As the trend towards remote work continues to grow, the more people are realizing the benefit of having a separate workspace.
But just having a home office space set up doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be more productive.
For example, you could have a room with a door, but if you have young children or animals at home with you, sound can quickly become an issue.
Soundproofing can help to cut down on household noise, but it can be costly to hire a professional to do it. Fortunately, soundproofing is something that you can do yourself, for a fraction of what you would pay someone to do for you.
Sound deadening vs sound blocking
To begin, it’s important to understand that sound blocking and sound deadening are two different things.
If you’ve seen those foam panels that recording studios have, you might think that this is what you need for your home office to be quiet.
Those panels are very costly, but all they do is keep sounds from echoing around the room; they don’t block sound from entering the room.
To be effective, sound blocking requires thickness, which explains why it’s easier to build a soundproof room than retrofit an existing home office.
If it’s outside noise you want to block, a soundproof window can help, for just a few hundred bucks – installed.
For interior noises, there are other things to consider.
Soundproof your office door
The easiest and least expensive option is to buy self-adhesive soundproof weatherstripping to put under and around the door. Just unwrap it and stick to the doorjamb to stop sound from coming through your closed office door.
If your home office door has carpet under it, then you’ll also need to add a draft stopper. Apply the adhesive strip to the doorjamb and the top of the door, and the door sweep on the bottom of the door.
Change your door
Exterior doors tend to be solid, however if your office has an interior door it may have a hollow core.
If you have a hollow-core door (or gasp, a glass garden-style door) opt for a solid-core door instead (in addition to the soundproofing weather strip).
Or, if you don’t mind some refinishing work, look for places that sell used doors for a fraction of the cost of buying new.
Commercial buildings sometimes have two sets of doors; an outer door and an inner one. This helps to reduce noise, rain, etc. from making its way inside the building.
If your floor plan and space allows for installing two sets of doors, this could make a significant improvement in the quietness of your home office.
If you don’t want to purchase another door, get a soundproofing blanket to hang over the back of your existing one. Soundproof blankets can function as well as a solid-core door and cost much less.
Finally, once you’ve soundproofed the door and any windows in your home office, and noise is still reaching inside your office, you may be dealing with structural sound.
This means that noises created by things which are happening in other parts of your home are finding their way to your home office.
For example, if your home office is above the garage and every time it’s used, the vibration from the door opener travels along the beams its mounted to and upwards to the floor of your office.
This is known as ‘structural sound’.
The only way to deal with this type of sound is to isolate it from its surroundings.
For example, in the scenario above, a second layer of drywall can dampen the sound and prevent it from traveling to the nearby space.
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