Soundproofing a Conference Room: 8 Ways that Work!
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Presenting a project in a meeting is hard enough. If you add noise disruptions and weird echoes to that, it becomes nerve-wracking.
Sound pollution in your conference room can ruin your whole meeting and presentation.
When your workspace has poor acoustics, then productivity is bound to be affected.
Conference rooms are no different than the average office space; they're only somewhat more significant.
Your conference room is likely the place where you conduct interviews, make a presentation, hold conference calls, and close on deals.
Now imagine how much money and opportunity is lost when, for instance, an international conference call keeps being interrupted by noise activity outside the conference room.
Regardless of the nature of the sound disruptions, poor sound quality is likely to bring down your company's operability.
Your integrity is also in question when your walls act as ears to sensitive information.
Without proper acoustics, a business and its workers don't work at their best capacity.
Here we look at some ways you can soundproof your conference room and improve sound acoustics in your workplace.
Soundproofing a Conference Room
Sound transmission from one workspace to another is a common occurrence in many office buildings.
What you might assume is that the noise disruptions you experience while working in your conference room are due to 'thin walls'.
However, this usually not the case. The first thing to understand about sound transmission is that noise follows the path of least resistance.
Sound can travel through solids, liquids, and air, so pretty much every aspect of your conference room is a medium.
The most common culprits that are letting sound into your workspace are windows, doors, walls, ceilings, and any other openings in the building.
So, whichever medium is the weakest spot in your building is where the sound will travel through.
Therefore, before you rush to look for wall treatment soundproofing materials, you ought to perform an audit of your space.
Get an understanding of all the ways noise can penetrate your building and note down all the 'weak spots'.
Getting into how to soundproof a room begins by determining what you're aiming for.
Are you looking to preventing noise disruptions from getting into the conference room? Or are you more interested in keeping sounds from escaping the room?
It is understandable if you want both features. Just be sure you have enough information on what exactly you are looking for.
Preparation to Soundproofing
If you have fully committed to handling the sound mitigation yourself, you need to prepare to: note the source of noise, assess your workspace to figure out where sound waves travel, and then bounce off or are absorbed.
Let's look at the steps you need to go through to reach your soundproofing destination.
Step 1: Measuring dimensions
Before we delve into anything too out of your comfort zone, you need to know your room measurements.
Get a measure of all the room dimensions. This will come handy later during picking appropriate soundproofing.
The size of the room will determine what kind of soundproofing you need to employ for efficiency.
Once you have your room dimensions recorded, get acquainted with the room structure like walls, windows, and ceilings.
Strangely enough, one of the first places you should check is the ceiling.
Your average office buildings are usually constructed with drop ceilings that cover up the ductwork, wires, and pipes. The walls separating the offices, then go as far as the ceiling, and level there.
With the ceiling tiles being thinner than the walls, sound on one side of the wall simply goes through the ceiling tile. It then bounces off the roof deck and travels through the ceiling tile into the other office spaces.
To anyone in the next office space, the noise might sound like it is coming through the walls.
Cue in you're erroneously shopping for wall treatment instead of ceiling treatment, which are usually cheaper and easier to use than wall treatments.
Step 2: Rating Sound Transmission Class
Sound Transmission Class (STC) is the rating that measures the sound transmission loss that occurs because of a barrier. It denotes how much noise a medium can block.
It is measured by setting up a sound transmitter and a receiver on either side of the partition being tested.
Getting how much sound reduction occurs is done by subtracting the perceived sound decibel from the produced sound decibel.
The higher the STC ratings, the more substantial noise reduction.
By measuring the STC of the walls, ceiling, and windows of the room, you get to figure out which medium sound is traveling through most.
Again this will help you figure out where to apply the soundproofing.
Step 3: Applying Soundproofing Materials
So you're finally at the level that will conclude this whole journey. You've measured the dimensions and STC of the room.
You've gained more intimate knowledge of your conference room than you ever imagined possible. Is that this end?
Well, yes and no.
As we began by mentioning, soundproofing is either about preventing noise disruptions or keeping sounds in.
This factor plus the measurements give you a good idea about what kind of reduction materials to look for.
But, you need a little more information on how the two types of Soundproofing work before you purchase your materials.
Note that while you have the option of hiring a professional to do the evaluation and necessary installation, a lot of soundproofing solutions are easy to implement.
Types of Soundproofing
There are two types of soundproofing:
- Noise reduction
Noise reduction materials prevent noise from entering the room. This soundproofing method is excellent for sounds from street traffic and the likes.
- Sound absorption
Sound absorption modifies noise and stops it from reverberating around the room. This includes preventing echoes and blocking sensitive information from being overheard outside the office.
These two types of soundproofing are either implemented during construction of the office building or after the construction is complete.
Blocking Noise Bleeds in Conference Room
Very little can be accomplished in a meeting where the room gives off weird echoes every time a speaker is presenting.
Let's not even mention how irritating it is, being the speaker and trying to make your voice and opinions heard over a cacophony of office noises.
What can you do to prevent these interruptions?
Utilizing Acoustic Sound Panels
Sound panels mostly act as sound absorption soundproofing that absorbs the room's echo.
You should strategically place the panels around the perimeter of your conference room to catch sound wave reflections.
See some of the best acoustic panels here.
These panels are portable and light enough so that you can move them as you please before meetings.
They can also be used on vertical or horizontal surfaces.
You can, therefore, choose to either mount the panels on the walls or ceiling.
They are potent for absorbing sound, capture and convert the sound reflections, and ensure the sound remains in the confines of your conference room.
The result? Clear acoustics of the original sound as any blurred sound signals are eliminated.
