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There are several reasons why you would want to soundproof a room, either at home or in the office.
Soundproofing plays a vital role in ensuring that unwanted sound and noise do not affect your comfort or efficiency. We are surrounded by a myriad of sounds that emanate from the outside world as well as indoors.
In urban suburbs, this problem of sound is more common and takes a variety of forms. From vehicular traffic to home appliances and machines, there is hardly any space where you can find some peace for even a few minutes.
However, soundproofing can help improve your quality of life, and the best thing is that it is possible to undertake the process yourself.
There are multiple ways to effectively soundproof a room, which we are going to discuss. So, let’s get straight to it.
How To Soundproof A Room Cheaply
- How To Soundproof A Room Cheaply
- The Most Economical Soundproofing Techniques
- 1. Rearranging The Furniture
- 2. Using Carpets Or Rugs
- 3. Using An Underlay
- 4. Using Floor Mats
- 5. Installing Floor Underlayment
- 6. Employing Mass Loaded Vinyl
- 7. Hanging Tapestries And Paintings
- 8. Use Weatherstripping Tape
- 9. Using Acoustic Caulk
- 10. Installing Thicker Blinds
- 11. Using Soundproof Curtains
- 12. Constructing A Window Plug
- 13. Installing Room Divider Curtains
- 14. Using A Door Sweep
- 15. Creating A DIY Draft Stopper
- 16. Blocking Air Vents
- 17. Using Soundproofing and Acoustic Panels
- 18. Alternative Solutions
- Soundproofing Basics
- The Need For Soundproofing
The Most Economical Soundproofing Techniques
Soundproofing can be undertaken at different levels, involving varying costs and the amount of effort required. Following the basic principles, you can implement some highly effective yet very economical methods to block sound.
1. Rearranging The Furniture
This technique is one of the easiest and most convenient ways by which you can soundproof a room. You can push objects, such as wardrobes and bookshelves against the walls shared with neighbors or other rooms from where the sound emanates.
Furniture also affects how sound is reflected within a room. The more furniture you have, such as sofas and tables, the more times the sound will echo around the room. While sound bounces off wood, leather, and similar materials, spongy and soft furniture can easily absorb them. More delicate textures like fabric on sofas are better at absorbing sound and can be used for reducing echoes.
Upholstered furniture is ideal for preventing sound from bouncing around. If you do not have any room for furniture, you can use plush throw pillows or thick blankets in such areas for better sound absorption.
Additionally, you can use furniture to add mass to the walls you want to soundproof. You should try and experiment with placing different everyday objects in other spaces and see how effective they are at blocking sound.
Bare floors are hard surfaces that are perfect for sound reflection and are responsible for creating noisy rooms. The amount of sound reflected also depends upon the type of material used in the flooring.
The simplest and most effective way to reduce sound reflection from floors, such as hardwood floors is by using thick area rugs or a thick carpet. These are some of the most effective sound-absorbing materials, preventing the sound from bouncing around. If you have a large area that needs to be covered, you can go with a wall-to-wall carpeting option.
Alternatively, you can cover the areas of the floor that receive the most traffic. The most effective rugs and carpets are thick because they do a better job of absorbing sound. If you are using mats that are not as thick, try to pile multiple rugs on top of each other. It will also provide your room with a Bohemian look. A thin rug can also be paired with a thicker underlay, while thick rugs will do fine on their own.
A rug underlay is a soft mat of varying thickness between the flooring and the carpet. These underlays are excellent for absorbing the impact of footsteps and echoes, thereby reducing the amount of sound. An additional advantage of rug underlays is that they can reduce the impact of falls, which is common with small children.
One thing to keep in mind when using a thick rug underlay is always to get an underlay that is slightly smaller than the carpet you want to use it under. Another option will be to trim down a mat if it doesn’t come with finished edges.
How easy or difficult it is to alter a mat generally depends upon the type of mat itself. Even if the final product after your editing and trimming does not appear very attractive, it will still be perfect for use as a carpet underlay.
Another great thing about this technique is that you can use any fabric, foam, or rubber material if you cannot find products made especially for this purpose. This solution is also suitable for rooms that are fully carpeted.
The only thing to keep in mind is that the process of lifting and re-stretching the carpet might take some time.
One of the easiest ways of soundproofing floors is by using floor mats. You can use these mats in many different ways, such as carpet underlays. Generally, people think of exercise mats that are commonly used under treadmills. Floor mats can be used in the entire room that you intend to soundproof or in specific areas.
