How to Soundproof a Home Office for Maximum Productivity

soundproof home office

It seems that today there are more people working from home than there were in times past. If you’re one of them and have a room dedicated as a home office, you may have run into an unexpected problem while sitting in that office – noise! Maybe you didn’t think your home was all that noisy until it came time to get some work done, but now you’re looking for a way to soundproof a home office for maximum productivity.

Having an office space that’s as free as possible from unwanted sounds is important if you really want to get some serious work done. All those little noises that you might not have noticed before – family members in the next room, the HVAC system, the neighbor’s next door (or a floor above), the traffic – can add up to give you quite the loud space to try to work in.

We’ll offer here some solutions to the noise problem. Some solutions you’ll be able to implement on your own. Others you may need to hire a professional to get done properly. In either case, our goal is to soundproof your home office so you can make your workday as productive as possible.

Assessing Your Home Office Noise Situation

Perhaps you’ve been trying to power through in your home office by “simply” ignoring the sounds that are invading your space. But have you ever taken the time to analyze the sources of those noises? Where are the worst offenders coming from?

Take a day or two – or perhaps a full week – to make note of the sounds that bother you the most during your workday. Write them down as they occur. Then, at the end of this trial period, take your list and try to rank them from most to least offensive. That will give you a starting place for looking into soundproofing solutions.

For example, if most of the noises are coming from outside your house, that would seem to indicate you need to concentrate on the outer walls, windows, and doors.

On the other hand, if sounds are leaking in from adjacent rooms, it’s the inner walls, doors, and ceiling or floor where you’ll want to make changes.

The types of soundproofing materials you’ll use will depend on those sources – how loud they are, how they’re being generated, and possibly what frequencies are involved.

Soundproofing Materials

There are a number of different types of soundproofing materials that you can use to help quiet a room. The one(s) you select depend on the source and type of noise involved.

For example, if the noises are caused by echoes within your room, Acoustic Foam Panels could be a good solution. They don’t do much for noises coming in from outside though, which is most likely where the problem is for your home office.

Mass-Loaded Vinyl (MLV) gets added to your walls to absorb sounds that are trying to penetrate them. Adding MLV is a big project, but it might be the best solution depending on your specific problem.

Adding (or replacing old) weatherstripping and caulking where appropriate on doors and windows seals those tiny cracks that can be allowing more noises in than you may think.

These are relatively inexpensive solutions that you can probably do yourself, but they obviously won’t help if you have a noisy neighbor upstairs.

Curtains and carpeting can help if the problem sounds are invading via windows and the floor. Carpeting the room above you (assuming you own the second floor) will help if family members playing upstairs is one of the problems.

Top Soundproofing Solutions for Your Home Office

To save you a little time looking for some of the better products you can purchase to help soundproof your home office, we’ll list a few of them available at Amazon here. Obviously you can search for others, if none of these suit your exact purposes or needs.

Acoustic Foam Panels

As we mentioned above, you put acoustic foam panels in place, usually on your walls, to cancel those bothersome echoes. They are more often used in a home theater or recording studio setting, but they might be useful in a home office too.

You can get panels that look strictly utilitarian, like these from AudioSoul

Or you can go for a touch more color with panels from Sonicism

If you look a little further, you’ll find panels with even more color and designs.

Mass-Loaded Vinyl

Mass-loaded vinyl never needs to be chic-looking because it goes inside your walls. This is the stuff that absorbs noises doing all it can to prevent them from reaching your ears. Soundsulate and TMS are two of the top brands for MLV.

Ubersoft makes smaller products with MLV that take care of those cracks and crevices where sounds can creep in. Their Seam Tape and Cap Nails can be useful if you have such gaps to close.

Installing MLV is no simple task. It can be expensive, especially if you have a large space to cover. You’ll probably want to hire a professional to install it and may not have the use of your office during the procedure, so plan ahead for these possibilities.

Door Sweeps & Weatherstripping

On the other hand, adding a door sweep to your door(s) or weatherstripping to your windows (and maybe your doors too), is a much easier task. It’s also much less expensive than MLV. These materials won’t cancel as much noise as MLV, but they do have their place and can also better insulate your room in the bargain.

Since weatherstripping is strictly utilitarian, we won’t suggest a specific product here. Just look for one that has a good reputation and works with your situation.

The door sweep you choose will be one that matches your room’s decor, so the one we show you here from Holikme may not be the one you want. If that’s true, simply search for one that works better for your room. Perhaps mention the color in your search to narrow the choices.

Noise Canceling Curtains and Blinds

Windows are a particularly difficult section of a room to soundproof by virtue of their construction. They’re made to let the light in, which makes it difficult to keep sounds out at the same time. In fact, you generally get one or the other effect – light or quiet.

