How to Soundproof a Room

Find solutions for soundproofing windows, walls, doors, and more.

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Photo: John Bessler

Noise is all around. It's created by passing traffic, blaring TVs, barking dogs, neighbors arguing, kids playing, and almost every event that takes place within proximity. Some sounds can be pleasant, like chirping birds or your favorite song, but when you're home relaxing after a long day at work, the last thing you want is more noise.

Soundproofing helps you create a space designed to trap sound and block out noise. It's ideal for making peaceful bedrooms, silent home offices, personal recording or filming spaces, and immersive media rooms where you can enjoy the latest video games, movies, and TV series without interruption. Use this guide to find out how to soundproof a room to reclaim your peace of mind.

How to Soundproof Windows

Most rooms also have windows, which are great for letting in sunlight and fresh air but also tend to allow more sound to pass through than a solid wall. So while you might enjoy natural light, you also get to hear your neighbor revving their truck.

Thankfully, it's relatively easy to soundproof around a window with soundproof foam and weather stripping. Simply cut strips of soundproof foam and pack them around the window frame. When the soundproof foam is in place, seal the borders of the windows with adhesive rubber or plastic weather stripping. You can also use caulk to seal any holes or gaps in the window frame. Additionally, hanging heavy noise-canceling curtains or drapes can help block out noise while insulating the room.

How to Soundproof Doors

Rooms typically have one or more doors where you can enter or exit the space. This opening into the room is the primary location for sound to slip through, so take steps to properly soundproof the door. Replace the current door with a solid hardwood slab door, which is more effective at keeping sound out than a regular hollow door.

After this switch, consider installing a draft stopper on the front of the door and rubber or plastic door sweeps on the bottom of the door to stop sound from passing underneath. Stop sound from slipping through the edges of the door frame by sealing the edges with weather stripping. Just make sure that you measure, cut, and install the weather stripping so that it doesn't interfere with the function of the door.

Soundproof foam and caulk can be used around the doorframe to limit the amount of sound that can enter or escape around the door. Beyond this step, you can also install acoustic foam panels to the door, though this soundproofing method detracts from the overall aesthetic of the space.

How to Soundproof Floors

If you're worried about disturbing the downstairs neighbors or you want to set up a home gym without your daily run annoying the entire household, it's a good idea to soundproof the floors. Simple solutions, like area rugs or carpeting, allow you to quickly and effectively dampen sounds transmitted through the floor, especially when paired with a soundproof liner.

Rubber gym mats and tiles can be assembled on top of the existing floor to create a soundproof space for a home theater or an exercise room. The thick rubber material absorbs vibrations from the treadmill and blocks the sound of noisy machines or loud media centers.

Underlayment is another option to help soundproof the space, but, unlike rubber gym mats or area rugs, underlayment is designed for installation under hardwood floors. If you're in the process of renovating your space or you're planning to update the flooring, consider investing in underlayment. This material absorbs sound vibrations and acts as an insulator to reduce the flow of heat through the floor.

How to Soundproof Walls

There are a wide variety of methods for soundproofing walls, ranging from simple fixes, like moving furniture against the wall, to involved renovations, like replacing the insulation or installing resilient channels on the studs. Before attempting to soundproof walls, decide on how invasive and involved you are willing to get for the best soundproofing possible.

If you're more interested in quick fixes, there are several methods you can attempt. As mentioned, you can rearrange the furniture in a room so that it sits against the wall, where it will absorb sound vibrations. Hanging tapestries or decorative rugs on the wall can also reduce noise and insulate a space.

To take it a step further, invest in soundproof wallpaper or acoustic wall paneling. Opt for a wall soundproofing solution that suits your aesthetic and make sure to seal any holes, gaps, or cracks in the walls with an acoustic sealant to further your soundproofing project.

If you're willing to open up the existing walls or you're in the process of putting in new walls, you can install soundproof insulation between the studs, such as cotton batting or fiberglass insulating boards. Next, attach resilient channels to the studs. Resilient channels absorb sound vibrations through the drywall so that the noise isn't transferred into the studs or through the walls. After the resilient channels are in place, install new sheets of drywall. Tape and mud any holes, gaps, or cracks, then wait about 24 to 48 hours before painting or wallpapering the wall.

How to Soundproof a Ceiling

While you might be considerate enough to soundproof your floors, the same might not be true for your upstairs neighbors. Luckily, soundproofing the ceiling can help solve the problem. If you're okay with opening up the ceiling or the ceiling is already open, take the opportunity to install soundproof insulation between the studs and attach resilient channels to the studs. After these soundproofing measures are in place, install new drywall to complete the ceiling. Make sure to wait about 24 to 48 hours after taping and mudding the drywall to paint the ceiling.

However, if the ceiling is already finished and you don't want to start an involved renovation project, you can invest in acoustic tiles for the ceiling. These tiles can be installed over the existing ceiling to absorb sound vibrations. Alternatively, if you have a lofted ceiling or a tall room, you may be able to install ceiling clouds or cloud canopies to help soundproof the room. Ceiling clouds are suspended from the ceiling, making them look like they're floating, which is where they get the name.

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