Just because your office is in your home doesn’t mean it can’t have the same problems as a commercial office does. This includes a lot of noise.
Even from far away, loud noises can damage people’s hearing, not to mention ruin their concentration as they work.
For this and many other reasons, soundproofing your home office is a great idea, and this article is here to tell you why and how to soundproof your home office.
10 Tips to quiet your Home Office
- Decide What Type of Noise You’re Dealing with
- Soundproof the Door to Your Office
- Buy Soundproofing Blankets
- Seal Any Holes Found in Your Walls
- Install Acoustic Panels on the Walls and Ceiling
- Purchase a White Noise Machine
- Extra Insulation Can Help
- Add Rugs to Your Home Office
- Consider Adding Acoustic Boards to Your Walls
- Know Your Soundproofing Materials
Here is a list of supplies and materials you’ll need before soundproofing your home office:
- Weather stripping
- Door sweep
- Nails or tacks
- Wallpaper adhesive (or some other type of adhesive)
- Soundproofing blankets
- All-purpose caulk
- Caulking gun
- Acoustic panels
- White noise machine
- Portable fan
- High-density insulation
- Floor rugs
- Mass loud vinyl (MLV)
- Soundproof padding for carpet
- Acoustic boards and glue
- Green Glue
1. Decide What Type of Noise You’re Dealing with
There are two main types of noises, and it helps to know which one you’re dealing with before you start soundproofing your office. Here is a recap of them:
- Airborne noises. These include your television set, radio, kids playing, and people talking outside of your office. They happen when sound from a certain action, for example, talking, goes through the air and clashes with a solid object, which results in the noise you’re hearing.
- Structure-borne noises. These occur when sound from an action clashes with a structure. An example would be hearing the footsteps of a neighbor in the apartment above you.
Regardless of which type of noise you’re trying to eliminate, there are several steps you can take to do so.
No one method is going to work for all types of noises. More often than not, you’ll have to try several things to keep the noises in your home from becoming too disruptive.
2. Soundproof the Door to Your Office
The first thing you can do to soundproof your office door is replace a hollow door with a solid door. Inside doors are usually hollow, but solid doors block out sound much better. In addition, you can also:
- Install weather stripping on the bottom of the door, which is great for getting rid of airborne noises.
- Slip a door sweep onto the bottom part of your door, which helps to get rid of both noise and windy drafts.
These are simple and inexpensive things you can do to help eliminate office noises, but they are not the only things that are effective.
3. Buy Soundproofing Blankets
Soundproofing blankets are very thick and made out of specialized materials that can absorb a lot of the sound you no longer want to hear. One of the easiest ways to install them is to use either an adhesive or simple nails and hang the blankets on your walls like you would wallpaper. If you intend for your office to be temporary, you may want to use tacks instead because they are much easier to remove.
You can even cover the back of your door with these blankets if you wish. Regardless of where you put them, make sure you cut off the excess whenever you’re done so that you get a nice, clean look and much more visual appeal. Even better, soundproofing blankets are usually very reasonably priced, so you can place them in your home office without breaking the bank.
If soundproofing blankets are not an option, you can install thick quilts instead. Most standard quilts will do the trick. They may not be quite as effective as blankets made for soundproofing purposes, but they should be close.
4. Seal Any Holes Found in Your Walls
Yes, the holes in your walls can let in a lot of noise – even the smallest holes. Most of these holes can be repaired and sealed shut with a simple all-purpose caulking product. Noises that come from the other side of the wall can be reduced or eliminated altogether when you caulk until the holes are completely covered. Look for these holes around electrical outlets and ducts or vents because these are the places most wall holes are commonly found.
5. Install Acoustic Panels on the Walls and Ceiling
Acoustic panels, which come in various sizes and designs, are relatively inexpensive and can be found in most online and brick-and-mortar stores. Placing them over your walls and ceiling can reduce a lot of the noises coming into your office because they absorb sound and prevent echoing from occurring. Some panels, in fact, are disguised to look like artwork, and once installed, no one will know that they are actually acoustic devices unless you decide to spill the beans and tell them.
There are also different types of acoustic panels, so it behooves you to do your research and decide which ones are right for you. The noisier your office is, the more money you’ll want to spend on them, but it will be worth it in the end when you discover how much quieter your office is. Think of it as an investment in your home office space.
6. Purchase a White Noise Machine
There are special machines that emit a steady, slight noise that will actually cover up other noises sneaking into the room. These sounds can efficiently cover up noises from traffic outside or activity coming from outside your office. In fact, most of them are called “white noise machines” and emit sounds such as waves crashing on the beach or a light rainfall. The sounds are not disruptive but do a great job of covering up extraneous noises, such as those mentioned earlier.
