How to Dampen Noise in an Apartment

Apartment life is often the most convenient choice, though it may not always be the quietest experience.

From noisy neighbors to street noise, you may be desperate for quiet.

Thankfully, you can find peace in your home when you know how to dampen noise in an apartment.

Identify the Source of Noise

What noises cause you to cringe? Dealing with a noisy neighbor upstairs is different from road traffic outside, and they require different solutions.

In general, there are three primary reasons you have too much noise in your apartment:

  1. Your doors and windows have cracks and crevices which are unable to prevent the noise from coming in
  2. Wall, floor, or ceiling noise occurs when you have insufficient padding.
  3. Reflection noise bounces around the room and seems louder than it is

It’s important to determine the actual culprit of your noise issue.

Correcting window and door noise when your problem is reflection noise won’t help your situation much.

Now let’s talk about possible solutions to make sure you get some quiet in the apartment.

Soundproofing Doors and Windows

Doors and windows don’t always have the best seals around them.

Factor in cheaper products to keep costs down, and it’s easy to understand how apartments aren’t quite soundproof.

While you probably can’t replace all of the doors and windows, there are some tricks you can try to help the issue.

Also read: How to Soundproof an Apartment Door?

Weatherproofing

Have you ever noticed light coming through the edges of your doors? That means the weatherstrips either wore down or were never installed.

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Thankfully, it’s a relatively affordable, easy fix that can work for windows as well! 

Weatherstripping can also improve your utility bills by minimizing the air passing through those cracks.

You can pick some up at your local hardware or home improvement store (or buy these online).

Try Draft Stoppers

Whether you buy one or make your own, draft stoppers can cut noise from under your door or along a window sill. 

Door Draft Stopper - Weather Stripping Noise Blocker, Adjustable 34" to 36" for Sound Dust Proof, Saving Energy Under Door Guard (Black)

You can attach rubber or foam stoppers to the back of a door. They can be removable or permanent, but have low profiles, so they aren’t noticeable.

Some people make or buy portable versions made from fabric and filled with foam, beans, or rice.

This style can double as decor, especially if you swap them out seasonally. 

Soundproofing Curtains

Have you ever heard of blackout curtains that block light?

The same theory applies to soundproofing curtains that act like heavy blankets over windows. 

NICETOWN Grey Full Shade Curtain Panels, Pair of Energy Smart & Noise Blocking Out Blackout Drapes for Dining Room Window, Thermal Insulated Guest Room Lined Window Dressing(Gray, 52 x 84 inch)

You can easily find some that match your decor, but these absorb sound. Note that soundproofing curtains can weigh up to fifteen pounds and move differently.

If your doors are the major noise offenders, soundproofing curtains can work there as well.

Window Inserts

For those who love the natural light but not the noise, window inserts can help.

The acrylic or glass panels fit over your windows to minimize noise without impeding your view. 

If you decide on window inserts, look for the kind that easily pops out. You can take them with you when you move.

How to Dampen Other Noises 

You probably can’t make significant alterations to the walls, ceiling, and floors.

Don’t lose hope! There are creative and affordable ways to dampen noise without permanent changes.

Bookshelves Along Walls Reduce Sound Reflection

Built-in bookshelves make a statement, create storage, and dampen sound. However, they can be costly and permanent fixtures, unless you do a faux built-in unit.

Pick up a few of the same bookshelves, depending on the size of your wall.

Line them up to give the appearance of a built-in unit for a fraction of the cost. 

Plus, you can sell them or take them with you.

Pro Tip: If possible, keep your bookshelves in a corner. Corners in a room are big culprits in reflecting sound waves which increases noise. A bookshelf (with books) in the corner will absorb sounds and dampen the noise

Rearrange Your Furniture

If you’re noticing significant noise coming through a particular wall in your home, you can try shifting furniture around so there’s more than just a wall between you and the noise. 

You may want to set furniture against the walls in every room.

When furniture fills your walls it reduces the amount of plaster and drywall that can reflect sound and muffles ambient noise.

It’s a good idea to keep beds away from windows and doors. Place televisions on the same wall as a neighbor’s so that the sounds cancel out.

Choose Large Pieces/Decorations

Even in a small space, using larger pieces to fill the walls can do wonders for reflective noise.

Armoire, display cabinets, and bookshelves round out your decor and quiet your space.

Add books, souvenirs, and plants to fill the shelves and further reduce open space that reflects noise.

