10 Ideas on How to Soundproof a Room Cheaply – or Even for Free!
Although the modern urban lifestyle is very convenient in general, it definitely has some significant downsides. One of the most annoying problems everyone faces sooner or later is invasive noise pollution. If you’re wondering how to soundproof a room cheaply, chances are, like many others, you’ve been affected by this problem.
However, do not despair. You don’t need expensive studio equipment to reduce your noise levels. Soundproofing a room for cheap is completely viable, and all you need for that are some common household items. It takes no more than a little creativity to create a large difference in your environment. What’s more, once you know the basics of soundproofing, you can even soundproof a room for free. This list of 10 cheap soundproofing ideas is here to help you get inspired.
But Is It Really Possible?
There are numerous ways in which noise could be ruining your day. If you live in an apartment building with bad sound insulation, it might seem like you’re condemned to live with the noise. You might be living on a busy street, with traffic noise going on into the late night. Noisy neighbors can be just as bad if you’re unlucky enough. Even worse, if they happen to have young children, you’ll be forced to accompany them in the woes of early parenthood against your best interest.
Do not try to make yourself accept high noise levels as just another part of life. This form of pollution is as harmful as any other and, over time, it can impact your health by ruining your sleep and making your stress levels skyrocket. You deserve peace and quiet in your personal space as much as the next person. What’s wrong is to remain passive and do nothing about it, especially when cheap soundproofing ideas are accessible and abundant.
To answer the question – yes, it definitely is possible to soundproof a room for free or cheaply. However, the level of success will depend on many factors, such as your environment and the type of noise you are facing. Knowing how to soundproof a room requires some knowledge and creativity. Let’s get into more detail to help you figure out the perfect solution for your specific needs.
How Soundproofing Works?
Soundproofing, the technical term for which is sound insulation, is a science in its own right. Namely, a soundproof surface is meant to prevent the transmission of sound from the outside atmosphere to your interior.
Once an airborne sound wave hits such a surface, it either passes through, or is reflected back into the atmosphere it came from. If you want to maintain a level of privacy and calm in a bustling environment, you have little choice but to learn how to cleverly implement such soundproof and acoustic elements.
The level of effectiveness of soundproof elements depends on the various acoustic features of these objects. Size, thickness, density, and structure all play important roles in how well these objects block sound.
Professional studios, office buildings and such rely on clever building design and costly soundproof devices and panels to reduce noise levels. Of course, that is not the only way to go, as every physical object has acoustic properties. You can still soundproof your room on a budget, as long as you know what to use. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to learn the basics.
What to Expect from Cheap Diy Solutions?
You normally cannot expect a 100% noise suppression rate from DIY solutions. Still, chances are you don’t need professional insulation, but rather seek more humane living conditions. That’s why you may benefit from knowing how to soundproof a room cheaply.
The right way to soundproof is mainly by preventing sound leakage by closing up any existing gaps in your environment. It’s important to keep those in mind since high levels of noise can travel even through a tiny leak. Thin barriers can pose a risk as well, which is why you shouldn’t forget windows, doors and even walls and floors in some cases.
Some soundproofing products aren’t too expensive and can be easily found online. However, even if you’re on a very tight budget, you still have ways to do it.
10 Ideas on How to Soundproof a Room for Cheap
Here are the 10 cheap soundproofing ideas for rooms (including answers to some frequently asked questions) which should spark your creativity and get you on your feet. They are ranked from those showing you how to soundproof it for free, to those requiring a small and reasonable investment.
1. How to Soundproof a Door with Household Items
If you’re asking where to start soundproofing project, the first answer will always be to pay attention to doors and windows. Doors are especially tricky when it comes to blocking sound. That is because not only are most of them hollow, but the gaps between the door and the frame allow noise to easily get inside.
The efficient, yet expensive solution is getting a high quality, thick, soundproof door. To achieve the same with household items, you would first need to tactically position your furniture. Objects such as bookshelves and shoe cabinets can be placed in front of the edges of the door. That way you will block a portion of the incoming sound waves.
