As a student, you might forget how important room acoustics are in studying—until you hear all the loud music and screaming from next door. Having a well-insulated room provides better concentration, better rest, and the liberty of listening to all your favorite tunes without anyone complaining.
There are many ways to soundproof a dorm room, but how do you properly do it without breaking your budget or hiring a contractor?
Soundproofing can be done without having to spend a lot and can be done by just anyone.
Identify Areas to Soundproof
You don’t have to cover the entire room with insulation in order to soundproof it properly. The first thing to do is to identify the sources of noise in the room. Sound can easily pass through areas with thin layers or through gaps and holes. These areas tend to be the door, windows, and thin walls.
It’s quite easy to tell if a wall is simply too thin. A quick knock on the wall will tell you how hollow it is on the inside. And of course, if you can hear conversations from the room next door, your wall is definitely too thin.
Another area you need to insulate would be the door, as most doors have gaps around the frame. Try turning off the lights and have your roommate shine a flashlight through the gaps to determine which section needs the most insulation.
Just like the doors, the windows may also have gaps that need to be covered up. Insulating the windows can block traffic and weather noise.
Soundproof Using Decor
Reorganizing furniture with soundproofing in mind is one of the best and most inexpensive ways to block noise. You can move huge furniture like bookcases and drawers to the wall with the most noise. Thick furniture resists vibration and reduces the transmission of sound.
It is ideal to have furniture cover the entire wall. However, most dorm rooms do not have built-in bookcases or closets that run through the entire wall. To compensate for this, you can place boxes on top of drawers or hang thick tapestries or canvas paintings. You could nail it or tack it on using mounting putty for it to stay in place.
If you want something more aesthetically pleasing, you can hang thick curtains using curtain rods. It may seem awkward to cover walls with curtains at first, but if you’re main concern is soundproofing, you’ll ger used to it. Of course, you could also use the curtain trick on your door.
If you do not have any décor to hang on the wall, you can consider purchasing soundproof wallpaper or thick rugs. What matters is that there’s a thick material covering the wall.
If the noise is coming from the floor below, cover as much floor space as you can with carpets and rugs. You can even boost the noise-canceling potential by slipping density rug pads underneath the carpets.
What’s done on the floor can also be done to the ceiling. Rugs or thick fabric can be nailed to the ceiling. You can also use double-sided tape, but make sure you use a lot.
In summary, these are the décor or furniture you can use to soundproof a dorm room:
Fill Up Door Gaps
You’d be surprised at how much noise enters through a closed door. Admittedly, fully covering door gaps might be tricky since the gaps aren’t always equal on all four sides of the door. There are many ways to go with soundproofing the door, but the cheapest way is to cover the gaps with thick blankets by nailing or tacking them directly to the door.
If you’re willing to spend some money, you can purchase weather stripping that comes with adhesive tape. This is especially helpful for doors with bigger gaps. Just make sure that the thickness of the weather stripping matches the gaps.
For gaps under the door, consider stuffing a towel underneath. While cheap and effective, you have to readjust the towel whenever the door is opened. Draft stoppers are good alternatives and can be purchased on Amazon. You can even improvise your own DIY draft stopper by using gluing a long piece of fabric and filling it with a pool noodle.
Door sweeps can also be installed instead of a door stopper. Just make sure that the material used is thick enough and it is installed to cover as much gap as possible.
Don’t Forget the Windows
You may have covered the door and the walls thoroughly and still hear a lot of noise from the next room. That’s because noise from one room can enter an adjacent room through the windows, especially when both rooms’ windows are open.
Windows are normally the thinnest surfaces in a room. Thick curtains are usually enough, but just like with the door, you can check for gaps around the windows. You can pretty much seal the gaps with weather stripper or apply caulk if you are knowledgeable enough. Try to cover as much space as possible. Remember, if air can go through it, so can sound.
If the window glass is too thin, you can try adding window inserts. These are usually transparent sheets that are mostly made of either glass, plastic, or other materials. Some are designed to be removed easily, while others require adhesives for it to stick. Make sure to choose depending on what is allowed at your dorm.
To wrap things up, here’s how to soundproof a dorm room in a nutshell: