soundproofLiving in urban spaces has many perks, but unfortunately with denser residential living comes a higher chance that you will encounter unpleasant noise pollution that you would rather not hear. Depending on the source (loud music, noisy footsteps, street traffic, late night musicians, etc.), there are many ways you can soundproof an apartment and make your home a quieter, happier place to live.

Apartment Soundproofing Strategies

These noise reduction techniques impact the acoustic qualities of your home by reducing the sounds that can get into your apartment and, once there, dampen their ability to vibrate.

Sound absorption panels

Ceiling sound absorption foam [CC License via BSAF]

Ceiling sound absorption foam [CC License via BSAF]

Musicians already know all about using foam absorption panels in their practice rooms, but you can use these strips or panels of specially designed foam on the walls or ceiling in your home, as well. They aren’t the most attractive option, but these panels provide significant sound absorption for both the sounds that you produce inside your home, and noise coming from the other side of the wall that the panels are attached to.

Fabric and carpets

Rugs can serve as both a design element and absorb sound. Any textiles placed on open surfaces will help reduce sound and vibrations, and carpets and rugs are one of the most effective ways to reduce noise inside your apartment (as well as absorbing the sound of your footfalls if you have downstairs neighbors.) You can also use throw pillows, blankets, tablecloths, and other fabric items to contribute to noise reduction and dampen vibrations in your apartment or condo.

Soundproofing curtains

Since curtains are made of fabric, they can inherently help reduce noise in your apartment, but there are some curtains that are especially designed to decrease sound as much as possible. This strategy will work best on noise that comes from outside your window. In general, the thicker the material, the better the fabric will be at deadening sound.

Foam tape

High density foam tape can be wrapped around windows and doors to provide a tighter seal. Not only will this help block out all sound from outside, it has the added benefit of keeping out drafts and reducing the amount of dust that gets into your home.

Noise-proofing compound

This option is likely only feasible for those who own their home, but it can have a major impact on noise levels. Special, glue-like sound deadening compounds are applied to a surface, usually to a shared wall with the source of the noise, then another layer of drywall is installed on top of the compound. Note that this strategy is best for general sound absorption, not for canceling out specific impact noises like footfalls.

Other Noise Reduction Options

The solutions below are other techniques for dealing with noise in an apartment, and may be sufficient for temporary noise disturbances.

Air purifiers/white noise generators

Temporary noises, like your neighbor’s 3am drum solo, can be drowned out by noise canceling devices or by surrounding yourself with a more pleasant sound.

White noise generators are designed to cancel out ambient noise like traffic, and are a good choice for the bedroom while you sleep, but they may be a nuisance to run all day everyday.

Air purifiers force air through their filters to reduce airborne contaminants, and also have the side benefit of producing various volumes of a whooshing, fan-like noise that can cover up a lot of unpleasant noises while still being easy to “tune out” while you are at home.

Play relaxing music or sounds

For noises that are temporary, the best solution may be to simply drawn out the unpleasant sounds with something more pleasant. Popular choices include soft classical music, nature sounds, or the sound of running water. RainyMood.com is a popular site that plays a looping soundtrack of a rainstorm.

Noise canceling earphones/earplugs

Modern headphones and earplugs can produce a tight seal over or inside your ear, drastically reducing the amount of exterior noise that can get in. They can also play high quality sounds of their own, if you prefer to listen to your own music instead of your neighbor’s. Obviously, there are limited times where it would be acceptable to block out all sound around you, but many people use noise canceling headphones or earplugs when they need to concentrate, such as studying or reading, and/or when sleeping.

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Top photo: CC License via Yiannis Theologos Michellis

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