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How To Soundproof Apartment Walls (7 Ways That Actually Work!)

Soundproof and Apartment Wall

Are you looking for ways to actually soundproof your apartment to keep that noisey neighbor quiet?

Imagine coming home after a long day, looking forward to some peace and quiet.

You’re about to settle in and relax, but then you’re hit with the unwelcome intrusion of your neighbor’s loud music or their animated conversations.

Indeed, living in an apartment does have its perks, but dealing with noise from neighboring units can be a real challenge.

The good news is that there are effective ways to soundproof your apartment walls.

By following these tips, you’ll not only reduce noise, but you’ll also reclaim your space’s tranquility and solitude. Read our “Soundproof Apartment Wall 101” guide and block sound from entering your apartment walls for good!

How Does Sound Get Into an Apartment?

Before we delve into the practical solutions, it’s imperative to grasp how sound permeates your living space.

First, it’s important to acknowledge that not all sound actually gets through your apartment walls.

Often, it’s only the low-frequency sounds that do. However, the rest of the noise you hear comes from spaces where sound waves enter unimpeded.

Sound waves are crafty infiltrators, exploiting even the smallest gaps.

The thinness of apartment walls, crevices encircling windows, and even the often-overlooked space beneath doors serve as conduits through which sound infiltrates.

Let’s talk about every sound entry point in greater detail.

The Crevices Around Windows and Doors

Windows and doors — while essential for ventilation and access — can also be prime entry points for sound. Gaps and cracks around window frames and door jambs provide ideal channels for sound waves to seep in. These small openings — which might seem insignificant — can allow a surprising amount of noise to infiltrate your living space, disrupting your desired peace.

Surface Interactions: Reflection, Sound Transmission, and Vibration

When sound waves encounter surfaces within your apartment, they behave in distinct ways. Some sound waves bounce off surfaces, creating sound reflections that contribute to the overall airborne noise level.

Others manage to pass through walls, windows, and doors — especially if these surfaces lack sufficient soundproofing measures. Also, sound waves can induce vibrations in objects they encounter, further transmitting noise through physical connections.

Neglected Spaces Under Doors

One commonly overlooked area is the space under doors. This narrow gap might appear inconsequential, but it serves as an unguarded gateway for sound to travel freely. Conversations, footsteps, and even hums from household appliances can easily slip through this passage, diminishing the quiet you seek.

By neglecting this part of your apartment, you’ll hear noise coming from outside, which is why it’s essential to add materials like stops to act as a sound barrier underneath your doors.

What If You Can’t Change These Parts of Your Apartment?

As a tenant, you might be unable to physically alter various parts of your apartment. This means that, for the most part, your apartment walls and other parts of your living space must remain as they are.

Should this stop you from soundproofing? No! By adding some materials to various parts of your apartment, you’ll eliminate annoying noise from entering your living space once and for good.

What You’ll Need To Soundproof Thin Walls in Your Apartment

Not everyone has the luxury to switch things up in their apartment. With that said, you can still optimize sound absorption and reduce noise with some materials.

These materials are easy to install and remove, making matters less complicated when you eventually move.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to soundproof your apartment.

  • Removable Acoustic Foam Panels: Removable acoustic panels target echoes and sound reflections, enhancing your apartment’s acoustic quality. These panels are crafted from sound-absorbing materials and are attached to walls using removable adhesive strips. They’re easily repositionable and won’t leave any marks when removed, making them a suitable option for those who can’t make permanent changes.
  • Weatherstripping and Acoustic Caulk: Weatherstripping and acoustic caulk are helpful for sealing gaps and crevices without causing any damage. Weatherstripping — available in adhesive strips or foam tape forms — can be applied to seal door gaps and windows. Flexible and sound-absorbing, acoustic caulk can fill in those harder-to-reach gaps near the baseboards and electrical outlets. Together, these solutions create a barrier against sound infiltration without altering your apartment’s structure.
  • Curtains: Curtains offer an efficient way to enhance your apartment’s acoustic environment without any permanent changes. With their dense weave and sound-absorbing materials, they can help reduce incoming noise. Hanging curtains over windows and even along walls minimizes sound bounce and leakage, creating a quieter and more comfortable living space.
  • Mass-Loaded Vinyl (MLV) Tapestry: Mass-loaded vinyl can absorb sound effectively. However, if mass-loaded vinyl is too heavy, you can opt for a lightweight MLV tapestry. It’s an excellent solution for adding mass to your walls without requiring extensive installation, making it perfect for non-permanent applications.
  • Furniture: Believe it or not, some of the best items for soundproofing your apartment may already be in your living area — furniture. Furniture can disrupt sound transmission by eliminating flat areas that facilitate sound transmission. With the right placement and furniture, you’ll reduce inside and outside noise without making lasting changes to your apartment walls.
  • Acoustic Partition Screens: Acoustic panels specialize in taming sound reflections and echoes, transforming your space into an acoustically balanced haven. Crafted from sound-absorbing materials, these panels come in various sizes and designs to cater to your aesthetic preferences. Placing them strategically on your walls interrupts the path of sound waves, curbing their reverberation and creating an environment characterized by reduced ambient noise.
  • White Noise Machine: Sometimes, you need more noise to prevent airborne noise. If you’re looking for a way to fill your living space with pleasant sounds that can put you at ease, a white noise machine is an excellent option. A white noise machine is an additional tool you can incorporate into your soundproofing arsenal to effectively manage unwanted noise. It’s a strategic solution for minimizing the impact of external sounds.

