How to Soundproof a Room in an Apartment
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Peace is priceless. Once you lose it, you start understanding its value.
One of the most annoying things that can disrupt the peace in your apartment is outdoor noise, right?
Whether you are a light sleeper, working from home, or you have a baby that needs a lot of undisturbed naps, the noise can sometimes cause some serious problems.
Believe it or not, I’ve lost my job as a home-based teacher due to some uncanny noise.
Basically, that was the breaking point when I started looking for a solution this, on the first look, trivial problem.
I’ve read a lot about it, consulted with my colleagues’ architects, and finally made a list of possible solutions. Now, I hope that this knowledge that I gathered will serve not only me but you as well.
Therefore, here, you can find some of the best ways to soundproof a room in an apartment.
How to Soundproof a Room in an Apartment
1. Get rid of that annoying echo in your apartment
First of all, you need to make sure that the noise isn’t coming from inside, right? You are familiar with the echo effect, of course.
Have you ever wondered why you are hearing yourself in an empty room?
That is because the sound is travelling and bouncing off of the walls back to you.
What you need to do is quite simple. Firstly, make sure that you cover your walls, floor, and ceiling as much as possible. In that way, the sound will not be able to bounce back to you.
I would personally recommend a plush rug, as it can drastically absorb the sound, instead of simply reflecting it from the floor.
As for the walls, there are some amazing pictures and custom canvas prints that you can hang on your walls.
Both, plush rugs and custom canvas prints are having not only décor role (as we all thought) but sound absorbing role as well.
2. Search for the holes and seal them
One of the basic things that you should consider if you are hearing the noise is sealing the holes in your walls. Even the smallest ones can release the sound through them.
Check for the cable holes, and make sure to seal them before doing anything else. That can be done with several different materials.
I myself have found fiberglass useful, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone with this kind of problem.
How it works: Fiberglass presents a web-like cloth that captures a sound inside its threads. When applied, fiberglass will close all the little crevices and reduce the chance of unpleasant sounds to get through.
Even though it is a well-known insulator for heat, fiberglass is also used as an absorbing-sound substance.
If you have any troubles with installing batts in exterior walls, check this video. It will show you how it should and shouldn’t be done.
As you can see, this one might be a handy solution to your problem.
Fiberglass is easy to apply and, simply speaking, it provides an effective way of dealing with the noise.
3. Reduce noise coming in from windows
If you think that window is the main source of the noise that’s passing through to your apartment, then I could offer you a few simple and affordable solutions. First of all is well-known: the soundproof curtains.
Soundproof curtains are known for being one of the best solutions for different types of problems. Whether you are struggling with the noise, energy (thermal) loss, or you simply need it to blackout the apartment, this soundproof curtain will simply do the job.
How it works: Soundproof curtains have a layer of special, insulation material that can protect you not only from aforementioned noises but also can provide UV protection.
Similarly to what we talked before, they can be objects used for filling up the room and preventing echoes.
Moreover, you can choose the design and the color of the curtain in order to fit your interior as well.
In that way, you will benefit on several different levels with just a small investment.
You might like: Best Soundproof Curtains: Buying Guide and Recommendations
Now, there is something that not many are familiar with. There are so-called windows inserts that are used as a protection-layer glass.
As you may assume, this glass provides an undisrupted view through the window, and on the other hand, it blocks the unwanted outdoor noise significantly (up to 50%).
Moreover, windows inserts are great energy saving products. Along with energy loss reduction, windows inserts are a handy weapon in fighting the unwanted outdoor noise.
How it works: Simply speaking, widow inserts double the glass and do not violate the overall function and appearance of a window. They create a kind of air-seal which captures noises inside.
Our complete window soundproofing guide teaches you how to make your own window insert.
How it works: Basically, window panels are made of special, sound-absorbing material.
They are an inside inserts of your window, which will unfortunately block the view, but on the other hand prevent unwanted noise successfully.
Now, there is one problem with this solution. How important to you is your window view?
If you find it as important as I do, you might dislike this solution.
