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There are a few primary ways to soundproof your bedroom from sound that transmits into your room and house. It can either transmit through materials between the sound source and yourself (experiencing a transmission loss as it does), or it can come in around them through gaps in your roof, walls, windows, and doors.
How to Soundproof Your Room
Soundproofing your living space can be a difficult task. The first step is to understand how sound gets there, and what options you have to minimize it. With so much information available online, there can be a lot of confusion on the best techniques to soundproof rooms in your home. By understanding the noise sources creating sound problems for you, and the basic science behind how the sound is entering your home, you can diagnose a solution certain to reduce the unwanted noise.
A Brief History: How Sound Travels
As sound propagates from the emission source, it reduces in proportion to the square of the distance it travels. That is why it is critical to put the maximum distance between yourself and the sound source. By plugging one hole in your bedroom, but leaving others (for instance in your bathroom window) open, you are increasing the distance the sound must travel through openings to reach your ears. Although the thought of a hole in your house may seem extreme, sound only needs the slightest openings to slip through and give you uncomfortable nights! Check cracks in your window pane or doors that appear slightly ajar. If light can penetrate the opening, then sound can seep in as well.
Noisy Neighbors While You Sleep
When I lived in an apartment I had loud people above me and a road right outside my first-floor window. This made for restless nights for me, especially when busses and trucks drove by, or when my upstairs neighbors started to vacuum at 7 a.m. on the weekends.
At the time I was a student, completely unaware that I could just soundproof my bedroom. As the saying goes: I wish I knew then what I know now, because I would have taken some action. The most I could do at the time was complain to the leasing office and have them tell my upstairs neighbors to vacuum when other people were already awake.
So, now that I’ve learned from my mistakes, I can teach you how to soundproof your bedroom against noisy neighbors and get you some peace and quiet.
By increasing the amount of material in between the sound source and yourself, you increase the transmission loss through the medium. This loss is heavily dependent on the atomic structure of the medium. Dense materials, with little space between atoms, block more sound, but if they are too stiff they will also allow the sound to pass be converted from the air and resonate through them. The best material is flexible, but dense enough to reflect the sound back toward its source. If this is the case, the transmission loss is proportional to the density and thickness of the material. However, since the decibel scale is logarithmic, you will actually see a 10dB transmission loss when you double the thickness of the material.
Once sound enters your house, it will reflect around into it is absorbed into the environment and dissipated by heat. We’ve all been in loud gyms where the sound bounces around for several seconds, and the ear detects this reverberation as an echo. If you add sound absorbers into the room, this will trap the sound between the light, porous fibers and quickly lessen the sound reflection. It is important to remember that the physics between acoustic absorption and reflection is very different, and you must attack each of the issues separately.
One product on the market that is beneficial with both issues is Residential Acoustics’ AcousticCurtainTM and Acousti-DoorTM. They combine a sound-blocking internal barrier with sound-absorbing fabrics to minimize the sound transmitted into your living space, and reducing reverberation once it is there. These soundproof curtain and door panels are unique to the market, combining technology from the acoustical engineering field with the aesthetics of interior design.
Another useful method that can be used on its or paired with soundproof curtains, is a white noise machine. You can even download white noise apps on your phone if you’d like to try it out before investing in one.
Sound masking machines, such as white noise machines, work to increase the level of ambient background noise so you don’t notice sudden, distracting noises as much. Sound masking systems are often installed in office spaces for this reason, and they actually help to improve work quality by covering distracting noises.
Review – Soundproofing Approaches for Your Room at Home
Whether sound is entering your room through thin walls, uninsulated floors, or drafty windows, you can diagnose a solution to soundproof your room. Determine the sound transmission path and approach the low-hanging fruit first – installing soundproof curtains or simply approach neighbors that are making excessive noise. You can also consider masking sound with white noise systems.
By using common-sense approaches to soundproof your bedroom, you can reduce the outside noise and finally get peace and quiet.