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How to Soundproof: DIY Solutions That Work

Noise distractions, whether in your home or office, can be a huge setback. The problem only gets worse if you live in an apartment building, or have the office next to a busy street. 

You will find that you cannot get much work done, cannot sleep at night, and your peace of mind is disturbed. It's only natural that you will start looking for soundproofing solutions. 

If you decide to bring a soundproofing expert on board, you may end up with extreme bills. Besides, if you are only renting out space, the landlord may not be too amused with you modifying the rooms. So, what happens if you just don't have a couple of bucks to spare? 

Luckily for you, there are several DIY soundproofing solutions that you can use for your home, office, or just about any other room. 

If you are tired of the noise distractions, just grab your toolbox and get to work. Here are some suggestions to help you minimize the noise in any room. But first, what soundproofing solution should you go for?

Soundproofing 101

When determining the best method to use for soundproofing, you must first understand the various techniques available. There are three primary methods you can use to soundproof any surface. 

  • Decoupling

Decoupling is disengaging or separating a thing from another. Sound waves vibrate and follow a conductor or solid pathway. In the case of ceilings, the studs or joists provide a solid path for the sound waves. Decoupling helps in separating your ceiling's framing to reduce the noise by breaking the audio pathway.

  • Add Mass 

Its principle is to ensure that the surface becomes as heavy as possible. Airborne noise would find it difficult to penetrate such a surface. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for the impact noise types passed through the structure. Ideal materials used to increase mass on walls are plywood, cement board, drywall, OSB, and mass loaded vinyl.

  • Damping

You can achieve this using damping compounds, which usually contain an extraordinary ability to convert sound into heat energy. In doing so, it stops the sound while inside its tracks.

How to Soundproof a Wall

You can choose to soundproof a wall to block the noise from adjacent rooms. You can also decide to soundproof your walls if you don't want the noise from the room to travel to others. 

As is the case with any soundproofing project, the answer is to add mass, dampen, or decouple. Most of the expert solutions may present some challenges if you are doing it by yourself. You also cannot make any drastic changes, unless your landlord approves. 

Your best bet to block sound from passing through the walls would be to decouple it. However, that is going to take up so much of your time and money. It is also a better solution for a building that is still under construction. 

Here are some DIY soundproofing solutions you can use for your walls.

  • Add Thickness

Your next solution, therefore, would be to add to the thickness of the wall. In doing so, you increase the distance that the sound has to travel, thus reducing its impact. Adding mass to the walls is an excellent way to deal with impact noise from adjacent rooms. 

You can make your walls thicker by using noise insulation panels. One of the best things about panels is that they come in different shapes, colors, and designs. You can, therefore, let out the creative person within and go wild with the panels. Why not create a beautiful design that serves as wall decor as well?

Noise insulation panels also come with the advantage of sound absorption. Thanks to their sound-absorbing properties, you will also deal with the echoes and reverberations in the room. 

Additionally, you can add some 3D wallpaper to the walls. Like the panels, these come in different designs and colors, so you are spoilt for choice. This wallpaper is much thicker than the standard wallpaper, which helps to block sound. 

  • Use Soundproof Paint

If the noise problem is not too huge, then you can use soundproof paint to deal with it. This paint, much like the 3D wallpaper, is made to be really thick, which makes it an excellent barrier to sound. Of course, it may not be too effective on its own, so you may want to use it together with other wall soundproofing methods. 

Using soundproofing paint is one of the cheapest solutions you could go for. Besides, you can take it up as a wall decor project and have some fun with the colors of your choice. 

When it comes to using soundproof paint, always remember that layers are your friend and do as many of them as you can. 

  • How About Some Wall Hangings?

Yes, wall decor does more than improving your room's aesthetics. If you are really careful about what you choose, the wall hangings in the room can help block out unwanted sound. 

When choosing wall hangings to help with soundproofing, you need to go for those made of thick materials. Some wall art, for example, on thick canvas, could be the perfect solution to your noise problems. 

Bear in mind that wall hangings won't achieve much on their own. So, why not pair them up with the soundproof paint?