These mats are available in several different sizes and shapes. For instance, to cover an irregularly shaped or large area, you can use an interlocking EVA foam mat. If you only have yoga mats at hand, you can lay them down side by side as rug underlays.
A more effective way to soundproof floors is to install floor underlayments than using floor mats. Floor underlayment is a layer of rubber, felt, cork, foam, or similar material that you can install between the baseboards of your floor. However, it involves redoing the floor of the area which you want to soundproof.
This material layer goes between the subfloor and the flooring and can stabilize and soften the floor. The underlayment also increases the floor density, which prevents any sound from passing through it.
However, installing floor underlayment is not as simple a process as using carpets and rugs. It involves lifting the floor and putting it down again after installing the underlayment layer underneath. If you want to change your flooring, this is an excellent opportunity to do so.
There are several different types of underlayment layers that you can select from, depending upon the type of flooring you have. An underlayment layer with a foam base is the most common type of underlayment. These generally come with built-in plastic barriers, which makes them water-resistant.
An alternative would be using a rubber underlayment that works excellent under tiled floors, wooden flooring, and even carpets. However, it is not suitable for use with vinyl flooring. Another option will be to use a felt or cork underlayment if you do not require waterproof capabilities.
Cork and felt underlayments work flawlessly for soundproofing purposes but are more susceptible to mildew and mold growth. You will need to use a separate vapor barrier to prevent this growth.
Mass-loaded vinyl is one of the most influential objects to block incoming noise in a room. It is a flexible and thin material that is ideal for soundproofing and offers versatile applications. This material is denser than synthetic or natural rubber, which makes it great for DIY soundproofing purposes.
As mentioned above, you can use this vinyl in a variety of different ways. Mass-loaded vinyl is generally used for airborne sound reduction purposes as well as to reduce impact noise. It works great as a carpet overlay or as a replacement for the underlayment for your flooring.
Mass-loaded vinyl can also be used under or over drywall for soundproofing walls and ceilings. If you utilize divider curtains, this vinyl can also improve its effectiveness to block the noise coming from other rooms or from outside. Additionally, mass-loaded vinyl is unaffected by moisture, so that you can use it around pipes and ducts without worry.
Due to its versatile nature, there are several different ways of installing MLV, such as using glue or nailing it to the wall. The method of installation you select depends upon the location where you plan to install it.
Another cost-effective solution to soundproof a room cheaply is by hanging paintings and tapestries. If you employ MLV sheets over your drywall to reduce noise, paintings offer a more attractive option to conceal these solutions. While tapestries and paintings are not very practical for sound reduction, they can absorb sound and soften it.
Tapestries and paintings, while not very effective in reducing sound coming from adjacent or neighboring areas, have acoustic properties that reduce sound reflection. In empty rooms, the sound is amplified as it gets reflected by hard surfaces.
Just as rugs and carpets help reduce sound reflection from floors, paintings and tapestries also prevent sound waves from bouncing around the walls. They break up the flatness of the wall’s surface, reducing the area against which sound can reflect.
When you use paintings and tapestries along with MLV, it is the latter that will primarily be responsible for blocking out sound. In such cases, tapestries and paintings would be primarily redundant, except serving as decor pieces.
Windows are one of the most common areas where sound can enter your room. If the weatherstripping seal between the window frame and the window has worn off, sound can quickly enter from the outside. To solve this problem, you can scrape off the existing weatherstripping and apply a new tape.
As time passes, you will need to replace weatherstripping products as they tend to decay and become unusable. To ascertain whether you need to change the tape, close your windows and check whether air can pass through. Using a lighter near the window can also help you determine whether there are any cracks.
In case you do come across any cracks, you will need to remove the existing rubber and adequately clean the surface of the window before applying the new tape. You don’t need to use the same type of type as was applied before.
A weatherstripping tape that is D-shaped and has a hollow core can be used to create a perfect seal. Or you can use other weatherstripping products that are rubber foam products that work flawlessly without requiring an air pocket.
Once you have completed your windows’ acoustic treatment, check the doors for whether they require a similar treatment. Interior doors generally do not have a built-in seal. If you apply one, it will stop sound and prevent cold air from entering the room.
Sometimes, you can still feel air coming into the room, even after using weatherstripping tape on your windows. It indicates that there might be some cracks in the surrounding walls. You can quickly fix these cracks using acoustic caulk.
Since these cracks are almost invisible to the naked eye, you will need to repeat the flame test to determine where they lie. Once you can discover where the cracks are around the doors and windows, you can just apply the acoustic caulk using a caulking gun.
