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Living in the city can be quite a noisy affair, especially if you live close to commercial establishments or entertainment districts. The noise of traffic, people shouting and general cacophony is enough to fray one’s nerves. Add pets and small children to the mix indoors, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you were teary-eyed and begging for some solace. Which is why it is important for every home to have a “quiet room”. Let’s take a look at how you can get a soundproof room on a budget.
Different people have different needs for soundproof rooms. Some may need a quiet home office to work from. Musicians need recording studios in their homes to work on their craft. Others may want the perfect ambiance for a home theater system. Whatever your specific needs are, the basic acoustic treatment needed to soundproof a room remains the same.
1. Start With the Door
Sound travels easily through any gaps that light can travel through. Sealing the air gaps in your exterior door is a great place to begin soundproofing.
Start from the bottom of your door. If you notice a large gap, buy a commercial grade door sweep and seal the bottom against the threshold. Door sweeps aren’t very expensive, averaging between $10-$15.
The rest of the door can be sealed using peel and stick weather stripping, a roll of which will put you down around $10.
If you feel the need for further soundproofing, you could use heavy curtains from the inside to further block out any noise leakage.
Interior doors like bedroom doors can also be soundproofed using the same techniques.
Another efficient alternative to deal with soundproofing interior doors is the use of retractable acoustic panels. These easy to use panels are operated using a drawstring just like a curtain and can reduce the sound coming in from your door by up to 30 decibels.
2. Soundproofing Walls
Hard surfaces like walls reflect sound waves easily. So you will need soft materials on the walls to absorb sound.
Thick blankets, quilts, tapestries, and moving pads are all great DIY hacks to soundproof walls. The DIY route can be a good thing, but if you have the money to spend, proper acoustic panels are the best option.
You can also use furniture to control the amount of sound that travels through walls. For example, sofas and chairs upholstered using materials like suede, corduroy or chenille are great for sound absorption, just as long as they’re placed right. For instance, placing furniture that is heavily upholstered against the walls that the most noise travels through is a definite way of making the room quieter on the inside.
Similarly, a bookshelf running the entire length and breadth of a thin room wall will work as a great soundproofing tool just as long as it is stacked full of books and magazines.
However, if you want to do a more thorough job of soundproofing your walls, consider buying sound dampening wall panels. These acoustical foam panels are great for diffusing mid to low frequencies, and while they may look a little grungy, they do an awesome job of making the insides of the room a lot more silent. A pack of 50 acoustic panels measuring one square foot each should not cost you more than $50 on average.
If you have the luxury of planning your soundproofing before building your home, consider adding resilient channels to the walls. These Z-shaped flexible metal strips are screwed directly onto wall studs between the walls and the drywall to create what is known as a decoupled wall. Decoupled walls are particularly resistant to sound passing through them. A pack of 32 resilient channels measuring 8.5 feet in length will not cost you more than $170.
However, if you’re soundproofing an existing room, adding an extra acoustically treated drywall is an effective way to stop sound bouncing around the walls and ceilings. Add a half-inch drywall to the ceiling and walls, filling the gaps using an acoustical caulk called dampening compound. Dampening compound is sold in tubes, and a pack of six 28oz tubes should cost you around $60.
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3. Treating Floors and Ceilings
Sound travels quite a bit through floors and ceilings as well. Everything from the sound of a vacuum cleaner to footsteps can travel, so it’s important you figure out how to dampen your floors and ceilings.
If you don’t mind a dash of color, a thick shag rug is an easy way to soundproof your ceiling. Thick rugs work great on the floor as well, but consider the addition of an extra rug pad for more effective sound masking. Rug pads can cost anywhere from $15 to upwards of $80, so take your pick.
Rubber textile mats can also be used to efficiently soundproof floors.
4. Making Windows Quiet
Windows tend to draw in noise, no matter how much we try. So is it actually possible to soundproof them, you ask? Well, yes.
The most affordable but least attractive way to soundproof a window is to use a thick large to block out the sound.
Among the more aesthetically pleasing options, consider soundproof curtains and blinds. While these may look like regular window accessories, they can weigh upwards of 15 pounds. Not only are these curtains and blinds designed to stop sound from entering the room from the outside, they actually deflect the sound back outside. Soundproof curtains start from around $120.
Want to keep the view from your bedroom but reduce the noise coming in from the outdoors? What you need are window inserts. Window inserts are made either out of glass or clear acrylic and can be fit directly onto your existing windows. Some of them can be easily removed whenever you want to let some fresh air into your room as well.
Window inserts can reduce the noise levels coming into your room from the outside by almost 50%. They can also help you reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 20%. Expect to spend anything between $250 to $900 on window inserts.
Soundproofing For a Home Studio
While all of the sound treatment methods we’ve discussed above will be effective in making a bedroom or a den relatively noise-free, they won’t necessarily be enough for a home recording studio though. Recording music and voice requires the inside of the room to be completely soundproof. The room will also need acoustic treatment, which is completely different. For all those of you who dream of producing and recording your own music, here is a brief description of what it takes to soundproof your home studio.
What Is the Difference?
In a studio environment, soundproofing refers to completely stopping sound from entering the room or from getting out.
Acoustic treatment involves using panels on the walls and ceilings to stop sound from unnecessarily bouncing inside a room, allowing you to listen to only the frequencies you need to.
The goal of soundproofing a studio is to keep the noise levels in the room lower than the amount of noise made by the recording equipment.
There are five main aspects that are covered while soundproofing a home studio. Let’s take a quick look at what those are.
Mass and density are added to the room by increasing the amount of material on and within the boundaries of the room.
This is done primarily to make sure the bass frequencies do not make the walls vibrate nor do they travel through the walls. We all know how overbearing and irritating it can be to listen to a loud subwoofer from a noisy neighbor’s apartment.
This is done by adding layers to the floor, ceiling, and walls and by insulating any gaps in between the wall and drywall.
Some people also add fiberglass into the walls. While fiberglass is great with soundproofing, it isn’t great for ventilation, so you will definitely need an air conditioner.
- The next aspect is the damping vibrations. This is done by using a dampening compound while building the drywall, and by using shock mounts under speakers and amplifiers.
- The third aspect of successfully soundproofing a home studio is by isolating structures. This is achieved by doing things like building floating floors, double walls, and by separating different structural layers.
- The fourth aspect is to close all air gaps so there is absolutely no space for sound to escape.
- The final aspect is to acoustically treat your personal recording studio so you hear everything just right while recording, mixing, and mastering your music.