How to Soundproof a Door

Doors are often the biggest culprits when it comes to letting unwanted sound into or out of a room. Most doors today are usually hollow on the inside, which makes it easy for sound to pass through them. If you are looking for the perfect solution, the best way to achieve that would be to replace the door entirely.

So, what do you do if you haven't the money to do all that? Luckily, several solutions won't take up so much of your money. 

  • Install a Door Sweep

Besides the hollow nature of the door, the gap at the bottom whenever you close the door lets sound in or out. If you are looking to block out noise from outside, then you should consider blocking this gap first. 

There are several door sweeps you can use to seal off the gap at the bottom. Before installing one, be sure to take the right measurements. The draft stopper should be the perfect fit so there's no gap left and it is not too big to prevent the door from closing. 

  • Seal Gaps and Holes

Another big culprit when it comes to noise in any room are holes on any surface. Whenever you are sealing a door, a wall, the floor, or the window, you should always look out for any gaps first. No matter how much soundproofing solutions you go for, your efforts will be futile if there are still some holes and gaps. 

Doors typically have gaps all through. The most significant disadvantage is that most of the holes are too tiny and you may have a difficult time trying to locate them and seal them off with caulking. 

Weatherstripping is one of the most effective ways to seal off any gaps in the door frame completely. It also helps to keep out any pests and insects. If the door is an exterior one, the weatherstrip can even act as an insulator, especially during cold winters. 

  • Use Acoustic Panels

Acoustic panels are quite versatile and are great for adding thickness to any surface. If your door is hollow on the inside, these panels can help you achieve incredible soundproofing results.

You can either use hanging strips to attach the panels to the door or use adhesive tape to stick them to it. Either way, you should ensure that the panels are correctly connected to the door, and there are no gaps left. 

Using hanging strips is a better choice if you aren't looking for a permanent solution. Ultimately, the frequency of the door use will determine what method you should use. 

How to Soundproof a Ceiling

If you have noisy neighbors living upstairs, then you will want to soundproof your ceiling. You might also want to soundproof the ceiling if the room above is always under use and the footsteps and other impact sounds are a bother. 

Decoupling the ceiling is the best way to soundproof it. You will need to separate the frame and add hat channels and resilient sound clips. 

You can also install a dropped ceiling to help you deal with the noise from upstairs. 

But, you don't need to go for these expensive options. Here are some ways you can soundproof your ceiling without it costing you much.

  • Use Sound-Blocking Sheets

These multipurpose sound deadening sheets are great for floors, walls, and even ceilings. Thanks to their thickness, you can effectively block out the noise from upstairs. 

You can choose to use spray adhesive to help them stick longer and even help with sound deadening.

The number one rule in soundproofing is mass. Therefore, when installing these sheets to your ceiling, you should go ahead and install a couple of layers. Also, be sure to cover the entire ceiling and not leave out any gaps that may let in sound. 

  • Seal Gaps and Holes

Often, ceilings are usually big culprits when it comes to holes and gaps. Therefore, before installing any soundproofing materials, you should inspect the ceiling for any of those and seal them completely.

Sealing the gaps and holes in your ceiling may take quite some time. You will have to look for all of them first and use a sealant such as Green Glue to block out the sound from upstairs. Luckily, the sealant is quite effective, and you will notice a significant difference once you are done. 

  • Rearrange the Furniture Upstairs

If the room above is still in your house, you can try rearranging the furniture for better results. Place thick furniture made of hardwood right above the most problematic areas. A bookcase full of books, for example, would be an excellent choice in blocking out the sound.

You can also add some carpeting or rugs to the floor of the room above to help reduce impact noise. 

Of course, if you live in an apartment building and the room above belongs to someone else, this method would not be viable. Your only choice would be to talk to them and try to get them to soundproof their floor, which is not guaranteed. 

How to Soundproof a Floor

If you live in an apartment building, you will find that impact noise from downstairs is quite the bother. Soundproofing the floor in such a case becomes a bit of a challenge, seeing as you cannot go big with drastic soundproofing solutions. 

