Soundproofing a cubicle can be a tricky thing to accomplish since it’s an open space.
This means that you won’t be able to properly soundproof it since no matter what you do, what materials you use, etc. there will always be a lot of room for sound to either enter or leave the cubicle.
However, there are a couple things you can do to at least lower the amount of noise that is able to reach you, making it more manageable.
I will go over all the important steps you should follow, as well as give some tips on how you can lower the perceived noise inside the cubicle without actually lowering it.
Soundproofing vs Sound Absorption
People often think of these terms as being interchangeable, but they definitely are not.
Soundproofing consists in blocking sound, not letting it in or out.
Sound absorption relies on using thick and heavy materials that help absorb the soundwaves, effectively lowering echo that is naturally present in any room. However sound absorption does very little to block outside noises.
Note: Installing materials that absorb sound will also help with soundproofing, jut not as much as most people think.
How to Soundproof a Cubicle
Cubicles are impossible to soundproof properly because they need to have openings like the door, and this means that reducing the amount of noise inside of them will mainly consist in covering it up by using a white noise machine, noise-cancelling headphones or a fan.
While using a white noise machine or noise-cancelling headphones might be the best solution, you could try installing sound absorbing materials on the walls to stop the soundwaves from bouncing all around the cubicle, or increasing the height of the walls to prevent some extra noise of reaching you.
But you need to remember that since cubicles are open spaces, soundproofing will be near impossible.
I will go into all the steps you could take to lower how much of the office’s noise is able to reach you inside of the cubicle, but you need to know that soundproofing it completely won’t be possible.
1. Use a White Noise Machine, a Fan, or Noise-Cancelling Headphones.
A white noise machine or a fan will create a consistent level of sound that will mask all other irregular noises coming from the rest of the office.
This is why they are also recommended for people who have trouble sleeping, since they make hearing cars that drive by, people making noise, or any other distraction that might otherwise wake you up, harder to hear.
As far as working in an office goes, it might help you concentrate and focus on the tasks at hand better.
Noise-cancellation headphones work by using microphones to pick up low-frequency noise and neutralize it before it reaches the ear. The headset generates a sound that’s phase-inverted by 180 degrees to the unwanted noise, resulting in the two sounds cancelling each other out.
Basically, if they work properly, no outside noise should be able to get to you.
These would be the simplest and most effective steps to deal with this issue.
2. Increase the Height of the Cubicle Walls
The effectiveness of this step will depend on the current height of the cubicle you’re working in right now; One with really low walls will benefit much more from increasing the height than one that is already really high.
There are a couple ways to approach this, but I think the easiest way to go about it-, and also the most aesthetically pleasing one as well, is to get some absorbing desk dividers like these ones (affiliate link).
These are generally used on desks, but you can mount them on the cubicle walls as well.
Note: Ask your boss first if doing this is allowed.
3. Seal the gaps where the walls of the cubicle meet
More often than not, cubicles aren’t put together perfectly, meaning that there’s always little cracks and gaps where the walls meet with each other, and this allows for sound to get through.
Luckily, this is an easy fix; Apply acoustic caulk on the inner side of the cubicle where the walls meet, making sure to create as tight of a seal as possible.
4. Add Sound Absorption to the Cubicle Walls
Now, I mentioned in the beginning of this post that sound absorption isn’t really that effective at soundproofing a cubicle, or soundproofing in general, but it can help.
What sound absorption will do is reduce the number of times a soundwave is allowed to bounce around on the cubicle walls and floor, and this will create a quieter atmosphere for you to work in.
There are many ways to go about it, and here are the ones that I think are most suitable for a cubicle, since you can’t really hang acoustic blankets on the wall due to how unprofessional they look.
Install a thick Rug
Rugs are perfect at absorbing sound, especially the really thick and dense ones.
What I’d also recommend, is purchasing a rug pad to place under the rug itself to add even more absorption to the cubicle.
Install Acoustic Panels
Here you have a couple different options, such as purchasing really cheap foam panels, which I wouldn’t recommend since they don’t look professional enough to have in an office environment, proper rockwool- or fiberglass panels, or to make them yourself.
You could also get these ones from Amazon since they look like a painting, which means that you can absorb sound and get your cubicle to look nicer at the same time.
If you want to make them yourself, then here’s a guide on how to make them using towels.
Which of these steps is the most effective?
To be completely honest, properly soundproofing a cubicle, or even reducing the noise just a little bit, is near impossible; They have no ceiling and no door, so there’s way too much space for sound to get in or out.
This is why, if you’re struggling to concentrate at work, I’d recommend some way of reducing the perceived loudness of outside noises, and this is where white noise machines come in handy.
Of course, noise-cancelling headphones are a great alternative as well, and so is listening to music (if it’s the kind of music that won’t distract you even further), but the best way is generally to cover up the distracting sound with another- more consistent -sound.
Get a white noise machine, a fan, noise-cancelling headphones, or listen to the typical “elevator music”, but using sound absorption, increasing the height of the cubicle walls, and sealing the gaps between the walls won’t have nearly as much of an impact.
I hope this information was useful.
Have a nice day!
Last Updated on March 3, 2021 by Facundo