So 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).
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 out of your apartment. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Please feel free to contact us with any concerns about the methods mentioned in this post, or if you have any unanswered questions about your own apartment noise issues: 800 782 5742 or firstname.lastname@example.org