You’ve found the apartment of your dreams – great neighborhood, great price, beautiful appliances. You move all your stuff in and settle down for the night when you realize… I CAN HEAR EVERYTHING MY NEIGHBORS DO.
You hear your them upstairs walking around in heels on the tile floor, you hear them across the hall slamming their door, and you hear your neighbor’s favorite late night TV shows through the shared wall in your bedroom. You know nothing about soundproofing an apartment, but something has to be done.
What do you do? You look up how to soundproof on the internet. The problem with this is that you will probably run into a lot of two things: myths that will waste your time (egg cartons, really?) and solutions that not only cost thousands of dollars, but are meant to be implemented during construction or require permanent modification of your dwelling (which your landlord may or may not be okay with).
So if you want more information on how to soundproof and block sound, you may want to read:
- Soundproofing a Wall
- Soundproofing a Garage
- Soundproofing a Floor
- Soundproofing a Window
- Soundproofing a Door
After you’re done sorting through all this, you come to a few conclusions:
1. There is no temporary fix.
Anything that will actually yield satisfactory results when soundproofing a wall or ceiling will not be easy to slap up and tear down when you move outt. Noticeable wall and ceiling soundproofing requires that you add massive materials to the structures and make them airtight. No shag rug hung behind your headboard will keep you from hearing your neighbor’s watching America’s Funniest Home Videos playing at full volume.
Blocking the transmission of the sound from one unit to the next will require some modification to the structure of the walls, floors or ceiling. You hear the sound due to the fact that the existing structure is not massive or dense enough to block the sound. Additionally, they may also be connected structurally, allowing sound to be physically transmitted through the studs and drywall. In a rented apartment, you will most likely not be able to modify the existing structure.
If you can get approval to have a contractor rebuild or add materials to the structure, you would be considering some of the following materials for use.
Examples of materials used to augment wall, floor and ceiling assemblies to block sound transmission from one space to the next.
Mass loaded sound barriers are roll goods used to add density to wall, floor and ceiling assemblies.
Green Glue is used to isolate multiple layers of drywall to improve STC values.
These clips are used in a similar fashion to Green Glue, in order to help stop physically transmitted sound from traveling through the studs and drywall.
Floor underlayments are used to reduce impact sound transmitted through flooring to spaces underneath. Iso-step will also improve the sound blocking capability of the floor assembly.
All of the above listed materials require a contractor to install or modify the existing structure.
2. I am doomed! (But you’re not).
Your best bet is to identify where the sound is coming from. If it is clearly coming through one shared wall, focus on that area. If it is loudest near your front door or kitchen window, start there.
If the sound is coming through a door, you can purchases a solid core door if your current one is too lightweight and trade it out, putting the original back when you move again. Even with a heavy door, however, sound may still come through the gaps – in which case you may consider acoustical door seals.
If the sound is coming through a particular window, cover the window with heavy curtains. If the sound is still too noticeable, consider an Acoustical Window Seal Kit. These seals add an additional pane of glass and create a dead space, reducing sound transmission from outdoor noises. They do, however, need to be installed with screws. Read over your rental agreement and maybe talk to your landlord about whether adding screws to the window frames is acceptable. You can always fill the holes later when you uninstall.
Here is a trickier one – airborne sound like television, music, and speech coming through your shared wall. Mass and isolation are the two things that will definitely do the trick. Both of these are labor intense, though – and require a level of modification that may be hard to sell your landlord on. Damping compound is then your best bet. Not that it doesn’t work – compounds like Green Glue, which are sandwiched between your existing wall and a new layer of drywall can take your wall’s STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating from 40 to 50. Just make sure that if you do go this route, you seal up the gaps in your new drywall with noiseproofing sealant and be sure to seal up any electrical boxes with putty pads. There is no point in putting up sound damping material if you are going to leave weak spots.
The trickiest one is impact noise through your floor/ceiling assembly. Damping compound will likely help, but not eliminate the noise. A floor underlayment is normally what we’d recommend, but convincing your landlord or upstairs neighbor that it is necessary to rip up their floor to install may be difficult. Isolation clips can create a ceiling below your existing ceiling, but again installation is labor intense. If neither of these seem possible to accomplish for you, you may just have to talk to your neighbor about putting down a rug or taking off their shoes when they walk around above you. If they are not receptive then try going to your landlord. It couldn’t hurt to ask, especially if you are losing sleep or your quality of life is affected.
When asking your landlord about installing any of these methods, make the case to them that noise does make it more difficult to live there, and that you’d be much more likely to renew your lease if treatment is installed. Hopefully they will view soundproofing an apartment as an investment, saving them money as tenants stay longer.
Use these materials for temporary fixes, without major construction:
These barrier wall panels contain a barrier septum between two layers of sound absorbing material.
Use these to block sound by completely covering an existing wall.
Combination blankets utilize absorptive quilted fiberglass with a sound barrier septum or backing to block sound. Used these to cover walls, create enclosures or used as temporary barriers. We can customize these blankets to create a barrier panel to hang over a window.
Door Seal Kits can help seal door gaps to keep sound from leaking in or out.
Acoustic Window Seal Kits are add-on window inserts designed to reduce noise through your existing window.
Please feel free to contact us with any concerns about the methods or products mentioned in this post.