How to Tell If an Apartment Is Soundproof? Things You Must Know


How to Tell If an Apartment Is Soundproof

How to tell if an apartment is soundproof? If you are looking for an apartment that could provide you with a quiet environment, then you might also ask the same question. In this post, I will share with you some tips on how to find a soundproof apartment.

One of the issues when renting an apartment is noise. Many years ago when I was a student, I had come across the same problem. The biggest mistake that I made was not checking the apartment unit before renting it.

As a result, my study time suffered. I guess you agree with me when I say that studying is hard when you hear all those singing, footsteps, shouting, and loud talking. It was too late when I realized that I was renting an apartment unit that had no soundproofing mechanisms.

So, how can you tell if an apartment is soundproof before making a decision to rent it?

Well, the simplest way to do it is to check some signs of soundproofing treatments. Basically, there are three main things you should see if an apartment unit is indeed a soundproof one:

  1. The door jamb is sealed
  2. There are drywalls installed in the walls and ceilings
  3. Soundproof window plugs are installed in windows
  4. There are soundproof curtains installed in windows
  5. There is a thick carpet on the floor

These things seem to just serve as decorations inside the unit. But they are not. If installed properly, all the things mentioned above help minimize the noise that is passing through the unit.

The problem with renting an apartment as all tenants know is that you cannot control the noise coming from the outside. This is because you don’t have any sort of control over your neighbors. This happens mostly in the apartment complex. The only control that you have is how you apply soundproofing materialsOpens in a new tab. to reduce the noise.

Because noise is a sound traveling in the air, it will easily penetrate on weak areas of the unit. In most cases, the walls, hollow doors, wall cracks, are the entry points of noise. Unfortunately, many apartments nowadays have thin and weak walls making the noise easy to penetrate.

Aside from walls, hollow doors, and the gaps in those window jambs all contribute to the noise problem. Understanding these problems, however, you can come up with a good strategy on how to soundproof an apartment unit.

Well, the best thing you can do to avoid this problem is to choose an apartment that is already been soundproofed. However, if you have found yourself renting an apartment unit that is not soundproof, you can do the following to solve your noise problem.

Simple Ways to Soundproof an Apartment

1. Soundproof the Door

As mentioned, most doors are hollow and therefore weak in protecting the whole room from noise. Thus, the door is one of the weak areas where the sound passes through. In addition, most door jambs also have gaps that serve as the entrance of the annoying noise.

If this is the case, there are some strategies you can implement to solve the problem. The following are some of them:

  • Seal the door jamb

The gap in the door jamb is a weak spot that allows the outside noise to pass through. So the best head-on solution is to seal it. Use a weather-stripping tape. This material comes with many options including rubber, foam, vinyl, and silicone.

Aside from working on door jambs, you can also seal the space between the lower part of the door and the floor. That space is a viable noise passage making your room unprotected from noise.

Fortunately, you can seal it using a door sweep (view my recommended door sweep on Amazon). This material does a very good job of blocking the outside noise from entering the room.

  • Cover the door

Supposed that, after the two techniques were done and you still hear those unwanted sounds from the outside, you can add a defense system that will potentially help eliminate the noise.

My other recommended technique is covering the door with rigid foam. The only drawback that I see with this material is that it does not look so good. However, the thickness that is added to the door will be of great help to minimize the noise.

2. Soundproof the Window

Apart from the door, the window is another weak spot in the room. In fact, it is the weakest area. If your apartment is nearby a busy street, the noise will be disturbing and could sabotage your sleep and concentration.

Fortunately, there is a technique you can apply to solve this problem. One being is the use of weather-stripping tape (click here to check itOpens in a new tab. on Amazon). Apply the tape on areas needed to be fixed.

Another material you can use to treat the window is window plug. This material is made of a soundproofing mat attached to a wooden board. It is easy to implement and requires no expertise at all.

The only drawback I have for this material is that it does not have an aesthetic feature that you might wish and it tends to block the light from entering the room. But if you are desperate in solving the problem, this material is the best option.

Lastly, and my most favorite way of treating windows is a soundproof curtain. This is the quickest and easiest way to treat the window as far as soundproofing goes. My recommended soundproof curtain (check my recommendOpens in a new tab.ed curtain on Amazon) does not only block sound or noise but also adds aesthetic features to the room. This curtain is thick enough to block sound.

Like a regular curtain, what you need to do is to hang the curtain on the window. And that’s it. You have a decoration and a soundproofing material that is easy to use.

3. Soundproof the Walls

Obviously, weak walls provide almost no defensive capability against outside noise or sound. Wooden walls are even worse. Fortunately, there are quick and easy techniques you can do to minimize the noise coming through the wall.

  • Rearrange the furniture

Pieces of furniture can help in reducing the noise from the outside if strategically arranged. Your sofas, couches, and even beds can help reduce the outside noise. This strategy works well in small rooms. Aside from this, you can also add décor on the wall. Those paintings can do the difference too. It is important to remember though that his technique does not completely block the noise but will definitely help achieve your goal of having a quitter place for sleep and study.

  • Install a drywall

Well, this is not a quick solution but probably the best. It is costly to add another layer of drywall but it will certainly worth it. The extra drywall will make the wall thicker thus making it better defense against the outside noise.