The acoustic foam panels for studios (and home, if you prefer) are the somewhat permanent solution for outside noise, but with one small con- they block your window view.
Therefore, you need to decide how much you value your own view over the noise problem.
Some of my musician friends who have their own music studio have used this acoustic foam panel that did a great job for them, and they have recommended it to me.
Alas, I value my view too much. But if your preferences are contrary to mine, these foam panels would be a fantastic solution.
4. Thin walls are the most common problem
One of the biggest problems when it comes to noise are thin walls. There are several ways of dealing with this problem, but they all demand a bit more of your time and effort.
One of the easiest solutions is to put some furniture against the wall. I personally prefer bookshelves- they can do the job just fine.
The bookshelves will block both, incoming and outgoing voice to/from your room. If this trick does not work, you can try with different types of panel foams.
How it works: Since the panels are made of material that resembles sponge in little pyramidal shapes all over it, it is hard for the sound to bounce from it like it does from solid and flat surfaces like wall.
You can see those kinds of foams in every studio.
There are different designs of these foams, so you need to be cautious not to disturb your interior by choosing the wrong one.
If you want, you can check these amazing wall foams. I’m using them for a few years now, and all I can say is that they doing a great job for me, not only as a décor, but as a fantastic noise insulator.
5. Floor and ceiling insulation
Here is the tricky one! Do you leave in a building with several floors and happened to be in the middle, between two neighbors?
Then, you might consider doing something with your ceiling and with your floor as well.
The biggest problem is your ceiling. If your ceiling is a thin one, then you might need to invest a bit more in your own peace.
First of all, you can avoid some bigger investments by asking your neighbor from the floor above to put some carpet and in that way reduce the sounds and noises coming from above.
We all know that neighbors can sometimes be unpleasant, so they might refuse your proposal.
If that’s the case, you might need to do some ceiling insulation. This case scenario might sometimes be a bit expensive.
As I mentioned in the windows section there are some acoustic foams that can be used as insulation.
For the ceiling, I would recommend this particular acoustic foam panel, which comes in various designs and color combinations.
They can decorate your ceiling, and prevent noises from above getting own into your apartment.
It is more unlikely for the noise to come from below rather than from your ceiling. You would probably not hear your neighbors from beneath unless they are savages.
When speaking about the floor, we can refer to the beginning of this article.
Namely, if your floor is mostly made of wood, there is a possibility that you can hear some echoes bouncing around your room.
I think you already know what to do here. As we mentioned at the beginning, you can get some comfy rugs, and easily solve your problem while decorating your room.
You might also like: What You Need to know about Acoustic Flooring
6. The noise from the ventilation is sometimes too loud
We spoke about how small holes in your wall can spread frustrating noise to your apartment. Imagine how ventilation system can spread it as one of the biggest holes in the wall.
Fear not! There are a couple of solutions to this one as well. First one is so-called “maze vent”.
How it works: The maze vent represents a bunch of overlapping sound-absorbing panels (that I already mentioned) that will absorb the noise and prevent it from bouncing through your vent, eventually fading out by the time it reaches your apartment.
Nevertheless, the air will continue flowing impeccably. Needless to say, you will have a double benefit: the noise will be absorbed (sometimes fully), and you will still have 100% of vent functioning.
See our guide on soundproofing an above-the-door vent here.
If you find this solution too hard, or as a waste of time and effort, you may just simply go with blocking up the whole system with expanding foam or some similar material.
Keep in mind that this solution might decrease your vents’ air flow. Therefore, I would recommend the “maze” solution.
7. Insulate the noise coming through your doors
Sometimes, the root of the noise problem is in your doors. The doors are most vulnerable part (along with thin walls) of your apartment when it comes to noise.
Since they are mostly hollow and thin, the sound easily goes through. So, how do you insulate the door? Actually, some of the solutions might be truly challenging.
First of all, there is one cheap and handy solution that you can try - adhesive weatherstrip. Adhesive weathership offers several layers of protection.
How it works: Weatherstriping represents type of insulation that requires you to seal all the gaps around the door. It’s commonly made as rubber tape or plastic lath that you can easily attach to your door with the adhesive.
