Dealing with tons of noisy distractions while in your office? Soundproofing a home office can be a major stress reliever. As well as provide a significant boost in productivity and effort.
I personally can’t get anything done if I can listen into conversations in the other room or the old AC/DC playlist from my neighbors backyard. If you’re in a similar situation, here are 7 cheap and easy ways to soundproof a home office. Feel free to use them!
1. Seal all cracks and holes you can find
Any cracks and holes in the walls, door and windows are an open invitation for noise to seep through. It’s like leaving your front door open. Sound, like air, can pass through the tiniest of gaps.
The ones that you almost definitely have a problem with are located between the door and the door frame and also underneath the door. The second one is between the window and the window frame.
I know this for a fact because interior doors usually suck. They’re hollow and they don’t fit perfectly in the frame. The same is true for standard windows found in most regular houses and apartments.
To get rid of these gaps, place weatherstripping tape on the frame where it’s supposed to connect with the door/window. Then close the door/window and you’ll notice if there’s a seal. If it still feels and looks like there is some open space left, do another round with the tape.
That should do it! For the open space under the door, use a cheap door sweep like this self-adhesive silicone door sweep. Just attach it on the lower part of the door (any side you prefer) and you’re done. No tools required!
Small surface cracks on the wall are not an issue as far as noise is concerned. But you should cover any cracks deeper than a few millimeters. Like the crack your wife made when she got really angry because you left the socks on the floor and punched through the drywall. It happens! In that case, you’ll find this video tutorial on fixing wall cracks helpful.
2. Soundproof the door
There are many methods you can use to soundproof your door:
- hang a thick blanket in front of the door or install it on the door
- fill the inside of a hollow door with soundproofing material
- install fiberglass panels on the door
- hang noise-blocking curtains in front of the door
- replace the current door with a solid-core door
The cheapest way is to cover the gaps, and then to cover one side of the door with a thick blanket or fiberglass panels. By adding density to the door with soundproofing material, you will also significantly cut down on the noise coming in and out of your office.
3. Soundproof the walls
To soundproof your office walls you’ll have to invest a few hundred bucks. That’s just the way it is, but you can also expect significant noise reduction once you’ve done it. There are three ways to soundproof a wall:
- install soundproofing material inside the wall
- install soundproofing material on the outside of the wall
- use an additional layer of drywall
The first method involves adding mineral wool batts between the joists (studs). Or installing Mass Loaded Vinyl directly on the joists. It can be easily cut to size so it’s great for smaller and uneven areas as well.
This video demonstrates the installation process:
Both of these options are great for blocking airborne and vibration noise. I personally prefer Mass Loaded Vinyl because it’s easier to work with. It’s easier to cut to size and it works better against vibration noise (also known as impact or structure-borne noise).
The second method involves placing Mass Loaded Vinyl or acoustic panels directly on the surface of the wall. Most people will not use Mass Loaded Vinyl on any visible areas because it doesn’t look very pretty. They will opt for acoustic panels instead.
This is completely fine, but you have to know that there are two types of acoustic panels: foam panels and fiberglass panels.
Foam panels (these are the most popular ones) won’t block the incoming noise to any significant degree. They will only reduce the echo in the room. By doing so, foam panels decrease the duration and intensity of the noise, so it somewhat helps. Which is why they’re used in almost every recording studio today. But to actually block the noise from coming inside your office, you’ll need to cover the wall(s) with either fiberglass panels or Mass Loaded Vinyl.
Fiberglass panels are more expensive but they get the job done. To install panels in general, it’s best to use 1-2 command strips on the back of the panel and then stick it on the wall. Some people use spray adhesive, but it will leave a stain on the wall if you try to remove the panel later on. So stick with command strips (pun intended)!
But if you’re not interested in reconstructing the wall, the cheapest and most effective method is to cover the surface of the wall with Mass Loaded Vinyl. Simply get enough of the stuff and install it on the wall by using screws/nails or a spray adhesive. If you don’t like how it looks, you can place large furniture in front of it. Also it can easily be repainted with latex paint.
The third method involves installing an additional layer or two of drywall. Drywall is pretty effective for noise reduction because it adds thickness to the existing wall. The thicker the barrier separating you from the source of the noise, the better. Drywall can be a bit expensive though, depending on how large the area is. And it takes away from the size of the room. According to Home Advisor:
“$1.50 per square foot. After material and labor are added in, the cost per panel can range from around $40.00 to $60.00. A typical 12×12 room, for example, will use 12 panels.”
In my humble opinion, Mass Loaded Vinyl remains the best option in terms of price and effectiveness, whether used inside the wall or on the surface. It can also be used on the ceiling the same way as you would use it on any other wall.
One way to save money when soundproofing walls is to focus on the side that most of the noise is coming from. Chances are that your office is not entirely surrounded by the awful noise you’re experiencing. It might be coming only through one side, like an exterior wall or one that’s directly connected to the source of the noise. In that case, soundproof only that wall and you’ll then see if anything else needs to be done.
4. Soundproof the window
Just like doors, windows are the weak point when it comes to noise. To soundproof a window you can use:
- noise-blocking curtains
- make a window plug using a wooden panel and acoustic foam
- install an additional window pane
- cover the gaps in the window frame
I’ve written more about these methods in this article.
5. Use a white noise machine
White noise machines are incredibly useful for improving concentration. White noise is a stable sound frequency that has a relaxing effect. Some people use it for meditation and while they sleep. It’s also used in baby’s rooms a lot.
While it has nothing to do with soundproofing, a white noise machine can override the aggravating noise coming into your office and increase your focus.
These little machines also look pretty cool! The most popular option by far is LectroFan, with over 6500 customer reviews on Amazon.
6. Create a labyrinth in the air vent
Imagine covering the previously mentioned gaps and forgetting the air vents! If you have any air vents in your home office and they’re connected to a noisy area, you HAVE TO do something about it.
You can cover the air vent completely, which would result in stale and hot air in the office, especially during summer time. I don’t recommend doing that.
A much better option is to create a labyrinth inside the air vent. So when sound passes through the air vent, it will be broken down and severely reduced before it can get to your ears.
The labyrinth method will NOT soundproof the air vent. In order to soundproof anything, you have to completely eliminate the gap. So if your main concern is privacy, you may want to remove the air ven completely t and drywall the hole that remains.
7. Soundproof the office floor
If the kids are screaming and playing indoor basketball in the room below your office, you’ll definitely want to soundproof the floor.
Floor soundproofing is similar to soundproofing a wall. You’ll want to add an additional barrier between any two given areas.
- placing floor floaters under the joists
- insulating the space between the joists
- using soundproofing tape on the joists
- installing a subfloor made out of plywood or MDF panels
- using green glue on the subfloor
- covering the floor with a thick rug or similar soft but thick materials
I’ve written a full guide on floor soundproofing that you can easily follow to do it successfully. Check it out by clicking here.
All of these methods have been tested and tried thousands of time by regular people and soundproofing professionals. The basics are always the same – use adequate soundproofing material to create an additional barrier between the source of the noise and the recipient of the noise.
I’ve outlined in this article and the more detailed guides linked in the article the cheapest and easiest methods you can use. I’ve also shared the best products that will give you the results you’re looking for while saving you money. If you focus on the most vulnerable areas of your office instead of soundproofing the entire place, you can cut down on the price even more.
I hope this information helps and I wish you many productive hours spent in a quieter office.