Apartment dwellers are often faced with unwanted noise from their neighbors next door. It could be a child playing a loud musical instrument, noise from pets, or noisy parties. However, soundproofing apartment walls isn’t an easy project.
There are several considerations you need to factor in. The very first step is to figure out what situation you are in. Do you have a particular spot that seems to be the problem? Is there more than one spot? Could it be the door, windows, ceiling, floor, or walls? Any of these could be an issue.
The answers you provide to these questions can help point you in the right direction. This article will focus on how to soundproof thin apartment walls. Typically, when you select an apartment, the walls aren’t really considered.
When choosing an apartment, the most important factors are location, cost, size, and safety. However, apartments tend to have extremely thin walls as they are easy to transport, build, and cheap. Trying to change this typically requires construction; however, that is nearly impossible in an apartment.
This article aims to show you how to soundproof apartment walls without any construction.
Soundproofing Apartment Walls Without Construction
1. Seal Holes and Place Furniture
This option is perhaps the most economical solution and the most common one. The first thing to do is check for any visible holes on your walls and then seal them. You might even have to reposition or put in additional furniture to fill in any empty spaces you might have. This process involves you making the best use of your already existing things. When it comes to moving furniture around to act as a sound barrier, you can use large furniture, particularly pieces that have been upholstered using plush fabrics such as corduroy, chenille, suede, or microfiber materials.
The more furniture you have against your wall, the more you improve sound absorption without throwing the room’s décor out of balance. One thing to note is that your furniture shouldn’t touch the wall when doing this.
If your furniture touches the wall, the sound can seamlessly bridge the gap. Additionally, the holes in apartment walls can be an effective conduit for sound transmission, so you should always keep an eye out for them and seal them.
2. Repainting Walls Using Sound Dampening Paint
Certain circles doubt the efficacy of soundproofing apartment walls using sound dampening paint. This is because while sound dampening paint can work well to limit the noise from other apartment units, it is only effective at certain noise levels. Before soundproofing your apartment using sound dampening paint, you need to evaluate the type of noise you need to remove from adjacent apartments.
If the noise isn’t so much, then you can forgo other time-consuming and expensive soundproofing methods on this list, such as textile mats, acoustic foam panels, and moving furniture around.
Sound dampening paint is ideally suited for combating mid-frequency noise. This means that the soundproofing paint should be used to soundproof a shared wall in an apartment. It won’t be as effective if you try to use this paint for dog barks or loud music.
The good thing about sound dampening paint is that you don’t need to paint your entire apartment with it. All you have to do is identify the spots that require soundproofing, then go over that spot with about three or more layers of the soundproof paint.
3. Hanging Mass Loaded Vinyl on Apartment Walls
MLV or mass-loaded vinyl is a coating material that, when applied, can soundproof walls. It is a heavy and limp sheeting used to coat metal, ceramic, and plastic materials. All the components added to the MLV give it extra weight, thereby increasing its soundproof properties.
Mass loaded vinyl can typically be used with other methods highlighted in this article, such as residential soundproof curtains and furniture placement.
It is important to note that not all vinyl materials are suitable for soundproofing walls. They need to have the proper density and not just be made of rubber. For instance, while yoga mats are made of rubber, they do not have sufficient soundproof properties to soundproof an apartment wall effectively.
4. Using Acoustic Panels on Shared Walls
Acoustic panels can also be used to soundproof your apartment walls without any construction. These are typically available as fabrics or boards that can be hung on walls. A great thing about these panels is that they have a dual purpose.
Not only are they designed to prevent noise from bouncing off hard surfaces, ensuring that whatever racket is happening in other units doesn’t disturb you, they can also be decorative, assuring that the overall décor of your apartment is not negatively impacted.
You can use acoustic panels on your windows, doors, and walls. While it can effectively soundproof your wall, it can also cover any sound transmitted through an air gap.
5. Mounting Acoustic Foam On Shared Walls
Sound tends to reflect off of hard surfaces. If you have any bare walls, any sound that comes into the apartment will bounce around it, causing a disturbance. The most effective way to combat this is to place something on the surface to reflect sound seamlessly. This can be done using rubber textile mats, acoustic foam, or just about any soft material.
Acoustic foam has been specifically created to stop sound from bouncing off surfaces. It can help soften any noise within the apartment and absorb sound coming from nearby units.
As stated earlier, rigid walls efficiently reflect noise, so soft materials such as acoustic foam panels can come in handy. Acoustic foam is made out of high-quality foam, and it typically comes in a distinctive pyramid or wedge shape, which absorbs sound effectively. Alternatively, you can get acoustic foams that come with wooden frames, as many experts have claimed this version works better.