Hanging Soundproof and Acoustic Curtains
There are unique soundproofing curtains available that help in blocking sound. These curtains are mass-loaded with vinyl, and materials like quilted fiberglass layered over them.
They turn out pretty stiff but are easy to use and only need to be hung like regular curtains.
Acoustic curtains and drapes help stop sound reverberation in a room. These curtains improve sound quality in the conference room by absorbing sound reverberations.
These curtains are different from each other, so be sure you pick the right type.
Applying Acoustic Window Inserts
Acoustic window inserts are made of acrylic and block up to 70% of noise disruptions from outside.
They, too, are easy to use, and all you have to do is press them inside the window.
These window inserts blend into your existing window and are, therefore, barely noticeable.
Acoustic window inserts also help stop sound vibration in the room to some extent. You get your money's worth because the inserts create a soundproof conference room when used on interior windows.
By adding density to your existing windows, sound is less likely to use that route as a medium of transfer.
Read more about soundproofing windows and making your own window inserts here.
Installing Rugs or Carpeting
Several factors affect the acoustics of your conference rooms. We've already looked at the ceilings contributions, so what about the floors?
Many offices don't invest in floor rugs or carpeting, leaving the floors to being exposed concrete.
Such surfaces provide a medium for sound to bounce off, leading to reverberation and amplified noises.
Covering up with rugs and upholstery makes the surfaces much softer and reduces the chances of sound echoing on them.
When choosing the rugs to use in your conference room, be sure to go for luxurious and thick ones. Fur rugs are especially an ideal choice.
Another way to go would be to add some carpeting.
Like in the case of the rugs, the thicker the material of the carpet, the better sound dampening you will receive.
Using Acoustic Partitions
Acoustic partitions are dividers that insulate the room into small areas. These partitions are moved to suit your need for space and privacy.
They act as sound absorbers, and air spaces between them reduce noise by physically blocking it.
You can measure how much sound they block using STC to ensure they fit your needs.
Use Decorative Plants and Wall Hangings
You are probably wondering how plants will help you deal with the noise problem in your conference room.
The idea behind the plans is similar to that of adding wall hangings. By adding mass to the room's walls, you increase the distance through which the noise has to travel, reducing its impact.
The best thing about using plants and wall hangings is that they help add to the room's existing decor, so you have an aesthetically pleasing conference room that blocs out unwanted sounds as well.
Invest in soundproof drywall for your office building construction.
Although it is slightly more expensive than ordinary drywall, this soundproof material adds the density that is needed to block sound.
Mass-Loaded Vinyl Finishing
MLV is a heavy vinyl that's installed below the finishing layer of your walls. It's a material that adds a high mass to your walls, making it soundproof.
Other heavy mass construction materials that help in soundproofing include lead, sheetrock, concrete, sandbags, and even bricks.
We recommend this MLV.
Further Considerations for Soundproofing
When lining the walls and ceiling, it is only prudent to pay more attention to the thinner ceiling tiles as opposed to walls.
The STC will guide you in finding the weak spots in the room that emanate more sound, apply absorption material justly.
The denser the material, the more soundproofing it provides.
Related: STC Ratings of Windows
Benefits of Conference Room Soundproofing
After you've soundproofed your conference room using acoustically absorptive materials, what new improvement are in store?
Installing acoustic material prevents sound from freely bouncing on the walls.
In one move, you've controlled echoes and reverberation, increased clarity, and muffled all incoming noises from outside.
Let's see how soundproofing your conference room benefits your business:
Nobody is going to question your company's ability to keep information under wraps.
If you're using your conference room to handle sensitive data, the soundproofing will prevent unwanted ears from listening in.
Soundproofing secures your conference room's privacy, ensuring voices in the room don't drone to the outside, which helps in keeping sensitive information from being leaked.
Businesses located in city centers that experience street traffic, loud sirens, or construction noises can work more efficiently.
These sound disruptions can no longer interrupt your meeting or divert employees' attention from the work at hand.
Soundproofing conference rooms prevent these unwanted noises from leaking into the room, leaving you to work in tranquility.
Soundproofing and workplace productivity are inextricably linked. A workspace free from unnecessary distractions leads to an increase in its work capacity.
Your working success rate increases because the environment is ideal for concentration. This, in turn, increases business profits.
You might also like: What are the Effects of White Noise in the Workplace?
As mentioned earlier, unwanted noises can cause illness and increased levels of stress.
Once the acoustic materials are installed, and noise interruptions are cut off, the workplace quality increases exponentially.
Where once you were dreading to go to work because of the noise, even if you didn't realize it, now you'll find you're happier with your work environment.
The best interviews are those that are clear and understandable among workers. Tasks are accomplished much faster when there is clear communication within the company.
There are less disgruntled business partners and employees when its easy to clarify information and discuss matters during conference meetings.
This is especially important when dealing with things like teleconferences and employee orientation.
Conclusion: On Soundproofing Conference Rooms
Your regular workplace is a pretty collaborative space, and with these collaborative efforts between coworkers comes issues of noise.
So noise is a pretty unavoidable circumstance, but you can curb it with soundproofing.
Clarity of speech without the blurred sound signals caused by unwelcome echoes or noise interruptions is a product of investing in good soundproofing.
You can never go wrong with a happier working environment free from unnecessary distractions.
You are going to be closing some crucial deals in the conference room. Soundproofing this room should, therefore, be a priority for your business.
Noise pollution in the workplace is clearly a hazard for both your business and coworkers' state of mind. So why not invest in some soundproofing?
You might also like: How to Soundproof Office Cubicle and Block Out Noise at Work