You will need to push the sealant inside the cracks after application by wearing protective gloves. Even after setting, the caulk has enough flexibility to prevent the formation of new cracks in the same area.
You should keep in mind that while some areas have a greater tendency to develop cracks than others, they can appear anywhere on the surface. For instance, if you use too many layers of paint on your drywall, cracks can also develop on that surface. It is a good idea to start looking for gaps around doors and windows.
You can use the remaining amount of caulk if there are any cracks around the corners of the room. Caulk also offers some other uses for soundproofing purposes. It can be used to make window plugs like other adhesives or to install MLV. However, more significant projects like creating a drywall sandwich require a damping compound like Green Glue.
Even if you fix the cracks surrounding the windows and doors, sound may still enter the room through the faulty glass. Even if the glass has no cracks, it is still a highly reflective material that can allow sound to bounce around the room.
One effective way to address this problem is to use the right kind of window blinds. However, the common metal blinds that you find everywhere are not suitable for this purpose. Aluminum blinds will not help you reduce the sound within the room, as metal is a highly reflective material. The irregular shape of the blinds might serve as a diffuser, but the effect is negligible.
If you plan to use blinds to block incoming sound from outside, or create a better acoustic environment, try to avoid metal blinds. Some better alternatives would be vinyl, rubber, or blinds that have collapsible air pockets.
Blinds can also make noise by swaying against the glass windows due to air. In such cases, you can use blinds that are made of softer materials. Fabric and paper blinds are the best option that makes almost no noise, whereas wooden blinds make some sound, but they are better than metal blinds.
11. Using Soundproof Curtains
Soundproof curtains are an excellent option that can help you minimize sound that comes from outside while also reducing background noise. Their fabric is very densely woven and thick, which is perfect for absorbing sound waves. These curtains are also excellent in blocking out light.
For the best results, you should use larger curtains than the windows you need to cover. The rod on which you will hang the curtains should be a little higher than the windows, as well as a little bit wider than the window frame. It will ensure that the curtains can completely cover the window.
Similarly, the curtains themselves should be long enough to cover the bottom of the windows while also being wider than the curtain rod. The curtain’s fabric that exceeds the area of the window can effectively trap light and sound that enters the room through the window.
Also, since the curtains are wider than the rod, they will not stretch and provide a flat surface for sound to reflect against. On the contrary, it will enable the curtains to absorb and diffuse sound waves that hit them.
The only point to keep in mind regarding soundproof curtains is that they generally have differently colored sides. Usually, the less attractive side will be facing the glass, so room divider curtains might be a good option if you want to block people outside from looking in.
12. Constructing A Window Plug
The majority of noise from outside enters a room through the doors and windows. For houses situated on busy streets, glass windows can add to the amount of sound that enters your room. Any passing vehicle can easily make the glass vibrate in its frame. Window plugs are the perfect solution to these problems.
Window plugs are very easy to build, just requiring an acoustic sheet of wood the size of your window, MLV, and some glue. Once the assembly process is complete, attach two handles to the back of the plugs using screws. For soundproofing, just slide the plugs into the window frame using the handles.
A perfectly fitting window plug will block out most sound from the outside. To further improve the acoustics properties of a room, you can even cover the plugged windows with a free-standing fabric panel or some curtains.
13. Installing Room Divider Curtains
Unlike soundproofing curtains, room divider curtains look attractive as they have the same color on both sides. These curtains are generally used to create smaller sections within rooms by dividing them and covering the windows.
SImilarly to soundproof curtains, room divider curtains are much thicker than regular ones. They generally contain multiple layers of fabric, making them suitable for use with MLV DIY projects. It is straightforward to insert MLV layers in room divider curtains and sew them up back again.
Besides creating smaller spaces inside rooms for different purposes, room divider curtains also reduce the total surface area available for sound waves to reflect against. Additionally, the heavier fabric can absorb and diffuse sound waves and prevent resonance.
However, these curtains are not ideal for use in all situations, and you need to think of a proper installation solution for getting the best results. Also, these curtains cannot be used with regular curtain rods and require ceiling tracks or tension rods. Just ensure that the curtains reach down to the floor to prevent any sound from escaping through gaps.
14. Using A Door Sweep
Even if you implement several soundproofing techniques to prevent sound from entering a room, there is still one area that sound can quickly enter through. The gap under the door is enough space for noise to pass through.
To address that problem, installing a door sweep is an excellent solution that can be glued or nailed to the bottom of the door. Door sweeps are commonly made up of plastic, rubber, and metal. Self-adhesive door sweeps are generally made up of rubber only. While installing, the flat plastic or metal part should be up against the door, while the flexible rubber bit should be on the floor.
