How To Make Mechanical Keyboards Quieter [DIY Tips]
The constant clicking of mechanical keyboard switches can get annoying, especially while working in an office full of colleagues busy typing away. Fortunately, you can silence noisy switches by making a few slight modifications to your keyboard.
If you’re tired of jarringly loud mechanical keyboards, you can say goodbye to the constant clatter of keys by:
- Placing a desk mat under your keyboard to absorb sound
- Lining the inside of your keyboard with foam
- Installing rubber O-rings beneath the keys
- Modifying your stabilizers
- Changing to a new type of switch
In this article, we’ll go through how you can make these quick changes and explain how they help to reduce the amount of noise your keyboard makes.
Place a desk mat under your keyboard
If you don’t want to make any physical modifications, you can easily absorb a good amount of noise by placing a desk mat under your keyboard.
As you type, the constant striking of keys creates vibrations that rattle the space beneath your keyboard and desk. These vibrations reverberate and cause an unnecessary racket. Placing a desk mat underneath your keyboard helps absorb and dampen the vibrations, thereby quieting your keyboard.
Desk mats are easy to find online or at office supply stores. They usually have a smooth cloth top with a rubber base that grips to your desk and prevents vibrations from rattling your work surface.
Best of all, desk mats add a nice aesthetic flair to your workstation. You can order mats with custom images online and they even eliminate the need for a separate mouse pad!
Line your keyboard with foam
If you are willing to make a few physical modifications to your keyboard, lining the interior space with some foam is another excellent way to quiet the number of vibrations produced as you type.
Just as a rubber desk mat helps absorb some of the noisy vibrations that rattle your desk and keyboard, a foam lining will also soak up the sound of clicking keys.
To get started, you’ll need foam and a screwdriver to open the body of your keyboard:
- Packing foam – Packing foam is cheap, easy to buy from hardware and office supply stores, and works well for filling the spaces inside a keyboard.
- Neoprene – Another low-cost option, neoprene is highly effective at absorbing vibrations and you can easily find it online.
- Shelf-liner – Probably the cheapest option you can find, shelf-liner is a decent noise absorber but you may struggle to fill your keyboard evenly.
- Sorbothane – More expensive than other options but hands-down the best type of foam for absorbing vibrations and sound. You can find it for sale online.
Simply unscrew the body of your keyboard and insert the foam between the bottom case and the PCB. You may also have to loosen a few clips that hold the body together.
Add rubber O-rings beneath the switches
While foam linings and rubber desk mats can help absorb noise, adding rubber O-rings beneath your switches will immediately dampen vibrations as you type, before they have a chance to travel throughout your workstation.
You will need an O-ring for each key on your keyboard but, fortunately, they are cheap and come in packs of dozens of rings. You can even find them in a range of colors or simply just clear.
To install rubber O-rings, use a keycap puller to remove each key and then slip the O-ring over and down onto the base of each switch. Reinstall the keys and then try typing. You may find that O-rings make your keyboard feel a bit mushy, so if you prefer a crisp feel, this may not be the effect you’re looking for.
Modify Your Keyboard Stabilizers
For a more advanced modification, you can also play around with your keyboard’s stabilizers. Stabilizers help balance your keys so, if they come out of balance, they can create unnecessary rattling and vibrations.
It may sound complicated at first, but you’ll only need a few household items to modify your stabilizers:
- Lubricant – Loosening tight stabilizers with some industrial lubricant (not WD-40!) will help reduce the amount of friction and vibration created whenever you press down on a key
- Band-aids – Applying the sticky part of a band-aid below the area where the key stabilizers land will absorb the sounds and vibrations of your typing.
- Clips – Securing the feet away from the stabilizer helps create a flatter, more stable surface.
Going through all three of these modifications can take a couple of hours so, if you’re tight on time, save this modification for a weekend when you are free. However, if you’re tired of your clicky keyboard, this is a surefire way to limit the amount of noise it creates.
Change to a new type of switch
Some mechanical keyboards are actually built to make a loud click. For some people, the sound is pleasurable and reminiscent of older typewriter-style keyboards. But if you’re less keen on the sound, you can always move to a new type of switch:
- Linear – The quietest and smoothest type of switch
- Tactile – Makes a slight noise and gives a small tactile bump feeling as you type
- Clicky – The loudest of all keys, likely what you are trying to change away from
Before you attempt this modification, understand that changing out your keyboard’s switches isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, this is the most effective change you can make. Be patient as you go through the modification and trust in the process.
Additionally, if you want completely silent keystrokes, you can also find specialty silent switches online. They’re built using rubber pads at their base that completely absorb the sound of your keystrokes. However, if you don’t like the mushy feeling of an O-ring you’ll probably run into the same problem here.
Are silent keyboards worth it?
Modifying your mechanical keyboard can definitely be cheaper than buying a whole new product and most of these modifications can be finished within an hour. However, if you’re inexperienced with keyboards, we recommend sticking to the first through or four modifications.
Changing out your switches will take time and you may even need some soldering experience for certain brands of keyboards. If you have never soldered electronics before, we don’t recommend making this your first experience. This is only an easy solution if you own a hot-swappable keyboard that allows for quick changes.
Additionally, you can take your keyboard to a professional computer shop and they will change out your switches for you. However, paying someone to change them for you could be as pricey as a new mechanical keyboard.
If you’re tired of listening to the clatter of noisy mechanical keyboards, you can always make a few quick modifications to silence your keystrokes. While not everyone can solder in new switches, you can still reduce the amount of noise your keyboard makes by using a desk mat, lining your keyboard with foam, adding new O-rings, or touching up your key stabilizers.
You can find everything you need to make these modifications online or at your local hardware store. Give them a try and let us know how they work for you!