Noise complaints are part and parcel of living in an apartment building, no matter how thick the walls are. Being on the receiving end of a complaint is a whole different story, however, and while making at least some noise is just inevitable as part of daily life, there are plenty of ways to “soundproof” your routine, or at least muff it down enough that you’ll be a model tenant for as long as you live in that complex.
The following are tips to help you reduce (or outright cancel) most of the noises that come from daily housekeeping habits, such as cleaning around, and since not everything in life is work, a few other entries on the list deal with the noise that comes from entertainment, such as watching TV, listening to music, and so on. Let’s check them out!
Change your TV and speaker layout
Perhaps the first and most important cause of noise complaints is TVs and speakers. These are infamously ill-designed for rooms with shared walls and floors/ceilings (particularly subwoofers, considering most of them have the speaker pointed downwards). Placing them on a corner will have the bass bouncing off of every nearby surface in a very tight space, so try moving them away from shared walls as much as you can. Try placing area rugs, carpet tiles, and other such materials under and in front of them.
Don’t just block sound, absorb it
When sound travels around spaces, it bounces off hard surfaces but is absorbed (or stopped) by soft ones, such as thick fabrics. By applying layers of these kinds of materials, such as cotton, felts or foam, you can “soundproof” your room, although furniture and some room dividers can help you as well. Yes, it won’t stop every little vibration dead in its tracks, but it’s a huge help when it comes to softening loud noises overall. You can take the chance to redecorate with some upholstered furniture as well since they absorb sounds as well.
Cooperate to deal with thin ceilings and walls
The best way to deal with the sound of footsteps is laying down carpet or an area rug, but you’ll obviously need permission from your co-op board or landlord. If the problem is too big, choose a thicker-than-usual fabric for it. In the case of thin walls being the issue, opt for thick furniture when decorating, such as bookshelves, and ask your shared wall neighbor to do the same with theirs (or at least to put up fabric or foam on their walls).
About your laundry room...
Next, to home entertainment systems, laundry machines and dryers are the most aggressively loud appliances in a home and nowhere does that ring truer than in small apartments. The best course of action would be to add some insulation to your walls since it’s easy and one of the most low-budget solutions available, but you might not be willing to go through with the renovations needed; in that case, acoustic panels will help you reduce some decibels when doing your laundry. If none of that helps, you might need to upgrade your washing machine to a more silent model. The latter option has the added benefit of being more energy-efficient and make your clothes last longer.
Sometimes, all you can do is talk
Many factors contribute to noise amplification, from the thinness of the walls to the overall layout of the apartment, which means that, sometimes, making too much noise will be inevitable despite how many anti-noise measures you apply. If such a scenario should come up, don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbors and try coming up with shared solutions, or even finding out if they care that much about the noise. You can come to terms with them about when’s the best time to watching loud movies, doing the laundry, and generally making all the noise that comes about with daily life. They’ll be thankful that you took the first step, trust us!
It’s a bit of a cop-out, but using headphones for all your media consumption needs can save you more than a couple of noise complaints down the line. Investing in a quality pair of headphones (preferably cordless ones so you can move about freely) is not cheap, but there are plenty of cost-effective options out there. If all else fails, there’s always that.
Most DIY methods are very effective when it comes to removing noise, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop your life completely just to appease your neighbors. There’s still housekeeping to think of, but if you don’t trust yourself to do it as quiet as possible (or don’t particularly care to do it), cleaning crews are an excellent way to get the whole place sparkling without investing too much time on it.