Noise issues are almost inevitable in an apartment complex.
The noise can come from different sources including airborne noise and impact noise. Exposure to the noise of 85 decibels (dBA) or more for more than 8 hours can lead to health problems.
If you are about to rent an apartment, you should make sure that it is soundproof. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional to tell if an apartment is soundproof.
Here are some things to check to tell if an apartment is soundproof or not. In case some of these are missing in your apartment (or the one you’re planning to rent), you can also get these to reduce noise.
1. Look at the quality of the construction material
You should look at the construction material to determine if the apartment is soundproof. Different construction materials allow different levels of noise to travel within the building.
Thick concrete materials are expensive but they will minimize the noise from the neighbors and outside. Brick walls prevent airborne noise from getting through the wall.
Building materials can have sound absorption and soundproofing properties. Sound absorption materials minimize the noise but they are mostly used to improve the acoustics of the room.
In contrast, soundproofing materials are used to block the noise from coming in and out of the rooms.
Soundproofing building materials creates a space between the walls to block noise from traveling to the other sound.
Vibrations travel due to the cavity between the fails. Cavity-free building materials are used for soundproofing the apartment.
2. Check if the floors are soundproof
You should also check out the floors of the apartment. Soundproof floors help block impact noise which is quite common in multistory buildings.
They dampen the noise of footsteps and other noises from being carried to space above or below.
Different materials are used for soundproofing the floors. An underlayment and floor joist isolators are the most common methods used in apartments to soundproof the floors.
Underlayments can be designed for wood, tile, and carpet flooring. They are preferred since they are easy to install.
Moreover, they can also be installed on different types of surfaces. The underlayments similar to a carpet are rolled out across the floor before installing the final floor material.
A waterproof barrier is applied to the underlayment in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Floor Joist Isolators
Floor joist isolators are also used as a means to prevent impact noise from carrying from one room to another.
They are U-shaped materials that are installed on individual floor studs. The materials decouple the floors from the walls and the building foundation.
You can detect floor joists in an apartment as they are visible. Installing floor joist isolators is harder. But they are worth it as they block low-noise waves from traveling between rooms.
3. Soundproof walls can help reduce noise
Soundproof insulation materials serve as a buffer between the walls.
The insulation material is generally installed between the metal or wood studs behind the drywall.
This ensures that sound does not travel between the rooms.
Isolation rails are also used to soundproof the walls. They are attached to the individual studs within the walls.
Similar to the floor joist isolators, isolation rails absorb the vibrations and noise. They can also be used in addition to other soundproofing materials like insulation pads.
Additionally, soundproofing boards are also used to block noise from carrying between rooms. Different types of soundproofing boards offer different soundproofing benefits.
The most common types of soundproofing boards include mass loaded vinyl and dense rubber laminate boards. These materials are placed on either side of the plasterboard.
Using soundproofing boards is recommended for party walls shared with a noise flatmate. The boards are installed by screwing on the wall.
The boards are cut to size to ensure that the entire wall is covered from top to bottom. The board acts as a sound barrier that absorbs vibrations thereby preventing noise from transferring between rooms.
Lastly, acoustic foams are also used to soundproof the walls. They are similar to styrofoam that has heat insulation properties.
The acoustic foams are usually used for soundproofing recording studios. But they can also be used for soundproofing a residential apartment.
Acoustic foams dissipate the sound energy into the foam as heat. This is made possible due to the foam’s open cell structure that results in increased air resistance as sound waves contact the foam.
If you want to create a recording studio in the apartment, the acoustic foam will greatly improve the room’s acoustics.
It will help in reducing the echo resulting in a crisp and clear voice. The foam will prevent noise from leaking outside the room.
For the best results, you should consider combining the acoustic foam material with other types of soundproofing material.
Walls dividing the apartment rooms should have a space between them to absorb the noise. If there is no cavity between the walls, the noise will travel between the rooms.
You should ask the property owner for the installation of a soundproofing board if there are noisy neighbors.
4. Check for soundproof windows and doors
You should also look at the doors and windows to see if they are soundproofed.
Windows and doors allow airborne noise to penetrate the rooms. Different materials are used to block noise from entering the windows and doors.
Also read: How to Soundproof an Apartment Door?
Weather-stripping materials on doors and windows indicate that the apartment is soundproofed. The materials are used for sealing the opening of the door and windows to prevent leaks.
It is done to prevent rain, wind, and water from getting inside the windows and doors.
Since weather-stripping materials prevent the draft from coming inside the rooms, they also help in the soundproofing of the rooms.
An apartment may have different types of weather-stripping materials.
- Felt – Felt is normally placed around the windows and doors sash. When the window or door is closed, the felt is compressed that creates a seal that blocks airborne noise. While felt is a good choice for insulation, it has to be replaced after a few years.
- V Strip – V Strip is made of plastic V strips that are generally used on windows. They are used to close gaps in the windows. These are more suited to stop moisture rather than sound.
- Insulation Foam – Insulation foams are installed by peeling the sticker and sticking on the window or door sash. A tight seal will be created when the window and door are closed. Foam weatherstripping is more durable as compared to felt.
Weather-stripping will prevent rain and a draft from coming inside the house. Moreover, the materials will also prevent sound leaking outside the room.
The weather-stripping materials can also be combined with acoustic foams for blocking noise. There are also specialized soundproofing techniques for windows and doors.
Double and Triple Pane Soundproof Windows
Double and triple-pane windows are used to soundproof the room. These windows have multiple panes that block noise from entering the rooms.
The space between the two panes absorbs the noise. This greatly reduces the noise entering the apartment.
Additionally, there are special soundproof windows and doors used for blocking noises. The acoustic industry uses the sound transmission class (STC) to grade the ability of the windows to transfer noise.
Traditional single-pane windows have an STC of 28, while the average dual pane windows have an STC of 28.
In contrast, soundproof windows have an STC between 45 and 50 that are capable of blocking 95 percent of noise.
Sound Dampening Rails and Sweeps
Sound dampening rails that are designed for windows and doors can also block the noise.
Moreover, soundproofing door sweeps are installed to soundproof the doors.
5. Soundproof curtains help with noise reduction
Apartments that are soundproofed should contain soundproof curtains. Moreover, soundproof blankets on the walls also indicate the apartment has been soundproofed.
Soundproof curtains have less sound insulation properties than blankets, but they make up for it in their different styles. You can find different colors and styles of soundproof materials.
These are generally denser, thicker, and heavier than traditional curtains.
The most effective soundproof curtains have tipple weave technology. These are manufactured by stacking three layers of woven materials on top of the other. The middle layer of the curtain is made of high-density yarn.
Apart from blocking the noise, soundproof curtains also act as shades. They block the light from outside during the night allowing you to enjoy a restful sleep.
The curtains can absorb noise waves preventing them to bounce off the walls and furniture.
Noise pollution can create serious health problems if they persist for too long. You should not tolerate noise within an apartment.
Excessive noise due to traffic and other sources can disturb the sleep and lead to physiological and psychological problems.
A soundproof apartment will prevent negative health effects due to noise. The tips mentioned here will help you make sure that the apartment is soundproof so that you won’t be bothered by noise after you move in.
Some of the signs of an apartment that is soundproofed include thick walls, acoustic foams, double-paned windows, and insulation foams.
You should also look at windows, doors, and curtains to know if the apartment is soundproofed.
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