No matter how great a rental unit is, one of the main downfalls you may come across is noise filtering into your apartment from outside sources. Shuffling feet outside your door early in the morning, rumbling cars at 3am, thumps from the apartment above you- there are a few things that are as annoying as noise constantly disturbing your peace and quiet. Since soundproofing is undoubtedly the effective way of preventing noise coming in from outside sources, here is how to determine if an apartment is soundproof and the various mechanisms of achieving a soundproof rental unit.
How to tell if an apartment is soundproof? You can check to see
- If the door jamb is sealed to prevent noise from the hallway filtering into your apartment
- If soundproof drywall has been installed in the walls as well as the ceiling.
- Soundproof window plugs for the windows
For furnished apartments, soundproof features include thick carpets, soundproof curtains, and furniture that is strategically positioned to reduce incoming noise.
All in all, if these mechanisms are executed properly, you should experience minimal noise coming in from the hallway and other apartments.
When you live in an apartment complex, noise is almost inevitable. There are different sources from which noise comes from, and a variety of channels through which noise can reach your rental unit. Other than air being a great medium for noise, many apartments have thin walls which easily allow noise to flow in from one apartment to another. In addition to this, it is not uncommon to find doors that are hollow and window jambs that have gaps, consequently allowing noise into the apartment. Here are some of the common mechanisms that can be used to prevent noise from getting into your apartment.
Mechanisms of soundproofing an apartment
1. Soundproofing the door
One of the places that you might least expect to let in noise into your apartment is the front door. It is not uncommon to assume that doors are efficient in stopping noise since they are solid objects. In reality, many apartment doors have hollow cores that inevitably trap air within them, and as mentioned before, air is a great medium through which noise travels. Furthermore, the jambs of most doors have gaps that allow noise to pass through them.
- Sealing the door jamb – One way you can seal the door jamb is by putting up weather-stripping tape. It comes in a variety of materials, including rubber, foam, felt, vinyl, and silicone. Consider going for one made from rubber since it costs less, is durable and blends in well with the surroundings. Installing a door sweep to cover the space under your door is another effective way of blocking noise from outside. In addition to this, a door sweep is also effective in stopping insects and drafts from getting into your apartment.
- Covering the door – Another solution you can use to keep noise that comes in through your door at bay is by installing a rigid foam cover over it. Even though having foam over your door isn’t very appealing, its thickness is effective in muting noise, and it is cheap to buy.
2. Soundproofing the windows
Weather-stripping tape isn’t just restricted for use on doors; it can also be used to cover window seams so as to block out noise. Just as with doors, you can use quality rubber tape for the windows as well.
Other than weather-stripping tape, you can also use window plugs for soundproofing. A soundproof window plug is made from a layer of foam combined with a soundproof mat which is attached to a wooden board. However, although they are effective in blocking noise, soundproof window plugs tend to block light, and they are not the most aesthetically pleasing solution. Nevertheless, if you can get past these downsides, they are a viable solution.
You can also hang soundproof curtains to reduce incoming noise, although they are not as effective as window plugs. However, they are more aesthetically pleasing, and they also reduce echo in your apartment.
3. Soundproofing the walls
Another channel through which noise from outside sources gets into your apartment is through the walls. Here are the ways through which you can prevent this.
- Rearranging your furniture – An effective solution to completely blocking or at least decreasing noise is by putting an object that is large enough in the way. In most apartments, the biggest objects are usually the various pieces of furniture, including sofas, couches, wardrobes, and beds. When strategically arranged, the layout of your furniture can have a significant impact on how noise travels in your apartment. However, this soundproofing method will heavily depend on factors such as the size of the room. Another method that is similar to rearranging your furniture involves adding décor to the walls of your apartment. This way, you can reduce noise seeping into your apartment and achieve a stylish abode.
- Installing an extra layer of drywall – Installing an extra layer of drywall is the most effective way to soundproof your apartment walls, although it also the most costly. Adding another layer of drywall makes your wall thicker, which greatly reduces the chances of noise traveling through it. Go for soundproof drywall which is made from ceramics, gypsum, and viscoelastic materials, making it more effective than standard drywall.
Another solution is installing a layer of mass loaded vinyl (MLV) between the layers of drywall. This material is effective for soundproofing because it is heavy, thick, and in some cases, mixed with metal.
- Sealing gaps that may be present in the drywall – If there are gaps or cracks in the walls of your apartment, you will need to seal them in order to make your walls soundproof. Consider using acoustic caulk, which is a rubber-like material that is known for its durability.
4. Soundproofing the ceiling
Unless you live in an apartment that is on the top floor, you will have an upstairs living in an apartment complex, which means having to deal with noise coming from upstairs. As a result, soundproofing your ceiling is of extreme importance.
- Adding an extra layer of drywall – Just like your walls, you can add an extra layer of drywall so as to achieve a thicker and denser ceiling that blocks the noise coming in from above you. Two drywall layers should be adequate, but for the best results, use a high-quality dampening compound between each drywall layer.
- Incorporating a drop ceiling – A drop ceiling is essentially an extra ceiling beneath your first. There is usually space between the two ceilings, but the air within the space is highly pressurized, hence noise coming from upstairs is blocked. Drop ceilings are typically made from acoustic panels/tiles, and they are best installed by a professional.
5. Soundproofing the floor
Noise coming from within your apartment can also be a nuisance. An effective way of curbing indoor noise is by soundproofing the floor.
- Adding thick carpets – An effective way through which you can soundproof your apartment floor is by laying some thick, tightly-woven carpets. Go for a stylish carpet that suits your personality to add to your apartment’s aesthetic.
- Foam or rubber floor mats – If carpets are not effective on their own, you can add foam or rubber floor mats under them. These mats are effective in absorbing impact noises, and they don’t slip.
6. Curbing the noise emanating from vents
Air vents are often overlooked when it comes to soundproofing, yet they are one of the channels through which noise passes through. Depending on your vent system, there are various ways you can tackle noise coming in through vents.
- Blocking the air vent with drywall – You can block the air vent using drywall if you are looking for a drastic solution, but this means potentially compromising the ventilation in the apartment.
- Using soundproof blankets or curtains – A simpler solution is to cover your air vents using soundproof blankets or curtains that are adequately thick. To reduce noise levels, simply hang these blankets or curtains over the vents.
7. Other alternatives
While soundproofing is the most effective method of blocking noise, there are other ways through which you can achieve peace and quiet in your apartment.
- Request your neighbor to cut down on the noise – If you are sure the noise you are experiencing is coming from one of your neighbors, consider approaching them calmly and requesting if they can quiet down. If this doesn’t work, you may have to alert your landlord or the authorities.
- Use a white noise machine – White noise is effective in drowning out the noise from other sources. You can get a white noise machine or a white noise fan, although there are also audios available online that you can listen to for free. However, white noise is not for everyone, so you may have to consider other options.
- Use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones – You can also block noise using noise-canceling headphones or earplugs, but just like white noise machines, they are not for everyone.
Soundproofing an apartment can be an expensive undertaking, and some methods can take up a lot of time to achieve. However, if you have noisy neighbors, the street that you live on is particularly noisy, or you simply prefer peace and quiet, then soundproofing is totally worth the time and sacrifice.