Soundproofing Your Space May Be the Secret to a More Peaceful Home

More time at home means more noise—but there are steps you can take to still get the quiet time you need, even while other people are in the house.

Stay-at-home orders and recommendations may be over, but working from home is here to stay. According to a study conducted by Upwork in 2021, approximately 22% of Americans will be working remotely by 2025, which is an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels. With this increase in remote work, interior designers and architects alike have been seeing an increased demand for soundproofed spaces in the home to make working from home—especially if multiple people are trying to work, possibly while kids and pets are home, too—more peaceful.

Soundproofing refers to the process of blocking or reducing sound transfer from one space to another. Many people are familiar with the concept of soundproofing thanks to the practice of soundproofing studio spaces for recording purposes, but soundproofing can also be implemented in the home to help create a quieter and more peaceful space. Whether you are looking to soundproof a home office, create a serene meditation room, or simply improve the acoustics of your home, here’s what you need to know about soundproofing.

wallpaper vinyl record player guitar window
Marty Baldwin

Can a Room Be Completely Soundproofed?

There are two main ways that sound travels throughout a home: through the air (door openings, cracks in windows, and forced air ductwork) and by vibration through construction materials (floors, walls, and ceilings), says Diana Melichar of Melichar Architects. For this reason, new-build homes are generally easier to soundproof, since you have the chance to separate construction materials as the home is being built. For example, drywall can be separated from the floor framing with the use of vibration channels, ductwork can be installed with soundproofing in mind, and wall studs can be staggered to build ‘double walls’ which provide acoustic insulation, Melichar says.

Even if you’re able to apply that spacing, can a room be completely soundproofed? The short answer is no, not really, but you probably wouldn’t want your home completely soundproofed, anyways.

“True soundproofing is scientifically very difficult to achieve,” says Dr. Hadassuh Kupfer, registered audiologist and clinical faculty member for the Audiology Doctoral program at the City University of New York. “These are the kind of experiments they might do at NASA. With zero sound around you, you can lose your sense of all space, and it’s an out-of-body experience.”

Instead, modern-day soundproofing can really be looked at as “sound-treating,” Dr. Kupfer says. Rather than eliminate sound completely, sound-treating looks to dampen and muffle outside noise to the point where the sounds are comfortable, albeit still audible. With this in mind, there are many different ways that sound can be effectively treated in a range of different rooms and living situations.

a-frame ceiling home office
Werner Straube

Things to Know Before You Soundproof a Room

Before you begin a soundproofing project, assess your space and determine the main source of sound pollution that you are looking to treat. Establish your budget and the size of the project you are willing to take on. Soundproofing projects can range from simple DIY solutions to full-blown remodels that require the help of professionals, and they can get quite expensive, depending on the size of the project.

Above all else, enter a soundproofing project with realistic expectations.

“It’s hard to guarantee what a room will sound like ahead of a sound-treating project,” says Dr. Kupfer. “If you go into it with the mindset of sound-treating rather than soundproofing, you will have more realistic expectations.”

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Tips for Soundproofing

Whether you are looking for some DIY soundproofing solutions or are interested in a professional soundproofing project, here are some tips for successfully soundproofing a space.

Add Soft Materials

Adding soft materials to a space, such as thick rugs, curtains, and upholstered furnishings, is one of the easiest ways to start to soundproof a space. Acoustic wall and ceiling panels designed for soundproofing can be added to help further dampen noise.

Address Doors and Windows

Windows and doors are one of the weakest links in a room when it comes to soundproofing, says Alison Wilkinson, registered architect and founder of Seattle-based design firm Wilk Design Workshop. Regardless of any measures you take to soundproof a space, if your doors and windows aren’t optimized for noise reduction, you will still experience significant sound leakage.

“If you have a hollow door, replace it with a solid core door with a high STC (sound transmission control) rating,” Wilkinson says. “We’ve [also] installed weather stripping and seals on the bottom to help block out any traveling sound.”

When it comes to windows, make sure they are properly sealed, with no cracks or drafts. If your home has older windows, you may want to consider replacing them with windows made from laminated glass for optimal soundproofing. Alternatively, double or triple-pane windows are also a great choice.

wood panelled home office with two wicker chairs
John Merkl

Hire a Professional for Extensive Projects

If you are in need of a more serious soundproofing solution than some simple DIY fixes can provide, then it’s a good idea to work with a professional. A contractor or architect will be able to advise you on the changes that will make the biggest impact on your space. Solutions may include opening up walls to install acoustic insulation, creating double walls, or adding floor underlayments to help further muffle sound.

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