Working from home is fantastic. Not having to commute and deal with traffic is something that I love now that I’ve started working from home.
However, working from home means that you won’t be in a typical work environment where excessive noises, like the ones your kids make while playing, aren’t an issue.
This is why soundproofing a home office is so important, because reducing unwanted distractions means that you will be able to work much more efficiently.
In this article I will go over each of the steps necessary to properly soundproof a home office, starting with the ones I feel will be most effective.
How to Soundproof a home office
Start by soundproofing the doors and windows using a weatherstrip and installing a door sweep, since this is where most of the unwanted noises can get in.
This should take care of the issue in 99% of the cases, but you could also consider installing drywall to insulate the walls, getting a thick rug, and acoustically treating the room.
Soundproofing vs Sound Absorption
Soundproofing is the process of isolating or blocking the sound, not allowing it to enter or to leave a room.
To do this you will need to use materials that are designed to not let sound through, like mass loaded vinyl, drywall, etc.
Sound Absorption relies on materials that are good at absorbing sound, such as acoustic panels, acoustic blankets, etc. to reduce the echo inside of a room.
Sound absorption, while not being great at soundproofing, will still help with it, which is why you might want to use it in conjunction with sound-blocking materials to achieve the best results.
You can learn more about the differences between soundproofing and acoustic treatment here.
Now, let’s get into the guide.
1. Soundproof the Door
Soundproofing is all about sealing every single gap or crack where sound might be allowed to get in- or out, since no matter how small the gap, it will still be able to get through.
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 Home Office 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 open between the floor and the door.
While doing these things should already provide a drastic improvement, if you want to soundproof the door even further then read my post on how to properly soundproof a door.
Important Note: If your home office has a Sliding Door, then soundproofing it might be a bit different. But don’t worry, since here’s a guide on how to soundproof those which will take you through the whole process step by step.
2. Soundproof the Windows
Glass isn’t particularly known for its insulation capabilities, which means that windows are definitely a place that you will need to work on to soundproof your home office, especially if they are somehow connected to the rest of the house, which isn’t that normal but I’ve seen it happen. In fact, my home office has a window that connects it to the kitchen.
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: The 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.
- Use Moving Blankets: Moving blankets are great sound absorbers and they are easy to install.
There is a lot more to it and if you really want to soundproof your windows properly, 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.
Curtains are by far the best item to install on the windows since they serve three purposes; soundproofing, acoustic treatment, and they actually dress the room.
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 in- or out and without much difficulty either.
The good news is that they are very easy to insulate, and in an affordable way also!
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 shapes, 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 a weatherproof electrical outlet cover, but this could interfere with the aesthetics of the kitchen.
4. Soundproof the Air- Vents
The issue with air vents is that you can’t fully soundproof them without sealing them off entirely.
There are a couple things you can do, however, keep in mind that air vents are designed to keep air coming in and out of the room, which means that obstructing them will lower that air flow; E.g. Air conditioners.
Steps to Soundproofing Air-Vents
- Hang Sound absorbing materials in front of the vents
- Make a Sound absorbing maze inside of the vent
- Build a sound dampener
- Seal the vent
Hang Sound Absorbing Materials in front of the Vent
Using sound absorbing materials like acoustic blankets and hanging them in front of the air vent will decrease the amount of noise allowed into the home office.
This is the simplest and quickest solution, even though some sound will still be able to get through.
Build a Sound Dampener
This method can help slightly, but it will take more time than just hanging blankets in front of the Air vent.
You will only need some pieces of plywood or medium density fiberboard, acoustic foam and some effort.
It should look something like this;
Make a Sound Maze inside the Vent
This one is a bit trickier to accomplish, but it does work.
Sound likes travelling in a straight line, as soon as you build a maze out of sound absorbing materials, like acoustic foam, for it to navigate before it can reach the office, the level of noise that ends up getting in will be drastically lower.
It should look something like this;
Combining this method and the previous one should result in a significant noise reduction.
