How to Soundproof a Dorm Room on a Budget

So schools are in session, and this may or may not be your first time in a dorm room.  Well, if you’re like me, I am easily distracted by outside noise when trying to study. 

This can make passing exams in school much more difficult if you are unable to have a good night of studying the night or days before. 

Obviously, if you are a student, then the money is probably not on your side.  There are many expensive soundproofing options out there that won’t be feasible options for you if you are on a budget.

 I have compiled a list of the best ways how to soundproof a dorm room on a budget, even if you are broke.

Now I don’t think it’s possible to completely spend no money at all and have effective soundproofing. 

As long as you have about 50 dollars then you can actually have decent results with soundproofing your dorm room. 

After researching the cheapest soundproofing options on the internet, this is what I found to be the most bang for your buck.

Seal and Cover the Windows

I suggest the first place you start with is the window in your dorm room.  This is especially true if the building was built a long time ago. 

Older buildings tend to have windows that are less than optimally sealed to keep sound out. 

An example would be the apartment that I am currently living in. 

Even though my window is shut, I can still hear small conversations downstairs and any loud car passing by in the street.  Needless to say, this has become pretty annoying.

One cheap way to fix this issue is to make sure your window is completely sealed.  This weatherstripping material from amazon works great for making an air-tight seal for any window, and you can pick it up for under $10. 

Installation is also very easy.  Simply peel off the adhesive backing and stick it around your entire window frame.  This will create an air-tight seal when the window is shut and secured. 

You will notice an immediate reduction in outside noise.  This will also help keep heat and cold in or out, depending on the season.

This next step is what I like to consider extra credit.  To further soundproof your window, you can purchase soundproof curtains like these ones

Soundproof curtains work because they create density and thickness, which help block sound from entering your room. 

Of course, you need to make sure the curtains are completely covering your window.  If you have them spread open, then they will absolutely not help at all. 

You can find these pretty cheap for under $30.  This is just like icing on the cake.  If your budget doesn’t allow for curtains, then go ahead and skip this. 

Just make sure to get the weatherstripping at all costs as it is cheap and very effective.

Cover up the Walls

Cover up all of the walls that lead into other living quarters or loud noises. 

Use thick frames, idea boards, pinboards, or anything else that you can think of that you have at your disposal. 

Thick picture frames, cork boards, artwork, and even acoustic panels like these ones from amazon are a few more ideas that come to mind. 

The main goal is to add thickness and density to your walls.

The density and thickness of the items mounted or stuck on your walls will help absorb the excess noise and vibrations coming through the other side of the wall. 

This is especially important if you want a nice silent night for studying.  It would be pretty hard to study while having to listen to your neighbor’s television or loud conversations through the wall.

This is an excellent free way to reduce the noise in your dorm room.  If you don’t have anything you can place on your walls, then you can place big objects like furniture, a bed frame, a bookcase, an entertainment center, couches, etc. 

When on a budget, anything will work.  Don’t go out spending a lot of money on random objects to place on your walls.  I will talk a little more about strategically placing furniture in your dorm room for the best soundproofing later on in the article.

Don’t Forget the Floors

Don’t forget the floor in your dorm room!  The floor is probably the area in your room that gets the most traffic. 

Your roommates will constantly be coming in and out of the dorm room or walking across one side of the room to the other. 

If your dorm room has hard flooring, then you will hear every single bit of it.  Most of the noise generated from the floor is called impact noise.  The rest of the noise is the echoes that follow shortly after the impact noise.

Impact noise can easily be one of the most annoying sounds to deal with if not properly addressed.  So how do you reduce impact noise from a floor? 

By adding a bunch of crap to the ground.  Not really crap, but you get the point.  It’s fairly simple to get rid of the impact noise coming from your floor by adding thick, dense materials.

You can cover the floor that receives the most traffic with rugs or carpeting.  Anything that is soft, thick, and dense will do the trick. 

If you have to go the no-money route, then you can simply throw a bunch of thick towels all over the ground as if they are rugs.  Everybody has towels at their disposal, and they can make for a quick makeshift rug if needed.

If you or your roommates do not want to place anything on the floors, then you can make a rule in the dorm room.  No shoes allowed, only socks. 

Wearing socks will help muffle the sound of walking across the hard floor and is practically a free method of soundproofing since everyone uses socks.

