If you live in an apartment, you may be asking yourself how to soundproof an apartment! Whether it’s your upstairs neighbor’s footsteps or the sound of traffic outside, unwanted noise can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep or focus on work.
So how to soundproof an apartment? Some of these strategies involve placing bookshelves or other barriers along the walls, using carpeting in key locations, or investing in soundproofing panels that can be installed on ceilings, doors, and windows.
Whether you’re a longtime renter or just starting in your first apartment, there are many things you can do to keep sounds from interfering with your peace and quiet.
With a little bit of effort and some good planning, you can create a more peaceful environment where you can focus on work or simply relax without being distracted by outside noise.
Here are several things you can do to soundproof an apartment and create a peaceful oasis right away. I will also touch on how to soundproof an apartment wall, window and door!
1. Use Bookshelves to Block Out Noise.
By placing bookshelves along shared walls or in other high-traffic areas, you can help dampen the sound of footsteps and other noises.
The thicker the shelves, the more effective they will be at absorbing sound. In addition, you can add acoustic panels to the shelves to further reduce noise and echo within the room.
One great tip is also to sandwich a layer of Mass Loaded Vinyl (Amazon) in between the wall and the bookshelf. This will add mass to the wall and you can bring the layer of Mass Loaded vinyl (MLV) with you when you move out of the apartment!
Just make sure you place the MLV and the bookshelf on the entire surface of the wall because it won’t be very effective if you only treat half the wall.
2. Install Acoustic Panels on your Walls, Ceilings, and Doors
There are a variety of acoustic panels (Amazon) and other soundproofing materials that you can use to improve the quality of noise in your apartment.
These panels aim to reduce echoes and reverberations in your apartment, reducing the overall volume of sounds coming from outside. (Source)
For example, you can install ceiling tiles or add carpet padding to reduce echoes and reverberations from footsteps and voices.
Additionally, using special sound-blocking curtains or heavy drapes over windows can also help reduce unwanted ambient noises from outside.
3. Invest In Noise-Canceling Headphones or Earplugs.
This can help to reduce the number of distractions and help you to focus on your work. Some noise-canceling headphones or earplugs can be quite expensive, so you may want to consider other options first.
For example, a simple pair of foam earplugs are very inexpensive and still provide some noise reduction. Alternatively, if you have the option to choose where to to work, try finding a quieter location in the office or even working remotely.
There are many different ways that you can minimize distractions while trying to focus on your work. Noise-canceling headphones and/or earplugs are an excellent solution for those who work in loud environments.
These devices isolate the sounds around you so that they aren’t as noticeable, allowing you to concentrate more easily on your work.
However, these aren’t for everyone. Some people don’t see headphones as a solution, but as more of a cover-up. There is also such a thing as ear fatigue if they are worn throughout the day.
4. Hang Heavy Fabric Over Windows and Doors
Three Layered Sound Deadening Curtains (Amazon) and drapes are another great way to block out sound from noisy neighbors or traffic outside, as they can help absorb some of those sounds before they reach your apartment.
This will help absorb sound and create more soundproofing so that you don’t have any outside noise interfering with anything on the inside.
Many different types of heavy fabric can be used for this purpose, including blankets, curtains, and acoustic tiles.
Be sure to choose a fabric that works well as a sound absorber and is also flame-resistant since it could be next to electrical equipment.
Once you’ve hung the fabric, take some time to test out the acoustics in your space. You may want to add more fabric or sound-dampening materials if you find that the noise level is still too high.
If you’re satisfied with the results, they also double as a great way to keep the sun out.
5. Use Rugs and Other Soft Furnishings to Help Muffle the Sound
Placing thick rugs on the floor or soft pillows on furniture can help absorb some of the sounds that make their way into your apartment, making it easier to focus and relax.
Thick rugs on the floor can help muffle footsteps and other noises coming from below, while soft pillows on furniture can help dampen the noise coming from above.
Try to keep everything looking nice inside the room so that it is aesthetically pleasing as well. Too many people overlook that step, sacrificing the look of their interior to help with soundproofing.
