Soundproofing Office Spaces
The noise of airplanes overhead, road traffic outside the window – or, worse yet, other people’s conversations. Whether you work from a home office or a shared commercial space, noise can be an overwhelming distraction, leading to a drastic reduction in your productivity.
Soundproofing your office will create a distraction-free zone so that you can focus on the job at hand.
How to Soundproof Your Home Office
The majority of home offices suffer from noise disturbances that originate outside of the property. As such, the first step towards soundproofing your office is to understand exactly what the main source of the noise is – as well as what frequency range it tends to fall into. The next step is to inspect the room for all of the entry points that the sound leaks through. In most cases the windows are the main culprit, as they are almost always the weakest part of the structure.
Soundproof Windows for Your Home Office
When it comes to your home, you will want to find a soundproofing solution that is both effective and elegant. Specialist timber soundproof windows not only add value to your home, they will stop sound dead with significant reductions of up to 51dB.
If your noise complaint is particularly bad – or if you cannot alter the exterior for your building – the best solution for soundproofing is to instal secondary windows on the inside of the current frames. Whilst this solution does have some downsides – mostly the loss of sill space on the interior of the property – it does offer the greatest levels of noise reduction – up to a huge 55dB.
Alternatively, for a cost effective solution you can hang noise-deadening curtains. These products can slightly reduce the level and volume of noise pollution – however, when in use they block out all natural daylight, making them an imperfect solution if you’re working from home during the day.
Another simple solution for soundproofing the windows in your home office is to inspect the existing window for gaps through which noise can enter your property. By filling any holes and gaps with acoustic sealants it is possible to reduce the amount of noise pollution – though do be wary of any air vents.
If peace and quiet are integral to your work, you should also consider soundproofing your doors – which will help to further reduce the amount and volume of noise disturbance. This can be done by adding acoustic seals to the inside of the door frame which prevents sound transmitting around the door – however, if you require a more robust solution, i.e. for a private conference space, a two door system will provide far greater reductions.
External doors, especially those which feature large glass panels, are a key focal point for soundproofing. By replacing external French doors with soundproof units that utilise specialised glazing it is possible to achieve a reduction of up to 45dB – and without compromising on that all-important natural light.
For a simple and inexpensive solution, noise-deadening curtains can be installed inside the door, which will reduce noise inside the room. This solution will not stop every type of noise from entering your office, for example, noise-deadening curtains will not stop sounds from nearby road traffic from disturbing your workspace.
Soundproof Walls for Your Home Office
The noise of neighbours, music pulsing through the wall and the hum of chattering conversations can easily break your concentration during the work day. These disturbances – also known as airborne noise complaints – can be caused by small gaps in the wall, or by sound leaking through the poorly insulated areas across the wall’s surface.
To deal with these complaints the wall in question should be investigated for gaps, which, once located, should be plugged with acoustic sealant or caulk. More severe cases of airborne noise, and properties that suffer from structure-borne noise complaints will require a different approach.
Noise transmission through the material of the wall itself (structure-borne noise) can be prevented by decoupling the wall from the existing structure. In most home offices, both sides of the wall are connected to the same stud, which allows noise to vibrate the wall, passing through into your office. The solution is to create a double stud, staggered stud or resilient clip and hat channel, so that your side of the wall is ‘decoupled’ from the adjoining wall, which greatly reduces the amount of noise that can pass through.
If your home office is located directly below someone with heavy feet, a loud washing machine or other impact noises you will need to treat your ceiling in order to reduce noise. Compared to other soundproof solutions, treating a ceiling for a noise complaint is a more complicated and expensive process – and so it is only recommended when:
- The noise complaint is significant enough to warrant the work and cost, and
- The room has a high enough ceiling that you can afford to lose some height without creating a feeling of being cramped.
If the answer to both is yes, then the solution involves decoupling the ceiling from the structure. This is achieved by installing resilient bars on the underside of our ceiling and installing a range of acoustic products – such as plasterboards and mats – to reduce any impact noise from above.
Alternatively, and in situations in which decoupling the ceiling cannot deal with the heavy vibrations from above, an independent ceiling can be installed. This requires that new ceiling joists are installed from which an independent ceiling is fitted along with resilient bars and acoustic materials. Typically these ceilings can take up to 9 inches from the ceiling height of the room.
Noise Pollution and Working From Home
Noise pollution is annoying – there’s no two ways about it – however, the more significant and important negative effects may be taking more of a toll on your health – especially if you work from home…
The World Health Organization recommends an upper limit of 35dB to allow good teaching and learning conditions, yet many home offices are located on or near a busy high street. Centrally-located offices will encounter noise pollution that far exceeds the WHO’s recommended noise level on a daily basis, which is not only distracting, but can have long term effects on your health.
Studies have discovered that noise can impair performance in working environments, meaning that you will be less productive whilst working with even minor noise pollution. Multi-tasking becomes particularly troublesome in these situations – and whilst reaching for a pair of headphones might seem like the perfect solution to block out unwanted noise, it has been demonstrated that performance is still reduced with music or podcasts when compared to a tranquil and quiet workspace
Noise pollution in your home and your office doesn’t just affect comprehension and concentration – prolonged exposure to noise has been shown to increase blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output. Over time this has been proven to increase your chances of suffering from arterial hypertension, heart disease and stroke.