When we step foot in our office to get work done, we want our office to be as noise free as possible. In a perfect world, the work that we do will not affect other people, and they work they do won’t affect us. To make this happen, you have to take the necessary steps to soundproof your office.
Today’s post will help you consider all the ways that you can potentially soundproof your office from the low-cost methods that require little to no office construction, to the ones that will require more work and installation.
There are ways that you can minimize noise, but it is hard for your office to be 100% soundproof if you don’t design your home office around the desire to be soundproof. It’s all about what you need from your office.
Airborne Versus Structure-Borne Sound
Before we begin talking about the ways to soundproof your home office, you have to understand the difference between the types of sound you will be canceling out with soundproofing. When it comes to sound, there are structure-borne and airborne sounds. You can not merely protect against just one when it comes to soundproofing your office because you will still have distractions coming into your office and disturbing the work that you do there.
Airborne sounds are those that are transmitted through the air such as a siren or dogs barking in the neighborhood. Structure-borne sounds are those transmitted through structural material like the floors or ceiling of a house such as shoes tapping down the hallway or a desk bumping up against a wall.
Perform An Energy Test On Your House
Before you think about all of the ways that you can soundproof your house, you might want to call a home energy auditor to get an assessment of all the ways that energy is escaping or coming into your home. When you have energy coming in or out, that also comes with noise as well.
Your home energy auditor can complete a thorough check of various spots in your home to see where you could be saving energy. An energy audit will help you make necessary updates to your home, save on your energy bill, and create less noise in your home.
Another benefit? There are many tax credits for energy efficiency that you may be able to find. Most of these tax credits don’t allow you to get the money back if your credit is more than you owe, but you they can reduce the amount of taxes that you owe, and some credits can be rolled over to new tax years.
This walk through will be an eye-opening experience for you, but the best way to start making adjustments in your home is to know what you need to adjust, to begin with.
20 Ways To Reduce Noise & Soundproof Your Office
Now that you know what you need to fix in your home, it’s time to start making changes around the house. Here are some ways that you can reduce noise in your office and soundproof it.
1. Wear Noise-Canceling Headphones
One of the simplest ways to create some soundproofing in your office without renovating or changing your office is to purchase and wear a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Noise-canceling headphones have come a long way, and many headphones have several noise-canceling modes that filter out various types of noise.
The most apparent positive to wearing noise-canceling headphones as a way to soundproof your office is that it’s a cost-effective and easy fix to your office. Wearing headphones would be perfect for someone who lives in an older home that you don’t want to renovate too much or if you live in a rented space that you cannot change. Noise-canceling headphones are also portable. It doesn’t matter if you want to work in your office, or at your kitchen table, you can take this noise-canceling solution with you anywhere!
The most obvious con of this is that it’s not a real soundproofing technique. It’s quick, easy, and gets the results that many people need but it will not serve everyone. For example, if you want less noise in your office so you can shoot videos, noise-canceling headphones won’t help you do that because they only reduce sound for the wearer of the headphones in the room. Noise-canceling headphones are more like a band-aid on the situation versus an actual fix of the problem.
If you are merely looking for a solution that will help you cancel out most of the noise that you hear while you are working, TechRadar has compiled a list of some of their favorite noise-canceling headphones and their features.
2. White Noise Machine
White noise machines can make a significant impact on your office by making other noises in your office less noticeable. Essentially, white noise machines create background noise for your office and mask sound by making noises like talking and pens dropping less intelligible. White noise machines treat noise by making it less noticeable for the listener, not by reducing the noise itself.
White noise machines are great because they can be relatively cost-effective. It won’t require an arm and a leg to get a white noise system in place, depending on the system that you purchase. Some white noise machines can also be portable which is great for a home office. You can also build upon this technology and create pretty advanced systems that utilize white noise in a more extensive workplace environment.
The most obvious con to a white noise machine is that you are bringing sound into your office, just not the sounds that may impact you the most. In essence, you are switching one sound out for a more pleasant sound. You are drowning out noise instead of canceling it altogether. This is another solution that will not work if the purpose of soundproofing your office is so that you can record things like videos or music.
