How to (Temporarily) Soundproof a House for a Party


How to Soundproof a House for a Party

I’ve been to plenty of house parties over the years, and it’s fair to say they always end up pretty loud. What’s more, trying to keep the guests quiet isn’t really an option, so it’s time to look at some other solutions.

In this article, I look at how to temporarily soundproof a house for a party. The focus here is on temporary solutions that should be possible with things you’ve already got laying around the home, or at least can be bought cheaply.

However, bear in mind that these won’t be as effective as permanent soundproofing solutions, but that’s a given. You should notice a reduction in the amount of noise escaping the house, particularly if you use as many different methods as possible.

If you’re looking for permanent soundproofing solutions to block out/in noise, read my article on soundproofing home theater and media rooms.

What areas should you focus on?

When it comes to soundproofing a house, there are certain problem areas to address. While you should focus on adding soundproofing materials wherever possible, the parts to concentrate on are:

  • Walls
  • Windows
  • Doors

Sure, you should also add soundproofing to the floor, but if you live in a house (rather than an apartment), impact noise travelling through the floor isn’t going to be your main concern.

Instead, you should focus on reducing the amount of airborne noise that leaves the building. Common sources of airborne noise include people talking (or shouting), music, and TVs. As we’re probably all aware, these are common problems at a party.

If you’re looking for ways to temporarily soundproof your house as much as possible, then I’d focus primarily on walls, and possibly look for other ways to solve sound escaping through doors and windows.

While I’ll still offer soundproofing methods for doors and windows in this article, it’s worth knowing that these are weak points in any soundproofing project, regardless of how in-depth and permanent it is.

How much time have you got?

Another important thing to consider is how much time you actually have available to set up any soundproofing solutions in your home. While some people might be happy to spend 3 or 4 days working on this, I imagine most wouldn’t see the point for a night’s worth of entertainment.

Hopefully, depending on the size of your house and the extent of soundproofing you plan to install, the solutions listed below shouldn’t take you more than a day to set up. Realistically this is how much time I’d spend getting ready for a party, as you have to remember that you’ll need to take everything down again.

That said, one major benefit of using these soundproofing solutions is that they almost act like a protective layer over your home. You might not be planning a particularly rowdy party, but if someone spills a drink you’ll be thankful for that extra floor covering you put down.

When deciding which soundproofing methods to use for your party, weigh up how long you think they’ll take against the benefits you’ll actually see from them. For example, it’s probably not worth soundproofing the whole house if you’re only having a small soiree, as then you’ve probably just wasted your time.

Do you have any other solutions?

I’d consider temporary soundproofing to really be a LAST OPTION when it comes to planning a party. Before jumping into a soundproofing project, it might be worth considering whether you’ve got any alternatives.

By this I mean, do you have somewhere else to hold the party? For example, if you’ve got an outbuilding, such as a garage, it might be better to have the party there if it’s further away from your neighbors.

Another option is to simply make guests aware of any noise restrictions that might be in place from living in a residential neighborhood. In fact, I’d probably do this either way because one of the best soundproofing solutions is to simply cut the noise off at the source.

Soundproofing a house for a party

During my research, I have found 9 possible ways to soundproof a house for a party, which are:

  1. Extra carpet in the main party area
  2. Deal with the windows
  3. Fit some bass traps
  4. Soundproof the doors
  5. Line the walls
  6. Try other wall coverings
  7. Use the house basement instead
  8. Keep the volume down
  9. Speak to your neighbors

These are my top tips, which I will now discuss much more now.

1. Extra carpet in the main party area

soundproof carpet

Dealing with the floor is probably one of the least important issues for soundproofing a house, so I thought I’d get it out of the way early. Rather than actually blocking sound, laying carpet helps to manage acoustics instead. But what do I mean by that?

Sound waves bounce off hard, flat surfaces, which causes them to echo around a room and amplify. Floors, particularly hardwood floors, are one of the best areas for echoing sound waves, so are worth dampening with a soft material.

