How to Absorb Sound in a Room

Three things affect sound levels: your distance from the source, the objects between you and the source, and the ability of sound waves to travel through those objects.

Keep outside noise from getting in and inside noise from getting out.Keep outside noise from getting in and inside noise from getting out.
You can't do much about the distance between you and the source but you can make rooms quieter by adding materials that absorb sound. This is true because air is a great sound transmission medium but any material denser than air makes it harder for sound waves to travel. The less an object vibrates when sound waves pass through it, the better this works.

Get a rug. If the room you want to soundproof isn't carpeted, use your tape measure to determine the floor dimensions. Find a thick, high-pile rug that closely matches your floor's width and length and get a pad to put under it. A heavy wool rug is ideal for absorbing sound.

Hang heavy drapes. If you have lightweight curtains, measure and replace them with thick velvet drapes lined with cotton. The drapes will absorb outside noise whether your windows are open or closed. You can also close your shutters, if you have them, to block even more noise.

Install a door sweep. Keep sound from traveling under your door by attaching a door sweep to the bottom edge of the door. Check your installation instructions to see if it needs to be installed on the inside or outside, then rest the sweep against the bottom of your door and mark the hole locations with your pencil. Pre-drill the holes with a cordless drill and screw the sweep to your door with the hardware in your kit.

Use sound-absorbing paint. You can apply these water-based, flat latex paints like any other paint but they're blended with resins, sound absorbing fillers and hollow ceramic microspheres that reduce sound reflections by 30 percent. Follow the package instructions to mix TSP (trisodium phosphate) cleaner with water and wash your walls, then rinse with clean water. When your walls are dry, pour sound-absorbent paint into your tray and pass your roller through it. Apply the paint to the walls and ceiling with the roller and let it dry. Apply a second coat to finish the job.

Use soft furniture. Heavily padded furniture, like cushy ottomans with throw pillows, can soak up sound. Replace your hardwood, wicker, plastic or leather furniture with plush fabric sofas, easy chairs and foam-filled bean bags.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Thick rug and rug pad
  • Heavy drapes (i.e. velvet and cotton)
  • Door sweep kit
  • Pencil
  • Cordless drill
  • Screwdriver
  • TSP
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Sponge
  • Paint roller with .75 to 1.75 inch nap and tray
  • Sound-absorbing paint (such as Acousti-Coat)
  • Soft furniture and accessories

Tip

  • You can find the areas of a room that need attention by standing in the center and clapping loudly. Wherever the reflections come from is a trouble spot.

About the Author

Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.