The way to stop the common problem of a noisy home office (other than evicting all teenagers) is to block the avenues sound uses to get into the room. Sound transmission reduction is a complex subject, but keep it simple by considering this basic scenario: A massive wall, whether it’s concrete or built-up drywall, is a great sound absorber and blocker, but it becomes useless if there’s even a tiny hole in it.
The lesson? Start small. First seal openings into your office, and then consider strategies for absorbing more of the sound as it passes through the wall, ceiling, floor and door materials.
Try these solutions in the order shown.
- Install a solid-core door with vinyl weatherstripping and a bottom sweep and threshold.
- Caulk around ductwork and electrical boxes where they penetrate the drywall.
- Glue a layer of acoustic board and then another layer of drywall over the existing interior walls. This is a bigger project. It requires extending or moving electrical boxes, adding jamb extensions to doors, and removing and reinstalling casings and baseboard.
- If the noise is coming from upstairs, nail 1x2 furring strips on the ceiling with 3/4-in. rigid insulation in between. Run the strips perpendicular to the joists. Screw resilient channel to the furring strips with 3/4-in. screws, then hang 5/8-in. drywall from the resilient channel with 1-1/4 in. drywall screws. Tape, sand and paint the ceiling. Electrical boxes and heating registers will need to be extended or moved downward. Another big job.
- Glue a layer of acoustic board and drywall inside a stud space that’s being used as an air return. This will reduce the amount of return airflow by about one-third. Consult with a heating contractor to ensure that this won’t compromise your heating system.
- Install rigid foam insulation board or fiberglass batts behind and around ductwork and electrical boxes. You have to tear open walls.
- Fill wall and ceiling cavities with fiberglass insulation batts. If you open a wall for any another reason, add this step.
- If the noise is coming from below, loose-lay acoustic board under the carpet. This requires pulling up the existing carpet and tack strip, installing new tack strip and restretching the carpet.