This is where carpet comes in. Carpet’s structure is actually really good for reducing echo because not only does it stop sound waves bouncing off the flat surface, but also the weave traps sound waves to an extent, thereby absorbing the sound waves. More than anything, this will be a help with footsteps and bass from subwoofers, which can travel surprisingly far.

The important thing here is to get the thickest carpet possible. The thicker the carpet, the more it’ll dampen sound waves. However, for a temporary solution like this, I understand that people won’t want to go out and buy an expensive shag carpet that costs thousands of dollars.

Here are the best carpet materials

What I’ve done in the past is simply go to a carpet shop and see what offcuts they have. Failing that, go to a dump and pick up some old carpet. This might sound a bit gross, but it’ll be free! Also, you’ll probably feel much happier about people treading over old secondhand carpet than your expensive flooring.

I’d recommend laying carpet even over carpeted floors. This might sound pointless, but it’s adding even more mass to the floor, which will help dampen sound. Also, the same thing applied about people wearing shoes and spilling drinks. It’s much easier to solve these problems if all you need to do is pick up a bit of old carpet the next day.

2. Deal with the windows

Windows are probably going to be your main problem when temporarily soundproofing, along with doors. By their very nature, windows are difficult to soundproof because they open and close, and glass isn’t very soundproof.

Realistically, windows are difficult to soundproof permanently and present the same level of challenge when soundproofing temporarily. Usually I’d recommend things as extensive as replacing the windows, but that doesn’t really fit the point of this article.

My first recommendation, and it might sound obvious, is to lock the windows and hide the keys. Sound escapes best through open windows (who’d have guessed?), so closed windows mean less of a problem. Sure, it might get a bit warm indoors, but who needs their windows open at night?

Aside from that, your best bet for soundproofing windows is to add heavy drapes or curtains and as many as possible. Using heavy drapes helps to dampen sound waves before they reach the window, meaning that realistically less sound should leak outside.

You can also buy soundproof curtains (RELATED ARTICLE).

soundproof curtains
Soundproof Curtains (available on Amazon)

Alternatively, I’d recommend going to a thrift store and seeing what you can pick up second hand. As you’ve probably guessed by now, appearance isn’t a high priority in this project, so just get your hands on literally anything you can find. If you’re handy with a needle and thread then you can knock something together pretty easily. If not, then staples and glue will do much the same thing.

Start with the heaviest drapes possible, something like velvet is excellent, as are most blackout blinds. I’d try and sew/stick several curtains together so it makes a much thicker sheet, as this will dampen more sound waves. Alternatively, you could use blankets, but these are harder to hang from curtain rails.

The most important thing when soundproofing windows using drapes is to cover the whole window, and then some. It’s always best if the curtains reach the floor with a bit extra to spare so they bunch up. Also, make sure the curtains are wider than the window so you can pull them together without any gaps.

Simply hanging more curtains is the most effective way to temporarily soundproof windows. While some other options will give you much better results, they’re expensive and time consuming, and definitely not worth it just to keep your neighbor’s happy while you have a party.

3. Fit some bass traps

Read my guide on bass traps. The guide is important for knowing how bass frequencies work and what type of traps you need.

House parties usually mean loud music, and loud music usually means heavy bass. Low frequencies, such as bass, travel the furthest because they use less energy to vibrate through the air and surfaces. If you’re having a party, bass is probably going to be your worst enemy.

Thumping bass is also the thing your neighbors are probably most likely to complain about. Most people can deal with loud voices, but travelling bass is a much more irritating problem. In fact, I consider it such a big deal that this is probably the only point I’m going to recommend buying actual products for.

Bass traps are a kind of acoustic treatment, which means they don’t block sound but instead prevent it from bouncing around a room. Doing this stops the sound waves from transferring through a solid object because they’re usually absorbed by something soft with an open texture.

