Reducing sound in a room does not always require expensive renovations. Granted, reducing airflow will not eliminate sounds from other rooms, but it will drastically muffle them. Since the alternative – full soundproofing – requires adding insulation, drywall and other contracting work, trying a few simple do-it-yourself techniques first can be a real money saver.
Keep in mind that sound travels through vibrations in the air. Therefore, anywhere air is coming into the room is somewhere sound can seep in as well. Obviously, you cannot make the room into a plastic bubble, but you can insulate it a little better to help shut out noise from your kids playing in the other room, your spouse watching television, or any other noise that distracts you when you need “quiet time.”
Remove all the electrical outlet covers and place a thin layer of white painter’s caulk around the edges. Do not use silicone kitchen/bath caulking because it is not as easy to work with and it is more difficult to paint over. Allow the caulk to dry and then replace the outlet covers. You should try your best to keep the caulk underneath where the outlet cover overlaps the wall, but if it runs over the sides then you may need to touch up the paint around the outlet cover or remove the excess caulk.
Windows & Doors
Installing weather stripping seal along the edge of your windows is helpful as well. This is especially effective if you have storm windows installed. However, if you have older wooden windows, it will not work as well, but it will still help. You can also use weather stripping seal to fill in the cracks under your doors. You should talk with a sales person at your local home improvement store about which type of weather stripping material to buy. You want something that will move with your doors and windows, not seal them permanently. Do not try to use caulk around your windows or you will not be able to open and close them properly.
You would be surprised how much sound can travel through holes in your walls. Seal up any large holes or cracks with spackle. It is important to keep in mind though that this will likely involve painting over the spackle, or if you have wallpaper, replacing areas of the wallpaper. If you only have a few small holes or cracks, trying to spackle over them may be more trouble than it is worth. You have to make your own judgment whether or not the effort you have to put into repairing these spots is worth the noise reduction benefits.
Obviously it is impossible, and unwise, to try to cut off all airflow to a room. However, you can fill in some of the gaps to reduce the amount of sound coming through. Sealing some of the obvious places sound comes in like doors and windows can make a bigger difference than you may think.
About the Author: Ela Rigatti and her husband worked hard to soundproof their bedroom so that her husband could sleep after working the day shift. They addressed all air flow issues and installed some mass loaded vinyl to absorb additional sounds. He now sleeps peacefully each night!