Soundproofing Common Condo Walls: Permanent & Temporary Solutions
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If you don't need all the extra room in a house, a condo could be an ideal living choice for you.
However, living in a condo will mean that you and your neighbors will be quite close. So, you can be sure that issues of noise will arise.
Condos are primarily constructed with light materials that are not soundproof, mainly because most construction companies are out to lower construction costs.
Not everyone finds these living conditions as troubling.
Nonetheless, it may prove to be a problem if you or your neighbors have noisy endeavors.
Whether you are looking to keep the sound in or out, there are several soundproofing methods that you could employ to make your condo more comfortable.
You even get to choose between temporary and permanent solutions.
Well, if you have no idea where you should start, this article should give you some excellent pointers.
Below, we are going to list a few options you may have for soundproofing in your condo.
Soundproofing Common Condo Walls
Permanent Soundproofing Solutions
Before we get to it, it is essential to note that permanent soundproofing methods are more efficient than temporary ones.
Some of the permanent fixtures you need to know about include:
This is one of the most common ways for soundproofing in many condos. Despite this fact, it also the most expensive way to soundproof your living space.
Restructuring of your condo may be necessary when installing sound barriers. It would be best if you communicated to the owners before this.
This is also a relatively easy way of soundproofing your condo. It involves adding mass to the walls around you. It is difficult for sound to pass through a thick wall.
Regular drywall is reasonably cheap and easy to install, which makes it the most inexpensive way to soundproof your condo.
Despite this, the denser the material, the better. Meaning that if you need a thicker material for drywall, it will be an addition to the purchasing and installation costs.
In this case, that will be soundproof drywall.
Soundproof drywall is made up of wood, gypsum, polymers, and fibers. These features are meant to increase sound transmission class (STC). It is denser than regular drywall.
With drywall, you may not be assured of total soundproofing. Vibrations may still travel within the wall.
It is not the most efficient way of soundproofing in the long term.
The primary purpose of damping is to reduce the amount of vibrations that travel through your wall space. It involves adding a thick and absorbent material to your walls.
One of the ways that damping is applied is by installing and insulation foam within the wall cavity. This will come in handy, especially if you have thin walls.
Green Glue is one of the materials that is used in damping. It has a gypsum-like appearance and is used to seal off spaces in your walls while soundproofing at the same time.
Decoupling is among the most effective ways of soundproofing your condo walls. It involves the separation of two walls to cut the transmission of sound waves.
When the walls are together, they provide a clear passage for vibrations. However, when separated, the walls will vibrate, each on their own.
This independent vibration of the walls keeps the noise out since the waves will hit the outer wall and not the inner wall.
There are a couple of methods of decoupling:
Double stud wall - This method involves the building of two stud walls while leaving a little space between the two. All structures within a room, including the floors and ceiling, are separated from the existing room.
The only problem that comes along with this is the consumption of vast spaces.
Staggered stud wall - As the name suggests, it involves the installation of studs within a wall space in a staggered manner. Rotation of the studs ensures that no stud touches the two sides of the wall.
This method saves on space as compared to the double stud wall but is slightly less effective.
Resilient clips and hat channel - This is the easiest way to go when it comes to decoupling while ensuring there is saving of space without foregoing efficiency.
The installation of resilient clips and hat channels to one side of the wall is the way to go.
Studs will be touching both sides of the wall, but the clips and channels are designed to hold most vibrations that may be coming through the wall.
Decoupling comes with a downside, though. While it will be able to capture the high-frequency vibration, it may not be able to filter out low frequencies.
The air between the walls will act as a boost of the lower frequencies to the other side of the wall.
If this proves to be a problem for you, you can go for the other three options.
Sound barriers, adding mass, damping, and decoupling are the four significant solutions for permanently soundproofing your condo walls.
Permanent soundproofing may prove to be expensive and will often involve a bit of work.
However, you don't have to endure your neighbors' noise if you don't want to invest heavily in soundproofing projects.
temporary soundproofing solutions
There are several temporary soundproofing solutions that you could adopt.
While these may not be as effective as the permanent solutions, they will make a great deal of difference compared to nothing.
Let's have a look at a few of these temporary solutions.
Curtains and drapes are an old school way of dealing with your noise problem.
The primary thing to consider as you invest in curtains is that the denser the material is, the better it will be at keeping noise out.
While choosing curtains and drapes, the ideal material to go for is velvet.
It is sufficiently heavy to do the job within your living space while putting a nice touch of sophistication to it.
If you have cotton and linen, you should also consider going for thicker materials.
In terms of style, the pleated will always be better than flat curtains and drapes. Pleated curtains make all the difference when it comes to the reduction of noise from outside.
Wall hangings do not necessarily mean photographs and paintings, and you will be surprised by how much noise you can block by hanging a few pieces on your walls.