Essentially, bass traps work exactly how they sound like they should. They provide a surface that sound waves find it difficult to bounce off, and so “trap” them and prevent them from echoing further. The structure of bass traps is specifically designed for low frequency sound waves, but you can get the same technology for mid- and high-range frequencies too.

I’d recommend buying a minimum of 4 bass traps and setting them up in the room that contains the speakers. If you have speakers in more than one room, buy more bass traps. I can’t stress the difference this’ll make to soundproofing levels, so is definitely worth the investment.

When sound waves reflect around a room, they effectively pool up in the corners because this is where 2 flat surfaces meet. For this reason, placing bass traps at a 45-degree angle (see the image below) across the corner is going to be the best place to start.

straddling bass trap

Try playing some music and leave the room. If you don’t notice much change, move them and try again. Keep doing this until you notice a difference in the levels of bass frequencies leaving the room. Obviously do this before guests arrive so everything is ready for the party.

4. Dampen the doors

As I mentioned earlier, doors are one of the most challenging areas to soundproof in any project, let alone a temporary one. Also, my window solution of locking them won’t really work here, as I imagine your guests probably won’t enjoy being locked in your house.

One advantage you do have of soundproofing for a house party is that you’ll probably only need to concentrate on external doors, and these are much easier to work with. Interior doors are often hollow, which makes them a nightmare to try and soundproof.

Exterior doors, however, are usually solid, or at least made from composite materials. While this is usually to provide better thermal insulation, this also works for soundproofing.

My first piece of advice would be to try and keep people indoors as much as possible. Noise levels are much easier to control in a building, and sound travels much further outside. Similarly, keeping the doors shut will mean less noise pollution making it outside.

So, the first thing I’d suggest for soundproofing a door temporarily is to hang heavy curtains in front of it. Much like with windows, this is the easiest way to add mass to a door, and it’ll offer a level of sound dampening.

However, it’s obviously harder to hang curtains in front of a door. An alternative would be to fix blankets to the door, but this doesn’t address the gaps between the door and the frame. These are a surprising source of noise pollution, as sound waves can leak through the tiny gaps.

One of the best solutions I’ve found for this problem is to staple curtains or blankets to the top of the door frame. While this might sound a bit invasive, staples come out really easily and leave very little mark behind them.

Also, try to have the curtains or blankets bunching around the bottom of the door, as this is the easiest way to deal with the gap at the bottom. If you attach the curtains correctly, you’ll still be able to use the door normally, but I’d try and stop people from using it as much as possible.

Another useful tip is to simply keep interior doors shut whenever possible. If you isolate sounds within the house by keeping rooms blocked off from each other, then it’ll make it much harder for noise to escape the house. However, this might be difficult to manage once people have had a few drinks.

For proper soundproofing of a door, read this article of mine.

5. Line the walls

Doors and windows are the worst areas for noise pollution escaping a building, but walls are also worth paying attention to. Walls can transmit both impact noise and airborne noise, although this won’t be as much of a problem with exterior walls.

The way you choose to soundproof your walls will depend on who you’re trying to block noise for. For example, if it’s for neighbors, then only focus on exterior-facing walls, as these will be where sounds escape outside. However, if for some reason you’re trying to soundproof for someone inside the home, focus on the interior walls.

The easiest thing you can do to soundproof walls, both interior and exterior, is to add mass to them. Usually, this would be with specialty products such as mass loaded vinyl, but this is both expensive and permanent. In this case, we’ll obviously look for some more temporary and easy to manage solutions.

Hanging blankets is probably the easiest solution because most of us probably have plenty of them lying around the home. Similarly, you could pick some up pretty cheap if you needed to, or you could even ask guests to bring their own! Either way, get as many as possible.

The issue here is going to be finding a way to temporarily attach them to the wall. The best thing you can do, if you’ve got the supplies, is to construct a really simple frame that can be leaned against the walls.

Doing this will give you something to fix the blankets to without damaging the walls. Just take 3 bits of timber, one shorter than the others, and fit them together in a U-shape. Turn this upside down and lean it against the wall. You can now staple or nail the blankets to the top of the frame.

