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Date: 13 February 2018

How to renovate a Victorian house

Retain the look of your period home, while improving its structure

British Gypsum Homeowner - Silent Walking Surface

With the Victorian era leading a boom in house building, it’s hardly surprising that a large proportion of UK houses are Victorian terraces, many of which have since been divided into flats. But while their period features and brickwork make them very attractive to buyers, these characterful homes can have their problems, from years of dodgy DIY to a lack of sound proofing.  

If you’re looking to renovate a Victorian property, here are our tips for creating a relaxing, stylish home that is ready to cope with whatever the coming years throw at it.

Reducing Noise in a Victorian House

Feel like you’re sharing a house with your neighbours? This usually stems from the fact that acoustic regulations didn’t apply when the building was originally built or converted into flats. Added to this is the fact that the property wasn’t designed to cope with 21st century noise levels!

In addition, while Victorian property developers typically employed their best stonemasons to make the fronts of houses look impressive, the party walls weren’t given such close attention. No matter how considerate your neighbours, a single skin of bricks between you and next door, insulated by little more than a bit of plaster, can mean you hear everything.

Thankfully, there’s lots you can do to combat noise issues. Even better, this doesn’t always involve employing heavyweight construction techniques.

Find the source of the noise

British Gypsum Homeowner - Diagnosing Sound Problems

First, you need to diagnose the problem and understand where the sound is coming from. Airborne noise, such as music, voices, dogs barking, and outside traffic, is where the sound waves pass into the structure or through separating elements like floors and ceilings. Impact noise is the direct transmission of noise from footsteps on wooden floors, for example.

Combat the noise

Airborne noise can be reduced by increasing the mass of separating structures like walls and ceilings, and providing isolation and insulation. Impact noise, on the other hand, can be reduced by insulating and isolating the noise source. 

British Gypsum’s Sound Solutions are ideal for Victorian houses, as they can be retrofitted as part of a renovation project. Silent Wall provides noise separation between adjacent rooms, and exceeds the minimum Building Regulation requirements by up to 15dB, significantly improving your home’s acoustics.


If the floors are causing the biggest problem, Silent Floor helps to decouple the ceiling from the floor joists, enhancing the impact of the insulation. If access to the noise source cannot be gained, such as in the case of an upstairs flat, it is sometimes possible to suspend a totally new ceiling below the original one to provide additional isolation, mass and insulation. 

British Gypsum Homeowner - Soundproofing a Floor


Strengthening walls in a Victorian House

Even if noise isn’t an issue, chances are your walls will still need some attention, as many Victorian properties have been destroyed by years of bad DIY. You generally have no idea what you’re drilling into in an old house; old gas light fittings, electrical wire or even water pipes, making putting up a picture a game of Russian roulette. What’s more, traditional plasterboard is not very strong, making for flimsy, flaky walls that don’t meet the demands of modern day living. There’s no need to panic, though, as there are effective ways of strengthening your walls without sending building costs through the roof.

Use high-strength plasterboard

Gyproc Habito plasterboard’s reinforced core makes it five times stronger than regular plasterboard. This means heavy items like TVs, bookshelves, and large mirrors can be attached directly to a wall with a single screw.

Replaster

With years of everyday knocks and scrapes taking their toll, it’s worth investigating your options before simply replastering. ThistlePro DuraFinish is 60% tougher than standard plaster and is far more resistant to everyday wear and tear, which helps reduce impact damage, and will keep your home looking good for longer. This makes it perfect for high traffic areas such as halls, stairways and kitchens, which bear the brunt of everyday living.

Making a Victorian home more adaptable

Tastes change, and even once your renovation is complete, chances are you’ll still want to update your home as and when you feel like it. A little extra thought about building materials now will give you the freedom to play around with the design later.

Get magnetic

British Gypsum Homeowner - Interactive Magnetic Learning Wall

Your home is an extension of your personality, which is why it’s worth investigating ThistlePro Magnetic Plaster. When applied to existing walls at the start of a project, it can turn your walls into an interactive living space. Simply painted with whiteboard or blackboard paint, it can be used as a noticeboard, or covered with wallpaper so you can change your room’s look as and when you feel like it.



No matter what stage of your renovation process you’re at, why not visit our  How To Guides to download a number of useful articles and brochures for valuable support and inspiration for your renovation project?