HOW TO SOUNDPROOF A BEDROOM
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR CATCHING QUALITY Z’S
Whether you share it with a partner or enjoy your solitude, your bedroom is the one room in your home that should be completely free of distractions. So I thought I’d offer some advice on how you can soundproof your bedroom in this article.
The main task of the soundproofing techniques I’ll explain today is to block out outside noise. After all, it’s a bit hard to sleep when you can hear the sound of traffic coming in through your windows, neighbors arguing above you, and your kids playing video games with the volume up to eleven in the next room.
Aside from blocking out outside noises, there’s also the issue of keeping sound in — and hey, I’ve been there. Couples with young kids are especially concerned with having time and space to themselves. And many apartment buildings and homes have paper-thin walls that make it incredibly difficult to enjoy ourselves with our partners.
During my life, I’ve belonged to all of these groups. I’ve slept in a room directly above a busy street, which I also used as an office space. And I’ve also shared an apartment with two roommates, with all of our girlfriends coming over.
Wherever I slept over the years, I have always made sure to implement at least a few of the soundproofing tips on this list. In the following article, I’ll first share some quick and easy tips you can implement immediately. And if none of those techniques work for you, there are some more serious soundproofing methods that may even include some construction work. Finally, I’ll conclude the article with a few parting words.
QUICK AND EASY WAYS TO SOUNDPROOF A BEDROOM
Before we move on to more substantial soundproofing methods, there are some quick fixes you can try around your bedroom. In fact, most of these are pretty cheap, if not completely free, soundproofing techniques that would work pretty much anywhere in your home. So let’s begin with the easiest tip to implement.
1. Play Around with the Decor
Simply rearranging the furniture with soundproofing in mind is a great way to silence outside noise and prevent sounds from leaving your bedroom. The most helpful way to make sure that sounds can’t pass through the walls of the room is to push your wardrobe and bookshelves against them. I’d recommend focusing on any shared walls, rather than the ones that are facing the street.
Another thing you could do to add mass to the walls is to just decorate them with canvas paintings or tapestries. The thicker the fabric, the more sound it will be able to absorb. So if you have a rug that’s just too pretty to walk on, you could just hang it up on the wall and call it a day.
Actually, while we’re on the subject of decor, soundproof wallpaper could also be a helpful way of soundproofing a bedroom. Something like this white brick pattern wallpaper (link to Amazon) is pretty much a great way to add some mass to your walls. It’s made of a thicker foam material, unlike a regular wallpaper. I imagine it would be especially great for the walls that are still exposed after you’ve pushed all of the bookshelves and wardrobes off to one side.
Also, since softer, cushiony materials are better at absorbing sound, you may want to consider adding a little sitting area to your bedroom. If your bedroom is big enough, you could probably fit a small sofa or an armchair in there. Both of those options will slightly improve the acoustics of a room.
2. Blankets — Everywhere!
Blankets are also a decorative element you could use to make your bedroom more silent and cozier as well. In fact, I’ve already written an article explaining the many ways blankets can help to soundproof many areas around the home.
Whether you’re working with regular blankets or soundproof ones, you can:
- Nail or glue them to the walls.
- Hang them on curtain rods over the doors or windows.
- Toss them over any hard surfaces or pieces of furniture.
For extra style points, you could install curtain railings around the wardrobe or along the walls, and suspend blankets all over the room. And if you’d like to understand the difference between soundproof and moving blankets and get my product recommendations, you may check the linked article.
Now, since I’ve already mentioned curtain railings, there are some more obvious decorative elements one might hang off of those.
3. And for a Stylish Twist — Curtains
Just like blankets, curtains can be used to soften and absorb sounds before they can hit hard surfaces like drywall, wooden furniture, or glass windows. You could pretty much install curtain railings wherever you want them — along the walls or over doors and windows — and hang the curtains up. However, even heavy soundproof curtains are often considered a less effective alternative to soundproof blankets.
Still, I’d say that curtains are especially good for bedroom soundproofing simply because they’re more attractive than blankets. On the whole, soundproof blankets are designed with musicians in mind. Certainly, the look of a blanket wasn’t as important as its efficacy to the designer or the intended consumer. But when we’re talking about bedrooms, we expect to see something that’s a bit more comfortable and presentable.
That’s why, especially if you’re going to be bringing partners over, soundproof curtains might be the way to go. Actually, if you don’t want to invest in soundproof curtains, you could just use any thicker curtains you’ve got. You could even layer curtains on top of each other. I recommend putting lighter curtains closer to the wall or the window, and thicker ones on top.
4. Easy Ways to Deal With Bedroom Doors and Windows
Aside from covering them with soundproof blankets or curtains, there are a few other easy ways to soundproof a door and even a window:
- Use weatherstripping tape (link to Amazon) or rubber gaskets where the door/window touches the door/window frame. They will ensure that the doors and windows are tightly shut so no air or sound can pass through them.
- Rubber door stoppers are also easy to install and they’ll deal with the gaps between the door and the threshold. They’ll even keep the door from slamming if there’s a draft.
- Actually, even a soft draft blocker (Amazon) would be a great option. It’s a sort of long heavy cushion that you’d slide under the door. And since it’s made of textile, it won’t damage your floor as you open the door.
- Alternatively, you could set up a stationery rubber threshold on the floor itself, rather than having one slide against your floor every time you want to open the door.
5. And as for the Floor
The final problem we must discuss is the floor soundproofing. Fortunately, textiles — carpets, in particular — can help here too. The simplest way to soundproof your bedroom floors would be to:
- Cover as much of the floor as possible with thick and dense carpets.
- Put rubber floor mats, MLV, or both under the carpet.
- Use foam carpet underlay under thinner carpets.
