This is a complete guide to soundproofing a home office.
And it’s a timely topic; I’m sure you’ll agree.
The pandemic made many of us work from home, after all. We set up home offices, and let’s not beat around the bush here – In spite of the bleakness of the world around us, we welcomed not having to commute or participate in the dreadful office politics.
But once the initial excitement of being able to work from home and skip the commute was over, many of us started noticing the noise.
There are just so many sounds at home that can bother and distract you from doing the work, right?
Well, the good news is that you can eliminate or greatly reduce much of that noise.
In this guide, I’ll show you exactly how to do that by soundproofing your home office.
But we have to start at the beginning. Because, you see, soundproofing a home office is not as simple as just sticking some soundproofing materials to the walls to block the sound. Of course, that is one method we’ll discuss. However, part of the project will also require you to tackle the problem at its source and soundproof where the sound is being generated.
And let’s start with that.
Sounds that bother you in your home office (and two approaches to eliminating them)
I guess this goes without saying – Noise and creativity rarely go together.
It’s absolutely impossible to focus when a TV is blasting in a room next door. It’s equally challenging to concentrate when you can hear muffled conversations or the overall sounds of others going about their lives.
But unfortunately, homes and apartments are rarely designed to facilitate work.
They’re a place where you’re supposed to rest. Where you have fun. Where you talk, listen, watch, go about your personal life, hang out with family and friends, and so on…
All of which can generate a sensible amount of noise.
Hell, I’m sure you’ve also felt that the only time where you could have peace and quiet is when everyone else is asleep. Yet, that’s hardly a time when you should be working yourself, right?
But that’s the reality of working from home. It’s when you need creativity at its highest, and your efforts are trampled by:
- The sound of television or music from the room beside your home office
- Noise made by various appliances, some of which can be pretty loud (like a tumble dryer)
- Footsteps, running, stomping and other noises made by your family as they move around the house
- Neighbors talking through a wall
- Pet noises
- Slamming doors, creaking floors,
- Not to mention the outside noise seeping into your home office…
Now, as I mentioned at the start of this guide, much of that noise can be eliminated. But doing so requires taking two distinct approaches simultaneously:
- Absorbing the sound, and you also need to do it at its place of origin (which often means soundproofing areas outside of your home office) and
- Blocking the noise from entering your home office.
Let’s go through those two methods, then. (And after that, I’ll show you different ways to implement them to soundproof your home office.)
In scientific terms, sound absorption sounds like something from a sci-fi movie. The idea is to use a porous material to transform noise into heat within that material.
Luckily, it just sounds complicated. In reality, sound absorption uses materials that can, well, absorb some of the sound waves and reduce their impact (or, in some cases, even eliminate them completely.)
It works like this.
Note how as sound waves hit the absorbing material, some of it gets reflected (and that’s the part that you still might hear) but the rest gets absorbed into the material and retained there (you no longer hear that.)
The purpose of absorption is to lower the intensity of the sound or kill it completely.
IMPORTANT: When you’re soundproofing a home office, you should use absorption not only inside your room. Often, you can get much better results if you absorb the sound at its source and prevent it from ever having a chance to reach your home office.
Consider this example. Your office is next to the living room. There’s a TV mounted or placed on the wall in between the two rooms. Naturally, quite a lot of sound vibrations from the TV will enter your home office. The sound will cause the partition wall to reverberate and some of that will enter your home office. Actually, most likely, you’ll hear quite a lot of that noise.
You could try and deaden the sound after it enters your office. But it might also make more sense to use sound absorption in the living room, and lower the intensity of sound vibrations that could enter the wall before they ever get a chance to do so.
You could do this by placing an obstacle for the sound wave to hit the wall. The easiest way to do this is to place acoustic panels or other sound-absorbing materials behind the TV on that wall.
(NOTE – We’ll be discussing different ways to soundproof a home office wall later in this guide.)
Sound absorption aims to absorb some of the sound and prevent it from even getting a chance to reach your home office.
Sound blocking, on the other hand, focuses on ensuring that there is no way for sound to enter your home office.
Consider what happens when you open a window. Suddenly a gust of fresh air enters a room. But all the outside noise enters with it too. Much (or maybe even all, depending on how soundproof your windows are) of that noise disappears when you close the window again.
The reason is that a closed window blocked the noise from coming in. The sound is still there, it hasn’t been absorbed by anything. But it is now blocked from entering your room.
Blocking the sound means closing any potential means for it to enter your home office.