Place Furniture in Your Dorm Strategically

This method is great because it is completely free.  It’s free as long as you have furniture inside your dorm room. 

So what does it mean to strategically place your furniture in your dorm room?  As an example, if you have a bookshelf with books in your dorm, make sure to place this bookshelf on a wall where there is excess noise coming through. 

This wall can be the connecting wall to your neighbor.  Moving furniture around your room to compensate for these noises will help greatly reduce different noises in your room.

Try to place your largest furniture in the places that are generating the most noise to get the most out of your efforts. 

Now, this method isn’t an end-all method for soundproofing, but it does work and is free.  Something as simple as moving around the furniture in your dorm room shouldn’t be overlooked because every little step counts in noise reduction.

Filling up your dorm room with furniture is also a smart idea because it will help reduce echoes and reverberations.  This is similar to if you just moved into an empty house or apartment. 

When there is no furniture in a home, the sound will echo and bounce off the walls, floors, and throughout the house.  Furnishing the house or home will stop this.

If you have very little furniture in your room, then I suggest placing them where you think they would benefit you the most.  This is where strategic planning comes into play.

Use Noise Cancelling Headphones

So you’ve tried everything from sealing your window, covering up all the walls, and moving around your furniture, but you are still unhappy with the amount of noise left in your dorm room. 

Sometimes the best way to get some peace and quiet to study is to use noise-canceling headphones. 

These noise-cancelling headphones from amazon are priced reasonably well and work great based on the positive reviews this product has received.

These headphones were designed for listening to music but also work well as just a pair of noise-canceling headphones if you don’t like to listen to music while studying. 

This method is solely used for the purpose of studying.  If you want your dorm room soundproof because of other means, then this method may not benefit you as much and should probably be skipped over. 

If the main reason you need your dorm room quiet is for studying, then this would be one of the best ways to get a quiet night of studying.

Get a White Noise Machine

Sometimes the best way to soundproof something is to just drown out the noise completely. 

This is exactly what a white noise machine does.  A white noise machine is most commonly used at night time to help the user get to sleep easier by blocking out any background noises. 

You can use a white noise machine for a similar effect if you need to block out unwanted noises so you can study.

Most white noise machines have many different settings with noises like a waterfall, rainforest, or another type of soothing sound. 

This white noise machine works very well if you are on a budget.  It has multiple different settings and volume controls.  It also comes with a stand so you can strategically place the machine where you want the noise to come from. 

The main downside to using a white noise machine is that you are still hearing the noise.  If you need it completely silent to get a good study session in, then using a white noise machine is a no-go.

Just like the headphones that I mentioned above, this method has a sole purpose for studying.  If you just want a quiet dorm room in general, then the little money you have is best spent elsewhere trying to fix up your dorm room.

Listen to Music

This mainly applies to study time.  Nothing is more budget-friendly than throwing on a pair of headphones and turning on music. 

Music also helps you relax, which can be beneficial for studying.  You can search online for specific music tracks that can help you relax and get in the mood for studying.

Listening to music while studying is highly dependent on the user.  I know for myself personally, that I can’t be listening to music when studying. 

It makes my mind wander which in turn makes it harder for me to read or study for an exam.  You basically will never know unless you give it a try.

Final Thoughts

There are many different areas and aspects when it comes to soundproofing, especially if you are soundproofing on a tight budget. 

Many of the methods I have shared in this article will work very well if executed properly.  Make sure all the windows in your room are completely sealed. 

This will prevent any excess sound from leaving or entering through the window.  Not only will it reduce sound, but it will also help with insulation.

Cover up all the walls.  Use posters, cork boards, artwork, picture frames, and anything else that you may have lying around. 

Don’t be shy.  Just make sure whatever you end up placing on your walls is thick.  Thickness and density is king when it comes to absorbing sound through walls.

Place carpeting and rugs over your hardwood floors.  This will help keep impact noise from people running or walking around in the room. 

It can’t get any simpler than this.  If you don’t have carpeting or rugs, then make it a requirement that everyone takes off their shoes and only walks around the room in socks. 

Socks absorb impact noise naturally and are a great free way to reduce foot noise on hardwood flooring.

Make sure all your furniture is placed strategically to block out sound or reduce echoes.  This is probably the only time where it’s useful to have too much furniture. 

If your room is over-saturated with furniture, then make this your primary means of soundproofing.  Once you take all these methods into account, you will notice your room will be substantially quieter.