Your office should be a place where you can work and conduct your business in peace and quiet without noise transfer in or out!  Your ability to accomplish needed tasks can be severely compromised by the distraction of annoying noise.

Such disturbing, distracting, annoying outside noise is generally caused by neighborhood noise and traffic, usually coming through the windows and/or through the doors or walls.

Sometime office noise can come from within, from others in the house/building, or inside the office when people are talking and on the phones.

Sound control can take several forms, depending on the source of the annoyance.  The solutions are usually fairly easy to accomplish once the  noise sources are found and prioritized.

Privacy in the office should start with the door: a typical interior style hollow core door will pass sound quite readily.  It’s best not to bother to soundproof such a door by applying soundproofing material to it as you will not be very successful.  It should be replaced with a solid, exterior door  the thickest you can find. Try to find “MDF” doors.  (Medium Density Fiberboard).    Make sure it’s well fitted to the frame, no gaps or crevices for sound to migrate through. It should be sealed as if it was 40 degrees below zero on one side.  If it has a gap at the bottom, use a transom seal, (a metal strip with a rubber flap mounted to it).  The new door may need insulation anyway.  Use “Super Soundproofing acoustical mat”.  Usually 1″ thick will suffice.  Cut it oversize to cover the seam of the door at the frame to help seal it.  If there’s a lot of sound still coming through, consider hanging a “Mass Loaded Curtain” (barrier) over the door and frame. How to fit a door for best soundproofing.

If you can’t replace the door, (Landlord problem? Listen, you can always keep his door someplace and rehang it when you leave),  better, you can add another door to the existing frame, opening the opposite way.  (Solid core, of course!)

Next, windows seem to be almost transparent to sound.  Sound control sound barrier solutions come with options.  Replacement of the window with a double, triple or more paned glass unit may be the answer. (50 to 90% sound reduction).  If you decide to leave in the existing window, you may be able to add an interior window to the inside frame.  (50 to 90% noise control reduction). If you must keep your window and don’t want the expense of the foregoing and if you must have light, a clear plastic may reduce the noise level adequately, so if need be,  cover the window inside and out, (both sides). (20-50%)  If light isn’t important, plugging the window with our soundproofing mat may be the answer. Other window noise reduction alternatives:  Shutters.  Window barriers.  And fences, (Another subject!)

Noise within the office:  Many think cubicles give a measure of privacy.  Not so.  They give an illusion of privacy.  They generally are not high enough nor thick enough to prevent conversation from being overheard.  Naturally, when an animated, loud conversation is going on, it can disturb the others in the office.  Office walls have the same problems as they can pass sound more easily than many think.  If there are “dropped” suspended ceilings, check to make sure at the least the walls go all the way up above and do not end at the ceiling. Such ceilings have virtually no sound reduction capability at all and those short walls make it worse.

If there are no partitions and it’s a common area room, noise can build up, causing people to raise their voices thus compounding the problem.  This can be reduced by adding absorbent mat to the wall corners/ceiling joints thereby reducing sound reflection by absorption.  Pyramids or Wedges are some types of open cell foams in common use and are available in decorator colors.

Individuals might consider using headsets to allow concentration on their work in the office.

Simply adding mass loaded barrier (MLV) to the walls will help reduce sound transfer drastically.  It can be covered with wall paneling for esthetics.

Generally, sound masking does not work well unless the sound being masked is very low.  (Adding noise helps?).

Privacy can be very  important, both for those in the office and those outside.

Another resource about soundproofing a office.

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