Imagine yourself sitting at home after a hard day’s work, anticipating a peaceful evening, reading a book or writing emails to friends. Suddenly your neighbors decide that heavy metal music is their new favorite thing, the highway near your home is closed so the 18-wheeler trucks are diverted past your front window and, because it’s election time, the local candidate is using a megaphone to tell you why you should vote for him!
What can you do? Do you have to move house? Do you have to spend thousands and thousands to rebuild your home?
There are simple and cost-effective ways to stop the outside world intruding on your peace and which dampen the sounds that bombard us using home décor rather than rebuilding projects.
We’ll work our way from the bottom of your home to the top.
1. Carpets, Carpet Tiles and Rugs
Hardwood, tiled or ceramic floors create a great deal of sound in two ways. Firstly, the sound of people walking is generally noisy, especially in hard-soled shoes but also, these types of floors create echoes, reverberating sound from both outside and inside.
By carpeting, carpet tiling or laying rugs down, you not only prevent the sound of walking on the floor, you dampen the echo effect throughout your house.
For extra noise and vibration protection, you can lay an under-pad below the carpeting as well.
Carpets and fitted carpet tiles will also prevent noise from downstairs rising up.
2. Soundproof Paint and Wallpaper
For a few dollars more than regular paint, you can paint your walls and ceiling with acoustic paint. This is thicker than normal paint and can reduce noise levels by up to 30%. It does need to be painted in several layers (minimum of three) for maximum efficacy but gives you a chance to brighten up your home at the same time.
There are also soundproof wallpapers on the market. Made from foam or laminate, these thicker-than-normal wallpapers come in a variety or patterns and designs that can enhance your home as well as absorbing, rather than blocking, noise. Whilst not one of the most efficient methods of soundproofing, added to other home décor changes you make, they can help.
3. Acoustic Wall Panels
Acoustic wall panels come in different styles from plain and functional all the way through real works of art. In general, the thicker the panel, the better the noise reduction is. They work by disturbing the sound waves. You do not have to cover entire walls like in a recording studio but can hang feature pieces to dull the noise from certain areas.
There are also sound absorbing tiles, a smaller form of the panel, which come in wonderful shapes and designs so you can create your own artwork at home.
If you don’t fancy the idea of buying pre-designed acoustic panels, print your works of art or family photos onto large canvas pieces and stick those onto plain acoustic tiles and create your own art gallery.
4. Curtains, Blinds and Shutters
As windows and doors are the main entry points for sound, using curtains, blinds and shutters is a highly effective way of soundproofing.
Clearly, a few wisps of organza are not going to help with noise reduction. Curtains for soundproofing should be heavy and thick and need to be hung from ceiling to wall and as snugly against the wall as possible. Using fabric like velvet, wool, brocade or even blackout fabric, really helps. If you can, try to use double pleated curtains so there is a great deal more fabric to absorb and block the sound. The key thing to fabric choice here is that it is heavy and tightly woven.
You can use curtains over windows (obviously) but also in front of doors, especially to the outside world as well as over open archways.
There are sound proof blinds made from hollow panels such as honeycomb blinds or from insulating fabric lined with blackout fabric. The key to their efficiency is that they have sidetracks, not just the panel on the top, to prevent noise escaping from the sides.
Finally you can try wooden shutters on the outside of the window which gives a sweet Swiss chalet look and, as long as the shutters are fitted well and made from solid wood, will help block the sound.
5. Pillows, Fabrics and Soft Furnishings
As fabrics help absorb noise, it makes sense that the more you use them, the duller the noise. Try hanging fabrics on the wall for both the soundproofing qualities as well as for making a décor statement. Pillows and cushions, on fabric upholstered furniture will absorb noise and make the room look cozier.
There are also decorative fabric pieces, such as tapestries or appliqué designs that you can use as art-work whilst absorbing sound at the same time.
6. Use Your Furniture
With taller pieces of furniture, such as bookcases and dressers, you can position these in front of the walls from where some of the problem sound comes. For example, if the sound of your neighbor’s television drives you mad, move a bookcase directly against your side of the wall where their television is blaring. This will block some of the volume as we really don’t need to know that our neighbors are watching Jeopardy yet again.
The best types of furniture for both sound blocking and absorption are built-in or modular bookcases and wardrobes but make sure they are filled with books, photo frames, knick-knacks or clothes, to act as another insulation layer.
7. Bring the Garden Inside
Using many indoor plants (one will not be enough) you can grow plants up and down walls so that the containers or soil and the leaves and branches will act as noise absorbers as well as look stunning.
Are you considering redecorating your home? If so, then this is the perfect time to look at how you can soundproof and decorate at the same time. By making your home more beautiful, you can also make it more peaceful and a real refuge from the noise outside.