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You’re a busy do-it-yourself-er, and you are wondering about soundproofing options for your living space. Are there shortcuts you can take without sacrificing the privacy you set out to achieve and without disrupting your décor with sound-deadening panels?
You want to be as time and cost-effective as you can be, without destroying your home’s vibe.
Soundproofing of the whole room is not required if the aim is to block out everyday noises, in which case, soundproofing a few calculated spots could suffice. However, when it comes to a music room or recording booth, there would be a requirement to soundproof much more of the room.
Read my guide on soundproofing a room.
Living in a noisy city, having loud and rambunctious kids, or working with music are very common circumstances in our daily lives.
And whether you are looking to protect the neighborhood from your daily noise, or are just reaching for some peace yourself, soundproofing can improve your ability to relax and unwind tremendously. So how can you do it, in the most time, cost, and decoratively effective way possible?
Knowing what sound is and how it travels is half the battle. When you know how sound works, you can identify and deal with it much more efficiently!
What sound actually is, is a wave of vibrations. When you hit a drum, the vibration from that strike travels from the drum, vibrating the molecules in the air around it, and often times bouncing around until the energy from that vibration dies out.
What soundproofing is, is finding ways to absorb those vibrations, stopping them from bouncing into spaces you don’t want them to be. This can be simple solutions, like putting rugs on hardwood floors. A think rug will absorb sound, while a hard floor will rebound them.
Where to Start? Find the Source of the Noise.
Maybe the sound of the TV in the living room is bleeding into your bedroom, Or maybe it’s the sound of traffic through the window during traffic hours.
Before you buy any kind of soundproofing equipment, try and pinpoint the origin of the sound you are trying to keep out.
If you can figure out a source of the noise you’re trying to cancel out, you can figure out how to soundproof more efficiently. You would be surprised by how a small sound source can reverberate through a large space.
You Found the Source, Now What?
You found the source, or maybe you already knew what it was that you were trying to quiet down, now what?
The second thing you are looking for is the entry point: how the sound from the source is getting into the space you want to be quieted.
The noise from the TV is going through the wall it’s mounted on, and the noise from the street traffic is coming in through the window. The vibration waves that make up sound can travel through solid objects just as easy as through empty air. It all depends on how an object’s molecules conduct vibrations.
Ideally, the entry point is small or concentrated, which will make soundproofing it easier.
The source and the entry point are the two more obvious things to look for when soundproofing a room.
The last thing you need to look for is the refection point. One of the biggest necessities for quieting an area is to stop sound from echoing or carrying through a space.
Obviously, you want to hear the TV in the living room, but you don’t want it going through the wall. You also don’t what the sound to bounce from one wall to another.
The traffic outside runs along the front of the house, but it seems that it enters from the window, and somehow it reaches all the way to the back of the house.
Usually, it’s bouncing off the walls and floors, and this is even easier when there are hard surfaces, like tile, hardwood, or concrete, or when the room is empty. If you can find where sound first reverberates from, you can make a tremendous difference in the distance it travels.
Sound travels outwards from the source, so if you follow the source to the entry point, it should be a straight path. The same goes for the path from the entry point to the first reflection point. Follow the angle of entry to the first surface(s). The sound will hit, and you will find the refection point.
Creative Soundproofing Options for Your Space
Now that you have identified these thee points, its time to start soundproofing. You will find that neutralizing these points will make a big difference in the noise level and will probably prevent you from having to soundproof the whole room.
That TV bleeding through the walls? Can you remove it from directly touching the wall? And the wall that you have identified as the entry point? Can you add something there? Blank walls will let in a lot more sound than you think. Fabric like drapes, blankets, and banners are great ways to prevent sound from coming into the room.
The reflection point of the TV noise should be directly across from the entry point wall. Perhaps its another wall, or maybe it’s your bed. Consider cover those walls too. If it’s your bed, your headboard might be the reflection point.
There isn’t much you can do about traffic but try covering that window with some heavy curtains! The wall across from the window could use a little décor too, and maybe throw an area rug on the empty floor space between them for good measure!
Sound-Blocking vs Sound Absorbing
If you have been able to find all three points of sound in your hour, then congrats! All you need to do is throw some sound absorbing décor around and you are all set!
- Is a method of soundproofing used mainly to control noises by covering hard, sound bouncing materials, with soft, sound absorbent ones.
- Items like drapes, rugs, and even acoustic tiles are sound absorbent.
- This method is meant more for controlling noises from bothering you.
- Is usually easier, and less involved than sound-blocking.
But maybe you can’t pinpoint the refection point. Or maybe your soundproofing is more about keeping noise in than about keeping it out. If that’s the case, then you want to install Sound-blocking material.
- It is a method of soundproofing used to deaden noise, adding dense foams and panels to keep sound from getting out.
- Usually involve high density panels or adding sound-blocking foam into the walls themselves
- This method is usually meant for keeping noise from bothering others, for instance if you are building a music room.
- Means that you most likely do need to soundproof the whole room.
To know more, read my article Soundproofing vs. Sound Absorption
You Can Do It!
Now you know all about sound, you can make a sound decision about how much of the room you need to work on.
There are plenty of small improvements you can make to damper sound in a room without throwing up soundproofing panels. Rugs, curtains, and quirky banners can help control sound, so you hear it loud, only in the rooms you want to hear it.