3. Installing a Solid Core Door
You may be wondering how simply changing your door can lead to more noise reduction and soundproofing, well the door is one of the largest openings in your room. So much noise comes through, around, and under your door. It can be a real hassle because of that.
One way to reduce noise is to install a solid core door over a hollow core door. Most doors to your home office are hollow on the inside, which doesn’t make them great at keeping noise out of your office. Not only are solid core doors better for reducing noise, but they are also better for reducing energy waste in your room.
Solid core doors are great because it’s a small change that you can make to your office to not only make it more energy efficient but also reduce the noise coming in your office. This method does block sound from entering into your office, over other ways that just reduce the noise in your ears.
The most prominent con to installing a solid core door is that they are more expensive than a regular hollow core door, for obvious reasons. The initial investment in buying and installing your solid core door will be tough, but over time having the door will pay for itself in more ways than one.
4. Noise Reduction Curtains
Noise reduction curtains make an impact on your home office by covering your windows with a lot of padding. Most noise reduction curtains have multiple layers of fabric within them which help reduce noise by absorbing the noise from the outside (and potentially inside noise) into the curtain.
Since the noise is passing through multiple layers of fabric, it becomes much fainter by the time that you hear it in your office. Depending on the amount of outside noise that you hear, noise reduction curtains can make a significant difference in the overall environment of your office.
Noise reduction curtains are great for many reasons:
- They block out many outside noises.
- They also block out a lot of unnecessary sunlight.
If you purchase the right curtains for your office, you will have more control over the excess light in your office as well as the excess sound. Curtains are a great addition because you have the power to keep them drawn closed, so you get their full effect or open them when you feel like letting the outside in again. This is great if you need a less permanent solution to your soundproofing needs.
Install curtains on a noisy inner wall. This will create an illusion of a window and at the same time your home office benefits from the reduction in noise that those inner walls sometimes allow. This is the same idea as hanging a large painting however using noise reduction curtains.
The con of noise reduction curtains is that they may not reduce all outside noise. For example, if your office is next to a construction site, it’s reasonable to believe that the noise reduction curtains can only absorb and decrease sound to a point. Many curtains can reduce a lot of noise, but you will probably never create a 100% soundproofed office with noise reduction curtains.
5. Sound Absorbing Shades
If you want to go further into the process of soundproofing your windows, or you want an alternative to noise reduction curtains, you may want to go with sound absorbing shades. Sound absorbing shades are a more fitted approach to reducing sound in your office windows.
Sound absorbing shades are great for people who want something with less fabric and less bulkiness to it. The shades are installed in your windows, not covering your windows and taking up space on your floor which can be a tripping hazard.
There are many different types of sound absorbing shades like cellular honeycomb, roman, and pleated shades to name a few. The shades that you choose can also bring a decorative element to your home office.
Sound absorbing shades have similar cons to noise reduction curtains. They just cannot block out all outside noise, especially if the noise is unreasonably loud. You can expect that normal outside noise like birds chirping, the neighbor who mows twice a week, and dogs barking will be significantly reduced though.
6. Sound Absorbing Rugs
Rugs can be a great way to absorb some of the sounds in your home office. Especially if you have hardwood floors in your office, laying down some carpet or rugs with absorbing padding on the bottom can genuinely help reduce some of the structure-borne noise coming from your home office. You can cut noise like creaking floorboards, and if your desk and chairs are on the carpet, you can reduce noise in those squeaking as well.
Rugs coupled with padding can make a tremendous difference in your home office, especially if your home office is not currently located on the first floor of your home. When you put your office higher up in your house, you introduce more noise into your office because you may potentially be on top of a room that is noisy.
A few cons to using sound absorbing rugs and carpets are:
- They can impact the style of your office.
- When you have rugs, you can’t have certain furniture.
