Easy tips for soundproofing your apartment
Apartment living can be great. It’s convenient. It’s low-maintenance, and when maintenance is required, it isn’t your responsibility to do the work. Most rental apartments are conveniently located in densely populated areas, close to all the amenities and opportunities most residents are looking for. The price that comes with this convenience can be unwanted noise.
Because many people are spending more time at home, and many are now working from home, an uptick in acoustic annoyances is no surprise. Having said that, your home is your territory and it should be as peaceful and comfortable as you can make it. The nature of rental apartments means making permanent or structural changes to your living space isn’t a viable option. Here are some, non-structural, reversible, and easy tips for soundproofing your apartment.
What is soundproofing?
True soundproofing requires eliminating any and all gaps between spaces where noise can transfer. An air-tight, fully soundproof apartment would require massive restructuring and massive amounts of time and money. It simply isn’t feasible, or even desirable, to live in a completely soundproof space. What individual tenants can hope for is sound absorption and sound dampening.
What is sound absorption?
Sound travels through air. For sound absorption and sound dampening to be effective, the paths that the sound waves travel must be blocked. While hard, flat surfaces reflect noise, soft and even surfaces absorb it. Let’s look at some easy ways to minimize unwanted sound from entering and echoing around your space.
Rearrange your space
In a search for sound solutions, sometimes it can be easy to overlook the obvious. Is your living space arranged to minimize your exposure to outside sounds? If your sofa is currently positioned near a window, or against a shared wall, consider rearranging the furniture to better suit your needs. Perhaps the TV could be placed against the shared wall instead? Would you get a better night’s sleep if your home office and your bedroom were switched?
Be book smart
Adding (or rearranging) a bookcase along a shared wall can cut down on the sound being exchanged between apartments. Adding mass will reduce the transmission of sound vibrations. The larger the bookcase, the less sound that will get through the wall. The sound absorption will be even greater when you fill the bookcase full of large books. Remember: soft and uneven surfaces absorb sound.
Throw down some throw rugs
It isn’t only the noise that travels into your apartment that you should be concerned about. It's important to address the noise that you create at home, and how it reverberates or echoes throughout your space. A large throw rug can do wonders for minimizing the echoes in your apartment -- whether they are coming in from outside, or self-created. If one throw rug doesn’t do the trick, layered throw rugs can be an effective and stylish alternative. When choosing throw rugs to layer, look for varied textures. Since soft and even surfaces absorb sound, the more irregularity you create among your rugs, the quieter the room will be.
To add an extra layer of noise and echo-protection, hard and bare floors will benefit from placing a dense rug pad between the floor and the rug.
Hang Curtains and Tapestries
The same principle that applies to the floors also applies to your walls and windows. Tapestries and wall hangings are like rugs for your walls. Their soft texture can help create a quieter, calmer, and more zen-friendly space. To help block outside noise from vibrating through your windows, consider a set of floor-to-ceiling curtains. If you want to take things a step further, sound-blocking curtains are also available.
Plug sound leaks
The cracks around doors make them susceptible to leaking sound waves. Placing a set of heavy blackout curtains over the front door, at the entrance, will cut down on sound waves and allow you to make a dramatic entrance. If roommates or family members are keeping you up at night, a draft stopper can be an effective sound blocker. It can be attached to the bottom of the door with an elastic band or cord, and will swing with the door -- so you don’t have to reset it into place all the time.
You can’t eliminate all of life’s unwanted noises. If you've tried everything else, or if you want to start with the most simple solutions, don’t forget to consider low tech solutions. A pair of foam earplugs can make a big difference -- and help you get some sleep. Another option to combat unpleasant noise is to get a white noise machine. These devices simply drown out other noise with a non-distracting, broadband noise signal of their own.
Try Quick Fixes
The world can be a noisy place. We can’t eliminate all the unwanted sounds in our homes, but we hope that these easy tips for soundproofing your apartment go a long way to helping you find the peace and quiet you crave.