Noise is an inevitable reality that confronts every home and apartment owner. For many, that annoying sound in the background is easily blocked by closing the window or just turning on the TV to block it out. However, some of us have to deal with a constant cacophony of raucous noise that just won’t stop. This usually afflicts those who live in cities or apartments with thin walls and windows pointing out towards the street.
So, you want to learn how to soundproof a room? The good news is that soundproofing is fairly easy and it only takes a little DIY initiative to get this project started and finished in no time.
First, let’s talk about the difference between soundproofing and sound absorbing.
When most people bring up soundproofing, they are typically combining soundproofing and sound absorbing.
Soundproofing is all about keeping external noise from coming inside. This includes hard materials that block sound. Sound absorbing is about reducing the noise from within your living space. This is most commonly required in conference rooms, restaurants and other places where loud and multiple conversations are normal, but you might require this as well if something in your living space is loud (such as someone who plays drums).
Soundproof Outside Noise
Most of the noise will be coming from your window and leaking through the walls. You need to add material that will absorb noise before it reaches your ears and add barriers against external noise. Here are the five steps for soundproofing outside noise:
Step #1: Seal Windows With Adhesive Strips
These are adhesive strips of plastic or rubber that go around the border of your window. These are best if there are holes or crack to seal up, or if you just need a little extra material to block some sound. Thicker material tends to work best here, and installation is very easy. Just peel off the adhesive covering and push it against the window border.
- Outus 16 Feet Length Window Door Silicone Rubber Sealing Sticker
- M-D Building Products 2733 High Density Foam Tape
- Loobani Self-adhesive EPDM Rubber Weatherstrip
Step #2: Use Liners and Curtains For Windows
Liners and curtains are made from thick material and are designed to effectively block noise. There are various colors to help them fit with the room, and they can lower energy bills by keeping heat or cool in. Installation is easy and you can open the curtain at any time if you want to hear outside.
- Thermalogic Ultimate Window Liner
- Suede Soundproofing Curtains Wide Darkening Energy Efficient Curtain
- Best Home Fashion Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtains
Step #3: Use DIY Plugs Around Windows
Even though this requires some DIY initiative, it’s easy to do. Buy some regular soundproofing foam and cut it into strips that are 1-2 inches thick. Pack these strips around the window frame. While it should stay on its own, you may need some adhesive.
- Acoustic Foam Corner Blocks
- Acoustic Foam Flat Panel Studio Soundproofing Foam Wall Panel
- A2S Protection 24 Pack Acoustic Foam Panels
Step #4: Add Special Material Inside Walls
Material installation involves placing material behind the wall. This makes it easier if you are putting a new wall up or intend on renovating. This is often one of the best soundproofing methods available because the whole wall will work to reduce noise. The thicker the material, the better. Depending on the material, you may be fitting this between studs or behind drywall.
Step #5: Put Soundproofing Panels In Front Of Walls
Panels are much easier to install and they are effective at absorbing sound, but they work best with internal sound. If you’re looking to reduce echoes or to slightly reduce external noise from leaking in, then these will work well. However, they aren’t as effective as installing material. Panels are very easy to install, are affordable and can be put up in minutes.
- Silverback Sound Dampening Foam
- Acoustimac Sound Absorbing Acoustic Panel
- ADW Acoustic Panels
- Acoustic Tiles Studio Foam Sound Wedges
Soundproof Inside Noise
Do you find that your rooms echo? First and foremost, fill the room with furniture and other objects that can absorb sound. Sound waves don’t bounce off most furniture, and in fact the sound will be absorbed by it. Thicker carpet works here as well because it will absorb more sound.
Consider using a room divider to setup thin and temporary walls. This will block a good amount of sound while being easy to install and use. Thick materials also work great for this purpose. Hang a rug or decorative blanket and you’ll notice that the sound won’t bounce nearly as much as before.
Doors: In the realm of soundproofing, doors are very similar to windows. The only major difference is that internal noise comes through more than external noise. They are the thinnest part of an otherwise solid wall, thus allowing noise to get in. Since they have to open, there are openings all around the door that let noise sneak in. Not only that, but many of the items that are used to soundproof windows can also be used soundproof doors.
In general, you’ll be focusing on making a tight seal around the door so that there’s less open areas for noise to get through. You’ll also focus on thickening the area so that noise has to travel through more material before it reaches your ears.