The best way to soundproof a floor would be to install acoustic floor underlayment. This method requires quite some work, and you may have to call in some professional help. However, it is very useful and will significantly reduce structure-borne sound by providing an impact resistant layer underflooring. 

Effective as it may be, installing acoustic underlayment will be quite expensive. So, are there inexpensive ways to go around it?

  • Acoustic Foam Mats

Interlocking foam mats are a common feature in elementary school classes and kids' nurseries. They are, however, quite efficient at soundproofing floors and you can use them for the floors in our home or office. 

Like any other acoustic solution, acoustic foam mats come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. You can, therefore, play around with the designs and come up with a creative piece for your floor. 

These mats are usually made of thick material that is very absorbent. This quality makes them quite great for absorbing impact noise. 

Acoustic foam will reduce the noise significantly. But, if you are looking for better results, you should consider pairing them with other soundproofing solutions. 

  • Add Mass with Soundblocking Sheets

As we have kept on mentioning, when it comes to soundproofing, mass is your greatest friend. To achieve the best results for your floors, you can use these multipurpose sound-blocking sheets to add an extra layer, and hence increase the thickness. 

These sheets are flexible, so you can curve them and install them on every inch of the floor. The sheets are usually thick enough to block out noise. They also act as thermal insulators and will be great for keeping your home during the winter. 

 You can use these sound-blocking sheets together with the acoustic foam mats for the best results. 

  • Thick Carpets and Rugs

Another effective soundproofing solution for your floors is installing some carpeting and thick rugs. If you don't mind splashing a bit of money on the project, you can install some end-to-end carpeting on the floors in your house or office. 

Additionally, have some thick rugs placed strategically in different places of the room. Choose plush materials like fur, to help you achieve more effective results.

The best thing about soundproofing your floors is that you can use all these methods together. This way, you are sure to achieve better results. 

How to Soundproof a Window

If you live next to a busy street, you will undoubtedly find yourself looking for some soundproofing solutions for your windows. Like the doors, window let in and out so much sound, thanks to the numerous gaps and holes in the surface. 

When looking to soundproof your windows, your best solution would be to replace the windows entirely. There are several soundproof double panes available in the market that are quite effective in blocking out sound. 

Alternatively, you could completely block out the window. Perhaps some more wood could do the trick. However, this method will block out the light as well and is more suitable for rooms that don't require much lighting, such as the basement. 

While both of these methods are quite effective, they'll probably cost you quite a fortune, and you will have to call in for some expert help. Here are some solutions you can work on all by yourself. 

  • Seal the Gaps and Holes

Just as in the case with doors, your first step should be to inspect the window for any gaps and holes and seal them off. You can use caulking, but if you are looking for better efficiency, then you should use weatherstripping as well. 

If the window is next to trees or bushes, you probably have to deal with insects quite often. The weatherstripping will take care of this problem as well while insulating the window against outside noise. 

  • Use Noise-Reducing Curtains

Noise-reducing curtains may not completely soundproof the windows but if you are desperate for a solution to the noise coming through the windows, you should certainly give them a try. 

These curtains are usually made of dense material that is quite effective in reducing the sound from outside. Besides, they are also quite effective at absorbing echoes and reverberations, making them ideal sound absorption products as well. 

To achieve the best results, we would recommend that you install curtains covering the entire window, from top to bottom. Ideally, sound deadening curtains should be a complement to other soundproofing solutions for the window.

  • Install a Sound Barrier

Another excellent way to soundproof your window is to install a sound barrier. If you would still like some light to pass through, then you should consider installing a transparent barrier on the window. Alternatively, you could use an acoustical barrier blanket. However, this method would mean that no light gets into the room. 

To achieve the best results with sound barriers, be sure to go for custom-made barriers. The barrier's measurements should be a perfect fit so that no gaps are left after installation. 

Conclusion

Effective soundproofing solutions from experts are often drastic measures that will take up most of your time, energy, and quite a handsome sum. So, what happens if you don't have the money for these drastic measures?

You don't have to live with noise from your neighbors or the busy street outside. Get your toolbox and figure out which of the DIY solutions above will work for you. You can even throw in a white noise machine to help you relax and work or sleep better.