Traffic and city noise, noisy neighbors in the apartment above or beside you, or just achieving peace and quiet in one room of a house: all reasons to soundproof a room.
Indeed, deadening the sound in a room is a great way to make it more livable. And it can be done inexpensively, without having to do anything about "thin walls."
"Mass is the most important thing to consider when soundproofing a room," says this blog from Soundproof Central author Dominic Hayden. "The more mass a structure has (walls, furniture, etc.), the less sound is able to enter the space. Almost every other element is based on adding more mass to a space."
It's a long printout (30 pages if I had done it on my inkjet), but this interesting piece goes into deep detail about how to thwart sound's movement through a building, and it's a must-read for learning terms like "decoupling walls" and "constrained layer damping" to convert sound waves into heat energy.
But to keep it simple, here are five tips for easy sound dampening that probably won't constrain any layers of your budget.
A place has to be furnished anyway, so consider making the furniture as big as aesthetically possible if noise is a problem. Big stuffed pieces, especially massed together, can absorb a lot of noise, not just a lot of prone human beings.
2. Carpets and Rugs
Installing carpet is quite doable for many DIYers, and laying rugs is even easier. They're really good at squelching the sounds from the apartment or condo below. Not only do they absorb sound, but they act as insulation, too, helping lower the utility bill.
3. Doors and Windows
Sealing doors and windows isn't just for energy efficiency. It's also a good way to keep sound out. Weather stripping is a good place to start. The Soundproof Central blog also suggests inexpensive acoustic sealant tape for doors and caulk-like acoustic sealant for windows, light fixtures and electric outlets, wall cracks, and other places where air and noise might be invading (or escaping).
"There are many types of soundproof curtains available online, but their effectiveness is highly debatable," Hayden writes. Save on the price by simply finding curtains or drapes made from several layers of material. Blackout curtains (the kind that overnight workers often use in their home bedrooms to sleep during the day) are something to consider here.
The blog suggests looking around for secondhand drapes. I know we had some available a while back when my wife was an overnight nurse at a local hospital. They definitely did the trick!
It's all about the mass
Besides cutting out light, heavy curtains add insulation, too, and most of all, mass.
Remember, It's all about mass. Combine as many of these methods as you can or want, and you very well may hear the sounds of silence in your safe space, or at least something closer to it.