It is best to create a perfect seal if the rubber part drags around on the floor when the door is opened or shut. However, this will make the door harder to move due to resistance. Automatic door sweeps solve this problem by lifting when the door is moved.
15. Creating A DIY Draft Stopper
A DIY Draft Stopper is the best way to fill the gap underneath your door without using adhesive or nails. DIY Draft Stoppers involve connecting two stuffed fabric tubes via a flat channel that can be slid under the door. You can also use Velcro tape to prevent the fabric sleeve from moving along with the door.
There are several methods to create a draft stopper, such as stuffing an old pillowcase with pieces of fabric or filling stockings with rice. The basic tubes can be made using fabric glue or by sewing. Keeping one tube longer than the other will ensure that the stopper is more effective.
16. Blocking Air Vents
Open-air vents are an excellent medium through which sound can travel to the room, but blocking them without damaging the ventilation system is not difficult. The first step should be to verify that the particular vent is not very important to the airflow system.
It is easier to block air vents in rooms that have windows through different methods. Ducts can be sealed by creating drywall over them, filling them up with a sealant, plugging with acoustic foam, and using tape on the vent grate. To hide the blocked vent from view, you can use furniture by placing it in front of the vent or using curtains.
17. Using Soundproofing and Acoustic Panels
One of the most inexpensive solutions for soundproofing needs is soundproofing foam, which works great for blocking sound. It is also available in several different colors and can provide a nice aesthetic touch.
Soundproofing foam tiles and panels are also commonly used in music studios to create the right acoustic environment. It is a simple process to install these tiles using double-sided tape or push pins.
Another option would be to use acoustic fabric panels. These are wooden frames with fabric-wrapped insulation that you can use on ceilings and walls. However, they are not as lightweight as foam panels. Fabric panels are easy to make but offer the added advantage of providing a premium look.
18. Alternative Solutions
When learning how to soundproof a room cheaply, some excellent alternatives add background noise to block out unwanted sound. These include sound machines that can offer different sounds, such as white noise, rain, sounds of nature, etc. Sound machines can effectively mask unwanted noise while being highly affordable.
Another option would be to use air purifiers, which offer an alternative noise while also cleaning the air. Similarly, different types of fans, such as ceiling fans, box fans, etc., can also add some white noise to the background while blocking unwanted sound.
As far as soundproofing goes, location is one of the most important factors affecting it. Making your room soundproof from the inside requires an excellent understanding of the room’s location.
Three central locations affect how noisy a room is, and proper soundproofing requires addressing each one individually. All three points are equally important and will determine, to some extent, the method of soundproofing that is most effective.
1. The Source
The source of the sound is of prime importance when undertaking a soundproofing exercise. There can be several types of sound entering a room or just one. The source can be machines or appliances, such as television, PC, washing machine, etc. Or they can be musical instruments, or even outside noise from traffic.
The first step in soundproofing is knowing where the unwanted sound is coming from. Once you know the source, you can take practical steps to either stop it or minimize it as much as possible.
2. Point Of Entry
Once you know the source of the sound, you need to ascertain the point at which the sound enters the space that requires soundproofing. Again, this factor can be variable, as the sound can enter from a single point or multiple points.
For instance, if you want to soundproof a room with a street-facing window, the single entry point would be the window that lets in noise from the street. In contrast, the entire shared wall could be the entry point if you face sound problems because of noisy neighbors.
Doorways of rooms where machines and appliances are kept, such as televisions, are also the entry point of sound into adjoining rooms.
3. Point Of Reflection
Elementary physics tells us that sound travels in waves, and similarly to light rays, it tends to bounce off objects and get reflected. Usually, sound vibrations reflect at the same angle at which they enter.
The entry angle is a straight line, so the sound will likely reflect to the source if it can, until it fades away. The point of reflection of sound also depends upon various elements like the size of the room, the shape of the room, the internal material used in the construction, etc.
4. Use Of Space And Materials
Most soundproofing methods are generally based on some fundamental principles of physics, which explain how sound works. One of these basic principles states that sound cannot travel in a vacuum and requires a medium. That is why when you undertake any soundproofing project, you need to pay attention to the materials and spaces.
Airtight spaces make it impossible for sound to travel through and are generally employed in all soundproofing projects. Additionally, the denser the medium, the harder it is for sound to travel through it. That is why thick walls are much better for blocking out sound, and the more closed a space, the easier it is to soundproof.
Another essential element is to pay attention to different types of materials for soundproofing. Soft materials absorb sound waves before they can reflect off surfaces. Similarly, decoupling is a common practice that involves separating the drywall from the building’s interior to reduce impact noise.