Here’s an important thing to remember when you’re soundproofing your home office: To do it properly, you need to use both methods. You need to try and absorb as much of the sound at its origin. And you need to block the sound from entering your office.
Here’s how to do it.
Soundproofing a home office: What you’ll need
You’ll need several materials to soundproof a home office – insulation materials, soundproofing panels, weatherstripping and door seals, and acoustic caulk.
Let’s go through them in turn before we discuss the process.
Insulation materials are essential for soundproofing your home office. Fiberglass batt insulation is a popular option that is both affordable and effective. It is easy to install and can be placed between the studs of your walls or ceiling. Another option is rock wool insulation, which is denser and provides better sound absorption.
Soundproofing and Acoustic Panels
Soundproofing panels are another important material for soundproofing your home office. These panels are designed to absorb sound and reduce noise levels. They can be made from a variety of materials, including foam, cork, and recycled rubber. Acoustic panels are available in a range of sizes and thicknesses, so you can choose the right panel for your needs.
Weatherstripping and Door Seals
Weatherstripping and door seals are crucial for soundproofing your home office. These materials help to seal gaps around windows and doors, preventing sound from entering or exiting the room. Weatherstripping can be made from foam, rubber, or vinyl, and is easy to install. Door seals are also available in a range of materials and can be installed on the bottom of your door to create a tight seal.
Acoustic caulk is a special type of caulk that is designed to reduce noise levels. It is ideal for sealing gaps and cracks around windows and doors, as well as around electrical outlets and light fixtures. Acoustic caulk is easy to apply and can be used in conjunction with other soundproofing materials to create a more effective sound barrier.
How to soundproof a home office: the process
Note – To make the following section the most actionable, I organized it by a different area of your home office that you’d need to soundproof. And so, below, you’ll find tips for soundproofing your home office doors, walls, windows, the floor and the ceiling, and so on.
Let’s go through those options, then.
Soundproofing the Walls
As I discovered, soundproofing the walls of your home office is essential to create a quiet and peaceful work environment. Here are two effective ways to soundproof your walls.
Adding Extra Drywall
One of the easiest ways to soundproof your walls is by adding extra drywall. This method involves installing an additional layer of drywall over the existing wall. The extra layer will help to absorb the sound waves and reduce noise transmission.
To add extra drywall to your walls, follow these steps:
- Measure the length and height of your wall and purchase enough drywall to cover it.
- Remove any decorations, nails, or screws from the wall.
- Apply green glue to the back of the new drywall.
- Carefully align the new drywall with the existing wall and screw it into place.
- Fill any gaps or seams with acoustic sealant.
- Finish the wall with paint or wallpaper.
Installing Soundproofing Panels
Another effective way to soundproof your walls is by installing soundproofing panels. These panels are designed to absorb sound waves and reduce noise transmission. They are available in a variety of materials, including foam, fiberglass, and cork.
To install soundproofing panels, follow these steps:
- Measure the length and height of your wall and purchase enough panels to cover it.
- Remove any decorations, nails, or screws from the wall.
- Apply adhesive to the back of the panel.
- Carefully align the panel with the wall and press it firmly into place.
- Repeat the process until the entire wall is covered.
- Finish the wall with paint or wallpaper.
Both of these methods are effective in reducing noise transmission and creating a quieter work environment. Choose the method that best suits your needs and budget.
Soundproofing the Ceiling
As sound can easily travel through ceilings, soundproofing your home office ceiling is essential for a productive and peaceful work environment. Here are two effective ways to soundproof your ceiling.
Installing Acoustic Ceiling Tiles
One of the easiest and most effective ways to soundproof your ceiling is by installing acoustic ceiling tiles. These tiles are designed to absorb sound waves and reduce noise levels in your home office.
To install acoustic ceiling tiles, follow these steps:
- Measure the length and width of your ceiling to determine how many tiles you need.
- Purchase acoustic ceiling tiles and the necessary installation materials, such as adhesive and a utility knife.
- Clean the ceiling surface where you will be installing the tiles.
- Apply the adhesive to the back of each tile and press it firmly onto the ceiling surface.
- Use a utility knife to cut the tiles to fit around light fixtures and other obstructions.
Acoustic ceiling tiles are available in a variety of styles and colors, so you can choose the ones that best match your home office decor.
Adding a Second Layer of Drywall
Another effective way to soundproof your ceiling is by adding a second layer of drywall. This method is more labor-intensive than installing acoustic ceiling tiles, but it can provide better soundproofing results.
