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Sound Proofing
updated: Mar 31, 2014, 2:05 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

We recently moved in to a brand new apartment and can hear one of our neighbors. Let's just say it's loud, banging on the wall, thumping, etc. We share a bedroom wall. The floors are wood laminate and we have high ceilings which I know contributes to the noise traveling. We have a thick headboard (tufted fabric with foam inside), but it doesn't help much. We are going to speak with our neighbor today b/c we don't think he realizes the sound travels so easily. We have already moved our bed to the other side of the room and still hear it. We understand noise travels and it's part of living in an apartment, but we actually feel like we are in bed with them (creepy!) Is there any sound proofing we can do other than hanging a rug on the wall or foam?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 507427P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 02:11 PM

Talk is the best; good for you. "Kill" them with kindness when you meet.

I can suggest a multi-track/sound "noise machine" with white noise and multiple sounds you might like, such as waves or rainfall.

I've been lucky enough not to have to do anything even as simple as rugs on top of carpet. Good luck.

 

 PAMSB agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 02:13 PM

This site looks interesting:

http://www.audimutesoundproofing.com/how-to-soundproof-an-apartment-apartment-soundproofing.aspx

 

 COMMENT 507431P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 02:16 PM

I really have no idea how acoustically effective it might be, but a decorative rug, quilt or hand-woven textile artworks might be nice on that shared wall. Doesn't sound like it will help your issue though. Thank you for showing me how lucky I am to live in an end unit.

 

 COMMENT 507433 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 02:19 PM

OP here. I figured us talking to him in person would be best even though a snarky note would be funny. We did think it was humorous the first few times, but now it's on weeknights and late in to the night. As far as end units go, we share no walls other than the bedroom wall really (the others are insignificant or do not line up to other units)

 

 SBSWEETPEA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 02:38 PM

I have heard of this stuff it is like soundproofing paint. Not sure if it works but might be worth checking out

http://www.serenitycoating.com/

 

 COMMENT 507444 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 02:54 PM

It's the apartment life... just how it is.

Before you talk to them, consider just accepting it and letting it become part of the background. Is this particular situation, sometimes talking about it is NOT the best solution... brings everyone's attention to these kinds of details and makes life awkward for all parties involved for a loooong time.

Alternatively, consider improving that certain taboo-to-mention-though-everyone-loves-it aspect of your own life, until the tables turn, and the neighbor is the one trying to figure out how to approach you about "keeping it down".

 

 COMMENT 507445 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 02:56 PM

Soundproofing is tricky. You can spend a lot of money on soundproofing a wall, and it might end up about as effective as collecting water in a bucket with a hole in it.

Since you're a renter and can't open up the walls, here are some suggestions: Build a bookcase floor to ceiling on the adjacent wall. Fill it with as many heavy books as you can. Stuff linens and winter clothes on the high shelves. Cover the wall with a furniture blanket (or two, or three) first. And ask the neighbor if he'd like an area rug "you just happened to find" to knock down the reverberation in his apartment.

Or you can go to the extreme and build a temporary double wall with "Safe and Sound" rock-wool and "Quiet Rock" wallboard. The Quiet rock is eight times as effective as standard drywall, to attenuate the higher frequencies. Rock wool tends to absorb sound, but keep it well sealed as it can be an eye irritant.

And maybe ask the landlord what can be done.

 

 COMMENT 507449 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 03:01 PM

OP here, to the one that suggested it might not be good talk to them, but instead just deal...we actually would if it wasn't shaking the entire wall. Not sure if he needs a new bed or they just started dating (haha) but the entire wall thumps nonstop....

It isn't really something a white noise machine could cover. I've lived in everything from a dorm to a college party house and have never heard anything like this. That's why I said we found it funny at first, it's the sounds you would expect times about 100 and if you were in the same room and on their bed with them!

 

 COMMENT 507450 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 03:03 PM

Earplugs? I'v worn them for twenty years. They work great.

 

 COMMENT 507452P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 03:04 PM

You could chat first, and if they remain unconvinced, suggest you'd like to tape record the sound -- with their permission -- and play back for them to hear.

 

 COMMENT 507453 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 03:07 PM

The cheapest way is to have a drywall guy install another sheet of sound resistant drywall over the entire wall, then paint.
P.S It's best to capture the sound from their side but will work either way

 

 COMMENT 507454 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 03:08 PM

We don't have exactly the same noise problem, but we run a fan on low to drown out our neighbors intermittent talking in the driveway outside our window. Generally works well.

