I don’t know how it started, but whoever thought that putting tile in the bathroom was a good idea missed the whole point of what a bathroom is. The bathroom is all about privacy. It’s the one place in the house where we can privately “empty the trash.” Until we hit that little handle, what happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom. So what have we done to insure that privacy? We cover the bathroom walls and floors with tile, the most sound-reflective material known to Man.
For all the many luscious sounds the human body can produce—singing, squeals of joy, laughter—there are a whole bunch more that are diametrically disgusting. I guess it’s that yin and yang thing.
I was in the bathroom once when my body made a gas-powered, long, loud noise. As a car guy, I reveled in the exhaust note. Luckily, my daughter wasn’t home to hear it. She was in the front row at some screamo band concert at a music festival in Massachusetts. I saw no reason to hold back. Next thing I know, I get a text message: “Daaaaaad!” I blame the tile.
If you’re in a public bathroom, say, a restaurant restroom, it’s a whole different ballgame. The amount of tile doesn’t matter. The more, the merrier. You’re with your fellow complete strangers freely doing the same things and nobody cares. It’s like a reverse bonding experience. Complete freedom with people you’ll never see again. If you do happen to run into them at some point, at least you’ll have a good conversation starter. “Manero’s Steak House. Last June. Stall four, right?” “Hey, howya doin’?”
Where it all gets tricky is when you’re at a friend’s or relative’s house. This requires a strategy. You can’t just rip one out in the living room. First, you have to excuse yourself from the conversation, thereby alerting all but the most brain dead to your destination. As you walk away, you subconsciously calculate how close the nearest human being is. Are they within earshot? How much sound can I get away with? Hmm. You triangulate the various distances. You know what you’re up against. You do your business, all the while being careful to stay below a certain predetermined decibel level. If people are close by, you try to parse everything out with the least amount of aural disturbance. After all, you want to go back and join the conversation, not be the conversation.
There you are, attempting to be silent while sitting on a porcelain fixture surrounded by enough tile to cover the bottom of the space shuttle. You suddenly realize not making any noise under these conditions is like trying to drive with the brake on. So do you cough to cover up the next round of sound or do you do like I do and cover your lap with a couple of guest towels?
My advice is to sound proof your bathrooms. Get rid of that tile, buy decorator sound baffling and let ‘er rip.