Any effective soundproofing technique will require all three points for getting the desired results. After understanding the basics of soundproofing, we will look at some of the cheapest methods to soundproof a room cheaply.
The Need For Soundproofing
There can be several reasons you would want to soundproof a room, ranging from personal to professional.
Since the problem of unwanted noise has become so frequent, it has changed from being an issue of inconvenience to a question of legality. Noise pollution is a matter of public health, and as such, has assumed tremendous importance in modern times.
Here are some of the important reasons why soundproofing is becoming a greater necessity in different spaces.
One of the most important reasons you would want to soundproof your house or office is to prevent sound leaks. In professional situations, this reason acquires greater importance, as there is also the possibility of confidential information leaking out.
In personal spaces, such as households, soundproofing ensures privacy by blocking sound from the outside and inside. Your private conversations will be protected from neighbors and the outside world, enabling you to converse comfortably.
On the flip side, it is common to hear unwanted sounds, such as music and loud conversations from the street or neighboring houses. At times when you want peace, such noises can be highly distracting. Effective soundproofing can block these airborne sound waves, providing a peaceful environment.
2. Health And Safety
As mentioned above, noise pollution has become a public concern, and research has already proven the harmful effects of unwanted sound on health and wellbeing. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, etc., are linked to prolonged exposure to loud sounds.
Those concerned about the cost of soundproofing should be aware that the price of risking their health is far greater. It is always advisable to spend money on preventing an unwanted situation than on trying to fix it later once it has occurred.
3. Preventing Hearing Problems
As many of you must be aware, prolonged exposure to loud sounds is the number one reason for hearing loss problems. The 21st century has witnessed a far more significant number of people who have developed sound problems than in any other period before.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.3 billion people worldwide suffer from hearing loss problems. Additionally, more than 10% of the global population is exposed to unwanted levels of sound that are responsible for hearing loss.
Loud sound is also the root cause of other health problems, such as cognitive impairment, insomnia, anxiety, etc. These issues can result in more significant problems if they are not resolved timely.
4. Affects The Quality Of Life
Besides preventing different types of health problems, soundproofing can also help improve your quality of life. At the same time, regular exposure to unwanted sound can result in a decline in cognitive abilities. Reading, problem-solving, comprehension, etc., are some abilities that are adversely affected.
People who do not spend a significant portion of their day exposed to noise tend to be more creative, calm, and rational. They also experience greater fulfilment in their lives as well as a higher level of satisfaction.
Notably, children who study in a noisy environment tend to have a lower cognitive function, resulting in weaker performance. Also, irritation and annoyance which occur due to prolonged exposure to loud sounds can lead to further problems like anger, stress, hypertension, exhaustion, etc.
5. Promoting Effective Communication
Noise levels can frequently reach up to 50-60 decibels in residential and public areas, significantly preventing proper communication. The loud sound distracts people from the topic and gets in the way of correct interpretation and comprehension.
Trying to communicate while in the presence of loud noise will often result in misunderstanding and confusion. In residential areas, noise can also lead to adverse social consequences.
Similarly, soundproofing also becomes essential in workplaces to prevent any compromise in security. Excessive sound in the home can also be blocked for promoting better communication through effective soundproofing.
6. Legal Requirements and Legislations
An ever-increasing number of countries are implementing legislation to control and deal with the problem of excessive sound. These rules lay out the guidelines that need to be followed in residential and industrial areas to prevent issues that can crop up due to noise.
These laws address the problem of noise in different ways. Authorities can set the maximum level for sound from specific activities to mandating the use of soundproofing machines. Even if these regulations are not strictly enforced, it is best to adhere to them to promote a better environment all around.
Now that you know about the importance and need of soundproofing, it is time to talk about the actual soundproofing process. Soundproofing a room can take many forms, and there are several methods that you can select for the purpose.
Some methods of soundproofing are more expensive than others and also require professional services. On the other hand, there are several DIY techniques that you can use to make any space soundproof quickly and in a cost-effective manner.
Before talking about different soundproofing techniques, we shall take a look at some basics of soundproofing.
That’s it from us, folks. We hope that this guide has helped you learn about the cheapest ways to soundproof a room. There are so many options to select from, and you can even combine several different methods to get the result you want.
Even though all these methods may not suit all needs, many of them can offer the perfect answer you require. Furthermore, these methods are great for DIY enthusiasts who want to create soundproofing solutions.
So, get down to your soundproofing experiments and have fun. Till next time!