Now that you’re familiar with the essential soundproofing materials for your apartment, let’s go over how to use them to block sound and give your space some added acoustic insulation.

7 Ways To Soundproof Your Apartment

Hang Textiles on the Walls

One easy and budget-friendly way to absorb sound is by hanging textiles on your walls. Thick curtains, tapestries, and even decorative rugs can help soften the impact of sound waves.

Of course, not all textiles provide equal soundproofing. When selecting soundproofing textiles, opt for fabrics with texture as they’re more effective at absorbing sound than smooth surfaces.

Also, ensure that your options are thick or have a thick lining. The density is excellent for sound absorption and can prevent sound from bouncing on your apartment walls.

Thick blankets, curtains, or even wall art are only excellent materials for soundproofing walls. They’re also detachable, meaning you easily remove them whenever necessary.

Install an Acoustic Drop Ceiling

When airborne noise from upstairs neighbors becomes a major annoyance, it’s time to consider an acoustic drop ceiling. This process involves installing a secondary ceiling beneath the existing one, with a layer of sound-absorbing material in between.

The extra barrier helps trap sound waves before they can penetrate your apartment. Acoustic drop ceiling kits are readily available and can be installed without major renovations.

To install an acoustic drop ceiling, follow these steps.

1. Prep and Plan

Measure the area, clear the workspace beneath the existing ceiling, and gather materials from an acoustic drop ceiling kit. Ensure you have tools like a tape measure, level, drill, screws, and a utility knife.

2. Install the Suspension System

Most drop ceiling kits will contain suspension systems and manufacturer instructions. Let the instructions guide you on the installation procedure.

If the suspension system comes with tiles, place them securely within the drop ceiling framework. Trim them as needed.

3. Test and Enjoy

With the acoustic drop ceiling in place, observe the reduction in noise transmission. Experience the transformed acoustic environment and enjoy the quieter, more comfortable living space.

Of course, do check in with your landlord before making this soundproofing tweak to your space.

Add a Bookcase To Muffle Sounds

As an apartment resident seeking to cut down on noise infiltration while maximizing available space, you can incorporate a bookcase. Using a bookcase is a non-intrusive solution to soundproof walls in your living space.

For maximum soundproofing results, follow these steps.

1. Choose the Right Location

Identify a wall where you intend to place the bookcase. Opt for a wall that faces the primary source of noise, such as a neighboring unit or a busy hallway. This strategic positioning will help create an additional barrier against incoming sound waves. Besides walls near busy hallways or common areas, another excellent spot to place a bookcase would be in front of a thin wall.

2. Select a Sturdy Bookcase

Select a bookcase that matches your aesthetic preferences and is made from sturdy, dense materials. A solid wood or composite bookcase is ideal, as its inherent mass helps absorb and dissipate sound waves. Avoid open-back designs as these have poorer soundproofing qualities.

3. Thoughtful Arrangement of Books and Textiles

Arrange your books on the shelves with a strategic approach. Mix up the orientation and spacing of the books to create an uneven surface. This irregularity disrupts the path of sound waves, preventing them from reflecting and bouncing around the room.

You’ll also want to leave gaps between some books to allow sound waves to be absorbed by the empty spaces. To enhance sound absorption further, place soft textiles on some shelves. These can include decorative fabric panels, cushioned mats, or folded blankets. The textiles will further dampen sound and contribute to a quieter environment.

Block Noises With White Noise Machines

A white noise machine operates by emitting a consistent, soothing sound that blankets your auditory environment. This steady background noise effectively masks sudden, disruptive sounds, making them less noticeable and intrusive. The white noise essentially camouflages the unpredictable noises from neighbors or the outside world, creating a more serene atmosphere within your apartment.

