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How to Soundproof Your Home Office
Sounds of Home Making it Tough to Concentrate?
Concentration is nearly impossible when you’re drafting a brief and the sound of cats fighting in the front yard is so loud, you think it’s coming from under your desk.
As you perform work tasks from your house, the need for a quiet home office increases. While working at home eliminates commute time, saves fuel and reduces your business wardrobe expense, it may also come with distractions. The typical home office is the old guest room, the laundry room or a converted stall in the garage. Because these spaces were not originally constructed to reduce noise transmission, the sound of children playing and barking dogs carries easily from one room to the next.
The Science of Sound and Your Walls
“Waves, Sound and Light,” a National Geographic science publication, explains that sound waves travel through solid substances faster than they do through gasses and liquids, due to the close proximity of molecules in solids. Because of this, the best time to soundproof your home office is during the original construction phase when you can integrate air spaces between the solid structural features.
Kansas building contractor, John Taylor, suggests adding soundproofing techniques in the wall, the ceiling and the floor components of a home office for the best results. “Although this is the most effective method, it requires major remodeling if you have an existing office,” warns Taylor, “Because of that, some homeowners opt for less invasive methods that combine noise reduction and noise absorption.”
Sound-Proofing Building and Construction Methods
Noise Reduction Through Framing Techniques
Create a sound barrier within the walls of your home office during new construction or remodeling. Taylor explains the process he uses for his clients, “We create a sound reduction air space within the framed walls by offsetting the structural studs. Every other stud connects to the drywall on one side of the wall while the alternating studs connect to the drywall on the other side of the wall. This prevents direct sound transmission from one room to an adjacent room, by providing an air space. Instead of a 4-inch wide interior wall, you will have a 6-inch wide wall, but sound transmission is greatly reduced.”
Deaden Sound with Insulating Foam
Insulate for Noise Reduction
“Blow acoustical foam insulation into the dead wall spaces between studs,” recommends Taylor, “to reduce noise travelling from an adjacent room into your home office. It’s not as effective as staggered studs, but it will muffle loud noises.” This is a job for the professionals, since the foam expands and may crack existing drywall if not installed correctly.
Block Sound with Drywall
Replace standard drywall with sound-blocking drywall to reduce sound transmission through the walls. Sound-blocking drywall may feature fiberglass composition that acts as a sound insulator. Some contractors install a double layer of drywall and add caulking between the joints before sanding and painting the wall to reduce sound transmission.
DIY Soundproofing at Home
Window Replace Works Wonders
Replace single-pane windows with double-pane or triple-pane insulated windows to reduce distracting sounds from outside into your office. Thick draperies will also muffle sound transference through a window.
Some Flooring Options are Better Than Others for Keeping the Peace
Choose carpet instead of hard flooring to absorb sounds. If carpet isn’t an option, “a floating laminate floor, installed on an acoustical pad will reduce some noise but not as much as carpeting will,” Taylor advises. This type of flooring, such as Pergo, features snap-together panels that do not require nailing. “Because the flooring is separated from the subfloor with a pad in between, noise transmission from the room beneath the office floor is reduced.”
Install Noise Absorbing Wallcoverings
Cover walls with acoustical wallpaper and fabric wall coverings, designed specifically to reduce sound transmission. More expensive than traditional wall coverings, sound reducing wall coverings will muffle noise from adjacent rooms and absorb noises that originate from within your office.
Weather-Strip Your Office Door
Seal leaks around your office door by installing weather stripping just as you would on an exterior door. “While you won’t stop all the sounds that make it into your office, you can significantly reduce them.”
Add Pillows and Soft Padding
Furnish your office with upholstered chairs, rugs, pillows and cloth lampshades to absorb sound waves in the room. “A sparsely furnished office will send sound waves bouncing back and forth like a rubber ball,” Taylor advises.