Everyone wants a quiet space at some point. For some, this is because they wish to escape from the sounds of the modern day just outside their walls, while others require quiet space for their work or other interests. For those that record, such as podcasts or music, having a quiet space gives them control over the sounds that end up in the final product.
However, in order to accomplish this quiet space, the room needs to be soundproofed. While there are any number of ways to accomplish that, the ideal is something that is both cheap and can be readily removed, especially if the room serves multiple purposes. Fortunately, those goals can be easily reached.
What You Will Need:
What You Are Trying To Accomplish
Sound is a vibration; by impacting certain nerve endings in the ear it creates sound. By “sound-proofing”, you are seeking to eliminate as many of those vibrations as possible in order to create a sound-free zone. They are a number of ways to reduce the number of vibrations and by using them you can create a relatively sound-free area.
It’s important to realize that it is virtually impossible to eliminate all vibration. However, it is possible to eliminate enough of the sound that it effectively does not matter. Thus, these tactics should help to eliminate as many sounds as humanly possible and thus create the sound-free environment that you desire.
Starting With the Windows
The first place to start should be the windows. While they can naturally muffle some sound, especially if double paned, windows let in the most sound. The first step should be to caulk or weatherstrip the window; by filling in the gaps and holes surrounding the window you eliminate areas where the sound can seep in.
Weatherstripping may not be soundproof as caulking but it can be easily removed; caulking is thicker and thus eliminates more sound, but it is also permanent. Thus, if you need to insulate the room from louder sounds caulking may be better but if you need a temporary solution the weatherstripping may be better. Just remember to make sure that you do not limit any functionality of the window and you should do fine.
You can also use sound-proof curtains to over the windows. While this can be great when it is cold outside, the curtains help eliminate sound; they have a filler layer that helps cut down the sound.
Sound-proof acoustic blankets also help by trapping sounds in their fibers; they can be easily thrown over the windows to help muffle sounds. Should you decide to keep these up permanently these are also strong enough to hold lightweight pictures, so they can be used for decoration. Combined with caulking or weatherstripping they can make for an effective first step.
On To The Doors
The doors can let in sounds from the inside of the house and so needs to be dealt with. Everything that applies to windows applies to doors, although you may not want to use caulking.
However, there are some nice options that not only eliminate noise from the rest of the house but also keep the room warm.
If the door has a significant gap between the bottom of the door and the floor, you may wish to put a door stopper tape at the bottom of the door.
You can also use draft stopping tape as well; these are even more effective as they eliminate the gap completely.
Creating A Quieter Floor
The floor can actually create a lot of its own noise. Not only are there echos to deal with but there is also the possibility that something will drop on them and cause a commotion. This means that unless the floor is normally carpeted it can create its own problems. The most obvious solution is an area rug is the obvious solution, but it may not cover the entire floor; make sure that it covers the areas most likely to have items dropped on it or stepped on.
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If the room is too small for a rug, then an acoustic underlay can be used to cover sections of the floor. By putting this under furniture the area surrounding it can not only be guarded against sound, but this can also prevent sounds from underneath the floor. As a nice feature for those underneath it also prevents sound from traveling to those below as well. This can be used to not only make the room a lot quieter but help maintain peace between roommates.
Ceilings Up Above
Just as the floors can be soundproofed, so can the ceilings. While this is not as effective as the floors due to their nature it is possible to limit some sound leaving the room. This is where acoustic foam panels can come in handy. By placing a partition of foam between source and receiver sound can thus be blocked and reduced to more manageable levels.
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Of course, not panels are self-adhesive; you may need some noise reducing green glue to make sure that the panels stick in place.
Making The Walls Silent
The walls are going to be the hardest part, especially if they are of hardwood. They represent a myriad of different issues for someone looking to soundproof them, but they can be silenced. The big problem with walls is that they not only represent a large hard surface for sound to bounce off but they can be covered by a number of smaller hard surfaces: framed pictures. While it is possible to take them down, it may be difficult or just too onerous to do so; if that is the case then they need to be covered. Bookshelves and other furniture can be problematic as well; keep in mind that they can be covered as well. Obviously, acoustic blankets can be a saving grace.
Keep in mind that you can also arrange your furniture for the best possible sound-dampening, especially if that furniture is soft. The best placement for the furniture is against the wall so it so that it absorbs the most possible sound. You can also use softer elements such as pillows judiciously in order to mute the sound as well; they can be used as a stopgap measure for any areas that can be difficult to cover by other means. The furniture placed in this way also effectively adds thickness to the wall, further making it difficult for sound to come in. Furniture can thus be used to help or hinder efforts to soundproof the room. Lastly, wall hangings can be used to cover large areas strategically.
If you have the time and do not mind spending a little extra, it is possible to cover the walls with the material. It is just a matter of making sure that the material fits the area of the wall and then stapling the material to the wall. One material is mass loaded vinyl; it is a little thicker vinyl that makes an excellent soundproofing material.
Another solution is art panels. They are usually made of light fabric covered in paint; that light fabric makes them invaluable when it comes to absorbing sound. Thus, they are attractive and functional.
Keep in mind also that a variety of tactics used for other areas can be used here as well. Foam pads are the most obvious item, but you can use some of the other items as well. Use the foam pads for the large areas and then use acoustic underlays between furniture and walls. This should eliminate almost all of the extraneous noise coming into the room.
For those looking for something different than foam pads, or are just looking for a more regular surface, fiberglass panels may be the answer. They provide a smoother surface than foam pads while still providing some measure of sound-dampening.
And Do Not Forget the Rest of the House
Appliances can be a major problem, especially when they are on; this can create a lot of sound as they vibrate and even clunk. Anti-vibration pads placed under the appliances can eliminate a lot of noise from the devices and eliminate that noise.
Lastly, a white noise machine can be used to hide some noises. This means that there is still some sound, but now it sounds like something more pleasurable. In situations where some sound is allowable but the person does not wish to hear the sounds in the area, this may not be a bad idea.