I actually neglected to mention that last point in my floor soundproofing article. Still, something like this memory foam underlay (link to Amazon) will not only cushion the impact of footsteps but will also make your bedroom that much cozier.
I’ve also been experimenting with ceiling soundproofing. As I have previously mentioned, any rugs that are too pretty to walk over can be hung up on walls. However, I’ve recently become aware that some people also hang rugs from the ceiling.
This is a pretty tough look to pull off, but if any room could do it, I’d say it would be the bedroom. Of course, this would certainly be a more difficult undertaking than if you were to nail the rug to a wall. But I’d say it might be worth it, especially if you’re going for an eccentric Bohemian sort of vibe for your bedroom.
6. Acoustic Foam Products
Of course, no soundproofing article is complete without at least one mention of acoustic foam products. Whether you use foam tiles or fabric panels, these products can really help you soundproof your bedroom. In fact, they’d be particularly useful if you’re concerned with keeping sound in.
I’ve made my product recommendations in the previous article I’ve written on this subject. But as for the use of foam products in the bedroom, honestly, I’m of two minds.
On the one hand, foam tiles could add a nice texture to your walls. On the other, having professional soundproofing equipment hanging on the walls may seem like a bit of an overkill. It might actually be best to keep the soundproofing methods subtle. You could compensate for flimsier surface soundproofing techniques by implementing some more serious methods underneath.
PROFESSIONAL SOUNDPROOFING METHODS for bedrooms
Now we’re talking about methods that are more likely to make a dent in your wallet. They’ll also be more effective than most DIY tips I have for you. As always, it’s best to start by plugging any obvious air gaps.
1. Start Where You’re Vulnerable: Windows and Doors
If weatherstripping tape didn’t manage to remove most of the outside noise, your windows and doors may have more gaps. Get a caulking gun and some acoustic caulk and go to town. Check around the window and door frames, looking for any cracks where air could get in, and plug them with a sealant.
If you can still hear sounds through your door even with the door stopper and after you’ve plugged the air gaps, you may need to look into buying a new door. You could just look for thicker and denser doors — or you could go straight for the heavy-duty soundproof doors they use for music studios. They’re often made of quality materials and filled with foam or other insulation, so don’t expect them to be cheap.
Windows present a different problem. Even after you’ve plugged the air gaps with caulk, the glass itself could be letting sound through. There are a few fixes for this as well:
- Install window inserts to soundproof and prevent the heat from escaping through thin glass. This is especially helpful if you have single-pane windows.
- Make your own window plug — which will also prevent the light from coming through to your bedroom.
- Buy new PVC windows and monitor their installation to avoid air gaps. They come with their own weatherstripping tape and double-pane glass, which is ideal for preventing outside noises from reaching you. And on top of that, you can install fabric blinds, which will also prevent sound from bouncing off of hard glass.
2. Soundproofing Bedroom Walls
I’ve already gone through the best way to soundproof a wall in a previous article. Basically, it involves stripping the bedroom walls down to the studs and installing:
- Thick soundproof insulation,
- Mass-Loaded Vinyl,
- Resilient channels,
- Two layers of soundproof drywall with Green Glue in between, and
- Copious amounts of acoustic caulk to plug the remaining gaps.
All of these elements combine to bring you the most effective soundproofing you could possibly get, but they also come at a price. Soundproof insulation and drywall are more expensive than regular ones, for example. But if you read the linked article, you’ll see that you don’t necessarily have to use each of the products I’ve recommended.
In fact, if you need to decide upon a single solution, I’d recommend installing resilient channels. They will separate the inner layers of drywall from the wall studs, making even impact noise disperse before reaching your bedroom.
If you prefer, you can do a similar thing without stripping the existing walls. Just put up new studs on top of the walls and do all or some of these steps on top of that. The room will get smaller, though, and you’ll need to work around the power lines and air ducts.
Speaking of which, since air ducts are pretty much big holes in the walls, you’ll need to plug them too. You can deal with them by completely covering them or installing a foam maze inside the vent, to prevent sound from traveling through the ventilation system.
3. Working on the Floor and Ceiling
Lastly, if installing foam products or rugs didn’t quite get rid of the sound of your upstairs neighbors, you can pretty much follow the wall soundproofing tips to lower your ceiling and decouple it from the floor above.
And if your floor is letting sound pass even through the rubber mat, MLV, and thick carpet underlay, you’ll have to do some work on it too. Basically, you’ll lift the floor until you reach the subfloor. Then, you’ll lay down underlayment and a Green Glue and plywood sandwich, and return the hardwood floors. I’ve explained this process in more detail and have recommended a few products in my article about floor soundproofing.
SOME PARTING TIPS for quiet bedrooms
So, that’s about all I know about soundproofing a bedroom. Some of these are tried and true tricks I have developed during my own years of switching sleeping arrangements, while others are ones I’ve recently learned.
Still, I have a few final words of wisdom I’d like to share with you.
If none of these techniques work, or if for some reason you can’t apply them, you may want to invest in other noise-canceling products instead. Fortunately, I’ve written reviews on quite a few useful ones:
- You could use a white noise machine or a fan. These are pretty cheap and effective at disguising all sorts of noises, and they don’t require you to install anything.
- If you’re looking for something more, quiet air purifiers can also act as white noise machines at higher speeds. And they’ll even allow you to breathe easier as you sleep.
- Also, consider getting noise canceling headphones or earmuffs. If all you’re having to deal with is loud roommates or neighbors (or kids playing video games till the crack of dawn), these products will serve you well.
That’s all, folks! Now you know everything I do about bedroom soundproofing. Ultimately, whichever one of these methods you end up going with should effectively soundproof your bedroom. And if you’re doing it right, it’ll also make it a bit more stylish as well.