11 Best Ways to Soundproof an Office

An office not equipped with soundproofing tools can become a cacophony of sound waves reverberating across its spaces. For some lucky few, noise in an office can be annoying at best. However, for many sensitive individuals and ears, the noise ends up as a major distraction to work, affecting productivity and keeping them from performing.

With that being said, the contemporary office layout is that of a modern open plan, which encourages engagement across departments and between coworkers. Even though it is a great way to ensure employee satisfaction through social interactions, it also necessitates that the office have state of the art soundproofing for noise and echo control.

Consider the variety of ways mentioned below to soundproof your commercial office (or even home office). With commercial office soundproofing, you will have those excessive sounds under wraps, and can have your employees back to maintaining their focus and giving their best.

The Best Ways to Soundproof an Office

  1. Acoustic Wall Panels
  2. Acoustic Flooring
  3. Acoustic Ceiling
  4. Acoustic Doors
  5. Soundproof Windows
  6. Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
  7. Acoustic Room Dividers
  8. Acoustic Bass Traps
  9. Fiberglass Insulation
  10. Soundproof Paint
  11. Upholstery & Furniture

1. Acoustic Wall Panels

Acoustic wall panels are sound-absorbing panels that help absorb sound to minimise echo and background noise in your office. They use soft materials (e.g. soft acoustic foam) that help in better sound absorption.

Vertical Acoustic panels on walls are perfect for a commercial office, and they’re even better if your office has an open layout. Most panels feature acoustic foam over a wood frame. The foam can absorb the noise from your office to keep it from spreading to other rooms.

You can choose from various designs to make the wall panels blend in. For example, some feature artistic paintings, while others look like nature. That way, you can choose panels that blend it and can work with your existing office design.

Acoustic panels can also act as diffusers, which is great if they can’t absorb all of the sounds. The sound will bounce back into the room evenly. This can help keep the sound in the office from becoming too harsh.

When choosing panels, it is wise to carefully arrive at the number of wall panels. Multiple panels should be used but to the extent that you can get effective sound absorption without having excessive clutter in your office.

2. Acoustic Flooring

Acoustic Flooring is a sound-absorbing floor layer/underlay that helps control impact sounds in particular but also airborne sounds in addition.

Perhaps you have an office a level below yours, and you prefer to not disturb anyone there. You can use acoustic flooring here and the added insulation can help reduce the impact noise your office has on the one below you.

This type of flooring can also help mitigate the effect of airborne sounds and is a necessity in busy and bustling offices where employees are not limited to cubicles. For example, if you and your employees move around a lot, there can be loads of resultant shuffling and foot-tapping sounds. Walking or dragging chairs can be louder than you expect, and the vibrations can be felt across the floor length and even reach floors below.

On a commercial level, you can use vinyl tiles or wood plastic composite flooring to improve floor acoustics. Rubber and cork flooring are also two great sound-absorbing material options to control the noise that moves downward.

Acoustic Flooring is not just a great way to control sound, but also adds some insulation and moisture control to the office which can in turn protect your office from extreme temperatures or the risk of mould caused by excessive moisture.

3. Acoustic Ceiling

The ceiling is just as important in soundproofing as walls and flooring, and sometimes a bare flat ceiling can be the reason your office is too loud. High ceilings, which are high in demand for modern office designs, can indeed make a room feel bigger but also add an extra element of noise to the office letting echoes bounce easily around the space.

You can choose from a variety of acoustic-treated ceiling options for soundproofing. One way to soundproof your ceiling is to lower the ceiling with a ceiling buffer. Another method is to carry out a suspended ceiling installation to help reduce space for sound to move in while having an aesthetic balance. To treat ceiling tiles, sound-insulating materials including drywall, rubber, foam, fiberglass among others can be used.

As a bonus, much like acoustic flooring, an acoustic ceiling can protect your office from a potentially loud one on the level above yours.

4. Acoustic Doors

If you find that sound travels between your office rooms, consider installing acoustic doors. These are particularly useful for meeting rooms or private office rooms in commercial offices.

When it comes to open layout offices, they often have limited doors in the office, mostly reserved for entry/exit, meeting, breakout and entertainment rooms. Office entryways may especially need acoustic doors to prevent noise from the busy streets outside to seep in. If your office is right by the street, you may notice significant noise reduction.

When it comes to sound-proofing material, most acoustic doors feature foam to help offer insulation to keep sound out. That makes them helpful for conducting private meetings or offering workplace entertainment. In addition to the layer of foam used, most come with a rubber seal on their edges to prevent noise from escaping. Acoustic doors are also solid-core doors, which can offer more soundproofing as opposed to widely used hollow-core office doors.

As an ultimate solution with multiple benefits, it is ideal to use both flame-resistant and soundproof material for office doors and walls which offer both sound blocking and fire protection properties and are crucial for emergencies.

5. Soundproof Windows

Soundproofing windows is a need if your office is in a busy downtown area with traffic, or around various under-development building projects. If not treated, your windows can be a problem, but the good news is that you don’t always have to replace your existing office windows to make them soundproof and there are methods to soundproof your existing windows as well.

