Whether it's squealing garbage trucks, blaring car stereos, or the general buzz of foot traffic outside your window, the noise of the city can be draining. If you find that all the hubbub is making life at home maddening, you're not alone. For many apartment dwellers, disturbing and unwanted noise is a fact of life, one that often seems unavoidable. To absorb sound, consider solutions such as covering walls with acoustic panels and blankets, soundproofing your doors, and blocking windows with efficient window coverings. Read on for more ideas about how to soundproof a room or space so you can go about your day or night undisturbed.
4 Easy Soundproofing Tricks
Fortunately, no matter where you live or what kind of space you have, soundproofing is an option. While this may conjure images of renovations and draining bank accounts, there are many ways you can cut out noise without needing to blow your savings or reconstruct your home. Soundproofing doesn't have to be complicated, it can be cheap, and even the simplest DIY strategies can make a big difference. You just need to know the right materials that can absorb or block sound, whether it's coming from inside or outside of the room.
Consider Acoustic Panels
Acoustic panels are available as boards or fabrics that you hang on walls. While most types are designed to stop noise from bouncing off hard surfaces, others are very effective at blocking racket from entering through a door or window. For example, the AcousticDoor from Residential Acoustics is a retractable panel that can reduce noise transmitted through an entrance, like your bedroom door, by 30 decibels. Inside each panel is a dense 25-pound core made up of sound-muffling materials.
Weatherproof Your Front Door
If you hear every conversation spoken in the building hallway from the comfort of your sofa, chances are there are big air gaps around your front door. Sealing these leaks will quiet the chatter by blocking the sound from coming in. Sound travels on air, and any gap you can see light through will also let sound through.
If you have a large gap under your apartment door, add a door sweep. Use a commercial-grade sweep with a thick rubber strip that seals against the threshold. This will also help keep out dust, bugs, and drafts as well as noise. If the rest of the door doesn't close tightly against the door jambs, seal along the sides and top of the door with foam weatherstripping.
Hang Door Curtains
You can create another layer of soundproofing over the front door with heavy blackout curtains. When closed, they help to absorb any noise that leaks through the door.
Soundproof a Bedroom Door
As with the front door, gaps under interior doors let a lot of sound through, as though the door is partially open. Fill the gaps with a draft stopper, either purchased or homemade. The most convenient versions attach to the door (usually with an elastic band) so you don't have to set them into place all the time.
Reduce Reflected Noise
Noise reflects off of hard surfaces, like walls, floors, and ceilings, adding to the overall noise level inside a room. To reduce sound reflection with material to absorb the sound, cover bare walls and even ceilings with something soft, so sounds like voices, barking, or even the commotion created by a running vacuum cleaner won't reflect. A shag rug on the ceiling and rubber textile mats on the walls softens annoying noise within the apartment while also absorbing racket from the adjacent units.
Get a Thick Rug Pad
You probably know that nothing muffles pesky sounds in a high-traffic area like a carpet. So if you have hard floors, it makes sense to throw down a thick rug. But here's a little-known tip: Slipping a density rug pad underneath it will boost your rug's noise squashing potential. This also helps to reduce the din of sounds coming from your downstairs neighbors.
Muffle Sounds With a Bookcase
Got a thin wall? Adding a wall-to-wall faux built-in is a sneaky trick that will muffle noise from the apartment next door. The idea is to add mass to the partition. Massive materials and objects resist vibration and thereby reduce sound transmission. Make sure the edges of the built-in fit snugly to the walls, floor, and ceiling so there are no air gaps, another avenue for sound.
Install Soundproof Curtains
Heavy-duty soundproofing window dressings help prevent outside noises from ruining your beauty sleep. An acoustic curtain for an average-size window can weigh 15 pounds and lies flat against the wall or window trim to block out sound and actually deflect it back outside. Some noise-absorbing curtains glide along tracks for easy opening and closing.
Soundproof Your Windows
If you're looking to block outside noise but not the view from your apartment, consider window inserts. They are clear panes of glass or acrylic that you install over your existing windows. They're designed to create an airtight seal that reduces outside noise by 50 percent or more. Some are designed to quickly pop out when they aren't needed, making it convenient to open the window for fresh air.
Does sound travel through cracks or gaps?
Absolutely! If there are any gaps or cracks around an outside door, for example, then any sound can come in or go out. Soundproof it by putting up weatherstripping and a door sweep.
Do soundproof curtains help?
Putting up soundproof curtains in your windows can cut down outside noise from coming in and actually divert it back to the outside.
How can you block noise between shared apartment walls?
Putting up large pieces of furniture against the wall between you and the neighbor's apartment can help reduce any noise. Also, hang sound-reducing fabrics and wall coverings on the shared wall.