6. Look for Appliances with Quieter Motors
Your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer all generate noise when they’re in use, so try to find models that produce less sound while they’re operating.
Alternatively, you can look into purchasing a decibel reducer kit to reduce the overall volume of these appliances while they’re running.
There is a lot of new technology out there with appliances that make things quieter right away.
Some people might not know this since they haven’t had to purchase in recent years. Shop around, as there are ways to start hearing a difference soon.
8. Place your Furniture Away From Shared Walls
If your sofa is up against a shared wall, the sound of footsteps or other noises from the adjacent apartment can be amplified.
By moving your furniture away from these walls, you can help reduce the amount of noise that comes into your apartment.
Apartment walls are thinner than ever, which has caused a lot of people to realize that shared walls need to be avoided as much as possible.
Having a bare apartment likely causes a lot of sound issues overall. Try to load up the walls with different things, and don’t necessarily sit next to them if they are troublesome.
9. Use Weather Stripping to Seal Gaps Around Doors and Windows
Gaps and cracks around doors and windows can let in unwanted noise, so be sure to use weather stripping to seal them off. This will also help improve the overall energy efficiency of your apartment.
Most people already have some form of weatherstripping on their doors at this time. They also usually come included with just about every window installation. However, it could be time to upgrade them if they are not performing as they should.
Like everything else, there have been quite a few advancements in weather stripping overall. What works in the past might not be as great for soundproofing these days.
It makes a lot of sense for people to go out there and try to make some upgrades, as it’s pretty affordable even when going for premium options.
10. Treat Electronics Properly
Don’t forget about the electronics in the apartment. Many electronic devices like computers (Quiet PC Tower Amazon), TVs, and stereos can produce distracting noise, so be sure to keep them in low-traffic areas of your apartment. There are also ways to soundproof them at times.
Be creative with placing noisy electronics in areas already soundproofed pretty well. If there is any type of echo inside the apartment, it’s going to become that much more of an issue when there are a lot of sounds generating from that area.
11. Choose Sound Deadening Paint for the Walls and Ceiling.
Special soundproofing paint (Amazon) might work to help absorb sound waves, making it easier to create a peaceful environment in your apartment.
Soundproofing paint can help to reduce the amount of noise that enters our homes and workplaces, and make our environment more pleasant and peaceful. That is, as long as it is accompanied by other solutions.
There are many different types of soundproofing paint available on the market, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Some types of sound deadening paint are more effective than others, and some are more expensive. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and the best type of soundproofing paint for your needs will depend on the specific situation.
Keep in mind that doing nothing else but slapping on some soundproofing paint won’t create a noticeable solution. Combine soundproofing paint with a few other tips from this list to get the best results.
13. Talk to Your Landlord or Property Manager
Talk to your landlord or property manager about potential solutions for reducing noise levels in shared spaces like hallways or laundry rooms.
For example, they may be able to install thicker doors in these areas, or add padding under carpeting to help insulate against noise.
It seems like a lot of people are very hesitant to ever talk to their landlord or property manager to see if something could be done about sound.
While everyone is different, some landlords are probably fine with making some small changes to improve the overall quality of life for the tenants.
It’s important to know that it’s not only helping your particular apartment, but the neighbors as well. If they are having trouble renting out certain units, showcasing their upgrades in soundproofing can be beneficial.
What some people will run into is that their landlord or property manager has their hands tied a bit. If there’s nothing that they can do themselves, then it’s up to the individual tenant to fix things.
Go ahead and ask them what can and can’t be done to the property to help with soundproofing. Some will allow people to put in more permanent solutions if they wish, as long as they are removed when moving out.
14. Talk with the Neighbors
Get to know your neighbors and talk to them about ways to reduce noise levels in the shared spaces of your apartment building. By working together, you can find solutions that will benefit everyone in the building.
Soundproofing a wall is so much more effective when there is treatment on both sides. The only way to get access to the other side is to work with a neighbor.
Since most people want to have peace and quiet, it’s usually not that hard to have a discussion with a neighbor and see what happens.
