How To Soundproof a Home Office
As we travel from 2020 to 2021 many of our lives have been adjusted. Some of us have had significant at work changes and some of us have been forced to work from home. That is of course if you still have your job from before COVID. Many people have been laid off or their company has shut down. Those people have been forced to look for new work, start a new business or collect unemployment payments in the hope of finding something in the future.
How has it affected you?
If you are working from home in any capacity it may or may not have been a smooth transition, and your current workspace may not be ideal. Some of us have had to reorganize major areas of the house in order to accommodate the new reality of working from home.
As I sit and write this I am in an old bedroom that has become an office/studio for me to work in.
TL; DR – The Quick Answer
- Install a door sweeper and weather stripping to the interior office door. If you have one.
- Seal any windows. Add Heavy curtains and close them.
- Add some acoustic foam or diffusers to the walls. You can substitute with textile art and book cases, with books. Place the book cases opposite the speaker location or on the wall parallel to your ears as you sit at the desk.
- Ceiling and flooring. A hanging acoustic panel from the ceiling over your head does A LOT. Also extra carpet, especially THICK carpet helps.
Lastly if you are looking for a more permanent solution and need some insulation and soundproofing done contact us and let us know. We can help.
The New Home Office Reality
Over the last 30 or so years homes have moved further and further away from having what you would typically call a “home office”. Many people are opting for more living space as families grow. In homes that get over the 2000-2500 square foot range you start to see them creep back in. However, even in larger homes people are opting for additional bedrooms and theatre rooms because the re-sale value is more appealing.
People who do have home offices in their homes are typically people who run their own business, work from home all the time, or have the additional square-footage that creates that opportunity.
All that changed in 2020.
As the pandemic started, businesses shut down. Any office type jobs where people where together in a small space was stopped. The people in these jobs where transitioned to their homes and required to work from home.
Many of these people didn’t have a home office setup, and living space needed to change.
Home Office Renovation and Interior Design
Two things happened as we experienced this change.
ONE – Make an Office Anywhere We Can
For some people there simply wasn’t another “room” for them to convert into an office, they literally had to choose a corner of the home to operate out of. My wife spent 6 months at the kitchen table with her computer because our other bedroom upstairs was occupied.
We also thought she was going to eventually go back to the office.
When her company laid off 85 people, including her, we knew we needed to make a change.
TWO – The Bedroom Office
For anyone that had an extra bedroom, or could re-arrange an extra bedroom the home office was put in a bedroom. This created a separate space, and hopefully a space you can at least close the door for those endless zoom calls, and setup a desirable environment.
The Issue With Sound
As you can imagine the first option above was not very good when it came to sound and privacy. Compounded with the fact that everyone was now at home, keeping focused and completing your tasks became a more challenging endeavour.
Even though many employers allowed you to change your working hours from the traditional 9-5 to whenever to whenever it was still hard to find a proper balance.
In the second option you could at least close the door, and have some as-semblance of privacy. This doesn’t always solve the noise issue however.
The reason for that is that residential bedrooms are not designed to deal with sound issues. They are generally little boxes or rectangles and have all solid surfaces on the walls and cielings and sometimes the flooring as well.
Add to that the fact that sound travels really well through air, and will travel under the door, through the ventilation, and through the walls.
Soundproofing Your Home Office Comes in Two Sizes
Sound INSIDE the Room
How the inside of your room sounds is just as important as how the sound travels out of your room and into your room.
Which simply means that it travels through the air, hits a solid surface and reflects off of that surface and heads in the opposite direction. It continues to do this until it is either absorbed or runs out of energy, which takes a really long time.
Also, sound wave energy is really fast, about 1130 feet per second. A sound wave will bounce back and forth between these two walls about 60 times in one second.https://www.acousticalsurfaces.com/video-resources/how-sound-works-in-rooms-acogeo/
To combat this we use diffusers and absorbers to change the energy of the soundwaves and the direction of the reflections. (TL;DR – Put Stuff in the room like shelves, book cases, carpet and soft surfaces. Also put things on the walls.)
Normal decorations will help significantly but there are also a number of product specifically designed to help with this. The absorptive panels in the image below help absorb sound waves and the wood image is a diffuser that helps break up the sound waves and give the sound a “cleaner” feel.
If you are talking a lot on zoom and find your room echo is quite high you could try using one of these types of products to clean up the sound and make it echo less. It will also help the people on the other end listening to you. Your voice will sound clearer.
Sound Outside the Room
The other major issue is with sound travelling into the room from outside, or visa versa. Some people believe that if they put up some soft surfaces on the walls that will stop the sound from travelling in and out of the room.
It won’t. Especially lower frequencies.
Air is your enemy when it comes to this. Put weather stripping on the bottom of the door…yes the interior bedroom door.
Also you can exchange the interior door for an exterior door and you will see a huge difference. The interior door is hollow and sound passes right through it.
the other major issue is the walls. the best thing you can do is to tear off the drywall and stuff the walls full of insulation and then put the drywall back on. And then put another layer of drywall on separated by a small air gap. But maybe not everyone can do that.
Do You Need a Full Renovation?
If you want to soundproof your bedroom office, or actual office you will likely need a renovation. The best thing to do is rip off the walls and the cieling and the flooring. Then create a room within a room that is completely separate from the old room.
This, as you can imagine is a big project, and will need some expertise. If you are interested Bedrock can help…head over to our contact page and let us know about your office needs and we will setup a meeting (virtual) with you.