The other way to let them know is to make it clear they wake you up. Can you make some noise (putting your feet down on the floor with a thud, coughing, flushing the toilet, talking?) on a regular basis when you hear their noise? Although I don't know if that would be enough of a motivator to change what they want to do in the moment.

 

 COMMENT 507459 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 03:20 PM

I think you should try talk first, like you said, keeping up the good humor. But also do a Pinterest search for sound proofing. I saw a Pinterest pin recently with a guy using stretched canvas and putting special sound proofing (looked like egg crate foam, but was special, not too expensive) and put that on the inner part of the canvas. An as and he'd had his kids paint on the canvas - then he had sound dampening panels that did double duty as art on the wall. However, I don't think anything will do much for the thumping and bumping you've described. If talking directly to him doesn't yield results, you should talk to your landlord or management company, because what you described sounds excessive and at unreasonable hours. Take a video recording to show shaking and noise (and time).

 

 COMMENT 507471 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 03:33 PM

If it's low frequency noise (i.e. thumping, shaking, or footsteps) there is little you can do. That requires a lot of architectural mechanical decoupling to isolate, which is nearly impossible to do with common floors, ceilings, and walls.

You might have a justifiable cause to break your lease.

 

 COMMENT 507478 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 03:58 PM

I think the best is to ask them to scoot the bed away from the wall a couple inches... sounds like the problem is thumping - that's the headboard. Won't get rid of the peripheral sound effects, but it'll solve the main annoyance!

 

 COMMENT 507483 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 04:04 PM

You seem to be on the right track by just talking to them.

On a side note, when I worked at San Ysidro Ranch back in the late '80's they had carpeted boxes between the beds and the walls. Each one was about four inches thick and four feet tall, with the width of the bed. Genius.

 

 COMMENT 507487 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 04:21 PM

Buy your neighbors a waterbed. It's probably cheaper than soundproofing the apartment and your neighbors will be friends forever : )

 

 COMMENT 507490 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 04:29 PM

I think its reasonable to ask them to move their bed to another wall or at least far enough away from the wall that it wouldn't make contact when the bed moves lol ... You don't even have to go into specifics, he will most likely understand.

 

 COMMENT 507494 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 04:40 PM

My landlord hired a contractor to soundproof my bedroom, which has a shared wall with my neighbors bathroom. It didn't help. If anything, it's worse. I can hear everything they do in the bathroom when I'm in my room. I have had to change my schedule to suit theirs. I get up when they get up and know that they go to bed normally around 11. If I try to go to sleep early, I will no matter what be awakened when they use the bathroom before they go to bed. One of the tenants (who supposedly is only visiting [for a year, every night], is quite loud and has a nasty habit of slamming doors so that they end up bouncing several times before resting against the cabinet. It drives me nuts, but I feel so bad about my landlord spending so much money to soundproof, that I can't bear to tell him. I also don't want to tell him that he has a tenant next door to whom he did not extend a lease. I just live with it because it is what it is when you have high density and shared walls.

 

 COMMENT 507495 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 04:42 PM

Depends on what one can hear from one's neighbors. If it is earsplitting rock music that continues until late evening. Speak to them. If the children wail continually, the parents yell at them all day, and scream at each other all night, move.

But feeling one shares a bed with the neighbors is definitely unsettling and creepy. Try sleeping in the living room.

 

 COMMENT 507500 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 04:54 PM

@PAMSB - Thank you for the link! Those hanging "sheets" look like a great idea!

 

 COMMENT 507502 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 05:00 PM

Have you tried pounding on the wall when it's happening? At least that lets them know you're hearing them, and they may remedy the situation without further ado.

 

 COMMENT 507507 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 05:20 PM

Just remember if you can hear them, they can hear you too.
You can buy sound proof panels, like are used for a recording studio. They vary in price, but I was looking at them for our apartment at one time. Fortunately, we moved.
Good luck.

 

 COMMENT 507519 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 06:02 PM

Panels can only be so effective. All it takes is a quarter of an inch gap and sound can leak around a barrier or under a door.

Sound reduction is accomplished by a series of dead air spaces with mass barriers (a muffler on a car is a series of air chambers with steel panels).

Inside walls they also add fiberglass or rock-wool insulation, polymer sheets, or other 'limp mass' sound deadening materials. For higher isolation, they hang the drywall on resilient channels and use isolation blocks on structural frame members.

All of these techniques can rendered useless if you have untreated pathways that bypass the sound treated wall. So don't expect a lot if you only put up a few blankets.

