Having an apartment implies sharing walls with neighbors, both next-door and upstairs. A common issue is the that noise, too, will be shared, and heard across everyone’s living room.
Here are some solutions to make your small apartment soundproof.
Solutions: Cheap | Affordable | Expensive
What types of sound?
We’ll first have to distinguish between the two types of sound you may be encountering in your apartment.
In a house, airborne noise spread through the air before vibrating the walls of a room. Each wall vibrating in turn makes the air vibrate in neighboring buildings. The sound crosses over.
A wall subjected to shock can also vibrate, and create air vibrations in neighboring places. It can be anything from impacts (footsteps, moving furniture) to various equipments or utilities.
When it comes to airborne noises, insulation is often done through windows, simply by replacing them with double glazing.
As for the rest, here are some solutions for your, from cheapest to most expensive.
If you’re not looking for anything fancy, here are some basic ideas to limit sound propagation.
Believe it or not, curtains do absorb sound. The best material is thick cotton or fleece fabric with some cotton lining. After some testing, I can tell you that this solution is quite satisfactory, especially when it comes to the attenuation of high-pitched noise.
They can also be placed in front of windows to catch sound (on top of light), although this is far from being a pretty solution.
You can put some cork on your doors to absorb ambient noises. There are now a variety of colors available, to suit your taste. Cork has long been recognized as a great insulating component, so why not bring it to your home?
When your door is closed, check that it closes snugly within the frame. If that’s not the case, you’ll need to get a rubber seal sticker to put on the edge of the frame. They’re cheap, and easily available in most retailers. Be careful to pick one adapted to the thickness of the ensemble.
Similarly to a sealed door, make sure that there’s no space between the bottom of your door and the floor. Or at least, that’s it’s as thin as possible. Even with “only” an inch gap, a lot of noise will be able to pass through.
If the gap is too wide, you’ll have to fill it, preferably with a wooden stick of the correct thickness. You can also add a low bar on your, close to your flooring.
Although not as cheap, these solutions can be quite effective.
Sound can also travel through doors with hollow core. To check yours, unhinge it and look under it. You’ll need to make sure there’s some kind of insulation between the two sides of the door, if it isn’t already there.
If you’re looking to do some actual home-improvement and want to use it as an excuse to sound-proof your place, consider getting acoustic foam. It’s relatively inexpensive, and is what is used by recording studios. Suffice it to say, it’s effective.
If you have money to spend when it comes to sound-proofing your place, here are the most effective solutions around.
A more extreme idea could be to change your door entirely. Instead, you can either install one with a solid core (not the weight difference for the hinges), pr a hollow one with integrated sound insulation. It should also be easy to fit the old aesthetics of your door (color, material, molding, handles, etc.), if that’s what you want.
We finally come down to the priciest of all solutions, but also the best. When it comes to all other over-borne sound types, like footsteps or furniture being moved around, there’s no real other solution than having to break into the walls and ceilings to install dampening areas, like a false ceiling.
In an apartment, you’ll be losing a lot of space, and it costs a fortune.