To add a second layer of drywall to your ceiling, follow these steps:
- Measure the length and width of your ceiling to determine how much drywall you need.
- Purchase drywall and the necessary installation materials, such as screws and joint compound.
- Remove any light fixtures or other obstructions from the ceiling.
- Install the first layer of drywall using screws and joint compound.
- Install the second layer of drywall perpendicular to the first layer, using screws and joint compound.
- Apply joint compound to the seams and sand them smooth.
Adding a second layer of drywall to your ceiling can significantly reduce noise levels in your home office. However, it may require professional installation if you are not experienced with drywall installation.
Soundproofing the Floor
If you’re looking to soundproof your home office, don’t forget about the floor. Impact noise, like footsteps or furniture dragging, can easily travel through the floor and disrupt your work. Here are some ways to soundproof your floor:
Using Soundproofing Underlay
One of the easiest and most effective ways to soundproof your floor is to use soundproofing underlay. This material is designed to absorb impact noise and prevent it from traveling through the floor. There are many different types of soundproofing underlay available, so be sure to choose one that is appropriate for your flooring type.
To install soundproofing underlay, follow these steps:
- Clean the floor thoroughly.
- Cut the underlay to fit the room.
- Lay the underlay on the floor, making sure to overlap the edges.
- Tape the seams of the underlay together with soundproofing tape.
- Install your flooring over the underlay.
Another way to soundproof your floor is to install carpet. Carpet can absorb impact noise and prevent it from traveling through the floor. It also has the added benefit of providing insulation, which can help keep your home office warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
To install carpet, follow these steps:
- Clean the floor thoroughly.
- Install a carpet pad over the floor.
- Lay the carpet over the pad, making sure to stretch it tightly.
- Secure the carpet to the floor with tack strips.
- Trim the excess carpet around the edges of the room.
By using soundproofing underlay or installing carpet, you can effectively soundproof your floor and create a quieter home office environment.
Soundproofing Doors and Windows
As I was soundproofing my home office, I found that doors and windows were the primary sources of noise leakage. Here are two effective methods for soundproofing doors and windows.
The first step to soundproofing doors and windows is to seal any gaps. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal gaps around the door or window frame. You can also use a door sweep to seal the gap between the door and the floor.
If you have a window air conditioner, make sure it is properly sealed. You can use foam insulation or weatherstripping to seal any gaps around the unit.
Best Soundproofing Sealant – Green Glue
Installing Soundproof Curtains
Another effective way to soundproof doors and windows is by installing soundproof curtains. These curtains are made of heavy, dense materials that absorb sound and prevent it from passing through.
When choosing soundproof curtains, look for those that are made of materials such as velvet, suede, or wool. These materials are thick and heavy, and they do an excellent job of blocking sound.
In addition to soundproof curtains, you can also use soundproof window film. This film is applied directly to the window and helps to reduce noise by up to 50%.
By sealing gaps and installing soundproof curtains, you can significantly reduce the amount of noise that enters your home office.
Home Office Soundproofing – FAQ
What are some inexpensive ways to soundproof a home office?
If you’re looking for inexpensive ways to soundproof your home office, start by sealing any openings into your office. This can be done using weatherstripping, door sweeps, and draft stoppers. Another cost-effective solution is to use thick curtains or blankets to cover windows and walls. You can also use bookshelves or other furniture to absorb sound.
Can I soundproof my home office using DIY methods?
Yes, there are several DIY methods you can use to soundproof your home office. Some of these methods include using weatherstripping, acoustic caulk, and acoustic foam panels. You can also use sound-absorbing materials such as carpets, rugs, and curtains to reduce noise levels.
Where should I place sound panels in my home office for maximum effectiveness?
For maximum effectiveness, you should place sound panels on the walls and ceiling of your home office. You can also place sound panels on doors and windows to further reduce noise levels. It’s important to place the panels in areas where sound is likely to bounce off, such as corners and flat surfaces.
How can I reduce outside noise in my home office?
To reduce outside noise in your home office, start by sealing any openings into your office. This can be done using weatherstripping, door sweeps, and draft stoppers. You can also use thick curtains or blankets to cover windows and walls. Another solution is to use sound-absorbing materials such as carpets, rugs, and curtains to reduce noise levels.
What is the average cost of soundproofing a home office?
The cost of soundproofing a home office can vary depending on the size of the room and the materials used. On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,500 on soundproofing materials and installation. However, there are several cost-effective DIY methods you can use to soundproof your home office without breaking the bank.Photo by Mikey Harris on Unsplash