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How to Soundproof an Apartment: 9 Tips and Tricks

By: Susan Finch
February 19, 2020

Moving into a brand-new neighborhood and apartment complex is a thrill. That is, until you realize there's enough noise leaking into your apartment to fuel a concert. 

Before you start spiraling into despair, there are ways to go about soundproofing an apartment. You can make your home a more comfortable place to live. Here's how to get started!

9 Ways to Soundproof Your Apartment

1. Identify Your Weak Spots

Where’s the sound really coming from in your apartment? There's probably no need to go about soundproofing an entire apartment from top to bottom if the real issue is your front door or a shared bedroom wall. 

Identify which area of your apartment is responsible for troublesome noise. Then, focus on that one area.

2. Grab Some Blankets

People in recording studios use soundproofing blankets. They can work wonders in an apartment. 

The noise-reducing material cuts noise considerably. That’s especially the case when you pair this technique with other soundproofing methods. 

The only caveat is that you need a friend or neighbor to help out. These blankets are heavy and not easy to install on your own. 

Just add a decorative curtain when you're done. That’ll transform the heavy curtain look into a decor-worthy look.

3. Install Soundproof Curtains

Just like heavy acoustic blankets, soundproof curtains can also help block the sound from your windows. 

Choose your favorite patterns. Then, install them on your windows. They’ll help block out pesky pups, sanitation workers, and idling trucks that love to hang around your apartment building.

4. Seal Your Doors and Windows

Keep sound from seeping through the cracks in your doors and windows, and potentially lower your energy bills at the same time. Try an acoustic seal kit. You can also ask your landlord about weatherstripping your door and windows to eliminate gaps. 

It may be worth asking your landlord about replacing old doors if sound is a major problem. Most apartment doors are hollow and allow sound to carry through. Door pads, or a door sweep, can also help reduce gaps and keep the sound out.

5. Add Bookshelves

The solution to your sound problem might also solve your space problem. Add bookshelves around problematic walls in your home. Then, fill them with your favorite books, souvenirs, storage baskets, and plants. 

Depending on your space and the level of noise, a few bookshelves could resolve your issue.

6. Cover Your Floor with a Rug and Pad

Hardwood floors may look fantastic. However, they often carry sound and bother neighbors below. Decrease the sound bouncing around your apartment and have a heart for your downstairs neighbors. 

Add a pad and rug to absorb sound. That could make your apartment complex a little happier.

Just a heads-up on this tip: Laying carpet in your apartment can help prevent noise from carrying, but it isn't usually sufficient as a stand-alone solution. Pair this with other soundproofing strategies to make your apartment quieter.

7. Add White Noise

Sometimes, there are few viable solutions when it comes to how to soundproof an apartment. When all else fails, it's time to get out the white noise machine. 

Choose your favorite songs and add a few sound machines or an app on your household devices to carry sound. Soft sounds can distract you from the more annoying sounds going on around you. They can also create peace of mind.

8. Approach Them with Kindness

You may be at the mercy of your noisy neighbors with little recourse other than working it out with them. Go out of your way to smother your neighbors in kindness. Consider giving them some baked treats, a bottle of wine, and a nicely worded note.

Let your noisy neighbors know their music, heavy walking, or dog is a problem, and during what hours of the day. There's no reason to ask them to stay quiet when you're at work or likely out on the town. 

Ask if they could be a little quieter during specific hours and leave your number. You could invite them to text you if you're the one making too much noise.

9. Get Your Landlord Involved

It may be time to call in your landlord if noise is a pervasive, disruptive issue in your apartment. The landlord may ask the neighbors to quiet down or come up with soundproofing strategies like carpeting the apartment above you.

For example, there's very little you can do without construction if noise is coming through your ceiling. A drop ceiling or adding in some sound barriers could help with the assistance of a willing landlord. 

There’s also a chance that your landlord will let you relocate to a different unit.

Soundproofing an Apartment: What Won't Work

There are many ways to soundproof an apartment that can help reduce noise. However, there are even more ways that won't work. Here are four soundproofing myths to avoid.

1. Skip the Egg Crates

Your friends may swear by egg cartons and crates, but they don't do much to reduce noise. You may be able to absorb some of the sounds that carry. However, egg cartons are an eyesore and mostly a waste of your soundproofing efforts.

2. Swear Off Foam Rubber 

Soundproofing foam generally doesn't work and can prove dangerous. Sound tends to pass right through the porous texture. Also, it can burn like crazy. Don't create a fire hazard in your home at the expense of soundproofing.

3. Don't Go to the Mattresses

We've all had that friend who hammers a mattress into their wall, rocks out with their band, and believes they've come up with a DIY soundproofing solution. A mattress might deaden noise coming through the wall slightly. But it generally doesn't work. 

You would likely need multiple mattresses lining up across your wall. But more importantly, you're inviting mold, mildew, and critters to set up shop in your new wall decor.

4. Skip the Acoustic Panels

Acoustic panels are somewhat controversial when it comes to soundproofing. They can help reduce noise inside your apartment. If your issue is sounds and echoes bouncing off your walls, then acoustic panels will offer some relief. However, they won’t do anything about the sound entering your apartment.

Apartment Soundproofing Pro Tips

If you're planning to move out of an apartment full of noise, there are some preventative steps you can take before signing your new lease. Here's a quick Q&A to answer your burning questions about how to soundproof an apartment.

How do I know what kind of insulation and soundproofing an apartment has?

There's little way to know what kind of insulation and soundproofing an apartment has, except to ask the landlord or property management. Have a candid conversation and let them know you're sensitive to noise and would like to know more about the quality of the construction before signing a lease. 

How do you know if an apartment has good soundproofing? 

The best way to tell if an apartment has good soundproofing is to ask to see it during a weekend morning before the brunch crowd heads out on the town. You can also ask to see the apartment one evening after work or on a weekend evening. 

Listen for noise coming from outside or within the complex. Then, determine what feels reasonable to you.

How do you find an apartment with good soundproofing?

Finding an apartment with good soundproofing feels a bit like discovering a unicorn. However, you can increase your odds by asking friends about the soundproofing in their buildings. You can then ask management to let you know when a unit becomes available. Look for new construction buildings and inquire about the soundproofing and installation.

Looking for an end unit or top floor unit can also reduce the chance of shared noise. Remember, the type of apartment you rent matters when it comes to soundproofing an apartment. Some apartments like industrial lofts are more likely to carry sound through their open-concept layout. 

Figuring out how to soundproof an apartment is within reach with the right strategy and tactics in place. You may not be able to eliminate 100% of the noise. However, you can dramatically reduce the sound and create that refuge you're looking for.

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