it must be:

  1. Dense – An acoustic fence must be thick and dense to absorb or reflect sound waves. The denser the material, the more effective it is at blocking sound.
  2. Tall – Height is critical because if the fence isn’t tall enough, the waves will travel over it. Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to see over the fence.
  3. No Gaps – The fence won’t be very effective if it has gaps because the sound will travel through any holes. Tongue and groove fencing is ideal for acoustic fencing because it’s tightly sealed.
  4. Strategically placed – You must position the fence directly between the house and the unwanted sound source. It will block more sound waves if it’s closer to the source – so put it as far away from the house as possible.

When Should You Use Acoustic Fencing?

Use acoustic fencing if there is a problem with noise entering the home or yard to the point that it disturbs the family, causes distress, or causes sleep problems. An acoustic fence is ideal if living in a noisy urban environment or near a railway, factory, school, or farm, for example.

Noise pollution can come from many sources and can be mild or severe – in either case, it’s terrible for our physical and mental health. If there are loud, unwanted sounds in the home or yard – in worse cases, it can cause permanent hearing loss.

The main problem with noise pollution is it causes stress which can lead to a range of health problems, and noise pollution is particularly detrimental to health if it disturbs sleep.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the sound of more than fifty decibels in the living environment can damage our health. So, it can be bad for us if we’re constantly exposed to sounds over fifty decibels in the home.

So, suppose we live next to a freeway that produces around ninety decibels or a busy restaurant of eighty decibels. In that case, it’s worth investing in an acoustic barrier to protect us and our family’s health. And our hearing!

How Effective Are Soundproof Fences?

Soundproof fences don’t block all sounds, but they can effectively reduce the amount that reaches the yard. They offer around 60-80% noise reduction (up to thirty-five decibels), so they can make a noticeable difference.

Decibels are the unit we use to measure sound, but we don’t calculate them the same way as other units of measurement. So, for example, if a sound is ten decibels, twenty decibels doesn’t mean the sound has doubled – it’s actually ten times louder.

An increase of three decibels means the sound has doubled. So, if a lawnmower is ninety decibels, two lawnmowers operating simultaneously are ninety-three decibels.  

We measure the effectiveness of acoustic fencing in sound weight reduction or Rw. This indicates how many decibels the fence will absorb or reflect. So, if we want an acoustic barrier to block the sound of chatty neighbors, we can choose a lower Rw fence.

If you want to drown out louder sounds like a highway, choose fencing with a higher Rw rating.

We can also add other features to our yards to help reduce the sounds that the fence doesn’t absorb. For example, shrubs, bushes, and trees all absorb sound and look pretty as a border along the acoustic barrier.

The sound of a water feature can also distract any attention from background sounds, or we can play white noise in our yards or add some wind chimes.

What Type of Fence is Most Soundproof?

Masonry, such as cement and brick, reflects sound and is the most effective type of sound barrier because it’s so dense. Masonry is also the most durable soundproof fence, but it’s expensive and labor-intensive to install.

We can also use metal as a soundproof fence. Metal is easy to install, dense and effective, but it gets hot in the summer and doesn’t look very attractive. The most popular choices in domestic acoustic fences are thick wooden ones made from hardwood or mass-loaded vinyl wraps.

Is wood or vinyl better for noise reduction?

Mass-loaded vinyl has around one to two pounds of density per square foot, which is denser than most wood. However, hardwood such as cedar is four pounds per square foot. So, some types of hardwood are better at reducing sound than vinyl.

Wood and vinyl make fantastic acoustic fences for the home and are even more effective if we use them together. To give us a better idea about which material is better for noise reduction, let’s take a closer look at the properties of wood and vinyl.


Wood is the most popular material for acoustic fences because it looks nice and is easy to install. Hardwood fences such as cedarwood, redwood, and oak are highly effective at blocking sound but are expensive and the least durable type of acoustic fence.

We can prolong the life of a wooden fence if we give it a coat of weatherproof paint, maintain it regularly, and protect it from termites. We can also insulate a wooden barrier or cover it in vinyl to make it more effective.


Mass-loaded vinyl comes in rolls and is made from layers of vinyl sheets that contain metal particles and are heavy and dense. Vinyl is thin, flexible, durable, and easy to install – we can attach it to an existing fence, so it’s often more affordable.

Mass-loaded vinyl requires little maintenance and will last many years, but it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as a wooden fence.  

Will a privacy fence block noise?

A privacy fence will block some noise but nowhere near as much as an acoustic fence. Usually, privacy fences are thin and sometimes have slats with gaps – and a fence with gaps won’t block much sound.

A tall, solid privacy fence will block some noise but won’t make a noticeable difference to the sound levels in the yard. This is because privacy fences are around 0.82 lb. density per square foot, while acoustic fences are 2.05 lbs. per square foot, so acoustic fences absorb much more sound.

An image of an Outdoor patio space with a white fence and furniture.

Is Acoustic Fencing Easy to Install Yourself (DIY)?

Installing an acoustic fence takes time and money, but technically, it’s pretty straightforward. We should assess the yard and the sounds that we want to block. Next, make an accurate plan of the fence and have it checked by professionals, and then buy all the materials and erect the fence.