 

 COMMENT 507522 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 06:21 PM

OP here. We are well aware they can hear us if we can hear them, but I do have a feeling they are extra loud. This is why we moved our bed to the other side, bought a floor rug, etc. We can still hear it. I love the Pinterest link!! We may try some I f that after we talk to him. The last time it happened (last night) I was tempted to bang on the wall.

 

 COMMENT 507530 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-31 08:27 PM

I have one of those white noise machines that you will often see in therapist's waiting rooms (if you neighbors eventually drive you to therapy) and also Bose headphones work well. I am pretty sensitive to noisy neighbors and unfortunately had to settle for a lower unit. The noise machine works well and at least takes your mind off their noise. Good luck.

 

 COMMENT 507570 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 07:00 AM

This thread makes me so thankful I don't have to live in an apartment.

 

 COMMENT 507576P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 07:16 AM

444 said it best... It's the apartment life... just how it is.

Before you talk to them, consider just accepting it and letting it become part of the background. Is this particular situation, sometimes talking about it is NOT the best solution... brings everyone's attention to these kinds of details and makes life awkward for all parties involved for a loooong time.

Alternatively, consider improving that certain taboo-to-mention-though-everyone-loves-it aspect of your own life, until the tables turn, and the neighbor is the one trying to figure out how to approach you about "keeping it down".

 

 COMMENT 507579 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 07:22 AM

It's probably just porn. Tell 'em to turn down the volume.

 

 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 07:39 AM

Maybe it would help if you asked them to move their bed to their other wall. When they hear how it's heard through to you, they might be pretty embarrassed.

 

 COMMENT 507613 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 08:24 AM

Maybe they only got loud after you moved in and they're trying to indicate to you that you're making too much noise for them. You might knock on their door, introduce yourself, and offer them a tin of cookies and tell them you hope you're not too loud. (Moving is always noisy.) This will open the topic in a way that your neighbors don't have to be defensive but might consider they are making noise you can hear. Hopefully, nobody on either side has a TV in the bedroom.

Good luck. Cookies have worked for me.

 

 COMMENT 507640P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 09:23 AM

I moved into an older duplex where my bedroom is next to my neighbor's kitchen. When they are in there it sounds like they are in the room with me, even though I can tell they are talking at normal levels. I emailed the audimute people Pam linked to and they said their products wouldn't help much. Most soundproofing is meant to keep your noise from leaving, not keep you from getting other sounds. I just play brown noise (it seems to mask the frequency of the sounds they make better than white noise) and I can't hear the talking, cabinets opening, or vibrations of the footsteps. Buy an app for your phone with lots of different options and try them all and see if any work!

 

 COMMENT 507642P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 09:33 AM

I wonder, too, if there are some people who LIKE to be heard doing this activity.

 

 COMMENT 507696 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 11:52 AM

There are many suggestions. You have to ask your landlord to deal with the noise. (I am a landlady and dealt with it.) I talked to a land management company which suggested that I 1st hang carpet pad all over the wall. The 2.) layer is sound board painted the same color as the rest of the room. It won't 100% stop noise, but really helped. The thing is the landlord is going to have to deal with the noise issue tenant after tenant, so he might as well deal with it now. You can record the sounds on your phone as a short sample to share with your landlord.

 

 COMMENT 507730P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 01:41 PM

Go for the landlord solution.
Maybe do the recording thing prior to consulting landlord.
Any chance of moving to another apt. in complex?

 

 COMMENT 507748P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-01 02:43 PM

Been there; heard that - and more. My sympathies. Frankly, I never had much luck talking to folks (they seem to have short-term memory loss when it comes to how much noise they make) or hanging extra padding, or ear plugs, etc., etc.. . If you have a second bedroom, can you move in there? If you go with the expense of installing a second dry wall (and could you even do that in a rental?), I think you'd need dead space in between the existing wall and the new one. If nothing works and you're on a lease, talk to the owner about breaking it due to the neighbor's excessive noise; otherwise, I'd stick it as long as you can and look for another place - but be sure you aren't sharing walls (and that goes for floors and ceilings too). Good luck.

 

 COMMENT 508014 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 02:41 PM

I like to leave notes on my neighbors doors so they don't know who specifically is complaining. Tell them what they do that bothers you and give them a warning that if they don't stop, you will notify the landlord. Its worked pretty well for me over the years and like someone else said, landlords don't want to keep dealing with it. If even they refuse, then you could call the cops as a last resort. You shouldn't have to "deal with it". This is coming from someone who grew up in Isla Vista and lived there for 19 years. Good luck and update us on the story :)

 

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