They say silence is golden, but they haven’t met your noisy neighbors. Then there’s the barking dogs, construction noise, garbage truck, car horns, and kids playing on the street. These noises, big and small, can really start to get on your nerves—especially these days with more of us working from a home office.
There are sanity-saving solutions. Whether you live in the suburbs or the city, soundproofing your home from all kinds of noise can be done no matter your budget.
“We’ve seen an increase in customers soundproofing rooms over the past year, with more people spending time at home,” says David Steckel, home expert at Thumbtack. “Sound transfers in waves that vibrate through a given medium, like air, water, or drywall screws.”
So chuck your noise-canceling headphones and listen up. The following soundproofing methods can help you achieve peace and quiet at home all day, every day.
Thin walls or windows sometimes do little to shield homeowners from outside noise. But there are some affordable ways to address that.
“An inexpensive, sometimes free, thing you can do to drown out noise at home is to increase your ambient sound,” says Benjamin Markham, director of the Architectural Acoustics group at Acentech in Cambridge, MA. “This could be by playing music, buying a white noise machine ($45, Amazon), or turning on your TV.”
Steckel says sound transfer can be reduced by adding textures like carpets, rugs, furniture, and wall hangings to a given space.
That makes “it harder for a wave to connect with a wall, floor, or ceiling,” Steckel says. Noise-reducing curtains ($26, Amazon) can also help block sound coming in from windows.
Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design at The Home Depot, says adding simple things like more furniture in the room will also help block sound.
“Weatherstripping can be used to seal any gaps around the doors that outside noise may travel through,” says Ronan Blee, president of the Quiet Zone, which provides soundproofing solutions in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. “Soundproof paint ($45-plus, Amazon) can be applied on the walls to help minimize noise from traveling through them.”
Sometimes it takes a bit more to really drown out the noise and give your space some much-needed peace and quiet.
If you’ve taken the basic steps to soundproof your home but are looking for something more, Blee recommends putting down floor underlayment ($50 for 100 square feet, Home Depot) to insulate sound and “help reduce structure-borne noise such as footfall, items being dropped on the floor, or chairs being slid across a floor.”
Blee adds that carpet, hardwood, or tiles can be laid atop the underlayment.
Fishburne says another medium-budget option is to upgrade your windows and doors. Based on the size you need, soundproof windows can cost between $500 and $1,200.
You can also hire a soundproofing professional to install blown-in insulation and a noise-proofing compound, like Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant ($126, Amazon), between your drywall layers.
Sometimes more drastic measures are necessary to eliminate distracting noises.
“With a higher budget, you can really soundproof all aspects of the home,” says Fishburne.
Markham suggests installing secondary glazing, also known as storm windows, on either the interior side or the exterior side of the primary sash.
“Windows are very often the weak link in residential sound isolation, and secondary glazing can go a long way toward addressing it,” Markham says.
Since you’re essentially installing a second window, Markham says it would cost just a bit less than the cost of a new window for the same opening, depending on glass type and thickness.
Steckel says those with a healthier budget who are looking for a more complete solution can install some QuietRock on top of their existing drywall with resilient channel and soundproofing clips, since that will cut out most of the sound transfer. He says homeowners can install it themselves, but he highly recommends hiring a professional.
“The cost of QuietRock 510 at Lowe’s is about $54 per sheet of half-inch-thick, 4-by-8-foot panel, plus the cost of mud, tape, and screws, which are about $1 per square foot,” says Steckel.
“The only better option would be to rebuild the walls from scratch with the appropriate Roxul soundproofing insulation inside the studs, soundproofing sealant at the gaps, spray foam at the windows, and a QuietRock drywall system,” says Steckel. “There are many professionals on Thumbtack that would be happy to take this job off your plate.”
He says the average price range to install an interior wall using a Thumbtack pro can cost $2,500 to $6,100. The cost to hire a pro from Thumbtack to install a drywall system is approximately $375 to $1,500.
“On average, drywall installation costs between $30 and $60 per panel nationwide, including material and labor costs. Upgrading to QuietRock and Roxul would end up doubling the cost but would improve the sound attenuation compared to a regular half-inch board and fiberglass,” says Steckel.