The unfortunate thing is that a lot of people don’t have a great relationship with their neighbors if they are renting.
It can be a little tough to establish a relationship and have a conversation, but when approached the right way, many are open to the idea of looking into some cheap soundproofing solutions that could help out everyone involved.
If it ends up working out well with one neighbor, reaching out to the others could be much easier. When you live in an apartment building, it is important to be aware of how your actions can affect your neighbors.
One way that this can happen is by creating too much noise, which can disturb those around you. To avoid this issue and not get the label as the problematic one, look into making many of the improvements detailed in this article.
15. Considering Moving
No one enjoys having to move. However, if all else fails, consider moving to a quieter location. If the noise levels in your current apartment are just too loud for you to handle, it may be time to look for a new place to live.
But before you make any decisions, be sure to check with your landlord or property manager first to see if there are any options for soundproofing your current apartment.
How Much Does it Cost to Soundproof an Apartment?
Soundproofing an apartment can be a costly endeavor, but it is worth it if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet. There are many different ways to soundproof an apartment, and the costs will vary depending on the method you choose.
The best suggestion is to start with something cheap and see what happens from there. For some people, it might be as easy as moving around some of the furniture inside of an apartment and hearing the difference.
If that blocks the minimal distractions that were going on, there’s no other reason to invest additional money.
For others, they could be spending quite a bit of extra money since they are only coming up with temporary solutions that can easily be torn down once it’s hard to move out.
It’s not the most expensive thing in the world, but it does start to add up if the apartment is big and there are a lot of formal areas.
Shopping online usually provides the best deals when getting soundproofing material. However, since some of the soundproofing material is rather bulky, it might be easier to shop locally as well.
Installation is relatively straightforward, but there are always options to hire professionals to take care of jobs.
Overall, the cost of soundproofing an apartment is usually not enough to sway people not to look into it if noise is a true issue. There is no price to put on peace and quiet inside of a small dwelling.
Additional Apartment Soundproofing Tips
Some people might still have questions about soundproofing an apartment. If possible, doing research beforehand can save some hassle later on.
Is there an easy way to tell what type of insulation and soundproofing an apartment already has?
Unfortunately, it’s very challenging to know what kind of insulation soundproofing apartment currently has. The best way is to ask the landlord to property management, but they may not always give an accurate answer.
Try to let them know that you are particularly sensitive to noise, and they might be a little more candid with their response.
Going online and doing some research by reading some reviews can also help out. People are a lot more honest about how something sounds in this case.
How to Know If an Apartment has Great Soundproofing?
Before signing the lease, try to check out an apartment at different times a day. Ideally, someone wants to try to be there at times when they will be there if they live there. That way, it can be easy to spot if it will be a problem later on.
Try to pay attention to noise coming from outside and inside the complex. There could be some temporary noise such as construction, but try to see how long that construction lasts. Even though it might seem temporary, it could last for months and months.
How to Find an Apartment with Good Soundproofing?
It’s very hard to get accurate reviews these days on just about anything. Online reviews seem to show a little bit of bias one way or the other.
Most people are not that inclined to leave a positive review, but they will definitely voice their opinion if it’s negative.
When approaching the leasing office or property manager, it can be challenging to get accurate answers as well.
Their main goal is to lease out the property, so they might not always be as truthful as possible with sound and noise issues as one would like. They will talk in marketing terms more often than not.
The best, most accurate reviews tend to come from families and friends. They want to help out who they know, not protect a leasing office.
Unfortunately, people might not always have family or friends to count on during this time. That’s when reading reviews online and trying to find as much information as possible is worth it.
Usually, fake reviews are short and lack detail. Sift through those lackluster ones and focus on what provides the best, most accurate details.
Whenever you purchase or rent an apartment, there is a common understanding that there will be some noise.
Whether it’s coming from the outside, other neighbors, or any other source for that matter, people have come to terms that they won’t get 100% silence when living in an apartment building.
Why exactly is that the case? You might be surprised that sound ends up leaking through for a variety of reasons.
