Office Soundproofing: Complete Beginners Guide 2023

Sound waves travel via the air and, to some extent, some structural materials like wood and metal. While proper construction practices reduce the transfer of sound, it is not eliminated. Incorporate sound-dampening materials and objects into a noisy environment to assist absorb sound energy and prevent them from being bothersome or overbearing.

Office sounds that you do not have any control over are highly distracting, unpleasant, damaging to productivity, and annoying. Open office floor plans are notorious for noise pollution. Several workers also say that distractions and noise from such a work environment make it more difficult to execute their tasks successfully.

Productivity drops result in wasting time, effort, and other resources, costing firms millions of dollars every year. Companies are looking at office soundproofing measures to get their business back on track due to the disruption that sound may bring.

Why Should You Soundproof Your Office?

When a setting is overly noisy, it can have a negative impact on productivity. Employee satisfaction and health might be harmed by excessive noise. A study conducted in Germany indicated that long-term exposure to 65 dB (the equivalent of an open office floor or a classroom plan) could cause a person’s heart rate to rise to the level of a heart attack.

Soundproofing won’t completely remove noise, but it can reduce it to a more manageable level, preventing employees from claiming that they can’t hear themselves think.

Another reason for soundproofing an office environment, which is sometimes disregarded, is the impact on others. People entering the company should be greeted with some professional hum around the workplace and not a cacophonic symphony that rivals a playground if you are hosting clients or attempting to attract talent.

Office soundproofing

Tips for Office Soundproofing

When looking into office soundproofing options, keep the following in mind:

  • Examine the arrangement of your office: Take into mind the current layout when upgrading or shifting to a new place. Are some staff constantly on the phone? Perhaps they must be kept apart from the others. Keep in mind that open office layouts, little barriers, and glass walls allow sound to flow.
  • Think about the NRC: When sound waves strike a surface, the Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) indicates how much of it gets absorbed. The NRC is a scale ranging from 0 to 1, with a score of .90, indicating that 90% of sound in a given region gets absorbed and 10% is reflected. The greater the NRC, the stronger the material’s ability to absorb sound. The most effective materials are those that are capable of absorbing 50-90 percent of sound.
  • Remember your gadgets: Phone systems, video conferencing, televisions, and more are all available. These serve to increase noise pollution. Ensure that every system is in a good position. To put it another way, don’t put a stereo sound television on a wall shared by individuals who are frequently on the phone.

Key Steps to be Taken for Office Soundproofing

  • Install a Door Sweep: You’ll obtain superior noise reduction if you cover the gap underneath the door using a sweep and replace a hollow-core gate with a solid one. This will help reduce the sound that enters via the door. Install weatherstripping from the sides and the top of your door to further decrease the transfer of sound.
  • Fill in Wall Holes: A very well-built wall will provide considerable sound suppression, but if it contains holes, like gaps surrounding ducts or outlets, you will be more likely to listen to sounds coming from the other end. You can limit the number of sound waves entering your office by caulking the holes using some all-purpose caulk.
  • Acoustic Panel Installation: Installing acoustic panels on a few of your office walls is among the greatest ways to reduce noise. Installing noise-absorbing panels can improve the design of any office while also reducing noise levels.
  • Add Rugs: In areas having some hard flooring, like laminate or tile, sound waves are reflected everywhere, but you do not need to add wall-to-wall carpeting to enjoy some calming sound relief. Just throw in some carpets. Throw rugs; the softer and thicker, the better—will absorb loud noises and eliminate a reverberation effect, allowing you to focus on your task.
  • Soft Wall Decorations: Hanging a blanket or an ornate rug on your office wall will limit the transfer of sound into your office from the opposite side of the wall, much as insulation does. The more capabilities of sound-absorbing an item have, the thicker it is. Think outside the box with this; a crib comforter or a softer baby blanket can go a long way toward eliminating unwanted noise.
  • Choose Upholstery: To eliminate unpleasant noises, get rid of harsh wooden chairs and replace them with padded desk ones and a loveseat or an overstuffed chair. While you are about it, add some softer pillows to your office furniture for further absorption of sound.
  • Ceiling Noise proofing: If your office is situated in a basement, the most common noise source comes from above. Consider constructing a drop ceiling and filling the area between older ceilings and the latest dropped panels using high-density insulation for long-term noise reduction. This will result in an instantly quieter office.
  • Reduce Window Noise: A window facing a busy street could be a substantial source of unpleasant noise, particularly if it is an older and a single-pane window model. Replace the older window with newer, double or triple-pane models, and install thicker curtains or interior window shutters to block out even more sound if it is within the budget.
  • Consider White Noise Generator: Invest in a white noise machine if you have completed the other noise reduction steps but still get distracted by noises. Unlike irregular noises from passing automobiles or planes, a white noise machine produces a continuous smooth stream of calming sound, like the surf breaking on the beach or falling rain, that helps you filter out unwanted sounds in your surroundings.
  • Sound Masking: This technique adds sound to your environment, thereby drowning out other noises. It’s a type of background sound produced by a system of speakers. You could choose white noise, pink noise, and other frequency types, and the noise has the same frequency as human speech. It is just like a sound camouflage.
  • Soundproofing Paint: It is a relatively new concept, yet it is an effective and inexpensive solution to limit sound transmission between workplaces. Soundproofing paint is a simple and non-invasive way to improve the STC rating of any office wall.