Besides its noise-masking capabilities, a white noise machine offers additional benefits. It can promote relaxation by creating a constant, calming ambiance that eases stress and aids sleep. For those moments when concentration is essential, the consistent background noise helps drown out distractions, enhancing your ability to focus on tasks and activities.

Many machines allow you to select from a variety of sounds beyond the classic “white noise,” such as nature sounds, gentle waves, or even soft melodies. Experimenting with different sounds can help you identify the most effective option for your personal preferences and the specific noise challenges you’re facing.

Hang Door Curtains

If you’re seeking a simple yet effective fix for airborne sounds, hanging door curtains is an excellent soundproofing solution. These curtains not only add a touch of style to your space but also contribute to a quieter and more serene environment.

As you choose your curtains, evaluate your door’s dimensions and characteristics. Determine whether you have a standard swinging door, a sliding door, or a glass door. Understanding your door type will help you choose curtains that are the right fit and design for your specific needs.

From here, you can start hanging your curtains. However, for the best results, choose heavy curtains. Look for curtains with multiple layers or options that are specifically labeled as soundproof or blackout curtains. These curtains are crafted from materials that absorb sound waves and block external noise.

Install Soundproof Curtains on Your Windows

The hallways and the upstairs neighbor aren’t the only sources of noise. Noise can also enter your apartment from the outside. To prevent outside noise from infiltrating your tranquil space, you’ll want to bolster your soundproofing setup with soundproof curtains on your windows.

Soundproof curtains aren’t the same as regular curtains. These curtains are typically made from dense, heavy materials that contribute to sound absorption. Look for curtains with multiple layers or a thermal lining, as these characteristics enhance their soundproofing capabilities.

Once you’ve selected the right curtains to soundproof your apartment, install them. You can hang them on the same rods or fixtures as regular curtains. For the best results, ensure that your soundproof curtain runs from the top of your window frame to the bottom, covering any window inserts.

After installing the soundproof curtains, pay attention to the change in sound levels within your living space. You’ll likely notice a reduction in external noises and a more serene ambiance.

Enjoy the newfound tranquility and privacy that your new soundproof curtains provide!

Install Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping is a practical and straightforward method to address gaps and crevices that contribute to noise infiltration. By sealing these openings, you create an effective barrier against external noise.

Before you seal gaps in your apartment, you need to check where they are. Thoroughly inspect your apartment for gaps around windows, the door sweep, baseboards, and any other potential entry points for noise. Take note of the areas that require sealing to prevent sound waves from penetrating.

After that, select weatherstripping materials that are appropriate for each gap or opening. For windows and doors, adhesive foam tape or V-strip weatherstripping is effective. For gaps around baseboards, consider using silicone or latex caulk, as they provide flexibility and sound-absorbing properties.

Once you’ve chosen your weatherstripping materials, install them by applying adhesive foam tape. Tape the edges of windows and doors to ensure a snug fit when closed. Also, apply caulk to gaps along baseboards or other areas to seal off potential sound pathways.

Following the installation project, you’ll notice a dramatic reduction in noise coming from outside your apartment.

Unveil Your Apartment’s Serene Potential

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to turn your apartment into the serene sanctuary you’ve always wanted it to be.

All you need are some heavy curtains, bookcases and shelves, weatherstripping, and other soundproofing materials to eliminate noises without totally changing your apartment walls.

By implementing these techniques, you’re not just reducing noise; you’re crafting a comfortable, peaceful environment that perfectly suits your apartment living.

Looking for ways to further soundproof your apartment? Be sure to check out our Soundproofing 101 guide. Have lots of windows? Our guide to soundproofing windows will help you quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Stop Noise Coming Through My Walls?

A strategic approach involves combining soundproofing techniques. Seal gaps with weatherstripping, use dense materials like bookshelves, incorporate soundproof curtains, and consider acoustic panels or mass-loaded vinyl for optimal results.

Will Soundproofing a Wall Keep Noise Out?

While dedicated soundproofing efforts can significantly reduce noise transmission, achieving absolute silence might be challenging. The aim is to create a notably quieter environment that’s conducive to relaxation.

Can You Soundproof an Existing Ceiling?

You can soundproof an existing ceiling using elements like acoustic panels or mass-loaded vinyl. Keep in mind that these methods might require alterations that could impact the ceiling’s appearance, so you need to check in with your landlord to avoid violating any rules.

How Much Does It Cost To Soundproof an Apartment Ceiling?

The cost varies based on technique and ceiling size. Acoustic drop ceiling kits can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Alternatively, more budget-friendly options exist, but their efficacy may vary.

If you’re looking for budget-friendly means of soundproofing an apartment, you have several options. You can place furniture strategically in your apartment’s wide spaces or hang thick and dense curtains to absorb sound. You can also add a thick rug for added sound dampening.

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