You can invest in fabric wall hangings. These wall hangings will do a better job of blocking out sound while adding to the aesthetic appeal of your house.
Choosing wall hangings is a free card, and you could go for whatever appeals to you and matches with the already existing décor in your home.
To increase the sound blocking capabilities of paintings and whatnots, you can add foam to the backside to help with the cushioning of noise.
The noise reverberates through hard furniture more than softer pieces.
As much as you cannot do away with hard furniture for good, adding more cushioned furniture will help in noise dampening.
Where it is not necessary to have a hard chair or bench, you can switch it with softer modifications that will still maintain and add on their use.
You can also incorporate furniture where there wasn't any, to help reduce the impact of noise from outside your condo.
Say, for example, you can try placing a massive bookshelf against the wall that separates you and your neighbor, who is always yelling at her kids.
While it may not do much, this coupled with other soundproofing methods will help you lead a quieter life.
Rugs add to the plush of your floors, and the color and patterns on your levels.
What you did not know is that carpets are a good way of suppressing that noise from your noisy neighbor beneath your condo.
When the noise hits the hard material of your floors, the carpets or rugs, which have a soft touch, will dampen the sound.
It will help if the under-pads of the carpets are of good quality, which adds the advantages.
Also, having plush carpets and rugs will prevent too much noise while moving your furniture around, which is a bonus to noise cushioning.
These are a bit expensive because they are a specialist product. To add to that, they are not the most attractive thing to place on your walls or windows.
Despite that, they are a convenient way to deal with your noise problem due to flexibility.
The material used in audio blankets is quilted fiberglass. It is a dense material efficient in absorbing sounds within the walls and windows.
If you feel that this is not the way to go for you, you can always settle for the others mentioned above.
See our list of the best audio blankets here.
Noise Dampening in Floors and Doors
While dealing with the noise issue within your condo, you mustn't forget that the floors and doors are also a significant contributor.
Here are a few ways to block the sound coming through the floors and doors.
- Floor Underlays
These are elements that are not meant for soundproofing. However, the additional layer they provide does the work correctly.
One advantage of these is that they are easy to fix and are not expensive. Even if you are not big on DIY, you can figure out how to install them in a couple of minutes.
As we have kept on saying, the best material to dampen noise should be thick such as mass loaded vinyl.
- The Door
The door is your number one suspect for all the sound transmitted through the condo units since most construction workers opt for cheap hollow doors so they can save money.
Your best bet would be to replace the door entirely. Rather than go for a solid-core door, it would be better to install a solid-composite door.
The latter features a denser material and will be better at dampening the sound from neighboring units.
Of course, installing a new door will be an expensive affair, and you may have to let your landlord know what you are up to.
However, it is the best way to deal with the noise coming through the doors.
Replacing the door may not be an ideal choice for everyone. Luckily, there are several other ways you could soundproof your condo doors effectively.
Read our full guide on soundproofing a door here.
- Acoustic Door Seals
Even if you have a solid door, the noise will still pass through any gaps and holes on the door frame.
Acoustic door seals set contain threshold seals, jamb seals, and seals for the doors' bottom and do a pretty decent job at blocking all the gaps and holes.
While installing these elements, it is vital to ensure that the door still fits well into its frame. Otherwise, you will be beating the purpose of the acoustic seals.
Also, it is unnecessary to fit the seals if the noise from the corridor is not an issue.
- Install Door Sweeps
After closing your doors, is there some space left between the door and the floor?
This space will let in noise, and even if you seal the gaps in the frame and install a solid door, sound passing through this space will be a bother.
Door sweeps are specifically meant to help you seal this space. There are a variety of sweeps available, and you get to choose one that suits your needs.
Be sure to choose one that fits right and won't hinder you when opening and closing the door.
Don't Forget the Ceiling!
If you have some neighbors living in the unit above yours, soundproofing your ceiling could be a fantastic idea.
You will annoyingly hear them walk around the house, and unfortunately, you cannot soundproof their floor, which leaves you with no other choice but to work on your ceiling.
There are several ways through which you could soundproof your ceiling. You could, for example, install double layers for your drywalled ceilings.
The extra thickness helps to add mass, which does an excellent job of absorbing sound from upstairs.
Alternatively, you could install drywall on your ceiling using hat channels and isolation clips. Another option would be to get acoustical ceiling tiles.
However, these don't look appealing, and you may want to install them in the office rather than the sitting room.
Conclusion: On Soundproofing Common Condo Walls
For any soundproofing project, it is essential to note that permanent solutions will be more effective than temporary ones.
However, this doesn't mean that you have to endure all the noise from the neighbors.
Soundproofing your condo walls will allow you to have some more peaceful time within your house.
If you do it right, you can block out all the unnecessary sounds from your neighbors and keep yours inside.
So, go ahead and try out some of the methods outlined in the article and see which one works for you.