Owning an apartment is an excellent investment. But what if the TV next door is a little too loud? What if the neighbors have noisy pets, or there’s construction going on nearby? What if your house is located near an airport? Living with all this extra noise can be frustrating.
In this post we’ll discuss different methods you can employ to soundproof walls that border noisy neighbors. We'll also guide you through the process of selecting the best noise canceling materials and how best to install them.
Whether you're a respectful tenant looking to contain the noise pollution coming from your own apartment or a property owner looking to appease your tenants, read on for all the information you’ll need to sound-proof your property.
What is Soundproofing? And Why Do You Need it?
Soundproofing is a means to block noise from entering or emanating from a space or confined area.
More specifically, it can be employed to reduce the noise pollution between rooms and from within an interior space, such as the noise produced by conversation or televisions, or to reduce external noise permeating a space from outside activity, such as the noise from construction or traffic.
Soundproofing can involve adding material to a wall to reduce sound transmission, structural vibrations, and echo. While you may not consider vibrations and echo traditional noise pollution, they can certainly be solved by adding noise-canceling material to your walls.
Here are several valid reasons you may want to soundproof your home:
- You value privacy
- Outside noise irritates people within your home
- You have noisy pets that bother your neighbors
- Noise pollution interferes with sound recording
As an added benefit, soundproofing your home may also increase the value of your property, as it provides tenants and residents the security and privacy most people look for when choosing a place to live.
Methods You Can Use To Soundproof a Wall Between Apartments
There are numerous methods you can use to soundproof walls within and between apartments. We'll outline four of the most popular methods below:
Adding Mass Within A Wall
Adding mass within your walls is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to soundproof your apartment.
- You can install thicker drywall or add another layer of drywall to one or both sides of a wall, including insulation between the layers if possible
- A layer of fiberglass batting can be wrapped around the wall's studs, followed by a layer of gypsum board
- A soundboard can add mass to a wall, preventing air gaps between drywall and insulation
- The wall will have a higher STC rating
- It will be more difficult for noise to penetrate the layers of drywall and insulation
- Additional mass blocks high-frequency sounds
- Great way to maintain privacy
- Simple and easy to install
- Efficient use of space
Reducing noise transmission through walls is one of the most affordable ways to improve the acoustics of your environment.
- The presence of electrical wires or plumbing within a wall can complicate the process and make adding mass more difficult and expensive
Adding a Barrier
Tacking a sound barrier onto a wall between apartments is another great way to go.
For example, you can hang acoustic panels or soundproof blankets on the walls of your apartment to reduce noise.
One way to do this would be to add mass-loaded vinyl barriers along an apartment’s interior, and then covering them with a layer of drywall.
Mass-loaded vinyl is a noise-canceling material that is commonly used in the construction industry to reduce sound transmission through walls.
- Cost-effective way to soundproof your walls and block outside noise, such as traffic and construction
- Helps prevent air leaks by sealing the gaps between the wall and barrier
- The barrier may take up valuable room within your apartment, especially if you're limited on space
Adding A Soundproof Door
If noise pollution comes through a door in your home, you can alway install a soundproof door.
A solid core wood-frame door with weatherstripping is an excellent way to go.
Solid core doors have less hollow space than regular doors which allows them to block noise entering your apartment or home more effectively.
- Prevents most noise that would otherwise permeate through a door
- A seamless addition to your home, and more permanent than acoustic panels or soundproof blankets
- It allows you to enjoy music without disturbing your neighbors
- The cost of installing a new door can be quite expensive, and its cost effectiveness will depend on your budget
Fixing Gaps And Cracks
Gaps and cracks in a wall can be sealed with caulk or soundproofing tape to prevent the transmission of noise.
You can use weatherstripping to seal off gaps between ceiling and floor or around the windows and doors in your apartment.
- The cost of sealing gaps and cracks is quite affordable compared to other methods of soundproofing
- Can be accomplished without hiring a professional
- It's not as effective at blocking sound transmission through walls as other methods, such as installing acoustic panels or soundproof blankets
Dampening Vibrations in Your Walls
The most common method of noise-cancellation involves adding insulation to each side of an existing wall or installing drywall with soundproofing tape between the layers of your walls.
You can dampen vibrations by:
- Installing resilient channels, which are metal strips that attach drywall to studs
- Placing a plywood panel over your drywall instead of mounting the drywall directly on the studs
- Installing a layer of wood-fiber soundboard (similar to drywall but thicker) over your existing drywall before installing another layer of drywall on top of it
- Using green glue or a similar product between two layers of gypsum board when building new walls from scratch
- Can be applied to existing walls as well as new ones
- One of the most effective ways to dampen vibrations
- May take time and effort to implement this technique properly
- There are a lot of different products available, so it can be difficult to choose which is best
Which Method is Right for You?
The best method of soundproofing a wall between apartments will vary depending on the construction of your walls and the level of noise you are trying to block.
Tips To Help You Choose The Right Method:
- If your walls are made of lightweight materials such as wood or drywall, adding mass is the best way to soundproof them
- If your walls have a lot of recessed areas or protrusions, you'll need to use a barrier method to achieve effective noise reduction
- If you are trying to block high-frequency noises such as music or animal sounds, you'll need to use absorbing and damping materials
- If you are trying to block low-frequency noises such as construction sounds, adding mass is the best way to go
- If you're looking for the most affordable option, adding mass may be right for you
- If you need to dampen vibrations, using resilient channels or a plywood panel is your best bet
- If insulation is what you're after, cellulose and/or spray foam are both good choices
Tips for Getting the Job Done Properly
Once you’ve picked the method of soundproofing that’s right for you, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when getting the job done:
- If you are adding mass, make sure that the new layer of drywall is flush with the old one. This will help reduce noise transmission and prevent moisture damage
- If using a barrier method, make sure the air gap is at least two inches wide
- If using sound absorbing and dampening materials, make sure they cover the entire surface of what you’re looking to soundproof
- Ensure that seams between panels or sheets are taped or caulked to prevent leakage
- If using a layered approach, make sure the materials are installed properly
By following these tips, you can be sure that the walls between apartments will be properly soundproofed, thereby blocking noise from traveling through them.
Noise can be quite the annoyance, whether it's coming from your upstairs neighbor or traffic on the street outside. For those looking for an effective way to soundproof a wall between apartments, there are several different methods you can try.
The method that is right for you will depend on the construction of your walls and the level of noise you’re trying to block.
By following the tips listed above, you can be sure that your walls will be properly soundproofed.