One of the chief products to keep noises from coming through your windows in noise canceling curtains. These will usually be made of a thicker material and will thus also keep out the light.

Much like the door sweep, you’ll want curtains that go with the rest of your home office. So again, the designs we suggest here are just a starting point. Look elsewhere if they clash with your current decor.

VOSAREA noise canceling drapes come in blue, dark grey, or light grey. (Ignore the current Amazon description that mentions black.) If you have very large windows, these may not be the best choice.

ZYMECH noise canceling curtains give you many more options for color, pattern, and size. We think you’ll probably find something you like here.

White Noise Machines

A white noise machine can, by adding noise to your office, actually make it quieter overall. The white noise generated by the machine tends to cancel out some of the other sound waves penetrating the room.

It’s true that louder sounds won’t be eliminated by what the machine produces, so you’ll definitely not want to depend on this solution alone.

Most white noise machines do basically the same thing, so we think this model from Conor would work well in a home office.

An alternative would be this portable white noise machine from Sound Oasis. What makes it portable is its compact size and the fact that it includes earphones. One word of caution:

Depending on the type of work you do in your home office, you may not want the white noise going directly into your ears via the earphones. Perhaps you need to more quickly respond to phone calls and don’t want the noise machine in the way.

Techniques for Soundproofing a Home Office

Soundproofing a room, such as a home office, rarely relies on just one method or solution. We’ve already mentioned adding MLV to your walls and weatherstripping those smaller gaps in windows and doors. Here are a few other techniques for further soundproofing your office.

In addition to the MLV, you can add more insulation to walls, floors, and ceilings. Again, this is more of a major project – one that you’ll not likely tackle on your own and one that may negate your use of the office space for a while. However, the dual benefit of soundproofing and insulating may be worth it in the end.

Many (not all) offices outside the home are made of rather stark and hard rooms. Walls may be bare and furniture may lack soft materials. It doesn’t have to be so in your home office.

Consider upgrading, so to speak, your walls by adding decorations and artwork that not only enhances the decor but also absorbs some of the unwanted sounds.

Choose chairs and other furniture (a couch? maybe even a desk?) that are a little more plush than what most people would expect so that these items too can grab and hold those noises you’re looking to eliminate.

If the layout of your office can accommodate an acoustic barrier, such as a free-hanging curtain or a room divider, you could add one to further wall off (and out) those sounds.

Soundproofing a Home Office on a Budget

What can, and should, you do to soundproof your home office if you’re on a rather tight budget? We suggest starting with the smaller, lower-cost items to see how much noise they can negate. Perhaps these solutions will be enough!

Add that door sweep to the door(s) of the room. Maybe you or someone you know would even enjoy making a “door snake” that serves pretty much the same purpose.

Weatherstripping is relatively inexpensive. Spend a few dollars and a few minutes (maybe hours) tackling those smaller cracks.

Get a white noise machine or try noise canceling headphones, if you can handle adding more pleasant sounds to cancel out the unwanted noises.

Instead of replacing a hollow door with a costly solid core model, hang a thick blanket over it to muffle the sounds that would otherwise come through it.

If air ducts and vents are a source of noise, add some acoustic tape that will absorb the sounds before they enter the room.

Depending on your exact setup, you may find more small items you can alter that will cancel more sounds. As you add these solutions, check the noise level along the way.

If at any point it’s now tolerable, then stop. You don’t need to spend more time and money for what would probably be minimal gains.

Additional Tips to Minimize Noise Distractions

Besides making physical changes to the home office room itself, perhaps you can make some other adjustments that will help.

If you have the flexibility to change the hours you work each day, maybe you can schedule your work time for periods when you know that the bothersome noises aren’t normally being generated.

Is there a time when the rest of the family isn’t home? Is there a time when outside traffic is lighter? Figure out when those times happen and do your best work then.

One more possibility, if you have a family, is to work with them to establish a “quiet zone”. “Kids, you can play in this room and this room, but not that room or that room.” The corollary to that would be to base your office in an area as far away from the rest of the family as possible.

Final Thoughts

Distractions, by definition, are never good things. You need as few of them during working hours as possible. Even pleasant sounds can be distractions if they’re not under your control. So eliminating as many sounds from your home office as you can is a good thing.

Evaluate your workspace, come up with a soundproofing plan – probably starting small – and work towards creating a peaceful, pleasant place in which to work in the comfort of your own home.

Author

  • Vernon Morgan

    Hi there! I'm Vernon, the ‘Serene Specialist." I started this site to document my efforts in making my home a tranquil environment. Through tireless research and countless soundproofing projects, I found that peace I craved. I hope I can help you achieve the same

    Morgan Vernon

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