House getting a little crowded? With the pandemic still raging in the US many families are embarking on a school year that looks quite different from those in years past, to say the least. Virtual learning and working from home are now attempting to coexist in houses all over the country as schools opt for a hybrid learning model or send kids home altogether to avoid infection. Noise-cancelling headphones, extra monitors and WiFi boosters can only go so far, sometimes you just need some peace and quiet. That’s where we come in.
Months ago when this pandemic first began soundproofing a room might have seemed like an extreme solution for space sharing that we thought was only going to last a few months. Oh, how naive we were. Now that we’re in month seven of this health crisis we’re not playing games anymore. It’s time to capital “A” Adapt to the situation at hand and that means a little home DIY to set up semi-permanent offices and learning spaces. Soundproofing a room is a great way to set aside a space that’s quiet from the inside out and can give you the time you desperately need to crank through your to-do list without your child’s teacher blaring from the other room. (Love you, teachers)
Soundproofing can keep noise in and keep noise from going out if your job requires you to be on calls all day or you have a particularly loud keyboard. Restore the peace in your home with these simple steps that range from rudimentary tips to sound-absorbing products you can buy, depending on how serious you want to make it. Plus, after this whole thing is over you can use it as a podcast studio for that idea you’ve been sitting on. Hurray!
Here’s how to soundproof a room, in easy-to-understand and accomplish steps.
Step 1: Mind the Door
That small gap between the bottom of your door and the floor? A ton of noise is escaping and getting in through there. Plug it up with a rolled up towel, some t-shirts or a door sweep like the one linked below. It’s not a fancy, high-tech solution but one that will make a big difference in noise levels.
Suptikes Door Draft Stopper
This door sweeper blocks out noise, air, odors and other potential disruptors in your space. It fits gaps up to 1 inch and has self-adhesive attached to it so installation is easy. It fits most door types and will stick to metal, plastic, glass and wooden doors alike. The adhesive is strong, designed to stay in place, and installation takes only a few seconds with a simple peel and stick process.
Step 2: Soften Up Your Walls
Hard surfaces, like walls in most homes, amplify the sound that bounces off. Soft surfaces tend to absorb sound and make the room much quieter. Making your walls softer can make a big difference noise-wise. You can cover your walls and door with thick blankets, sound curtains, moving pads, quilts or even a decorative tapestry.
If you want to make it really official, you can install sound-absorbing panels that’ll make your space look like a real recording studio. There’s also sound-proof wallpaper that’s a bit more time-intensive to set up but pays off by feeding two birds with one seed, sound- and design-wise. Here are a few top-rated products for getting this step done.
NICETOWN 3 Pass Blackout Curtains
Blackout curtains are very good at blocking out light as well as sound, and these have over 30,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-star rating! They have noise reduction built in with triple weave technology and come ready to hang with ring holes that fit a standard curtain rod. They’re made to last and are machine-washable.
Moving Blankets 12-Pack
This solution is not as high-tech or aesthetically-pleasing, but it will get the job done. These moving blankets are thick, heavy-duty and great sound blockers. At 80″ x 72″ these blankets are big enough to hang over your door, windows and shared walls to build a room that’s insulated from the outside and won’t emit tons of distracting sound either.
They’ve got zig-zag stitching that’s made to last and the polyester fabric over cotton provides a thick and protective sound barrier. Plus, if you deconstruct your soundproof office eventually you can rest assured knowing your furniture will be protected once your next moving day comes around.
Foamily Acoustic Studio Panels 12-Pack
These foam panels aren’t messing around when it comes to sound, so if you mean business you should probably pick up a pack of these and take your soundproofing to the next level. Each wedge comes uncompressed and in prime condition for optimal usage. They’re great for spot treatment in an office, studio or other room in your house, and offer noise reduction, sound wave reduction and a decrease in reverberating echoes in small and medium rooms. They’re an affordable, legit-looking solution that might just do the trick in soundproofing your new home office.
3. Consider a Rug
If the floors in your new office, or home in general, are wood, tile or some other hard material consider getting a rug. Rugs help absorb sound and create a buffer for sound protection, warmth and general comfort. Set your rug on an extra-thick rug pad to boost its effectiveness, and make sure to get one your office chair can still roll around on so you won’t be making your life more difficult.
Safevieh Hudson Shag Rug
This stylish shag rug also happens to be quite thick, perfect for helping with sound control in any space in your home. It has a geometric design that’s pleasing to the eye and simple enough to not detract from existing decoration. It’s also a versatile pattern that can work in a variety of spaces depending on where you’re setting up shop. The 2-inch pile height is plush and soft while also being easy to care for and virtually non-shedding.
4. Install a Bookcase
If your office happens to share a wall with the kitchen, living room or other noise-heavy space in your house putting a bookcase along that wall might help. It can’t be any regular ol’ bookcase, however, it should be a built-in that spans the length and height of the room, leaving no space for noise to enter. This is a more intensive option, but if you’re desperate books provide a great sound buffer, especially the number it takes to fill a whole wall.
5. Mind the Vibrations
There are many common items in your home that produce vibrations in reaction to sound and can transfer noise to other rooms easily. These items include gym equipment, speakers, appliances and other electronics. You can easily mitigate this problem by setting them on top of dense foam, a rug or other floor barrier to absorb the sound that’s created.
BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat
These durable, non-skid tiles are perfect for placing exactly where you need them, and are extremely flexible size-wise. You can link a few together to create a sound-friendly surface for your desk or split them up and protect individual items throughout the room. The assembly takes no time at all and they’re water-resistant and super easy to clean, so they won’t wear down after every spill.
6. Window Inserts Are a Thing
If you’ve tried curtains and blankets over your windows and that admirably persistent bird outside is still disrupting your workflow, consider window inserts. They’re custom-made glass panels that attach to the inside of existing windows and will take your sound-blocking up a major notch.
7. If You’re Building, Consider Resilient Channels
The next two steps are outside the realm of home DIY solutions for a new home office, but they’re helpful in sound reduction and soundproofing nonetheless. If you’re building a new house and want a room that’s soundproof or has great noise-reduction, resilient channels are a great way to make that happen. They’re Z-shaped metal strips that are positioned between wall studs and drywall. They’re essentially metal springs that block sound vibrations from passing through the walls, and are quite effective at that. Consider them as part of your remodel or building project, and enjoy peace of mind in your zen space later on.
Auralex RC8 Resilient Channels in 26 Gauge Metal
Consult your contractor before purchasing, but these are generally what you’re looking for in terms of resilient channels. If it’s something that looks like this, you’re on the right track. These are made of 25 gauge steel and are designed to reduce sound transmission through the walls by creating space between the drywall layer and stud structure. This pack of 24 is a good start for most rooms and work especially well when coupled with Auralex SheetBlok.