How to Soundproof a Room
This article was originally published on February 5, 2021 on popularmechanics.com
Written By: Joseph Truini
Because when working from home, we could all use a little extra peace and quiet.
Our homes should serve as a quiet, peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. But that’s becoming increasingly more difficult as the world gets busier and noisier everyday—especially if you’re still working from home and need some solitude to get anything done.
To silence the racket, you can effectively soundproof rooms to dampen the din of traffic, sirens, airplanes, honking horns, and other noisy intrusions going on in and around your home—especially if you’re not a fan of wearing noise-cancelling headphones all day. Here, we’ll give detailed information on eight ways to soundproof a room, including some super-simple tips and more-advanced techniques that utilize sound-absorbing products.
Door Weather Stripping
Interior doors don’t typically have weather stripping, but adding some around the perimeter of the doorway can help muffle sounds. Peel-and-stick foam rubber weather stripping forms a very tight seal and is affordable and easy to install. Felt is one of the oldest types of weather-stripping, it comes in rolls with or without an adhesive backing, and is very affordable and surprisingly effective at blocking out noise. You can also install a door sweep or under-door draft stopper to the bottom of the door to seal off the gap along the floor.
Hard surfaces, like drywall, plaster and tile, reflect and amplify sounds. So, it only makes sense that soft surfaces absorb sounds, making rooms much quieter. Cover walls with thick blankets, moving pads, tapestries, or quilts. Virtually any soft material will work, though thicker ones absorb more sound than thinner materials.
If you don’t mind adding an industrial look to the room, fasten sound-absorbing panels to the walls and, if necessary, the ceiling. The panels are made from superior noise-dampening materials, such as soft foam rubber, dense polyester fiber, and cork.
Sound doesn’t only bounce off walls it can be reflected by hard floors, too. If your room has a hard-surface floor—wood, tile, or laminate—the simplest solution is to lay down an area rug to help absorb noise. And, again, thick rugs are better than thin ones. Also, buy an extra-thick pad for under the rug for additional sound protection.
Noise is transmitted through vibrations. So, any booming piece of machinery or equipment produces vibrations that can transfer noise to adjacent rooms. This includes items such as, speakers, appliances, stationary bikes, and treadmills. To dampen the vibrations and quiet the room, set the item on a thick piece of dense foam rubber, such as a home-gym floor mat or horse stall mat.
Windows, even high-end windows, aren’t very effective at blocking out noise. And the older the window, the worse it is at keeping rooms quiet. The easiest way to dampen window noise is to simply cover windows with thick blankets or quilted moving pads. Not the most attractive option, I admit, but it does work.
For a better, more attractive solution, consider installing noise-reducing curtains. These thick, heavy drapes are specially designed to stop noise, and also double as blackout curtains to keep out sunlight.
When all else fails—and if your budget permits—you can significantly reduce window noise by upgrading to window inserts. These custom-made, clear-glass panels mount to the inside of existing windows and do an excellent job of blocking out noise.
Odd as it may seem, bookcases can help keep a room quiet. That’s because shelves filled with books create mass, and mass absorbs sound. Just be sure to build the bookcase to extend from the floor all the way up to the ceiling, and keep the shelves filled with books and magazines.
Add Extra Drywall
This racket-reducing technique requires a significant investment of time and money, but it’s one of the most effective ways to quiet a room: Cover the existing walls and ceiling with extra layer of ½-inch-thick drywall. And as extra protection against noise transmission, secure the new drywall with special sound-deadening caulk called, dampening compound.
And while you can certainly cover the existing walls and ceiling with standard drywall, consider installing special sound-deadening drywall instead. It has a plastic polymer layer adhered to the back surface, which dramatically cuts noise. And at just 5/16 in. thick, the sheets are easy to install.
[Related: How to Repair Drywall]
Install Resilient Channels
Here’s another excellent way to soundproof a room. The only problem is that you must first strip the room down to bare studs. Then, install resilient channels, which are Z-shaped metal strips that go between the wall studs and drywall. The flexible, springy channels create what’s known as a decoupled wall, which effectively stops sound waves from passing through the wall.