Silence is Golden: Tips and Tricks for How to Soundproof Your Apartment
People often come to me with noise problems after moving into a new apartment. They find a nice apartment that fits their budget and schedule a visit during their lunch break when the building and street are totally quiet. Then they sign the lease and move in only to realize their neighbors are noisy or loud sounds coming from outside as they’re trying to get some sleep. Between loud televisions next door and highway traffic outside, their new place isn’t the peaceful spot they envisioned at all.
Just last week I was talking to a customer, a mother had just scored an apartment a few blocks away from her office. A beautiful light filled space with two spacious bedrooms and two bathrooms. She told me how thrilled she was to be able to enjoy a private, uncluttered space when she’d be getting ready for work in the morning. When she visited the apartment late morning on a Wednesday, the entire building seemed like a perfect home. It was huge, comfortable, convenient, and (at the time) peaceful.
After moving in, she realized that the walls were paper thin.; She could hear everything the neighbor was doing. When they watch the latest singing competition, she’s practically forced to listen in. At night, her kids have trouble falling asleep because the neighbor’s television is so loud.
Apartment noise doesn’t always come from neighbors. I’ve seen issues where apartment tenants are struggling to sleep because of highway traffic, planes, or nearby trains.
Soundproofing an apartment can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. While there are ways to soundproof a space by making structural changes, there are also ways to reduce noise without completing a major construction and remodeling project.
The big problem with apartments: you don’t own the space.
When soundproofing an apartment, the main issue I see is landlord approval. Soundproofing a room in your own home is one thing, it’s another to soundproof an apartment that is owned by someone else.
Before making any changes, I highly recommend you speak with the landlord, manager, or building supervisor first. In my experience, most are understanding and willing to help you reduce noise. Although less common, you may even convince them to approve and pay for the changes; they may see it as an investment in their property, which it certainly is!
Soundproofing an Apartment: A How-To Guide
Soundproofing strategies start by identifying the source of the noise. For example, if the annoying noise is coming from outside the building (nearby airplanes, for example), the solution will be different than if the sound is coming from the next-door neighbors. And don’t be misled by myths; below you will find the proper way to soundproof the components of your apartment!
If you are experiencing noise issues at your apartment because of sound coming from outside the building, the first step is to soundproof the windows. Windows, especially older single-pane windows, allow a lot of noise to enter the room, but there are numerous options for soundproofing windows of all sizes. Best of all, they are usually easy to install.
Window Solution Example: PrivacyShield® Window Seal Kit
The PrivacyShield® Window Seal Kit is an acoustical window insert that focuses on sound abatement across all frequency levels while also maintaining a discreet appearance, to allow the visual quality of the existing window to thrive. It uses exterior grade PVC and, as an added bonus, provides excellent thermal insulation.
Apartment noise often comes from the hallway. People come to us with problems because the doorway they use is too thin or light, and it doesn’t tightly seal the door space, which allows the noise to flow inward. For many of our customers, this is a concern because they not only hear people outside, but people outside can also easily hear them. In an apartment building with dozens or even hundreds of tenants, this can be a major concern.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to soundproof a door, and they don’t always require major remodeling or even a replacement of the door. I recommend starting with a door seal kit, which includes automatic door bottoms, neoprene door jambs, and a threshold that engages the door bottom.
Door Solution Example: Automatic Door Bottom
The small space between the bottom of the door and the floor can allow noise to easily enter an apartment. With the Automatic Door Bottom, this open space is filled thanks to a flat spring mechanism and a neoprene seal insert. Available in standard and custom options, this is a good starting point for reducing sound that enters an apartment.
Another option is our Acoustic Door Seal Kit. It can help seal door gaps, which helps to keep sound from leaking in or out.
Apartment wall soundproofing can be a bit trickier because the space is much larger and for the best results structural changes are often the top solution. Unfortunately, structural changes are not always possible in an apartment. However, there are options that create temporary fixes without an aggressive construction project.
Soundproofing a wall requires dense, heavy material that stops the noise from entering. While this is often achieved during the construction process, I often see issues from people living in older buildings, which do not have the modern soundproofing materials that are common in modern construction. We recommend apartment residents use AlphaSorb® Barrier Panels or PrivacyShield® Absorptive Soundproofing Blankets to reduce the noise entering through thin walls.
Wall Solution Example: AlphaSorb® Barrier Acoustic Panels
While I often suggest these panels for commercial and office space, as well as sound-production studios, they can also be useful in an apartment. They feature two layers of acoustical fiberglass, which surround a thin layer of one-pound septum, all wrapped in a clean, elegant fabric. These panels can be built to the specific thickness and size you need, although we recommend a professional for installation and cutting outlet holes.
Many people come to us because loud noise is coming from an upstairs apartment. Loud walking and banging on the floor overhead can create a noise issue for the people below; often the people above don’t realize they’re being a nuisance, but the floors and ceiling are so thin that noise passes through them like paper.
This is probably the most challenging issue we see, but it’s not impossible to fix. Dampening the sound may help, but it won’t completely eliminate the issue. The best solution is to replace the upstairs flooring, but convincing the landlord and the tenant to agree to that project is difficult. Again, there are options that allow you to quickly improve your space.
Ceiling Solution Example: Resilient Sound Isolation Clips
Resilient Sound Isolation Clips require more effort for installation, but they can provide a solution when all else fails. They are attached to the top of the ceiling and used to hold another soundproofing layer, which essentially creates an open space followed by another ceiling.
Invasive Soundproofing Options for Your Apartment
The vast majority of apartment renters are unable to make any changes to their ceilings, walls, and floors, beyond putting something on them. If you are a lucky renter who is able to make these changes, or if the landlord has plans to renovate, there are a few things you can do in terms of soundproofing:
- If the walls are able to be redone, Green Glue noiseproofing sealant should be applied to drywall gaps, and putty pads applied to electrical boxes.
- For walls, ceilings, and flooring, AudioSeal® Mass Loaded Vinyl Sound Barrier is a fantastic product that can be added to various construction assemblies.
- IsoStep® Soundproofing Underlayment is a great option if the floors can be redone. Oftentimes, floors need to be redone in apartments and this is something possible to work out with a landlord (as opposed to ceilings and walls, which typically involve much more invasive and costly renovation procedures than flooring).
Eliminate Apartment, Condo, or Townhouse Noise Today with Acoustical Solutions
When someone comes to us, they are often fed up with noise entering their apartment. They may even be losing sleep. Does this sound like your situation?
I’ve solved other people’s noise issues, and I’d be glad to solve yours as well! Don’t wait any longer; get the solutions you deserve right away by contacting our team today!
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
To learn more about how Acoustical Solutions can solve your noise control problems, use our contact form, call one of our Acoustical Sales Consultants at (800) 782-5742, or visit us on the web at acousticalsolutions.com.