Block the Vent Entirely
If you don’t care at all for the vent and just want to fully reduce the noise, then it might be a good idea to simply block it off.
Here you have two options;
- Stuff the vent full of sound insulating material and then cover it up with drywall.
- Use this Big Gap filler that you can get on Amazon and fill the hole with it. It will expand and be air-tight as well as water resistant.
After you’ve done this you can sand it off and paint over it.
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.
Install Mass Loaded Vinyl with the Drywall
Before you install the drywall, if you really want to take things to the next level, you should install MLV on the walls first and THEN the drywall on top of it.
- First you need to measure the surface that you want to cover, making sure that the MLV will cover as much of it as possible.
- Next cut the MLV to those exact measurements.
- Position the first strip of MLV in the top corner of the wall making sure that it’s straight and fasten it with nails, screws or a staple gun. Be generous with the staples since it’s heavy.
- Repeat the process until the entirety of the home office is covered.
- Cut out holes for the electrical outlets.
- Use acoustic caulk between each of the sheets of MLV, especially in the corners.
- Hang the Drywall and apply the desired finish.
I’d recommend you use this mass loaded vinyl which you can find on Amazon.
Cover the wall with Acoustic Blankets
Acoustic blankets-, while bring better at absorbing sound than blocking it, will provide an additional insulation layer to the walls, and if you cover the entire problematic wall with them, you should notice a difference.
Granted, it won’t be anywhere near as good as installing drywall, but it will help.
5. Soundproof the Floor
The best way to reduce noise transmission is by decoupling the structures that are connected to each other so that the vibrations can’t be transmitted through them.
When it comes to the floor you have a couple of options;
- Install interlocking Floor Mats: Floor Mats will absorb your footsteps as well as the force of anything that you might drop on the ground, therefore also absorbing the noise that this might generate.
- Install a Floor Underlayment: When installed under a laminate floor, this underlayment will absorb vibrations, footsteps, etc. which may otherwise cause noise.
- Install Carpet Padding: Carpet paddings will absorb any noise or vibrations and are generally installed under carpets.
- Install a thick Rug: Installing a thick rug under your chair, or at strategic points in the home office, will help you absorb some noises (mostly footsteps as well as some airborne noise).
In most cases, I’d either recommend getting a thick rug or installing interlocking floor mats. The other two recommendations work well, but they require more work and are oftentimes more expensive as well.
6. Consider Acoustically treating the Home Office
Sound absorption isn’t that great at blocking outside noises, or in other words; external noises will still be able to reach even if you fill your home office with acoustic foam panels.
However, sound absorption will make it so that all the soundwaves in the room die out quicker, making it feel quieter.
This is especially useful if you need to record audio, since it will make it sound much more professional.
Here are some basic things you can do;
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!
Consider Acoustic Curtains and Blankets
I already mentioned both these items previously, and if you’re trying to reduce the echo in a room, then installing a couple soundproofing curtains, or regular curtains that are thick and heavy, will help absorb those soundwaves.
Acoustic blankets can work just as well, but they don’t look as good, which is why I’d stick to the curtains.
Get the thickest rug you can find
I just mentioned this a second ago, but rugs-, especially the super thick ones, will help absorb a lot of the noises generated inside of your office.
Get a sofa and cushions
Sofas essentially work as a huge acoustic panel that’s right in the middle of the room, and getting a couple cushions for the sofa will not just help with décor of the room, but also at absorbing even more sound.
Granted, not everyone needs a huge couch in their living room, or may not have the space, but it can help.
I work from home writing articles and recording music, which means that I need a room that is both acoustically treated and soundproof.
Luckily, the room I chose for my home office was already very quiet, so I only had to soundproof the door and the window using a weatherstrip.
But I decided to make nine huge acoustic panels made out of rockwool, as well as also making a small sofa, and this changed the room entirely.
Soundproofing and treating the acoustics in your home office doesn’t need to be too complicated, and in most situations you only need to deal with the doors and windows, and that’s it! And this will cost you like $20 to do.
I hope this information was useful!
Have a wonderful day!
Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Facundo