Who doesn’t love big spacious rooms? We all do!
But sound tends to be a bit harder to control in these big rooms, especially because there tend to be more places where it’s allowed to get in, plus the echo can sometimes be too much.
In this guide I’m going to cover the best ways to deal with these issues; both how to reduce outside noise and echo inside of a big room.
How to Soundproof a Big Room
To soundproof a big room you will need to cover every place where sound might be allowed in, mostly the doors and windows, which you can soundproof by using a weatherstrip and installing a door sweep.
If the problem persists, soundproofing the walls by installing another layer of drywall might be necessary.
Of course, there are many other steps you can take, but weatherstripping the doors and windows is very easy, affordable, and effective, and the door sweep will cover up the gap between the door and the floor.
Now, before we get started, there are two concepts you really need to get right since it’s something that most people tend to get confused by, but it’s actually very important.
Soundproofing vs Sound Absorption
Soundproofing consists in blocking sound, not letting it in or out of a room, effectively lowering how much is allowed to get to the other side of that barrier drastically.
Sound Absorption consists in absorbing sound, which is quite different from blocking it, and this will help the soundwaves inside of a room to die out quicker, reducing the overall amount of echo.
If you want to stop sounds from getting into your room, then you will need to install sound blocking materials such as drywall and mass loaded vinyl, but this won’t deal with the echo in the room itself.
On the other hand, installing sound absorption, such as acoustic panels, will get rid of the echo, but it will do very little to combat outside noise.
In most cases, a combination of both will yield the best results.
I will cover how to do both in this guide, but all you need to know is that installing acoustic panels, or any other sound absorption for that matter, can help a little at reducing outside noise, but it’s far from ideal.
Let’s get started with the guide!
1. Soundproof the Door
Soundproofing a door can be done in about 15 minutes and for very cheap, and the results will be very noticeable.
One tip to check if the door is properly sealed is to have someone stand on the other side of the door (with the door closed) using a flashlight to light all around the frame. You, from the other side of the door, shouldn’t see any light get through if it’s sealed properly.
If you can see certain spots where light comes through, work on those until they are sealed.
Steps to soundproofing a door;
- Weatherstrip the door: Weatherstripping tape is by far the best tool to create an air-right seal between the door and the frame.
- Use Acoustic Caulk: While not as important, acoustic caulk can help you seal off any gaps that might have formed over the years between the frame and the wall.
- Install a Door Sweep: A door sweep will cover up the gap left between the floor and the door.
- Use Acoustic Blankets: Hanging an acoustic blanket on the door might help by adding an additional barrier, especially if the door is thin.
While doing these three things should already provide a drastic improvement, if you want to to soundproof the door even further then read my post on how to properly soundproof a door.
Important Note: Some rooms have Sliding Doors, and the way to soundproof those is quite different, so here’s a guide on how to soundproof those.
2. Soundproof the Windows
Glass isn’t particularly known for its insulation capabilities, which means that the windows are definitely a place that you will need to work on to soundproof the room.
The process of soundproofing the windows is almost identical to the one of the doors, but if you want a full guide on how to do it, here is my guide on how to soundproof windows.
Steps to Soundproofing a Window
- Use a Weatherstrip: Same concept applies here; attach the weatherstrip to the frame and this should create an air-tight seal when closing the window.
- Use Acoustic Caulk: If there’s a small gap between the frame and the wall, which tends to happen on older windows, use caulk to seal them.
- Install Acoustic Curtains: Hanging good-quality acoustic curtains will absorb some of the sound.
There is a lot more to it and if you really want to soundproof your windows properly then check out the post I linked earlier, but as long as you weatherstrip the windows and cover them up with a really thick material, you should be set.
While only following these two steps will already deal with most of the soundproofing issues, you could take it even further and soundproof the walls, electrical outlets, ceiling and floor, which I will cover next; just know that it’s going to be more work and a lot more expensive.
3. Soundproof the Electrical Outlets
You might be wondering why I’m even mentioning this, since one wouldn’t immediately think of outlets being the culprit of poor sound insulation, but they definitely can let noises get in- or out of the rooms with ease since they are never properly insulated, if at all.
Steps to Soundproofing an Electrical Outlet
- Use an Outlet Seal: These rubber seals go between the plate and the electrical box and will prevent both sound and air-drafts.
- Acoustic Putty: Acoustic Putty can be used to soundproof odd shaped, such as electrical boxes.
- Use Acoustic Caulk: You could also use acoustic caulk between the plate and the electrical box/wall to create a righter seal.
Another alternative would be to get an weatherproof electrical outlet cover, but this could interfere with the aesthetics of the bathroom.
4. Soundproof the Walls
If the walls are poorly insulated, maybe because when the house was built they didn’t pay too much attention to this, then you may have to do something about it yourself.
This step I would only recommend you do if you know what you’re doing, or if you hire a professional, but just know that it could end up costing a fortune.
Add an Extra layer of Drywall
While it may be quite expensive and time-consuming to add drywall to your existing walls in order to add another barrier that sound would need to go through, it might be the best way to really deal with the problem in some cases.
Not only will Drywall act as an additional barrier, but it will also stop vibrations from spreading throughout the structures of your home, which means that it will block airborne sounds as well as structural noises.