Outfit furniture with oversized throw pillows to create an attractive, layered look that also buffers unwanted sounds.

Keep Some Plants

Plants have many benefits in homes, including noise reduction. 

You probably can’t introduce noise-reducing shrubs to your apartment’s landscaping. However, you can have plants in your apartment. 

Try to select large, leafy plants that can improve the acoustics in your room and reduce external noise.

Ferns, Peace Lilies, and Rubber Plants make excellent choices.

Again, keeping plants in the corner will help the most in dampening the noise

Hang Art or Tapestries

Show off your style with art or tapestries that can occupy large spaces on walls. It’s an easy way to reduce empty wall space, and the pieces absorb sound instead of reflecting it.

Try to choose thicker pieces with multiple layers. 

If you appreciate canvas art, you can add foam or felt to the back for an additional sound dampening effect.

In a pinch, you can hang blankets over walls and windows to help soundproof a room. Some people even invest in soundproofing blankets or quilts.

Rugs and Floor Pads

Though hardwood floors look lovely, they make too much noise. Ceramic and tile flooring can amplify sound. 

Rugshop Vintage Distressed Bohemian Area Rug 5' x 7' Multi

Even wall-to-wall carpet can be an issue, and thin flooring can make anyone sound like a herd of elephants.

Apartment complexes don’t usually use high-quality carpeting and padding. 

Try a large area rug to remedy floor noise, and beautify your space. Using rugs can also prevent sound amplification.

For extra noise protection, place thick padding or a rubber floor pad under the rug.

The best part is that you can pick nearly any pattern, color, or design to add excitement to your space.

Area rugs even work with carpet because the more padding between you and the underlying plywood, the better.

They also protect the carpet from damage.

Introduce White Noise

Sometimes adding white noise to a room can help, especially at night. White noise works by masking outside sounds, including cars on the street and noisy neighbors.

White noise is an affordable solution that you can take with you when you move.

You can try something as simple as a fan facing the wall or invest in a white noise machine.

For a quick fix, download a white noise app on your phone or tablet. 

Acoustic Panels or Foam

Acoustic panels and foam absorbs sound and enhances sound quality in a room. You get less external noise and better internal sound with either of these options.

12 Pack - Acoustic Foam Panels, 2" X 12" X 12" Mushroom Studio Wedge Tiles, Sound Panels wedges Soundproof Sound Insulation Absorbing, 9 Block Mushroom Design

Unfortunately, traditional acoustic panels require installation with screws, nails, anchors, or spray adhesive, meaning approval from your landlord. 

However, there are portable acoustic panels that won’t ruin the walls. Some sit on stands or have wheels so that you can move them around as needed.

You can also use push pins or command strips to hang some acoustic foam. That means you could apply it to walls and ceilings.

If you’re worried about aesthetic appeal, acoustic foam comes in various colors. Pick the one that works best with your decor.

Room Dividers

Placing mobile folding screens or panels against the wall is a non-permanent solution for thin walls. 

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It might sound a little industrial, but panels and screens don’t interfere with the drywall at all. They create an extra barrier between you and your neighbor that you can move as needed.

Pick up a decorative screen that fits with your aesthetic. Fabric panels can further reduce noise.

You could also opt for the plain, office-style panel on wheels but decorate it to match your decor.

Room-Specific Soundproofing Tips

It’s no secret that bathrooms need a little more discretion than others. Laundry rooms make more noise.

The Bathroom

Flushing toilets and shower sounds can be a nuisance. A few easy fixes can help with that issue.

  • Use tall bathroom organizers to fill as much open space as possible
  • Pack towels and washcloths around the room since textiles dampen noise
  • Add some plants if possible

The Laundry Room

Washers and dryers make so much noise, mostly because they vibrate on the floor.

Since most laundry floors are tile, hardwood, ceramic, or linoleum, it reverberates and amplifies.

  • Use rugs to dampen the floor vibration, especially rubber mats that prevent slipping. 
  • Hang curtains and decor on empty walls, even if you use several small pieces.
  • Cloth hampers and clothing organizers can help with laundry day and dampen noise.

Creating a Quiet Space

Softening sound in your apartment can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. 

The best thing you can do is fill empty spaces around the room. Textiles, plants, area rugs, and large furniture pieces can absorb extraneous sounds to give you peace. 

Now that you know how to dampen noise in an apartment, you should be able to create a quiet space. 

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