You may like the look of hardwood floors in your home office, but that comes with some noise attached to it, it may be something that you are willing to put up with because of the look of hardwood floors. When you have carpet or rugs in your office, it will be harder to have office chairs or furniture with wheels on them if the carpet or rug pieces get caught in the furniture wheels.
7. Caulking Strategic Places in Your Home
Caulking is a great way to get rid of some airborne noises in your home. By getting rid of some of the excess air flowing through your office, you can reduce some of the sound coming in.
You want to think about any places where there is a gap that might cause air to flow in and out of your space. Start by taking a walk around your office and pass your hand over any gaps. (no matter how small) If you feel air coming through, there is a chance you should add some caulk to fill that space.
If you got a home energy audit, you will already know where you need to caulk in your office.
You should caulk around:
- Air Vents
- All Electrical Boxes
- Window Seals
- Floor Trim
- Door Trim
- Ceiling Fan Base
- Hanging Light Base
Caulking is a relatively cheap solution that helps you quiet select spots in your house. It can get where a lot of other things can’t get as it forms to where you place it. It’s easier to control than just putting a curtain over something, especially if you just need to cover up a small gap in your office.
If you are renting your space or hope to sell your home in the future, caulking can be a bit of a headache to remove, but it’s not an entirely lost cause. If you have a razor blade, spackle, and matching paint for your walls you can quickly patch up any place where you put caulking on drywall. In most cases, caulking naturally completes a space and will not need removing.
8. Acoustic Boards
Yet another simple way to absorb sound in your office, is through the use of acoustic boards. Acoustic boards come in many shapes and sizes and can even be mounted to your ceiling to absorb sound.
You don’t need to cover every square inch of your office in acoustic boards, but you do need to strategically place some in the corners of your room, on the ceiling, and at the reflection points of some of the things in your office that make the most noise.
Acoustic boards are great because they are attached to your wall versus being inside your wall. If you cannot build your office or tear down parts of your office, the add-on of acoustic boards might be the best way to absorb some of the sounds within and outside of your room.
Acoustic boards may not be the best form of soundproofing your home office because they can be somewhat bulky and take up valuable wall space in your office. It may be harder to decorate or add things to your walls if you have acoustic boards in many different places in your office. If you play music or have a lot of noise happening in your office, acoustic boards might be your best bet though.
9. Fabric in Picture Frames
If you want to create relatively cheap soundproofed walls, you can do so with picture frames, wadding (like foam or some other type of thick cushioning), fabric, scissors, and tape. Simply wrap the wadding with the fabric then tape the fabric to fit the wadding snuggly. Now put them both inside the picture frame. (being sure to remove the plastic or glass inside the frame) Secure the wadding inside the picture frame with the clips of the picture frame.
Once the frames are finished, you are free to hang these pictures frames up. To do this project you can you can use any size frame that you think would be appropriate for your room, but you will have to repeat this project several times. You can learn more about this by checking out Ikea’s step-by-step instructions.
These photo frames are a great way to add some decor to your office, and they will also serve as a memo board in your office because of the foam in the photo frames. Creating a wall of these frames, will take your office decor to the next level.
This project can quickly get quite expensive and out of hand if you let it. Not all frames are cheap, and you will need to purchase a lot of them to make the project worthwhile. One fabric frame will not be ideal to absorb much noise in your office. When you are buying frames, though, keep them simple. The frames need to be put together, so you don’t have to get any decorative or strangely shaped frames for this project.
10. Door Sweeps & Jambs
As we discussed earlier when we talked about why you should install a solid core door, the doors of any room can be an easy way for air and noise to slip into our office.
One way that we can combat this is by installing a door sweep or getting a door jamb for your office door. This is an excellent solution when installing a new door is not an option for you.
Door sweeps attach to your door so that you can cover up those gaps at the bottom of the inside of your door. Install door jambs under your door or right outside your door. This creates a barrier for noise and air before it ever comes into your door.