How to Soundproof a Workplace During a New Construction Project?

When designing a new space, consider the aesthetics, utility, and acoustics. Begin by assessing your current requirements and business model. Is your company dependent on workers being on the phone for most of the day? They might require their own workplaces. If you insist on having an open floor plan, probably add extra sound barriers.

Here are some more suggestions:

  • Keep an eye out for materials having a higher Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC). This figure has a rating that shows the sound percentage that the substance absorbs and runs from 0 to 1. For instance, an NRC value of .8 indicates that it is capable of blocking 80% of sound. Materials having an NRC between .5 and .9 are ideal.
  • Strategically placing the electronics is also ideal. Anything that creates noise, such as a video conferencing device, television, or phone, must be kept in a quiet location. For instance, avoid placing these gadgets near persons who are always on the phone.
  • Determine whether you require window treatments. Install double-pane windows if there exists a lot of external and local noise. You may require adding drapes as a sound dampener if you are near the bottom level or a corridor that echoes sound.

How to Soundproof a Pre-Existing Office?

Quieter materials could be substituted for those that allow much noise to flow. You may replace old cubicles, doors, or wall dividers with material that has a higher STC rating.

STC stands for “Sound Transmission Class,” and it’s a measure of how well materials like interior partitions, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, and exterior wall designs attenuate airborne sound. The STC range varies by material, and the greater the number, the more the noise it blocks.

office soundproofing

Here are some basic repairs and suggestions:

  • Increase the carpeting thickness
  • Paint both ends of shared walls with soundproofing paint.
  • To reduce noise, including couches and huge plants.
  • In open environments, use dividers to isolate sounds into smaller sections.
  • Install a suspended ceiling with noise-absorbing ceiling tiles.
  • Install acoustic wall panels.

Commercial Wall Soundproofing for Home Office

When soundproof paint is a great place to start, it may not be sufficient to keep noise out. Other techniques include putting sound dampening materials on the walls and ceilings. Adding a secondary drywall layer might sometimes assist. Additional insulation sprayed into the walls might sometimes assist. The issue with each of these solutions is the high cost and additional time required for commercial construction.

Look for any instances of cracks or gaps in your walls that could allow sound to enter. Make sure they’re plugged, muddied, caulked, or whatever else is required to prevent sound transfer.

Walls that aren’t dissipating

Non-demising walls, which do not extend all the way to the deck, are fairly frequent in office buildings. A suspended ceiling, often called a drop ceiling, indicates that the walls are non-demissible. This method is less expensive to install as compared to a finished ceiling.

Still, it causes more acoustic issues since the ceiling tiles are thin and ineffective at stopping sound, and any sound getting through them is likely to travel through the non-demising walls and into adjacent offices.

Spraying the ceiling with soundproofing paint or hanging insulation layers over non-demising walls are the two best ways to cope with these unfinished ceilings. Together, these two methods should help with your office noise issues.

How to Pick the Right Soundproofing for Your Office?

Consider your scenario as you analyze these options. Consider the following:

  • How loud is the workplace? Do you require a total sound makeover or only a minor noise reduction?
  • What is the size of the office? Larger spaces might provide extra sound concerns like magnification and echoes, so more advanced soundproofing techniques may be required.
  • How much potential and power do you have over the structure? The property manager may need to approve any tenant improvements if you’re renting. You may also be limited by zoning or municipal regulations.
  • What is the financial situation? Some of these techniques require major expenditure, while others are inexpensive. Start with the cheapest options and work your way up if you’re on a budget.

Conclusion

When considering office soundproofing alternatives, keep in mind your ultimate objectives and demands and your budget and materials needed. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Are there any acoustic panels available?
  • Do you already have partitions and barriers in your office?
  • Do you want to lower the noise pollution in a specific location or across the entire office?

Sound absorption is an excellent solution for reducing noise in workplaces, conference rooms, and other big locations that produce echoes. Open floor plans benefit from sound masking.

When you explore office soundproofing, the best advice for you is to hire professionals. Acoustics is a technical field, and sound management skills are required to improve your office’s comfort and employee productivity.