What is soundproofing?

Soundproofing is a way to control and isolate certain types of noise, usually to prevent unwanted sound from entering a space. There are various different methods of soundproofing, with many types of soundproofing material looking to completely block the travel of sound.

Many people use soundproofing within their home to reduce the travel of noise from other rooms and to block outside noise such as traffic. Those looking to soundproof a home office may also be concerned about the impact of telephone and video call noise disturbing others in the home. This is where soundproofing can help.

How does soundproofing work?

Soundproofing works in several ways, and the specific method used depends on how the sound is travelling. Sound travels as airwaves and also as vibration through materials, such as a wooden floor.

Soundproofing often works in one of three ways: blocking sound entirely, dispersing sound waves and therefore lessening its impact, or by absorbing the sound waves entirely, which consequently stops them from travelling through a structure (e.g. reverberation in a floor).

Soundproofing works best when an area is fully covered and/or sealed. Any gaps under doors or around window frames will still allow sound waves to pass through. This is why soundproofing can work to reduce the impact of outdoor traffic noise, but not block it completely.

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Different types of soundproofing materials

The material you choose for soundproofing depends on the type of noise you’re looking to control or block, and to what level. The most popular materials for soundproofing in the home include foam acoustic panels, rockwool and other wool cavity insulation, soundproof drywall (also known as plasterboard), and soundproof floor underlay. Acoustic floor tiles are also great for rooms that suffer from echo.

To soundproof a home office, acoustic foam panels often provide a low cost yet effective solution that is relatively easy to install. These panels can be paired with acoustic caulk that is used around window and door frames.

DIY steps to soundproof your home office

To determine how best to soundproof your home office, you need to identify which areas are most problematic for sound escape, travel and reverberation. Begin by covering air vents and gaps, and sealing your window and door frames.

You need to consider whether you want to control the entry or exit of sound and identify how that sound needs to be dealt with. This will ultimately influence the soundproofing materials you choose. For example, if you are bothered by sounds elsewhere in the home – such as reverberation from other doors – you should consider adding a layer of foam panels or drywall to the walls inside your home office.

How much does home office soundproofing cost?

Basic soundproofing can cost as little as £250 for a full fit, right up to £3,000 for more specialist cases. Of course this is a range of average costs, and extensive installations in large home offices can cost significantly more. However, a decent level of soundproofing is accessible to most.

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Home office soundproofing tips

Be sure to include lots of soft furnishings such as cushions and arm chairs to diffuse sounds inside your space, and install carpets and curtains to combat reverberation. Likewise, a hollow door can be replaced with a solid core door to prevent the transfer of noise from elsewhere in the home.