Paper-thin Wall Woes

We’ve all heard the phrase “paper-thin walls” and I guess it kinda carries with it a sort of negative connotation. Forgive the brutal honesty, but no one likes hearing every fart and burp from their kids’ bedroom – or worse yet, their living room! And the thing is, if you can hear their noises, they can probably hear YOUR noises as well. That can be a frightening thought to say the least. Suffice it to say, no one should be made to undergo the consequences of thin walls!

Here in Japan, we literally have paper-thin walls, as many of our walls are actually made of paper – called shouji or fusuma doors. Doors because instead of proper walls, we have Japanese sliding doors that you can remove at will. This enables you to join 2 rooms together and make one big room etc. Now not ALL rooms here are made with these kinds of japanese sliding door“doors” as their walls, but in your average house, there are traditionally at least 2 rooms which are plagued with this style of building.

Ok I’m sorry, it’s not actually a plague, because it really can be beautiful when properly taken care of and when you don’t allow the kids to go running around poking holes in your shouji doors. Traditionally, Japanese houses are made strong, as well as delicately and fearfully, and reflect the culture and character of the people. We are by nature, quiet and reserved, and enjoy the stillness and solace of our houses.

Having said that however, when you have 12, 21st century kids running around installing drywalldoing their thing, and never seeming to have enough money to reform and upkeep the house, these things can really seem like nothing less than a CURSE! I’m not gonna lie to you. Paper doors look really, REALLY bad when they have holes and tears everywhere, are old, dirty, and have graffiti all over them. And what happens when you think you’re in the black and decide to change everything to new only to have them rendered right back to their same despicable state?

Yup, it begins to wear you thin – just like your walls. And although these particular walls take the cake, thin wall woes can come with proper, solid walls too! Nowadays, with building companies trying to shave off as much of a profit as they can, the overall workmanship has gone down. Have you seen the movie “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks? Uh huh, that’s what I’m talking about! The average wall here in Japan consists of ribbing and a 9.5mm sheet of sheet-rock on either side with wallpaper over it.

sheetrockWell, for those of us who are making our own rooms, we actually have a say in how thick our walls and floors are as well as what material we use! Let’s choose wisely and take the bigger picture in before making decisions. It’s much easier to make it the way you want from the beginning! My advice for a reasonably (minimum) sound-proof wall consisting of your average building material is 12mm plywood+12mm sheet-rock – this is one side. (If you have a bigger budget you can go for the fiberglass or cellulose insulation.) Putty the joints and throw wallpaper over it and you have your wall!

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