To give us a better idea about how to build a DIY acoustic fence, I’ve laid it out in four simple steps.

Step #1 – Assess your current fencing

If there is already a fence, modify it to make it soundproof. So, the first step is to assess the current fencing. If there isn’t a fence or the current one doesn’t have the potential to be soundproof, we’ll have to make a whole new fence.

If we’re using an existing fence, it must be tall, strong, and sturdy, in good condition, with no gaps. The height is critical because it must be as tall as the source of the sound – otherwise, it won’t deflect it.

If it’s a good fence that we can convert into a soundproof one, we can skip straight to step #3.

Step #2 – Make a plan

If building a fence from scratch, make a clear plan with exact measurements, and get permission for it, especially if it’s close to a road. A tall fence on a roadside can block the view of drivers, so submit the plans to the local authority before building it.

The fence must be tall so no one can see over it; six to seven feet is ideal, and it should be about sixty-five feet away from the home if there is enough surrounding land.

Acoustic fences work better the further away they are from a home and the closer they are to the sound source.

Once there is a plan, pick the materials for the fence. Unless you can work with masonry and build a wall, wooden or mass-loaded vinyl fences are best for DIY projects.

Step #3 – Buy your materials

To modify an existing fence, do so with sheets of mass-loaded vinyl attached to the current fencing. Mass-loaded vinyl comes in rolls, so it’s easy to cut to the desired size and shape.

We’ll need an industrial strength stapler, nails, and industrial adhesive to attach loaded vinyl to a fence.

To make a fence from scratch, we’ll need more tools and materials like fence posts, panels, screws, nails, and insulating materials.

Step #4 – Build your fence

Once there is a clear plan and all the materials, it’s time to build the fence and enjoy the benefits of a quieter yard. With vinyl fences, apply sheets of it to the current fence. Creating a new fence from scratch takes a bit more effort, and I’ll talk you through both methods below.

Building a vinyl acoustic fence on an existing fence

It’s straightforward to attach the vinyl to a fence, but it’s pretty heavy, so it’s better to have help because it will easily overstretch and tear. Mass-loaded vinyl comes in rolls, so cut the pieces to the required size.

Next, stick the sheets on the fence with a staple gun, glue, and nails. Finally, overlap the sheets to ensure no gaps and fill holes with acoustic caulk.

Building an acoustic fence with wood

There are two options for building an acoustic fence with wood. First, we can make a thick wooden fence from hardwood such as redwood or cedar or use thinner wood in conjunction with mass-loaded vinyl or insulating material.

Using hardwood is simply a case of erecting the fence according to the plans. Hardwood is highly soundproof and will block out a lot of noise. If using thinner wooden panels for the fence, there should be two layers with insulation or mass-loaded vinyl sandwiched in between.

Loaded vinyl is more effective when sandwiched between panels as you build the fence.

The Best Products for An Acoustic Fence

If you build your acoustic fence, having the right material and tools makes all the difference.

Buying most of the materials at a local store will be your best option. That’s where I love online shopping with an in-store pickup with companies like Home Depot and Walmart. That way, you can get your wood, masonry bricks, or whatever else you need easy-peasy.

You can shop Walmart’s DIY materials and other goodies via this link.

Or, if you’re a big Amazon fan (I know I am – it’s so convenient to get what you need to be delivered!), here are some great options on Amazon.

If you don’t have a caulk gun, get a professional one like this (on Amazon). I used to think I hated caulking. Turns out, I only hated caulking with a crappy caulk gun. Having a better quality caulk gun makes a world of difference.

An image of an Exterior view of a wooden house surrounded by a white fence in one of the residential areas of Palo Alto, south San Francisco bay area.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

If you want to make an acoustic barrier around the yard, first assess the current fencing, if any, to see if it can be modified with sound-blocking materials such as mass-loaded vinyl.

If there is no fence, or the current one is not robust enough to support mass-loaded vinyl, make a new one from scratch.

It’s best to make the fence tall with thick posts and preferably with tongue and groove boards that don’t have any gaps. For the best results – use hardwood such as cedar for the fence or wooden panels with mass-loaded vinyl sandwiched in between.


Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These sources were used in this article and our research to be more informed as we DIY and decorate our homestead.

  • Bone, Peter. “Soundproofing a Fence with Mass Loaded Vinyl: Here’s How You Do It!” Soundproof Advice, 10 Sept. 2018,’s-how-you-do-it/.
  • “How Is Sound Measured?” It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing., 28 Jan. 2019,
  • Johnson, Brad. “How To Build A Soundproof Fence At Home Step By Step.” Soundproofcamp, 31 Oct. 2020,
  • Living, Soundproof. “Soundproof Fences: Are They a Good Outdoor Acoustic Treatment?” Soundproof Living, 27 May 2022,
  • “Noise Pollution | Definition, Examples, Effects, Control, and Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.
  • Poirier, Martin. “How to Soundproof a Garden Fence – Easy DIY Project!” Soundproof Guide, 7 Jan. 2021,
  • “Public Health and Scientific Information | NCEH | CDC.” CDC, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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