When you get any of these installed, you want to make sure that the focus is on creating a snug fit. A snug fit will apply for anything that you get installed. The purpose of these devices is to protect the door from leaking sound. This can only be accomplished if the sweeps and jambs are measured correctly and fit snugly.
These are great cost-effective ways to add sound protection to your doors, but like some of the other projects, they require an alteration on part of your home (even if it is a small part of your door.) If you rent your house, I would check with your landlord before you make any adjustments like this to your door.
11. Acoustic Panels
Acoustic panels are another easy way to absorb and soundproof your home office. There are many ways to create acoustic panels for your office. The two options are, the do it yourself route, or the easy purchase them already built.
A simple way to create acoustic panels is to purchase dense fiberglass board insulation that’s at least two inches thick, build a wooden border for it, cover it in fabric, and mount those pieces on the wall. See a full tutorial for this on Acoustic Freqs.
You can also create some acoustic panels out of foam acoustic wedges that you can pick up at stores like Walmart or Amazon.
Acoustic panels can be temporary; it depends heavily on the way that you go about soundproofing your office with acoustic panels. The more concrete your process of putting them up, the more efficient they will be at blocking out and absorbing sound.
Acoustic panels don’t usually stick out far from your wall, but they can stick out a bit making it hard to decorate around them. Also, not all of them are the prettiest site to look at. Installing them can also be a pain, but some do it yourself versions of installing acoustic panels recommend using Command picture hanging strips, which are reasonably easy to take down while holding a lot of weight.
12. Rigid Foam Insulation Board
Most people from beginner to advanced can easily install a rigid foam insulation board to soundproof a room with a few materials like furring strips, a staple gun, a level, and a plastic sheet. Do It Yourself has a full set of instructions on how to do this correctly.
When installing this, be careful to remove any moisture from the walls first. This is so you won’t have any significant issues later. Installing a rigid foam insulation board requires you to cover your wall completely, and any moisture that was on your walls before, won’t automatically go away once you install the insulation board. The problem will only get worse.
Overall, this is a cost-effective way to create some insulation and soundproofing in your home office but installing rigid foam insulation board is not the easiest way to soundproof. If you are looking for something that won’t be a large project, this may not be the project for you.
To soundproof a wall with this material, you cover a wall with it entirely, get rid of any gaps, and potentially cover that with a plastic sheet. After installation you then cover with your choice of siding such as drywall, siding, or ship-lap.
13. Acoustical Blankets
Acoustical blankets are exceptional solutions for absorbing some of the excess sounds in your home. They attach quickly to the space in your home office that needs them most, and then you can easily take them down when you don’t need them. They absorb some of the unwanted sounds in your home office like echo and reverberations as the sound gets bounced off a softer surface instead of the walls in your home.
One option is to add hooks to the tops of the walls or ceiling in need of soundproofing. Then attach grommets to the ends of the acoustical blankets. Now hang the acoustical blankets when needed and store them when you are finished.
Acoustical blankets can be a cost-effective, temporary solution to your home soundproofing needs. They are lightweight and easy to store when they aren’t necessary, which is great if you only need a soundproof office for certain parts of your day. They are not a pretty soundproofing solution though, so if you need a more permanent solution for soundproofing your office, this may not work for you if you want your office to look a certain way.
14. Double or Triple Pane Windows
Are your windows strong enough to keep air and noise out? Probably not, especially if you are using single pane windows. When you have more panes in your windows, you can reduce more sound coming from your surrounding neighborhood.
Installing double or triple pane windows can be pricey, but it will help you reduce noise in your home. They also create a more energy efficient home because of less heat and air is escaping through your windows. AKA home will be easier to heat and cool.
Obviously installing new windows is a huge step, so start with the caulking and noise reduction curtains first to see if this option is necessary.
15. Window Inserts
If the sound of replacing all the windows in your house gives you stress, you also have the option of window inserts. The company Indow came up with a way to add to your existing windows with a custom window insert.
The insert pops into your window frames from the inside and dramatically reduce outside noise by 50%-70%. This is a great solution to add an extra layer of protection to your office windows without paying to get your windows redone.