Of course, another option is to attach the blankets directly to the wall, but this is obviously going to leave marks. If it’s your house, you might not have a problem with this, but I’d advise against it if you’re trying to have a party while your parents are out of town.

You should try and use the heaviest blankets possible, or several layers of thinner blankets. Removal blankets are the best because these are really thick, but several layers of decorating dust sheets can also work. Just remember this isn’t going to do loads for soundproofing, but should make enough of a difference.

6. Alternative wall coverings

yoga mat

Along with hanging blankets or drapes on the wall, another useful product to try are camping or yoga mats. You can pick these up pretty cheap from almost anywhere, or you can do what I do and collect them from festivals once everyone has left. That way they’re free!

Camping mats fall somewhere between soundproofing and acoustic treatment. While they will block a small amount of noise from transferring through a wall, they’re more likely going to deal with echo and reverberation within the room. However, when it comes to temporary soundproofing solutions, it can be worth trying anything.

One of the benefits of using camping mats over blankets is that they’re much easier to work with when it comes to fixing them to a wall. You could easily attach them to a wall with thumb tacks or small pins, which would only leave tiny marks behind.

Alternatively, you could build frames for them out of whatever you’ve got lying around at home so they can be propped up against the wall. In fact, I’d recommend combining both blankets and camping mats on the same wall if you’re able to.

I’d do this by fixing the camping mats to the wall and then hanging the blankets over them. The more mass you add to the wall, the more sound you’re going to block. And when it comes to temporary solutions like this, it’s worth trying whatever you can.

7. Move the party into the house basement

While this isn’t technically an option for temporarily soundproofing your house, it’s a pretty good alternative. Moving the party into the basement will make it much harder for noise pollution to reach your neighbors because most of it will be lost in the earth.

Of course, this option does come with a range of disadvantages, most notably that a basement probably isn’t the nicest place to host a party. Also, you’ll probably have to reduce your guest list slightly, unless you’ve got a large basement.

The only reason I’m suggesting this as an option is because it’ll obviously be much easier than trying to temporarily soundproof your home. However, if you’ve got a basement then you’ve probably considered this option already, and if you’re reading this article then you’ve probably also already discounted it as an option.

Read my article on soundproofing basement bedrooms.

8. Keep the volume down

I’ve touched on this point already in the article, but one of the most effective ways to manage noise pollution is to address it at the source. In this case, this involves your music and guests.

All you need to do is ask them to keep the noise down. If you say this from the beginning, and your reasons for doing so, it’s fair to hope that your guests will listen.

One of the easiest ways to manage this is to keep the music volume low. Whether consciously or not, people see music volume as a kind of benchmark for how much noise they can make. Also, quieter music means people don’t need to shout over it to be heard.

9. Speak to your neighbors

Again, I appreciate this isn’t a direct solution for soundproofing your home, but it’s easily just as effective if you want to avoid conflicts and problems about the party. After all, neighbors will most likely complain about a party if it just “happens”, rather than them having notice.

Go and speak to them at least the day before, if not further in advance. Maybe even try inviting them. They’ll most likely decline, but at least this should make them feel better about the whole thing.

Also, speaking to them in advance shows that you’re being considerate, and this implies that any excessive noise on the night is an accident, as you’ve made neighbors aware that you’ve got the issue under control.

If they don’t have it already, give them your contact number and suggest they get in touch if the noise levels are too high. Not only will this show you’re being considerate, but it’ll also give you a chance to deal with the problem before they decide to possibly call the police.

Some final thoughts

Attempting to soundproof a house temporarily will still take a lot of work. By its very nature, soundproofing often requires lots of time and resources, neither of which you’ve probably got in this situation.

However, I found that there are plenty of things you can try to reduce noise pollution escaping your house. Just remember that these won’t be as effective as proper soundproofing, and that it’s always better to address the problem at its source.

Thanks for reading! Check out my top recommended products for soundproofing.

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