One additional thing you might consider doing is adding this soundproofing compound to the back of the drywall to block sound even further.
Note: Use acoustic caulk to seal the gaps left between the sheets of drywall.
5. Soundproof the Floor
If you want to reduce the sound of footsteps inside of your big room, then there are a couple things you could do;
Note: Most of these steps will also help with absorbing any kind of sound generated inside the room, acting as acoustic treatment.
Steps to soundproofing the Floor of a room:
- Install a Carpet: Having carpeting done to the entire room will lower the noise of anything that comes in contact with the floor.
- Get a big Rug: Rubs absorb sound, meaning that they will help with the acoustic treatment in your room quite a lot.
- Use a Rug Pad: Rug Pads go underneath the rug and help absorb the sound of footsteps, or any other sounds for that matter.
6. Soundproof the Ceiling
Soundproofing the ceiling is probably the hardest step of all, and the one I’d recommend the least since it will take a lot of time and money.
There are two kinds of noises you need to think about and they need to be treated differently; Airborne and Impact.
- Airborne Noises are; The sound of TV, Music, People talking, etc.
- Impact noises are; Footsteps, something falling on the floor above, etc.
You could insulate the already existing ceiling cavity, install acoustic panels and use acoustic hangers to create separation in the ceilings structure.
There are many ways to approach this, which is why you should check out this post by noisetopsystems where they go into detail on how to do it.
As far as proper soundproofing goes, this would be it!
Now I will list a couple additional steps that will help soundproof the room as well as absorb most of the noises generated inside of it, which will make it a lot quieter.
7. Get soundproofing Curtains
Soundproofing curtains will help you with both soundproofing and reducing echo, which is why I’d recommend that you look into them.
Note: I wrote a post on the topic of soundproofing curtains, if they work, which ones to get, etc. that you can check out here.
In short, they will reduce the amount of noise that is allowed through the windows and even doors, if you decide to hang them on the doors that it, and the room will instantly feel more quiet because of how they absorb sound in general.
8. Get a thick Rug
A rug will help reduce the noise made by footsteps as well as absorb a lot of the airborne noises generated in the room itself.
Rugs are ideal because they fit the description of a good sound absorption material perfectly; They are thick, dense and very heavy.
I don’t have a particular rug to recommend here. Simply get the one you like best and make sure that it’s as thick as possible.
9. Stock up on Cushions and Pillows
Purchasing more cushions and pillow like these ones for your couch or bed will help absorb airborne noises.
They do a great job at mitigating the sound reflections in the room and they also look great!
I prefer hanging stuff like acoustic panels on the walls, but I admit that they make the room feel less spacious and you won’t have that problem with the cushions.
10. Purchase Acoustic Panels or make them Yourself
You can purchase acoustic panels on Amazon (affiliate link) that will help with reducing the echo in the room.
Granted most of them don’t look to good, especially the cheap foam ones, but they will help.
What I’d recommend is making them yourself, since they will end up being more effective and cheaper, plus you can make them look however you want so that they work as part of the décor.
I made acoustic panels for my home studio out of rockwool and then I also tried making a couple other ones using towels, and both work surprisingly well, much better than regular foam panels.
Here’s a guide on how to make rockwool acoustic panels for $15 each, or you can check out this video where you’ll learn how to make them using towels.
Use Paintings for Sound Absorption
If you have any paintings that don’t have glass in front of them, or if you’re willing to remove it, you can follow the same ideas laid out in the video I just linked and stuff them full of towels, creating “acoustic paintings”, of sort.
This way, you can decorate the room with your favorite paintings and have them be functional as well!
11. Hang Acoustic Blankets
Acoustic blankets are similar to acoustic curtains in the sense that they both absorb sound and also help keep it from getting into the room.
What I like about them is the price, since you can get them for dirt cheap, but I dislike the way they look, since they certainly don’t decorate the room, but they are very effective and cost efficient.
12. If you have Bookcases, use them!
Placing a bookcase that’s full of books strategically in the room will help you block and deflect sound.
If there is noise coming in through the window, you could position the bookcase between you and the window to minimize how much of that sound is able to get to you.
But in general, having a lot of books in the room will help absorb some sound.
What steps should you prioritize?
As far as soundproofing goes, I’d highly recommend starting with the doors and windows by appliyng weatherstripping tape, acoustic caulk and a door sweep.
Additionally, installing acoustic curtains on the windows will help with both issues; sound will have a harder time entering or leaving the room and the curtains will also help absorb those soundwaves effectively, lowering the echo in the room.
Even though soundproofing the walls, ceiling and floor can help a lot, it’s a lot of work and certainly will require a higher budget, which is why I wouldn’t focus on it unless I’d really have to.
Lastly, getting a big couch, cushions, thick rugs, or anything that might absorb sound, will help the room feel a lot quieter.
But the most important step of all is soundproofing the door and windows.
Follow these steps, especially the first ones, and you should be able to notice a significant decrease in the amount of sound that is able to get into your room.
After taking care of the soundproofing aspect, you can move on to dealing with the reflection of sound in the room itself by installing sound absorption.
I hope this information was useful!
Have a wonderful day!
Last Updated on March 3, 2021 by Facundo