Acoustic foam panels can be attached using spray adhesive or hook and loop strips to your apartment walls. You can also choose to mount acoustic foam panels to your ceiling for more efficiency.
6. Putting Up a Soundproof Curtain
If the offending wall is relatively thin, you can add heavy materials to the wall as a way of soundproofing. Heavy items, like a soundproof curtain, can better resist vibration, thereby reducing sound transmission. In recent times, there has been a market for residential soundproof curtain options that can help with unwanted noise.
When hanging bulky items on the wall to soundproof an apartment, you need to be specific about the type of material you use. For example, using old mattresses made out of polyester, velvet, silk, or cotton won’t cut it as these materials aren’t sufficiently dense to achieve any significant noise reduction.
A soundproof curtain is a much better option. Unlike regular curtains, soundproof curtains have a thicker and heavier design, which helps them significantly reduce the amount of noise transmitted.
Tips to Remember and What to Avoid When Soundproofing Apartment Walls Without Construction
To get the most effective outcome, sound experts recommend combining a number of the methods mentioned in this article. For example, you could choose to combine sound dampening paint with acoustic panels or foam to provide you with all-around protection from errant noise and irritant sound.
Before trying out some of the tips mentioned in this article, there are a few myths concerning soundproofing that you should know about. Understanding these myths could help reduce your workload and the propensity of error when soundproofing your apartment.
For instance, most people believe that yoga mats and old mattresses can provide adequate soundproofing, but that isn’t the case. You mustn’t attempt anything that appears doomed to fail from the beginning.
Using Egg Crate Cardboard Holders
You should also steer clear of egg crate cardboard holders for soundproofing apartment walls. Most people believe that they can be a great substitute because they have a similar shape to acoustic foam. This couldn’t be further from the truth as they are ineffective at blocking or absorbing sound. The materials used to make egg crate cardboard holders are porous and low density, causing noise to simply pass through them rather than stopping it.
Using Mattresses or Carpets
Other materials that people use are mattresses or carpets on the walls. The reasoning behind this is that carpets have fluffy and soft surfaces, which in theory could prevent sound waves from bouncing all over the room. And while this reasoning is valid to some extent, as the sounds created in the room are absorbed, it cannot stop noise from leaving or entering the room. Carpets can be excellent sound absorbers; however, they are ineffective at dealing with outgoing and incoming noise.
Having Dark Colored Walls
Another myth that people believe when soundproofing your apartment walls is that dark-colored walls can somehow make the room feel quieter. While dark-colored walls can make the room appear smaller and quieter, your ears won’t be fooled by what is essentially an illusion.
The color of the walls can play an integral role in how a place feels and looks; however, it cannot affect the quality of sound or its movement. And it goes without saying, and it doesn’t block out noise either.
These soundproofing myths and errors are collectively believed to be helpful and true; however, they have no basis. There are an unlimited number of techniques. Since the options are limitless, it is wise to invest your money and time in something that is actually effective. As a result, you should purchase and utilize accurate soundproof materials, installing them using the proper techniques.
The last thing you want to do when soundproofing apartment walls is to go over your soundproofing technique over and over again simply because the job wasn’t done right the first time. That is why it is essential first to assess the situation and then conduct comprehensive research before purchasing anything.
Understanding the science behind soundproofing can help you determine the most cost-effective and appropriate overall sound reduction solution for you and your unique situation.
The most effective way to soundproof any space in an apartment or anywhere else is to soundproof the walls. And while you can choose to soundproof other places such as the doors, windows, floor, and ceiling, the place with the largest surface area are the walls.
Walls can be a source of sound leakage, making them a great place to solve any irritant sound problems. Since walls are typically more significant than any of the other parts of a home mentioned earlier, soundproofing them can go a long way to significantly reducing the level of noise you experience from different spots in an apartment.
This is why your walls must be your priority. Once your walls have been soundproofed, you can move onto the other areas of your apartment as a bonus. If you notice that you are still hearing sounds, even after your shared apartment walls have been soundproofed, then it could be that the sound is coming from somewhere else. You may also want to consider a white noise machine that can help drown out sound transmission through a thin wall as you try to sleep.
Once you are done dealing with your walls and shared walls, you can move towards soundproofing your windows and doors as they are the second place where sound tends to travel. Doing this might require additional research to ensure you effectively soundproof these spaces. Research can help you assess the problem spots and how you can effectively tackle them without having to spend an arm and a leg.
Now you have all the information to create a sound barrier to ensure that irritant noise from your neighbors doesn’t bother you anymore.