Secondly, mind the fact that the floor can transmit a great deal of noise as well. To prevent that, place a thick rug or similar fabric on the floor next to the door. That will hopefully fill up the gap at the bottom of the doorframe as well.
Next, for extra levels of insulation, cover the door with as many layers of thick fabric as possible, such as heavy blankets. Some of these methods will be discussed in further detail in this article.
Finally, stuff some towels under your door or get a quality door sweep to decrease the amount of noise even further.
2. Soundproof a Room For Free with Blankets
If you’re wondering how to soundproof a room for free by using something you certainly have at home, blankets are your answer. Although stretching blankets over walls and windows may not be the most aesthetically pleasing solution, it is effective for all kinds of emergencies.
For blankets to work as effective noise blockers, they need to be as thick and dense as possible. People have reported success with wool blankets used for this purpose. Make sure the blanket is covering the entire surface of the wall and preferably windows, and feel free to add layers.
A DIY trick rapidly growing in popularity is using heavy moving blankets for soundproofing. These blankets are intended to protect your belongings when moving, which is why they’re very thick. Fortunately, they are also somewhat soundproof, as well as much cheaper than some professional soundproofing equipment.
3. Do Egg Cartons Absorb Sound?
Egg cartons are one of the most popular word-of-mouth solutions when it comes to cheap soundproofing ideas. If you ever asked anyone how to soundproof a room for free, you probably heard this story in response. So, is their usefulness a mere urban myth, or is there any truth to these claims?
As your reason might be telling you, egg cartons cannot block sound from passing through. And this is true, as they are lightweight, porous, and they do not make enough of a physical barrier. Fortunately, acoustics works in mysterious ways, and you can use egg cartons to reduce echo. The answer to that lies in their structure, which is uneven and undulated.
Namely, when sound waves reach smooth surfaces such as walls and windows, they are simply reverted back to where they came from. This continuous process results in echo inside your room, which makes up a great portion of overall noise levels.
However, if you tactically place egg cartons in sensitive locations, their structure will retain these sound waves and transform them into heat. That can help a little when it comes to eliminating echo and reverberation. The air gaps inside the cartons also act as an insulating agent.
Egg cartons are far from a proper absorption system, but their accessibility makes them worth trying out.
4. Should I Use Cheap Soundproofing Foam?
If you look into soundproof foam (full guide) online, you might come across information that it does not actually block sound. Does that mean it is unusable? Can you really use it for soundproofing? The reality is, of course, a bit more complicated than that.
Namely, there is a difference in acoustics between blocking sound, or sound insulation, and sound absorption. Soundproof foam doesn’t prevent the passage of sound waves. Instead, like similar soft materials, it traps the sound waves inside its fibers. That transforms the energy of the sound wave into heat and results in reduced echo and reverberation.
The sound absorption you get from foam is an important part of any soundproofing process. It may not completely eliminate noise from your room, but it can make a great difference by reducing echo. Most importantly, soundproof foam products are cheap and easy to find.
5. DIY Soundproofing Panels
Would you like to know how to soundproof a room cheaply and effectively? If you are ready to put in a little effort, you can save money by making your own soundproofing panels.
1. First, you will need a soundproof material which you will stash inside the panel. You can pick acoustic foam, mineral wool, or anything else that’s available. Most of these are cheap and accessible.
2. Next, you will need to construct a wooden frame which will contain the soundproof material. The size of the panel should match the size of the surface you want to cover. The most practical solution is using standard wood glue and applying spray adhesive over the entire insulation perimeter.
3. Finally, once you place the soundproof material inside the frame, you need to wrap the construction up in a fabric. This fabric should be aesthetically pleasing since this is the visible part. Besides that, make sure the fabric is not soundproof, because you want the sound waves to reach the core of the panel.
Watch this short video for more detailed instructions:
6. DIY Soundproof Window Plugs
Don’t forget to pay attention to windows! As mentioned before, a great deal of noise inside your room is entering through them. If you are in no position to purchase new soundproof windows, you can always create a DIY soundproof window plug with the same effect.
