The good news is you don’t have to settle for a noisy apartment. There are steps you can take to soundproof your apartment regardless of where the noise is coming from, and they’re mostly things you can do yourself.
Your biggest enemy when it comes to amplifying sound within your apartment is your floors. Noise naturally reverberates off hard surfaces, so if your apartment isn’t wall-to-wall carpet, it may be more noisy than normal.
Conversely, soft surfaces absorb sound, so accessorize your rooms with plush rugs and thick rug pads underneath. Even a small area rug will help lessen noise from within a room. As an added bonus, it will also muffle your footsteps for your downstairs neighbors, keeping you from disturbing others in your building.
If addressing the floors doesn’t do enough to bring you the peace and quiet you’re looking for, take a look at your walls. Apartments are notorious for thin walls, so take a similar approach as you did to the floors, and cover your walls with fabric.
Hanging a decorative tapestry not only adds an interesting focal point to your space, but it also keeps the sound from passing from one room to another. This is especially helpful if your apartment layout has a bedroom sharing a wall with your living space.
Furniture can also help absorb sound within a room, allowing you to soundproof with items you already have, rather than buying supplies to help with the problem. Place a bookshelf against a wall or incorporate upholstered furniture into your interior design to decrease the sound that travels throughout your apartment.
Blocking noise coming in from the outside means shifting your attention to your windows. They’re most likely the primary culprit bringing unwanted sounds into your apartment, especially if you live close to a busy street or along a public transportation route.
If you have a landlord or super who’s willing to make improvements to your apartment, consider suggesting they upgrade the windows. Single-pane windows are very common but let in the most noise. Replacing them with triple-pane windows will guarantee less street noise enters your apartment.
If replacing the windows isn’t an option – and for most situations, it probably won’t be – think about purchasing thick, heavy drapes you can pull across your windows at the noisiest times of the day. Chances are, outside noise is most disturbing at night when you’re trying to sleep, so closing drapes before bed won’t interfere with the natural light coming into your apartment.
Mind the gaps (when the noise is everywhere)
Regardless of whether the noise offender is something inside your apartment building or out, eliminating incoming sound by minding the gaps in doors, windows and even walls can be very effective in quieting things down.
Address spaces between walls and window frames and around electrical outlets with caulk or weather-stripping. Inspect your doors for gaps between the door itself and the doorframe, adding weather-stripping here as well. A draft blocker can help muffle sound coming through interior doors as well. Remember, if air can get through a space, so can sound.
When all else fails
When you’ve done all you can to soundproof your apartment, and the noise is still getting to you, stop fighting it and join in. Drown out the rough sounds grating on your sanity with soothing melodies from a white noise machine or the constant hum of an air conditioning unit.
White noise machines are typically small, portable and louder than they look. You can also download a white noise app to keep handy. Window AC units generate a ton of white noise that pretty much makes it impossible to hear anything else.
Hopefully, one or a combination of these strategies will help you effectively soundproof your apartment. However, sometimes it just comes down to confronting the noise. If your neighbor is the problem or your landlord needs to make some repairs, you have to voice your concerns – in a nice, neighborly way. Regardless, you don’t have to settle for unwanted noise just because you’re living an apartment lifestyle.