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Whether it's the television, the kids, or road noise making its way into your garage office, unwanted noise can be a constant intrusion and distraction from your work. You could buy noise-canceling headphones and listen to music all day, but that's not an option for most people. While there is no way to entirely stop sound from entering your space, there are plenty of ways to reduce it - and some of them won't cost you a dime.
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A traditional office setup places the main workspace facing the main entrance. While this is visually appealing, it's the location most susceptible to noise intrusion. Sound waves coming through the door will go straight ahead, making it very difficult to avoid hearing even quiet talking outside your office.
It is best to put your workspace in an area isolated from your office entrance. The less you can see through the door, the better. This reduces the amount of sound that can reach you directly, and increases the number of surfaces that sound will bounce off before reaching your ear - each time it bounces, it gets quieter.
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Once you've gotten out of the noise's direct path, you can further reduce the sound you hear with some simple office additions.
Acoustic panels are available at hundreds of different retailers, and can drastically reduce the level of reflected sound. Using cotton or polyester absorption material, these square or rectangular devices can be hung on your wall opposite the intruding noise. They come in an endless variety of sizes and designs, with some doubling as artistic pieces so you can keep your decor the way you like it.
Sound absorption sheets are a good solution if your distractions are coming straight through the walls. These thick cotton sheets which resemble the comforter on your bed can be hung directly on the wall, quieting both noise and vibration. If you're on a very tight budget, you can even use your own sheets. The results won't be as dramatic, but they'll still be there.
Finally, try working on the door itself. Among the options available are acoustic panels specifically designed for doors and self-sticking soundproofing sheets.
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The most effective method of sonic isolation is installing sound insulation material. However, it is also the most expensive and an extreme measure unless you're dealing with lots of unwanted noise. The people who will get the most out of this option are those working out of their garage. Placing soundproofing material on a garage door can virtually eliminate outside sound, giving your space the feel of being inside the house.
Sound insulation is normally made of a vinyl or rubber-based material, and generally comes in large rolls - like the plastic sheeting one uses when painting. The thickness of the material directly indicates its effectiveness, with thicker material being capable of keeping out more sound. You can also get cotton-based materials which look like normal wall insulation. These materials not only reduce incoming noise, but their installation can reduce noise coming from the structure itself.