The best way to treat existing windows is to consider weatherstripping, which is adding a seal to joints of windows or doors to prevent leakage. One way to do this is to add acoustic foam to the sides of your current windows. You can also use a sealant, such as acoustic caulk. If your office aesthetic agrees with having blinds over your windows, consider using fabric blinds. That way, the material can help absorb sound from the outside.

If you’re already planning to install windows in a new office or replace your windows, look for double-glazed/double-pane windows that have two sets of glass in a window frame with an airtight space in between for optimum insulation and sound blocking.

6. Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)

Mass loaded vinyl (MLV) is a light high-density kind of viscoelastic material (a mix of a viscous material and an elastic like PVC) which helps with soundproofing by dampening sound. MLV is a common option for soundproofing commercial offices but is also widely used in industrial or residential settings.

When comparing other ways to soundproof offices, MLV may come out as a top option. It is a flexible material with easy DIY installation and multiple ways of application, so if you’re considering applying it to your home office, you may not need the professional help. It’s also cost-effective, so it’s perfect if you’re on a budget. 

To get the best outcome from MLV, it is important to apply it to a movable space so it can occupy a 3D space and best absorb sound. It is also one of the few soundproofing options that both block and absorb sound, and you can have it paired up with caulk to help get even better soundproofing results. 

7. Acoustic Room Dividers

Acoustic dividers are panels that you can place in the middle of a large space to help absorb echoes and suppress background noises.They tend to use a dense, thick material to help soundproof the office with polyester and various fabric materials as potential options. 

These soundproof partitions can be particularly useful for creating some private spaces in an otherwise open office e.g. for certain departments that require closed and quiet workspaces to work in. When required, instead of moving to an office with more cubicles or building them from scratch, you can stay in your open concept location and make use of acoustic dividers.

With room dividers, not only is sound actively controlled, but employees can also have their required privacy, or in some cases effectively protect confidential company information.

8. Acoustic Bass Traps

Acoustic bass traps are a special type of acoustic treatment that help with lower bass frequencies. If your office tends to produce a lot of lower pitches, this is a good option. Often, with other soundproofing techniques, most sound is absorbed or blocked, but the lower frequency noises can easily deflect most soundproofing treatments. Bass trap panels are made from higher density and thicker insulation than other panels to help absorb the longer waves of low frequencies.

Untreated rooms of varying sizes and corners have different frequencies that impact sound. Some frequencies may bounce around your office space more than other frequencies and you may need acoustic bass traps accordingly.

9. Fiberglass Insulation

A key strategy for effective soundproofing is fiberglass insulation. This is a special type of insulation prepared with small glass particles of varying densities and used for both thermal and sound insulation.

Fibreglass is better at sound absorption than at sound blocking and can be a great option if you find your or surrounding offices to be too loud. However, you’ll only get the best results by combining fibreglass insulation with various panels of other acoustic materials ( e.g. acoustic wall panels or bass traps).

If you’re starting out with your soundproofing process to get rid of unwanted noise, while also needing a little help with maintaining office temperatures, installing fibreglass insulation can still be a great way to begin.

10. Soundproof Paint

You may be planning to have your office repainted for maintenance or even a change of scenery. But before you buy just any paint, consider using soundproofing paint, which is thicker than standard paints.

Soundproofing paint uses sound-absorbing fillers and some microspheres to increase its density. The fillers include thermal cells that move when sound hits them. That movement helps make the paint more soundproof than standard coats.

Soundproofing paint is useful for sound dampening and can be used for blocking lighter sounds. It can be a good option for those who work from home and want some noise control. However, for best results, like in the case of fibreglass insulation, you will need to pair it up with more soundproofing materials.

11. Upholstery and Furniture

When it comes to soundproofing, your office furniture choice plays a part in both aesthetics and acoustics of the office.

Before buying new furniture, consider their acoustical impact. Material plays a key part in these soft materials instead of hard and solid surfaces that reflect sound can be considered for sound absorption. Furniture elements like desks, chairs, a bookshelf, a soft sofa, and even plants can help with controlling and absorbing sound. When it comes to upholstery, it’s not just limited to furniture, but also other interior design elements like soundproof curtains and carpets can help do the job effectively.

However, it would be wise to remember that even though adding furniture is helpful for both interior design and sound control, the quantity of furniture should not cause the room to seem cluttered and it is important to strike the right balance between acoustics and aesthetics with prior space planning.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining employee productivity should be the key focus of any office design or soundproofing efforts. With soundproofing installations and proper space planning, there will be no need to stifle employee interactions and discussions, and employees can perform to the best of their potential.

Successful soundproofing is an important office ergonomics element that will not only help keep employees focused, but also bring about a peaceful and serene work environment which is key to employee satisfaction and retention.

If you think you’re ready for a major office soundproofing overhaul, consider hiring an office fit-out service to help decide what soundproofing options are best for your office and your employees.