There is one small screw that needs to be installed per each window insert to hold the safety chain which helps prevent your window insert from popping out in extreme conditions. If you cannot make any holes in your home office, this may be an issue to install.
16. Create a Wall of Books
If you are looking for an elegant way to soundproof your home office and showcase your vast library of books, creating a wall of books is the perfect soundproofing technique for you. If you want to use this technique you have to be careful of a couple of things:
- Bookshelves are snugly placed on walls with no budging.
- Bookshelves are filled with books.
Any space you have that isn’t filled with books and any gaps between the bookshelves and the wall can cause unnecessary noise.
Bookshelves help reduce noise in a couple of ways. The bookshelf acts as a second wall, and all the paper from the books absorb even more sound. If you already have a vast library that you want to display, this will be an excellent way for you to bring some decor to your office. On the other hand, if you have a small library, this may not be the best soundproofing method for you.
17. White Noise Water Feature
If your office is close to a freeway or you have a significant amount of noise happening outside, you may want to create a water feature close to your window. Water features are great because they add some beauty to the outside of your home, and they can be highly customizable.
Often you can get a water feature that has multiple settings for different times of the day. Your water feature may be able to be turned to a higher volume during busy times and turned down once your neighborhood is back to normal.
This is a great feature if you notice that most of the noise you hear in your home is coming from an outside source, especially if that source of noise is at a specific time of day or not steady throughout the day.
Water features are not ideal if you live in an apartment complex or a place that doesn’t have a lot of yard space, though, so you have to think about where you live and how much space you will have to set it up.
18. Acoustical Plaster
Acoustical plaster can work to insulate your home and reduce noise. It’s a good solution because not only does it reduce sound, but a lot of plasters are also fireproof. Acoustical plaster can be applied in various finishes like stone, marble, and cement. It’s usually installed with a silk finish so that it looks smooth. It can also be applied in many colors to match what you need.
Acoustical plaster can be retouched as necessary, and it’s used in many different buildings like museums, libraries, auditoriums, and retail locations.
There are many different ways to install acoustical plaster that all depend on the needs of the home that you are in and whether you are building a house or adding to additional home.
19. Insulation Without Removing Drywall
If you want a more advanced solution to soundproofing your home, without taking down your drywall altogether, there are some ways to make that happen.
SFGate suggests that you do the following:
“Cut a hole 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter between each pair of studs, at the top of the wall, and spray cellulose or foam into the cavity with a hose. Replace the hole cut-outs, fill with wood filler, sand smooth and paint to restore the siding.”
While this is not a basic solution to creating insulation in your home, it will produce a better wall, while keeping the inside of your home free and clear. You don’t have to do this for your entire home, just the parts of your home that you would like to be soundproof.
This project doesn’t require a major overhaul of your space, but it does require work on your home. This should be done at a location that you either own or have permission to renovate.
20. QuietRock Drywall
Last, but not least, if you can make significant renovations to your home office, you should consider creating your space with QuietRock Drywall.
QuietRock products are used across the world in places like the Omni Hotel, Calgary International Airport, California Pacific Medical Center, and the PlayStation building to name a few. All of these companies trust QuietRock Drywall to deliver on their soundproofing promises.
QuietRock Drywall has many different panels to choose from, and some of their panels even have snapping technology that allows the panels to come together easily.
Creating your entire home office from scratch will certainly cost you more money, but if you are already building your home, you may be able to swing for a bit of pricier drywall in your home office space.
If you build your office with soundproofing in mind, you can easily create an office space that blocks out as much unnecessary noise as possible.
As you can see, there are many ways to soundproof your home. Each soundproofing technique has pros and cons that you must be aware of, though. It’s hard to have a completely soundproof home office unless you build it from the ground up to be that way. This doesn’t mean that you should stop trying to take steps to reduce the noise in your office! Taking a few additional steps, as appropriate, to reduce noise in your office will help you and your productivity immensely.