Some people are frustrated that apartment complexes seemingly can’t figure out how to solve this ongoing issue.
Even though it might seem simple on its surface, it’s really anything but. A lot of the reasons that a company comes running into you can be summed up with the following reasons why they don’t do as much soundproofing as you might want.
Most people have read about how affordable soundproofing can be in a home. So how could cost actually be a negative when looking for an apartment?
This mostly has to do with the amount of money spent on an entire apartment complex, and the intricacies that go with that.
Each unit needs its own work done to be soundproofed. Since it’s not a level of soundproofing that the vast majority will need, companies putting apartment complexes together don’t feel like it is worth the extra cost.
A lot of companies do not feel like they are going to make up that amount of money by raising the rent a lot, since it’s not a selling feature that demands as much of a price increase.
Obviously, there are unique situations where extra soundproofing might be necessary. For example, if the apartment complex is in a very noisy area in the first place, they need to make sure that they get the sound down to a reasonable level.
Otherwise, it might prevent people from ever even thinking about moving in. That’s when the extra investment into soundproofing it’s going to actually be worth it.
The truth of the matter is that companies are going to try to cut corners as much as possible. If they feel like soundproofing is not worth it, they are without question not going to invest in it.
Unfortunately, apartment complexes are only getting put together at cheaper and cheaper costs to try to maximize profit.
If soundproofing is unnecessary, they will leave it up to the renter or buyer to figure that out later on.
As long as people are more than willing to invest in soundproofing methods themselves, they won’t be putting that much pressure on companies to spend extra money.
Intricacies Of Soundproofing
Soundproofing is not always cut and dry when doing it on the mass level. Since companies would have to do the same to every single unit, it can get pretty complicated, to say the least.
Intricate setups for any apartment complex can become more and more frustrating, all the way to the point that they are constantly having to do a lot more repairs.
One of the most common methods to soundproof a wall is to use a decoupling technique. By decoupling the wall, The wall stud that is inside does not touch both sides of drywall.
This helps with some of the noise levels, but decoupling by itself is not going to provide the solutions that people are looking for.
It suppresses higher frequencies, but it does a bad job of blocking lower frequencies. That means not only is decoupling necessary, but so is adding extra layers of drywall, insulation, or other pieces of material.
All of this can lead to some unforeseen structural issues. It’s true that companies do this for a living and should be able to handle some of these issues, but it makes an apartment complex that much more complicated.
Sound can enter an apartment so many different ways, whether it is through lights, ventilation, and more that haven’t even been addressed.
This all becomes a very complicated issue that a lot of companies frankly do not want to deal with.
There might be specific issues that companies will spend the extra bit of money on, but everything else will be left up to those moving in.
This is where it really comes in handy if only a particular room in the apartment complex needs high-level soundproofing.
Additional Issues After Soundproofing Is Complete
If the issues caused by soundproofing are not enough, there could be some other side effects to properly controlling noise in an area.
What ends up happening is that a person moving in might not be able to do everything that they did in their last apartment to make it as warm and cozy as they would like.
A perfect place to start is to take a look at putting anything on the walls. Since the walls are decoupled, there are no studs touching both of the walls.
It’s not impossible to hang up pictures, throw up some wall art, or mount a television, but it just became much more challenging.
All of these walls become a lot more susceptible to potentially cracking, or even having serious structural damage. It takes just one water leak to become a very costly repair.
Adding extra layers and making the amount of material between the ceiling of one unit and the floor of the other is a great way to help soundproofing.
However, even if the building gets a tiny bit taller, the cost becomes a pretty big issue.
It might only seem like adding another foot or so for each level, but that height needs to come from somewhere.
Either all of the units themselves are smaller, or the company is spending a lot more money on the structure in general.
Either way, it costs money, and that makes the rent go up to a point that people might not be willing to pay.
How Important Is The Best Soundproofing Apartments?
While every person is different when they think of soundproofing, the average consumer is not putting it at the highest priority.
That’s because getting the best in soundproofing might be difficult when staying under budget and being competitive with everyone else.
