Houzz.com recently published an article on home office soundproofing,
featuring Acoustical Solutions products and advice from our own Matt Boughan.
Here are the highlights:
“I work from home, and apparently I am in a good, and growing, company. There are 3.1 million of us in the United States who now work from home, and this number is increasing. Do you know what we do for at least a part of our day? Get distracted by a noise: music blaring, a bus passing or a neighbor’s conversation about what’s for dinner.
These sounds seep into a room through those pathways known as windows and doors, as well as floors, walls and ceilings. To decrease sound, you must obstruct or dampen the sound waves. The good news is that many newly constructed homes and multi-unit buildings have noise-blocking requirements. “Just like there’s a fire code, there’s a noise code,” says San Francisco Bay Area architect Andy Morrall.
But let’s say you don’t fit into this new-build category, or your landlord has somehow managed to escape city ordinances. There are two main ways to create more quiet at home: 1. adding surfaces that absorb the sound, or reverberation, before it gets to your ears, and 2. blocking it entirely.
Sound Absorbers for the Home
“Blocking sound and absorbing sound are two different things,” says Matthew Boughan of Acoustical Solutions in Richmond, Virginia. Absorbing it is easier. Some ideas to try:
Add 1-inch-thick acoustic panels. Sheetrock, a terrible absorber of sound, can be the culprit of that ‘tinnyness’ you hear when talking on the phone. “To remedy this, cover your walls with materials that have a noise reduction rating (called NRC, or noise reduction coefficient) of 0.85 or above,” Boughan says. He recommends a 1-inch-thick fabric-wrapped acoustical wall panel.
“Acoustic panels come in a range of colors and fabric styles and can be designed into your interior decor. Installation is slightly more involved than hanging a picture,” advises Boughan.
You want to spread out the absorption evenly among all walls and even place panels on the ceiling. Panels can even be turned into a gallery wall.
Acoustical Solutions can duplicate a high-res digital photo on the fabric, so it looks like artwork. Digital photo reproduction costs $30 per square foot, rounded up to the nearest even increment. (For example, a 3- by 4-foot panel costs the same as one that’s 4 by 4 feet square)
Carpets, rugs and padding. If your floors are sporting hardwood, tiles or linoleum on subfloor concrete, you may want to try rugs or carpet coupled with a sound-absorbing padding. Cut-pile carpeting, with its fuzzy top, tested better at absorbing sound than loop pile. Also helpful is a foam-rubber backing, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute. Acoustical Solutions offers Iso-Step® Floor Underlayment that may be used in a underneath a flooring assembly to help reduce impact noise from foot fall.
Now for the More Difficult Problem of Sound Blocking
Caulking. A lot of outside noise can seep in through windows. “A mere 1 percent gap in the sound barrier transmits 50 percent of sound — that’s the rule of acoustics,” Boughan explains. Try something simple like caulking around your windows, sealing any gaps.
Window seals. More radical solutions are acoustical seals. A seal is a track that makes it possible to add another layer of airtight glass in front of your existing window. Once it’s installed, your window you may not be able to open it anymore. If sound is pouring through the window, it means the frame is substandard, the panes of glass are not airtight, or there are not enough panes of glass there,” Boughan says. “You need to replace it or cover it.” Here’s more on SoundProofing a Window.
Acoustical blankets. Acoustical blankets look like those mover’s blankets in freight elevators. The ABSC-25 sound barrier blanket may be used to temporarily line a wall to block sound.
Buy a solid-wood-core door. Boughan finds that the biggest sound culprits in home offices are doors. For the best sound blocking, install a solid-wood-core door; its mass will dampen sound. “The little crack running around the door is transmitting a lot more sound than anyone would ever dream,” Boughan says, reminding us of the 1 percent rule. A door seal kit will seal gaps. A solid-wood-core door costs about $200.”
Thank you Houzz Contributing Writer Christine Ciarmello for using Acoustical Solution as a resource for this article!
So if you want more information on how to soundproof and block sound, you may want to read: