One of the downsides of apartments is that they can be noisy. You can hear the neighbors around you, and they can hear you. Fortunately, if you want to know how to soundproof thin walls, science is on your side. There are lots of ways to soundproof apartment walls, and they’re cheaper than you’d think.
Before we dive into soundproofing solutions, let’s cover the basics about how sound travels in an apartment building.
As explained by The New York Times, sound moves in two ways. High- and low-pitched noises can be airborne, such as the sound of someone practicing the piano. Low-pitched noise, like the sound of a chair scraping the floor above you, tends to move as a vibration through the framing of a structure. Sometimes it’s a mix of the two, like sound from a TV mounted on a shared wall. To make matters worse, it takes only a tiny gap to allow noise to invade your apartment.
Keep in mind that the transmission of noise through walls, floors, and other barriers is much greater for low-frequency sounds than for high-frequency sounds, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute. Among the sounds that apartment dwellers frequently complain about are loud talking, street noise, dog-barking, construction work, and parties.
Here are six ways to soundproof your apartment without spending too much money.
1. Put down carpets or rugs.
The Carpet and Rug Institute promotes carpets and rugs as outstanding materials for absorbing noise, particularly when paired with padding that further absorbs sound. This method is especially helpful if your apartment floors are made of hard surfaces like hardwood, tile or linoleum.
2. Install drapes.
Drapes do quadruple duty: They block light from shining through your windows, stop neighbors from seeing what you’re doing, block sound from entering your place, and absorb sound that streams into your apartment. The best sound-reducing drapes are those made of thick materials such as polyester, velvet, and vinyl.
Remember that drapes aren’t the same as curtains. Curtains usually are made of thin, lightweight materials that don’t do much in the way of blocking or absorbing sound, and they’re typically much cheaper than drapes. However, some curtains do offer soundproofing benefits.
3. Put in a bookcase.
A bookcase can not only add a nice design element to your apartment, but it can also help soundproof your place if you set it up against a wall that you share with another apartment or condo. The books that you line up in the bookcase can further shush the noise, too.
4. Cover the walls.
Hanging tapestries, felt, or cork on a wall in your apartment isn’t only a design statement. It can also help bring you some quiet.
5. Install acoustic panels.
Like decorative wall art, acoustic panels can add a touch of flair to your apartment, either on the walls or the ceiling, while also doing their part to cut down on noise. Before installing acoustic panels, check with your landlord to make sure you’re allowed to do so.
6. Buy a white-noise generator.
Although it won’t eliminate sound coming from other apartments, a white-noise generator can help mask unwanted noise. Alternatively, you can search the web for “brown noise” and “rain sounds,” and stream a melody to mask your neighbor’s latest building project.
Is your apartment noisy, no matter what you do? We feel for you. Browse hundreds of apartments on ApartmentSearch. Compare amenities and prices. Tour the place beforehand. And make sure to make your concerns about noise be heard by your landlord—before you sign the lease!