Most people stress location over a lot of other qualities when shopping for an apartment. It is always going to cost more money to get a prime location, but is that money well spent compared to soundproofing? Most people will pick location over professional-grade soundproofing every single time.
The same goes for beautiful aesthetics like huge windows. Without big windows, it can feel very frustrating to get the type of open space that a person wants to enjoy views.
Soundproofing is to a certain extent important, but windows are always going to be more vulnerable.
Finally, safety is a major concern for a lot of people who are renting. This is especially true in older buildings.
Most people would rather opt for a fire prevention system that is going to keep them safe, rather than strictly soundproofing. Sometimes these two qualities can work together, so that’s not a problem.
You might be thinking that soundproofing is extremely important, and that’s why you are reading this article in the first place.
However, not everyone is going to pick that as the quality that they stress the most. In fact, most people are in the minority who think this way, so adjusting accordingly is the move to make.
How Can You Test How Soundproof An Apartment Is?
If soundproofing is very important from the beginning, there are a few ways to tell just how soundproof the walls are.
For example, the first thing to do is to look at how the floors are put together. Concrete floors or a steel joist system is going to be best for soundproofing. A wood joist system is going to be a lot more vulnerable.
The label of luxury apartments is thrown around quite a bit these days, but one thing to keep in mind is that this means that they should have at least normal acoustics inside.
It might not be the best of the best, but it’s not going to be paper-thin walls.
Pay attention to vulnerable areas when doing a tour as much as possible. Listen for any type of bathroom or toilet plumbing noises that could be complicating matters.
It’s never a good thing for people to have to hear this and can be very frustrating, to say the least. If it can be heard inside the unit, chances are the setup for neighbors can also be heard from time to time.
Finally, make sure to read as many reviews online as possible. It can be a little bit difficult to figure things out with a new apartment complex. But older ones will have plenty of people complaining about sound if it is truly an issue.
There are a lot of people who go online these days and make sure that their voices are heard as much as possible.
If there is an issue of any kind, there’s no question that a person will take it upon themselves to let everyone else know.
Best Way To Handle An Apartment Needing Soundproofing?
At this point, the majority of people are probably fed up with trying to find an apartment that has the best soundproofing.
The best way to go about it is to look for other qualities that are of importance, and then take care of soundproofing another time.
There are a bunch of different soundproofing hacks that people can use, and they are really not that expensive at all.
From DIY options to hiring a professional, getting started is fairly easy. From there, people can continue to add soundproofing solutions until they get to the point that they are satisfied.
The best thing is that a lot of methods are easy to remove, so the same soundproofing can go with a person when they sign a new lease and move to a different area.
That ends up saving a lot of money, as no one wants to constantly buy and re-purchase all this soundproofing material.
Overall, soundproofing definitely has its benefits in an apartment complex. Some apartments are always going to be better than others, and doing some research beforehand will help to cut down on any major issues.
At the end of the day, most companies are going to leave some of the soundproofing up to the tenants, so be prepared to spend a little bit of extra cash.
Final Verdict: Is It Worth Soundproofing an Apartment?
Everyone should look into simple soundproofing methods with an apartment, to begin with. They don’t take that much time, and they are usually pretty inexpensive.
Some will need to go to more extremes and others, and there are a variety of products that help out with that. A little bit of work in the very beginning will make life much easier and quieter for the average person.
There might not be as many permanent solutions when going with apartment soundproofing compared to house soundproofing.
However, with neighbors so close by, it just makes sense to look at soundproofing and any methods that can actually work.
It’s always going to be easier to start with soundproofing in the very beginning. As soon as it’s time to move in, have equipment ready to put in the necessary work.
While you can soundproof at any time, it’s much easier when there’s nothing else in the way. At the same time, don’t feel intimidation about noise problems with nothing inside of an empty apartment. It’s always going to be louder when nothing is helping out organically.
Soundproofing seems intimidating at first, but people get the hang of it and start to make some tweaks on their own.
It’s a game of trial and error more than anything, but at least a few methods above should work for those currently living in an apartment.