It serves several different purposes:
Thermal leak reduction- Actually, the main purpose of adhesive weatherstrip is in reducing the thermal leak.
Soundproof protection- Along with other benefits that the weatherstrip provides, it will also minimize the outdoor noise coming through your doors.
Bugs protection- The weatherstrip will cover all the small crevices that bugs use to infest into your apartment, so you won’t have to worry about these small intruders.
Water defense- Finally, the weatherstrips are often used as water protection system.
As its name says, weatherstrip is adhesive, so you won’t have any problems installing it in just a few minutes. Here is the simple video guide on how to install the adhesive weatherstrip on your door:
Although it sounds funny, your doors can have a blanket. That’s not some usual blanket, but soundproof.
How it works: This blanket is similar to those soundproof curtains that contain a layer of soundproof material in them. The only difference is that this one should be attached to your door.
This is also one of the cheapest solutions that will absorb a lot of outdoor noise, but keep in mind that these blankets can take away from the overall appearance of your door.
Therefore, if you need a job to be done (minimizing the noise), and you really don’t care about your door’s appearance, this might do the job for you.
Also, you can put it to a good use even when it comes to decorating your space. You can easily attach some photos or your children’s precious drawings to it.
Click here to see our soundproof blanket buying guide and recommendations.
Next on our list is a draft stopper that is a pillow-like soundproofing solution that goes underneath the doors.
Imagine the pillow that got stuck beneath your door. By the very look of it, you would know that it is hardly unlikely that you can even hear the doors sliding on the floor.
The draft stopper is mostly used in nurseries, but you can use it for your own room as well- the results are the same.
Also, they can be used as thermal loss reducers. Anyway, we do not recommend it for your front door, as it is not as effective as weatherstip when it comes to fighting the water.
As a matter of fact, this is a cheap solution that you could use for your apartment, kids room, or the resting room. It will definitely reduce the noise coming into the room.
Finally, if nothing of this works for you, you can reach out for a bit more expensive solution - buying a new soundproof door.
8. Paint your walls with a special sound-reducing paint
Have you not heard yet? There is an absorbing-sound paint that can reduce the outdoor noise by almost 30%.
Well, you are probably wondering how paint can reduce the sound coming from outside the walls.
How it works: Strangely enough, this paint leaves an unusually heavy coating and in that way produces a raised or speckled surface which will absorb the sound.
Some may call it the”soundproof paint”, but do not get fooled because this one can only absorb only up to 30% of the sound.
Therefore, if the noise is not that loud, and you need decorating your apartment as well, you can solve two problems by simply painting your apartment.
9. Sound machines and mobile apps
Are you familiar with the so-called white noise? Or with the machines that produce such noise?
Well, if you tried all the previous steps and your noise problem is still not solved, then this one might do the trick.
There are special machines that produce this “white noise”.
How it works: These machines are producing different types of sounds - the ones that will overtake all other sounds and buzz. There will be nothing else but an appropriate sleep environment.
It works on frequencies that we cannot really hear, but they help us ignore all other sound by deceiving our ear.
Luckily, you do not need a fortune for this one. There are a lot of affordable and simple models that can easily do the job as well.
Since I want to spare you the struggle of searching, I’ve done some digging and found one of the best white noise machines for you.
There is a secret weapon these days that almost all of us have- android mobile phones.
Different types of apps are available and you can use them to find the best possible working or sleeping environment. These apps produce the relaxing tone that will make you fall asleep in no time.
Practically, you can use these apps to camouflage the outdoor noise while sleeping, or simply listen to the relaxing and calming sound while working at home.
Most of them are free, so feel free to check them out- they just might be the right thing for you.
On Soundproofing the Room
In the light of everything that I previously mentioned, these are some of the easiest and cheapest ways of dealing with the annoying noise entering your room.
Whether you are struggling with your neighbors, or just living in the street with a lot of traffic, you should be able to find your solution in some of the aforementioned soundproofing methods.
I hope that this article will come to use, and help you regain the peace that you deserve.