4 Ways to Soundproof Your Apartment
Be a courteous neighbor—or silence the sounds from next door—with these noise-dampening strategies
For those of us sharing walls with neighbors, there's nothing worse than trying to fall asleep while they clomp around in wooden clogs. An awkward hallway conversation about removing shoes indoors may help, but there are decorating tricks you can employ to soundproof your apartment.
We asked Anne Reagan, editor in chief of Porch.com, to share her best budget-friendly ideas for adding sound-absorbing materials and reducing unwanted noise coming into—and going out of—your living space.
First, determine the source of the noise, says Anne, then focus on fixing the area of your apartment that relates to the worst offender.
1. Block Noise Between Rooms in Your Home
Sound traveling around a room will bounce off hard surfaces and be absorbed by soft ones. Apply materials like cotton, felt, or foam directly to walls, ceilings, furniture, room dividers, and doors to help absorb sound. Adding more pieces of upholstered furniture will also help.
2. Block Outside Noise Coming Through Windows
Noise is easily amplified through a single pane of glass. If you own your apartment, upgrade to triple-pane windows. If that isn't feasible, hang heavy or very thick drapes with many layers of fabric. Be sure to check the seals around each window for gaps. You can also purchase a temporary sound-blocking quilt, such as the Quiet Barrier Acoustic Quilt from Soundproofcow.com, to hang up and remove as needed.
3. Block Noise Coming Through Ceilings and Walls
If upstairs footsteps are a problem, check with the neighbor or your landlord about laying down carpet or an area rug to cut down on noise. Some cities require a percentage of the floor be covered, and a co-op board or landlord will usually authorize this. In New York City, for example, the rule is 80 percent. Repairing squeaking floors may be a solution.
To beef up thin walls, add bookshelves and other thick furniture if space allows. You can also ask the neighbor of the shared wall to do the same. Add a thick piece of foam behind the bookcase for more sound-blocking strength.
4. When All Else Fails: White Noise
A simple fan, such as the Honeywell Quiet Set Table Fan, (about $40) or a window-unit air conditioner will do the trick and keep you cool at the same time.
For more of Anne's advice, see her article What's the Best Way to Soundproof an Apartment? on Porch.com.