Can My Neighbors Hear Me In My Apartment?

Unless you live in an isolated location, neighbors are an inevitable part of life. Proximity is a key determinant when it comes to how likely you are to have disagreements with your neighbors, and unfortunately, it’s inevitable when you live in an apartment complex. One of the most common causes of disagreements among neighbors is noise. Noisy neighbors can make the thought of being in your home unbearable, but what if you turn out to be the noisy neighbor?

Can my neighbors hear me in my apartment? The first step to finding out if your neighbor can hear you in your apartment is to talk to them. Some of them might not be bothered by the noise. Others might only care about it disturbing them late at night, and others might not even be aware of it. If you have received some noise complaints from your neighbors already, then you know you have a problem, but if not – as a pre-emptive strike – it’s a good idea to ask your neighbors if they’re bothered by any noise coming from your apartment.

If they are not bothered, then there may be nothing to worry about. If they have heard it, try to find solutions to make your living space more soundproof. It’s also worth that if you can hear your neighbor, it’s highly likely that they can hear you as well, so it might be best to take precautions.

A bit of noise is inevitable, especially if you live in an apartment. It may likely be due to the building’s paper-thin walls. Read on to discover more about whether or not your neighbors can hear you, and how you can minimize the noise.

Will noise from my apartment travel upstairs?

The noise from your living space can travel to your upstairs neighbors depending on how your apartment building is constructed. Even though your downstairs neighbors are more likely to hear sounds such as thumps and footsteps, and neighbors living in adjacent apartments to hear the noise coming from loud music and TV, the sound will also travel in an upward direction. This is why it’s not uncommon to be heard even on the top floor.

Generally, a well-constructed apartment building with strong sound control (STC rating) means that the likelihood for noise to filter from one unit to another is greatly diminished. Typical apartment sounds from sources such as music and footsteps should not filter into a well-built apartment building. 

Are lower-level apartments noisier than upper-level apartments?

As you might expect, top apartments are less noisy than lower-level units. When you live in a lower-level apartment, you will likely hear more noise from furniture moving, foot traffic, and the like.

How can you minimize the noise?

While you may not be able to completely stop your neighbors from hearing you in your unit, some measures can help you minimize the noise so that you don’t have to worry about being a nuisance.

New construction 

If it’s an option, building a soundproof room is the most effective way to stop your neighbors from hearing every little sound coming from your apartment, and vice versa. Here is how you can soundproof any room.

1. Walls

It’s always a good idea to start with the walls when soundproofing a room:

  • Go for a noise-reducing drywall – The conventional strategy to reduce noise transfer between rooms is to use a resilient channel. This is simply a thin metal channel that is attached to the framework of the wall isolating the drywall and blocking the sound waves. In modern construction, all you need is noise-reducing drywall, which is made up of two dense gypsum cores that are separated by a layer of viscoelastic polymer. This makes a drywall ideal for reducing both interior and exterior noise.
  • Insulate interior walls – To soundproof a room, you need to stop vibrations, and installing the proper insulation can stop noise from coming in and/or going out. To insulate an interior wall, you need to fill the gaps between the walls and spaces between studs with fiberglass or any other effective type of insulation. This will absorb noise and block the noise transfer in both interior and exterior walls.

2. Floors

Your neighbor could be hearing you through the floors. Here is how to tackle your floors:

  • Float the floors – Floating floors are installed using a special adhesive, unlike typical flooring which is nailed into the subfloor. Without the attachment using nails in a floor joist, floating walls can significantly reduce creaks and subsequently prevent sound from traveling downstairs to your neighbor’s unit. The most popular way to achieve a floating floor involves using a vibration-absorbing material that is sandwiched between pieces of flooring.
  • Using joist tape for squeaky floors – If squeaky floors are causing a disturbance to your neighbor, try using joist tape to reduce noise traveling through the floor.
  • Laying insulation between the floor joists – Another effective way to reduce noise between floors is to lay insulation between the floor joists. Like with insulating walls, make sure that you fill the cavity.

Soundproofing an existing room

If you’re looking to keeping the noise within an existing space (or muffle noise coming from outside) here are some options to consider:

1. Cover walls or ceilings

Sound tends to bounce off and through hard, flat objects such as hardwood floors, glass, and tile. By adding soft surfaces to your living space, you can absorb a lot of noise. Sound-absorbing materials such as foam, cotton, and felt are effective at these functions (in fact, musicians often use them to soundproof rooms), but they may not fit into your style.

 A more stylish solution is to apply materials like pieces of art, decorative fabric, or greenery to sparse surfaces. This could include affixing hexagonal bulletin board tiles or tapestries (in your choice of color pallets), adding a living wall, installing decorative sound-proofing panels, or adorning walls with frames and pictures for a more personal touch. It’s worth noting that some materials are better at blocking lower- and higher-pitch sounds. Ceiling baffles are also quite effective, and modern designs come in all sorts of fun and sculptural options.

2. Add rugs

Using the same logic as above, adding carpet or rags to your floors will help to reduce the bouncing of sounds. Furthermore, stylish rugs are a great way to tie the décor of your space together. If you have kids or a pet, your downstairs neighbors will surely appreciate the muffled effect that a rug has on the pattering of a hyperactive child or pet. Consider going for high pile rug and carpet designs for maximum effectiveness.

3. Buy sound-proofing curtains

You may have come across blackout curtains for blocking light, but some drapes can decrease noise levels. Plus, a lot of blackout curtains can also keep noise in as well as shut it out, so you’re essentially getting a two-for-one deal with them. Windows are the most obvious place to install these curtains, but if you’re trying to soundproof a bedroom, for example, you might want to add them as an extra layer behind your door for more effectiveness.

4. Use door seals and draft guards

You might not notice it, but the small crack between the door and the floor is a great place for noise and vibrations to leave and enter your apartment. Adding door sweeps can help to mitigate unwelcome sounds. There are two types of soundproof door sweeps to choose from:

  • Draft guards – These come in the shape of long cylindrical pillows with dense foam filling and insulating material to keep noise from finding its way into your living space. Since it adds weight to both sides of the door, you can also avoid the slamming noise that occurs whenever you close or open the door, which your neighbors will surely appreciate. The material for the draft guard needs to be malleable and small enough to wedge into a tight space, but still heavy enough to remain intact.
  • Door seals – Door seals keep external noise from coming into your apartment, as well as ensure sounds from your space don’t go out. The rubber part of a door seal blocks the space below your door, blocking any noise leaving or entering a room through the air gap.
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5. Upgrade your windows

If you own your apartment, it might be worth investing in upgrading your windows. Newer windows come with thicker glass as well as enhanced insulation from both sound and weather elements when properly treated. Some window models currently on the market can block (or keep in) up to 95% of sounds.

6. Add bookshelves

Bookshelves that contain heavy, dense books can provide excellent sound insulation in addition to making any home look more sophisticated. Bookshelves can also serve as extra storage space. Avoid leaving too many voids and clear surfaces as they will reduce your soundproofing efforts.

7. Buy a white noise machine

If you’re completely out of options, you might want to consider drowning out the noise from your apartment with another less obtrusive noise. A white noise machine is an inexpensive and compact device that can serve this function.

Final thoughts

Living close to other individuals or families can have its perk, but it often comes with a couple of downsides as well, one of the most frustrating ones being the noise. If you’re a noisy neighbor, it’s important to do as much as possible to minimize or eliminate disturbances to preserve peace.

Last update on 2022-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.

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