Sound Barrier Design
Effective sound barriers must block the line-of-sight views of pickleball hits. Once the line-of-sight is blocked, sound may still reach a distant point by direct transmission through a barrier or by bending around or over a barrier; a process known as diffraction. A solid barrier may be of the reflecting type, meaning the sound is primarily reflected in a new direction. A material called mass loaded vinyl is often used to manufacture this type of sound barrier. An alternative is a barrier of the absorbing type. Absorbing barriers are made of a layer of mass loaded vinyl plus a layer of soft fiberglass behind a thin layer of vinyl. This layer tends to absorb pickleball sound. Absorbing barriers may be needed if reflected sound is a significant concern, but they are more expensive and less rugged.
There is another type of absorbing barrier made of fiberglass channels with slots and internal fiberglass batting. These channels are expected to last over 50 years and they mount to vertical fiberglass poles. The final appearance is similar to a tall highway barrier. You can see examples of this type of barrier at the website www.carsonite.com
Diffraction over a barrier is often the main limitation on how effective a barrier may be. We use diffraction modeling software to predict the sound at distant points when a barrier is employed. It has a graphical display that is helpful as shown in this example.
Sound barrier designers must also consider weather conditions including the risk of wind damage. Contact local structural experts before installing barriers that block wind flow through chain link fences.
Absorbing barrier types must be installed in a manner that avoids direct standing water contact, which requires that a suitable baseboard, which must block line-of-sight sound paths, be installed below the sound blanket.
Our firm does not sell barriers but we are familiar with various firms that can supply custom barriers in your area.