Some people have even found that running a portable fan on Low or Medium does the same thing as a white noise machine. Fans are inexpensive for the most part, so this is a good option for people who don’t want to spend the money on a white noise machine.
7. Extra Insulation Can Help
If you have a home office located in the basement and you’re constantly being interrupted by noises coming from the floor above you, it might eliminate some of these noises if you add a little insulation in your overhead ceiling. This isn’t always possible, of course, but if you install a drop ceiling and fill in that space with some type of high-density insulation, it can eliminate a lot of the noise you’re hearing from upstairs. Installing the drop ceiling shouldn’t cost that much money, and insulation is inexpensive as well, so this could be just the solution you’ve been looking for.
8. Add Rugs to Your Home Office
If you have tile or wood floors, sound waves can easily bounce off of them all throughout the day, but adding rugs will work much the same way as adding a cushion that absorbs much of the sound and makes the room much quieter. Make sure the rugs are as thick and as soft as possible, and try to cover as much of the floor as you can. Floor rugs absorb all types of harsh sounds and prevent that annoying echoing noise that often results when sound waves bounce off hard floors.
Echoing noises are not just annoying because they’re echoes, but they’re annoying because they can sometimes make the noises coming into the room seem even louder than they are. This is yet another reason to cover the walls, floors, and even the ceiling of the room with items that reduce reverberation and absorb noises trying to come into your office.
Covering your floors leaves you with one other alternative. If your floors are made out of tile, wood, or even laminate, you can install mass loud vinyl (MLV) over the flooring. MLV does a great job of absorbing all types of noises and can be the perfect solution for people who have offices on the top floor, especially if the room below happens to be a child’s bedroom or playroom.
Soundproof padding can also go underneath your carpet, but it is considered inconvenient to many people because they do not want to pull up their already-laid carpet. Nevertheless, just know that when it comes to reducing the noises coming through your floors, you have many viable options from which to choose.
9. Consider Adding Acoustic Boards to Your Walls
This step is a bit more involved than some of these other steps, but if you’re serious about having a quiet home office, it works wonders in eliminating unwanted noises. With your interior walls, start by gluing a layer of acoustic boards over the walls, then add another layer of drywall over the layer of boards. In many cases, you’ll have to remove and reinstall baseboards and move electrical boxes, but these two added layers on top of your existing interior walls go a long way in eliminating a lot of the noises seeping into your home office.
The “bad” news about this option is that it is usually a permanent option that can be very difficult or time-consuming to remove later on when you don’t want it to be there anymore. The good news is that the boards come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and they are relatively inexpensive as well. With these boards, in fact, you can easily create a wall that has more aesthetic appeal than it did before, which is a definite perk.
In addition, you can use a product called Green Glue and apply a layer of it between your current wall (or ceiling) and a new layer of drywall, even without installing the acoustic boards first. Green Glue works by reducing the vibrations that come from the various sounds, and it is one of the least expensive methods of soundproofing your new home office.
10. Know Your Soundproofing Materials
When you are shopping for any type of product to soundproof your office, you have to first know the difference between the many types of materials used in these products. These materials include:
- Acoustic foam: this material typically resembles wedges or pyramids and is perfect for attaching to walls as panels, placing in the corners of the room as bass traps, or hanging from the ceiling and used as baffles.
- Acoustic panels or boards: these are slightly more effective than acoustic foam and usually serve two purposes – to help soundproof the room and to give the room more aesthetic appeal.
- Sound insulation: placed in between the studs in the walls, they take up the air space that often transmits sound into the room.
Other Considerations: Noise Absorption Versus Noise Reduction
Before you run out and buy any type of materials or accessories to reduce the noise in your home office, consider that these products are either going to absorb the noise or reduce it. Why does this matter? Because different measures will produce different results, and it all depends on whether you want the noise eliminated or simply reduced.
For light noises that aren’t out of control, a noise-reduction measure is likely to do the trick. If this is what you want, one of the following measures should work:
- Add upholstered furniture, carpeting, and ceiling tiles to the room.
- Divide the room into smaller areas with a few partitions.
For noise absorption, which works best when your office is especially noisy or is located on a top floor or basement, try one of the following methods:
- Add acoustical drapes, like the ones used in many hotels, to the windows in the room.
- Attach a second window pane to your windows, or consider replacing them with either double- or even triple-pane windows.
- Use acoustic panels for both horizontal and vertical surfaces in your office.
In short, you’ll want to make sure there are no “leaks” of any kind in your home office. Any type of leak, including doors or windows that don’t close all the way, have the potential to let in noises of all types and cause the workspace to be less than conducive to a proper work environment. Outside noises tend to be harder to get rid of than indoor noises, but they can both create a challenge for the at-home worker.