Another strategy is to install Mass Loaded Vinyl (click here to view my recommended MLVOpens in a new tab. on Amazon) between the layers of the drywall. The mass of the MLV will definitely help strengthen the soundproofing effect and block the outside noise.

  • Fix the cracks and gaps in the walls

Gaps and cracks are some of the reasons why the wall becomes weaker in blocking the outside noise. What you can do to make the wall a better defense against outside noise is to fix those gaps and cracks. You can easily do it using an acoustic caulk (click here to view this materialOpens in a new tab. on Amazon). Acoustic caulk is easy to apply and durable. If applied correctly, you’ll see a better result.

4. Soundproof the Ceiling

Doors, walls, and windows are not the only possible weak spots of the apartment unit. The ceiling is sometimes the weakest part unless you are occupying the top floor. If that is the case, the ceiling is the entrance of the annoying noise from the outside. Thankfully, there are ways you can do to fix it.

However, the following tips that I will share with you require approval from the landlord. In most cases, as I mentioned in my previous postOpens in a new tab., tenants have limited power in terms of making structural modifications of the unit rented.

If ever you are allowed by the lease, you can do the following:

  • Add drywall to the ceiling

Similar to walls, you can also add drywall on the ceiling to minimize the passing outside noise. The additional layer of the drywall makes the ceiling thicker and capable of blocking the noise especially from above. If you want, you can add two drywall layers to achieve even better results.

  • Add a drop ceiling

Another option you have is to add a drop ceiling. The drop ceiling is actually another layer of the ceiling below the existing one. This soundproofing technique is more effective than the technique mentioned above.

The drop ceiling creates a space between the existing and the lower ceiling. That space is important to holding and trapping the noise and keeping it from reaching the space below (the room). Acoustic panels are mostly used for this soundproofing project.

However, the only challenge of this soundproofing technique is that it requires a professional to install the materials needed. Therefore, it is expensive unless you do it yourself.

5. Soundproof the Floor

The floor can also be the weak spot of the room where the noise from the floor passes through. This commonly happens when you are living in an apartment that is primarily made of wood.

However, unlike soundproofing, the ceiling, working on the floor is a bit easier in my opinion. You can easily and quickly fix it using the following:

  • Adding carpets

Adding a thick carpet to the floor is probably the quickest way to dampen the noise. A thick carpet does a very good job of absorbing the noise and minimize it. If you want to go on this route, I suggest that you use a carpet that is thick enough to get a better result. You can check my favorite and recommended thick carpetOpens in a new tab. on Amazon.

Carpets do not only serve as soundproofing material but also add to the aesthetic feature to the room.

  • Add foam or rubber mats under the carpet

Sometimes, the noise can be intense making the carpet unable to block the sound. In that case, what you can do is to add foam or rubber floor mats (check this materialOpens in a new tab. on Amazon) under the carpet. Rubber mats are also effective in soundproofing the floor.

6. Some Alternative Ways to Deal with the Outside Noise

So far, all the techniques mentioned require modifications inside the apartment unit. However, not all of the tips are applicable to all situations. This is because, as you might know, not all rent contracts grant permission to a tenant to make repair inside the rented unit.

If that is your case, then none of the suggested soundproofing techniques mentioned are possible for you.

The good news is that there are quick ways you can get rid of those annoying noises. I will share with you a few tips you can use to lessen or at least minimize the noise.

  • Talk to your neighbors

Sometimes, talking to a neighbor is the quickest and best way to get rid of the noise. However, you need to be careful. Some people don’t like to listen to and consider others. But a calm request can be effective and convincing. If you do it right, you’ll have a quiet environment without having your apartment unit soundproofed.

  • Use a white noise machine

If talking to your neighbor did not work, it’s time to move to another strategy. My second recommendation is to use a white noise machine (check my recommended white noise machineOpens in a new tab. on Amazon). This machine does a very good job at drowning the outside noise. What it does is it emits a calming sound that overpowers the noise coming from the outside. You won’t hear the annoying noise but instead a calming sound from the machine.

  • Use noise-canceling headphones

Another strategy you can use is the use of noise-canceling headphones (check my favoriteOpens in a new tab. on Amazon). These things could quickly solve your noise problem and regain your focus on studying or better sleep. Headphones come in different types so choose the best one for you.

Final Thoughts on How to Tell If an Apartment is Soundproof

If you are about to rent an apartment, you need to make sure that it is soundproof. If you are not an expert, this is difficult. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to recognize a soundproof apartment unit from the one that is not.

Some of the indicators of a soundproofed apartment are sealed door jamb, there are drywalls installed in the walls and ceilings, the windows are equipped with soundproof window plugs, there are soundproof curtains in the windows, and thick carpet on the floor.

If you see these materials installed in an apartment unit, there is a high chance that the unit is indeed safe from outside noise.

I hope you found this post helpful.

Thank you for reading!

Related Question

Are condos soundproof?

In general, yes. However, some units have better soundproofing features than the other. In most cases, ordinary condos have minimum soundproofing capacity. While luxury condo has a better noise defense system.

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