One of the biggest adjustments to living in an apartment is getting used to having neighbors in close quarters, and apartment noise-proofing is often one of the first things people look at. For some folks, noise can be an issue — whether it’s the sound of noisy neighbors like the budding guitarist next door practicing for her next gig or if you live in a pet-friendly apartment, worries that the sound of your dogs barking and whining while you’re away may cause complaints.
No matter the source, apartment noise isn’t something you (or your neighbors) simply have to endure with your shared walls. Whether your goal is to keep noise from going out or stopping noise from coming in, here are a few creative apartment noise-proofing ideas.
Utilize Furnishings for Soundproofing
If you’ve ever wandered around an empty room, you know they can sound a lot like echo chambers. A nearly-empty apartment functions the same way, with every word, footstep, bump, bark and sound traveling not just throughout your abode, but also into your neighbors’ domains.
One of the most cost-effective ways to noise cancel your apartment is to fill it with furnishings. Adding soft furniture like upholstered chairs and sofas will help absorb sound (and it doesn’t hurt that they’re comfy to relax on). If you don’t have carpet in your apartment, rugs do a fantastic job of cutting down on noise generated by footsteps. Another noise-canceling idea that’s also decorative is wall hangings, as well as drapes for your windows. Whether your hope is to cut down on day-to-day noise or insulate the sound when you throw a party, these ideas work well and don’t cost extra since you’ll already need to furnish and decorate the place.
Install Foam Mats
For a small investment, you might also consider applying sound-absorbing material like foam mats to your walls and floors. Many of these products are backed with adhesive, so they’re easy to install. Foam on the wall will help soundproof your apartment from the apartment next door, while foam matting on the floor (we recommend covering it with rugs) is a great solution if your downstairs neighbor has complained about heavy footsteps or the incessant clicking of your dog’s nails.
Another low-cost option for apartment walls is soundproofing paint. However, remember to check with your landlord before making any changes to your apartment that aren’t easily undone.
Get Artsy with Acoustic Foam
Acoustic panels — they’re not just for recording studios anymore! While this is a more pricey option for reducing noise in your apartment, it’s a tried-and-true method to keep sound in as well as out. If you’re growing tired of trying to figure out if your upstairs neighbor is dropping marbles on the floor at 2 a.m. or wondering why the washing machine next door is so incredibly loud, it may be time to go all-out with your apartment noise-canceling.
As with foam mats and soundproofing paint, acoustic foam is not a stick-up-and-pull down solution; it will need to be firmly applied to truly give you a soundproofed wall. As such, this is only a solution to consider with the approval of your landlord and if you plan to continue leasing your apartment for a long time.
Other Tips for Apartment Noise-Proofing
Sometimes, your noise problem might not call for padding the entire apartment. Maybe you’ve found an otherwise good roommate but have discovered that they’re a noisy night owl and you’re not. Perhaps noise is only an issue while you sleep (and if you feel that way, you’re among the 74% of people who need a quiet room to rest). Many people find that fans and white noise machines are an excellent solution in the bedroom. They drown out outside sound without adding additional noise to the mix the way playing a TV or radio can do.
Finally, remember that often the best noise solution is the easiest: simply communicating with your neighbors. The lady upstairs may not realize that she wakes you up when she arrives home and taps around in her high heels at 1 a.m. while you’re just falling asleep. You may be unaware that your living room TV sends noise through into your neighbor’s master bedroom. With a little communication and a lot of compassion, many noise level issues can be nipped in the bud before they become a neighborly nuisance, disrupting everyone’s peace and quiet. If they can’t, however — keep those wall hangings and foam handy!