Ceilings: Soundproofing a ceiling can be a little tough because it’s so far out of reach. Not only that, but the most effective products require opening the ceiling and are best done if you are renovating or putting up a new ceiling. However, if you’re unwilling or unable to do that much, there are foam options that are nearly as effective.
Ceilings allow sound to reverberate and create an echo chamber that can be distracting. Appropriately soundproofing a ceiling will ensure that sounds stop, thus reducing or completely removing any echoes. This is also great if you have people living above you, as the sound will have a harder time traveling through the extra material.
Floors: Soundproofing a floor requires some work, especially if you have hardwood floors. Hardwood might look great, but if it isn’t properly installed, then it will cause a lot of echoing and noise. Carpet is significantly better and easier to soundproof, but you’ll still need to do a little work to install the material.
If you’re looking to completely soundproof a room from internal noise, here are six steps:
Step #1: Use Door Sweeps For Interior Doors
Door sweeps are often strips of plastic or rubber that you can install on the bottom of your door. It may not seem like much, but they work wonders at blocking sounds that would come from the bottom of the door. Not only that, they also help with keeping hot and cold air in when appropriate. Installation is easy and often requires just adhering the sweep to the door. This usually takes a few minutes.
- Impfunical Door Draft Stopper
- AngelFalls Door Sweep Weather Stripping Door Seal
- Loobani Door Sweep Bottom Weather Stripping Sweeper
Step #2: Caulk and Seal Interior Doors
As stated above, soundproofing a door is similar to a window. In fact, you can also many of the temporary seal products mentioned in the windows section and achieve a similar result with doors. However, we are going to focus on more permanent seals here, specifically with caulking.
Caulking, while requiring a little more work than a temporary seal, is incredibly effective. It adds mass around the perimeter of the door and makes it much harder for sound to travel through the material. The recommended products here are all rated for their ability to drastically reduce noise, making them even more effective.
- Franklin International 2892 Sound Sealant
- St. Gobain GGSEALANT-28OZ Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant
- Soudal 461800 Soudafoam Door & Window Expanding Foam
Step #3: Use Soundproofing Material On Ceiling
These both function about the same and require the ceiling be open so that you can install the material properly. Both create a barrier that requires sound travel an extra distance, and they are both designed to absorb sound as well as possible to prevent you from hearing it.
- MuteX Soundproof Material
- Mass Loaded Vinyl 4′ X 25′ 100 sq ft 1 Lb MLV Acoustic Barrier
- St. Gobain Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant
- St. Gobain Green Glue Noiseproof Compound
Step #4: Use Soundproofing Foam On Ceiling
Soundproofing foam is a great product. It’s designed to absorb sound so that it stops echoing while making a room much quieter. Another benefit is that it’s easy to install, even on ceilings. While you will find many designs, such as wedges, egg crate and pyramids, they are all effective at soundproofing.
- 96 Pack Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges
- Sonic Homework Acoustic Sound Foam kit
- Charcoal Acoustic Studio Eggcrate Foam 40 sq. Ft.
Step #5: Use Carpet Liners Under Carpet
Carpets already absorb noise, but liners offer significant assistance. If your carpet isn’t good enough, then get a thick liner that can improve its soundproofing ability. You may have to rip up the carpet to install the thicker liner unless you have a large rug that isn’t pushed under the molding.
- 5′ X 7′ Ultra Plush Non-Slip Rug Pad for Hard Surfaces and Carpet
- Polymat Audio 3ft 54″ Wide Grey Charcoal
- DEI 050113 Under Carpet Lite Sound Absorption and Insulation
Step #6: Use Underlayment Under Wood Floor
Hardwood floors require an underlayment that goes under the wood itself. This material serves to absorb the sound and prevent it from reverberating around the room. Unfortunately, since the material must be under the wood, you will have to rip up the wood to place it under there. However, the installation is easy once that step is complete.
- FatMat Self-Adhesive BLACK Butyl MegaMat Sound Deadener Pack
- Pyle Sound Deadening Material
- Laminate Flooring UNDERLAYMENT with Vapor Barrier
With a little DIY initiative and sound careful planning, you can easily start soundproofing a room while making it look better than ever. Aside from using professional materials made specifically for blocking noise, you can also use furniture, thick fabrics and foam to quickly put a stop to annoying noise. It just takes a little bit of money and time to get your living space down to a reasonable amount of noise.