These plugs will also block light, so if you are installing them in living areas, you will want to make them removable. If you are putting them up in a bedroom, however, you can attach them permanently for even greater effect.
Constructing a window plug is easy – all you need for that is a soundproofing mat, a thin wooden board, and an adhesive or caulk. Apart from soundproofing a room cheaply, window plugs will also provide you with thermal insulation during cold seasons.
7. Can Carpets Reduce Noise?
Indeed, carpets aren’t there just for aesthetic reasons or making your floor warmer and softer. Another important role of carpets is noise reduction.
Many people are tempted to think that thick and hard surfaces are the best at blocking sound. However, in reality, wooden and concrete floors actually transmit a great deal of noise. That especially applies when it comes to impact noise, such as the sound of heavy footsteps, or objects falling to the floor.
In contrast to that, thanks to their soft acoustic structure, carpets can absorb these impacts, i.e. reduce the vibrations that are transferred into the building structure. For example, laying a carpet onto the main floor is a cheap way to block impact noise from travelling through the basement ceiling Also, carpets can absorb reverberation and echo by trapping the sound waves in their fibers. The best solution is to have them of appropriate thickness, covering the entire floor surface.
What’s more, you can enhance the effectiveness of your carpet by installing cheap acoustic underlay beneath it.
Essentially, carpets won’t block any incoming noise, but they can improve the quality of sound inside the room. Although far from a perfect solution, that still makes some difference.
8. Can Curtains Block Out Noise?
If you do some research on soundproof curtains, chances are you will probably come across some conflicting opinions. These disagreements happen because most people do not understand how a thin piece of fabric can have potent soundproof properties.
Fortunately, curtains can really make a difference when it comes to interior noise levels. Since windows are particular weak spots of any room when it comes to reducing noise, soundproof curtains can be your first line of defense.
However, not all curtains are equally soundproof. You should be careful to make the right purchase, given the fact that the market is saturated with all kinds of products. Some of those are, naturally, of dubious quality.
What you need is a set of heavy-weight, tightly woven curtains (link to Amazon) which preferably have several layers of extra insulation. Likewise, keep in mind to cover a few inches of the wall next to the window with curtains to make sure there is no leakage. Conveniently, you can find some low-cost, tested-quality curtains online with ease.
9. Seal Inside Doors with Caulk
Although it requires a little more work on your part, caulking is another budget friendly way to soundproof your room. Gaps between the wall and the door or window frame are a major target area when it comes to soundproofing.
Airborne sound can sneakily transmit through the tiniest gap into the atmosphere of your room. That’s what makes permanently sealing up those gaps a good idea.
What you manage by using acoustic caulk is creating a layer of mass which blocks sound from passing through. Thus, it’s important to make this layer as thick as possible, while making sure the door remains functional.
For more information read Acoustic Caulk vs. Regular Caulk – Whats the Difference?
10. Best Materials for Soundproofing
Today, materials for soundproofing a room cheaply are easily available from a number of sources. You can use a number of household items for emergencies, such as blankets or even the egg cartons which were already discussed here. Cleverly positioned furniture can make a difference as well.
In most cases, anything soft and fibrous should help you reduce echo, while heavy, dense and thick materials should help you block sound.
However, if you want to take it a step further, you can use materials designed specifically for soundproofing. Nowadays, they are common and usually quite cheap. Such materials and products include acoustic fiberglass, soundproof foam, plastic, vinyl and polyester in the shape of panels, curtains, tiles, absorbers, etc.
Final Thoughts On Cheap Ways to Soundproof a Room
Hopefully, this article managed to give you some ideas on how to soundproof a room cheaply. With some luck, maybe you even figured out how to soundproof a room for free.
The success rate of all these ideas largely depends on your specific circumstances. That’s why you should start experimenting until you see what works for you! If your problems persist, it pays off to check out some of the numerous cheap soundproofing products out there.
Please tell about your experiences in the comment section. That way, you will help everyone learn more about it and perhaps come up with new ideas.