Soundproofing a room inside a home or office has many benefits. Naturally, the most important benefit is that it neither allows sound to escape out nor does it allow external noise or sound to enter in. Those of you who have experienced noise pollution know how stressful everyday noises can get. When you soundproof a room with simple tips and hacks, you can easily block sound between rooms and also reduce noise coming in through walls. So without further delay, let us take a look at some easy tips to completely soundproof a room.
1. Consider your needs
The material or methods you use for soundproofing your walls and rooms depend on the size of that room, your needs, and the time and budget you are willing to allocate to the project. For example, if you simply need to block out the sounds from vehicular traffic passing near your window, then you only need to invest in window sealants and heavy drapes. On the other hand, if your neighbors party each weekend until 2 a.m. or if you live next to a noisy school and work from home, then you’d need to invest more time and money in soundproofing. Likewise, you’d need different methods of soundproofing if your kids are very noisy and you happen to work from home.
2. Know your choices available in soundproofing
Sound waves travel through air through vibrations. Consequently, the best way to reduce sound transmissions between rooms and from outside is by limiting airflow and blocking or absorbing vibrations. Effective soundproofing methods use one of these techniques or sometimes a combination of both methods.
3. Use soundproofing panels
Soundproofing panels are easy and affordable ways to reduce noise through walls. You can also choose customized, decorative panels to enhance the room’s beauty. For example, if you have a favorite photograph with your beloved pet from an important event in your life, like from your wedding, then you can have that showcased on the soundproofing panel as well. Soundproofing panels for walls are of following types:
- Art acoustic panels – These look great in bedrooms, music studios, theaters and cafes or restaurants. They are made using lightweight frames and sound absorbing fabrics. Art acoustic panels prevent sound from echoing and bouncing off the walls.
- Fabric panels for walls and ceilings – As the name indicates, these fabric covered panels can be used on walls and ceilings and are a simple solution to completely soundproof a room. These are available in a wide range of colors and may be used on brick or concrete walls as well. Fabric wall panels are recommended for churches, offices, homes and recording studios.
- Perforated acoustic panels – These are for the professional musicians and artists who wish to improve sound quality and reduce reverberation and echo. Perforated panels are highly versatile and can be suspended from ceilings instead of being wall mounted.
4. Use soundproofing barriers
You can soundproof a room from outside and also block sound between rooms using soundproofing barriers. These also come in different materials ranging from fiberglass to vinyl to foam. Vinyl soundproofing barriers are easy to DIY install around noisy pipes or ducts and are great for homes and offices. Vinyl barriers are non absorbent and also work as reflective barriers. This means that they block sound waves instead of absorbing them. You can also use fiberglass barriers in vents, air ducts and ceiling tiles. Foam composites contain polyurethane foam along with soundproofing membrane that is actually used in firing ranges to block sounds of gunshots.
5. Temporary methods to soundproof a room cheaply
These include the use of vinyl or fiberglass acoustic quilts that can be laid down or hung up anywhere where you need quick soundproofing. These options are great for people who live in rented apartments and cannot make permanent changes. Acoustic quilts are easy to install as a DIY project, affordable, versatile, and can even reduce noise up to 52 to 61 STC range. You only need to use common tools for the installation and most of the products come with easy to understand video installation guides. (STC stands for sound transmission class and is a measure of soundproofing performance. For example, at 42 STC, loud speech is reduced to a murmur while at 50 STC, loud speech cannot be heard through walls).
6. Soundproof paints and wallpapers
In order to soundproof a room from outside noise and also block sound between rooms, you can use paints with special soundproof resins or even sound blocking wallpapers. However, most people who have used these methods believe that they cannot be used standalone to completely soundproof a room. First of all, both paint and wallpapers are thin and they alone won’t block noises completely. Wallpapers that block sound usually come with a foam layer to absorb/block sound waves and vibrations. Installation may be easy but the cost could be slightly more than regular wallpapers. You can certainly use these products with other soundproofing methods.
7. Add carpets or rugs
Bare floors absorb sound energy partially. By adding a soft carpet or rug, you can muffle sound by 20-40%. Linoleum absorbs 3% of sound energy at a frequency of 50 Hz.
8. Add furniture
Apart from using rugs and carpets, you can hang heavy drapes or curtains, install a bookcase, add armchairs and sofas, etc to absorb sound. Place these at the angles of the rooms and in wall joints. Use soft furniture, drapes, curtains, wall hangings, canvas paintings and upholstered furniture to reduce atmospheric noise within a room. Naturally these things may not be hundred percent effective in preventing sound from entering a room.
9. Update doors and windows
These days, you can install sound blocking doors. Solid doors and double paned windows or placing shutters inside windows and doors can considerably reduce noise. However, this can be a major project involving investment of time and money. You can also seal all air gaps and leaks around doors and windows using weatherstripping seals. Storm doors and windows also minimize air leaks and create an additional sound barrier. It is important to use high performance, airtight storm doors and leave a 2” air gap between the storm and primary unit.
10. Caulk around pipes
Anywhere you have a penetration in the wall, sound will enter. So seal and caulk around the pipes and AC vents to prevent this. You can use expanding foams. Also ensure an airtight seal along the perimeters of AC units.
11. Stop airflow between rooms
To reduce interior noise between rooms, seal all joints between walls where the floor and walls meet. Also seal around door casing.
12. Cover switches and receptacle boxes
You can additionally stop airflow by covering up switches and electrical outlets. Use sealants around the knockouts where the cables enter the box.
13. Inspect ducts
Noise can easily pass through ducts from one room to another. You can line the ducts with insulation foams to absorb the sound and dampen it. If a duct supplying a quiet room has a takeoff point close to a noisy room, then move one or both ducts away so that their takeoff points are as distant from each other as possible.
14. Soundproof your yard with trees
If your home is situated near a very busy road, you could consider planting tall trees and hedges. Thick conifers and broadleaved trees can effectively block noise and also enhance your yard’s privacy.
Related content – Easy Ways to Make your Yard Private
If you live in a very busy area, you could consult an acoustic expert or an insulation specialist. These professionals can suggest home improvement projects to tremendously reduce noise between rooms and from the road. In case you are still being disturbed by external or indoor noises, you could consider wearing noise canceling headphones or ear plugs. These drastically reduce noise and can come in handy while you are working.