Living in an apartment comes with a number of perks, from a lower rent versus a mortgage, or a smaller space to clean up versus a house, to simply lesser maintenance chores around the place you live.
But as a renter, there are limitations to what you can do to improve our living quarters, but what if you are living in an area where noise pollution is high? It could be due to living near a busy road, noisy neighbors above or next door, or generally poor soundproofing throughout the house.
Many of us have lived in a rental and have experienced our landlord delaying making improvements to the place, So, we’ve had to take things into our own hands. Before we made any changes though, we made sure to inform the landlord that these were not permanent fixtures and would not damage any part of the property.
Why do renters want to soundproof their apartment?
Well, apartment dwellers who want to make their apartment feet quieter will certainly want to look into this, especially if their options are limited to temporary fixes.
In the sections below, we will assume you cannot do much to your apartment construction-wise, and anything that you do will need to be removed when you leave.
Soundproofing Tips for Renters: The Strategies
There are a few ways to think about this project:
- You may want to dampen sounds within your apartment
- You may want to dampen sounds getting into your apartment
- It may be a mix of both
Keep in mind that it is not just about “blocking” sounds coming and going from the apartment. It’s also about the apartment itself and how it handles sound.
Quieting the apartment itself
Bare walls and floors, and hard flat surfaces will all echo and even to magnify sounds in your apartment. What can you do to prevent that?
- Adding items to the apartment can help absorb any sounds inside of it and make it quieter
- An empty apartment is a noisy apartment. Adding padded furniture such as couches or pillows will immediately help dampen the noise because these items absorb sound.
- Carpeting, curtains, and throw rugs help as well. Plants and other decorations will make a difference as well
- A white noise machine can help dampen sounds
Preventing sounds from entering or the apartment (or passing between rooms)
You might have loud neighbors or family members. You might live near a loud street or park. There are several strategies to help prevent sounds from entering the apartment or leaving it – without doing construction or painting to the walls.
- Hang specially-designed blankets on the walls and doors to absorb sounds
- Specialized sound panels can be added to the ceiling or walls to absorb noise
- Blackout and sound insulation curtains can protect the apartment from traffic and other noises outside
- Door wraps can help cut down on noise transmission
- A white noise machine works in this capacity too and helps dampen any outside noise
What are the materials to help me with this project?
In this section, we take a closer look at specific items to help with the strategies discussed above.
White Noise Machines
Making use of a white noise machine is highly effective, and you don’t need to do much. You buy it and place it in a corner and let it do its job.
White noise machines come in all shapes, sizes, and costs. The features also vary, but here are some that you might want to have in your machine:
- Made with a real fan inside with adjustable settings
- Can double as a nightlight
- Can be programmed to turn on automatically, or can be adjusted remotely via phone.
- Contains different types of sounds in different categories.
- Stylish design to blend in with the apartment
- Fits easily into your backpack or suitcase so that it is portable
- Comes with timer and sound level settings which can be saved, so that it reverts back to them the next time you turn it on
Furniture and accessories
Thick, padded pillows, couches, and rugs will absorb a lot of sound within your apartment and are relatively inexpensive. Here are some pointers regarding how you choose these items:
- Kid and pet friendly
- Water-resistant, mold and mildew resistant, stain-resistant, and does not shed – very important especially if you have a newborn
Wall panels and blankets
You cannot do very much to the walls in the apartment since it doesn’t belong to you. Many landlords will not even let you paint your place. But you can usually hang items to cut down on sounds from other rooms and neighboring apartments.
There are a few particular items we recommend to hang on walls (or even doors) to cut down on sound passing through the wall—and echoing in the room.
First up are textured 3D Wall Panels. Here’s what you should look out when getting some:
- Easy to hang and install with simple glue or other methods.
- Can be used in any room in the apartment
- Cuts down on echo and interior sound
- Aesthetically pleasing since they take up a prominent location
Next, consider using moving or sound barrier blankets. The way it works is for you to attach them to walls to create an additional barrier. Lots of apartments have thin walls, so this method is very effective in blocking out large areas of the apartment. Just a couple of things to bear in mind here:
- Multi-purpose: can be used when you are moving
Door drafts and stoppers
When it comes to doors, they tend to be the weakest link in the entire apartment. Why, you may ask.
Most modern doors are hollow and do very little to prevent sound transmission, but you can add layers to them to reduce the noise..
One particular cheap method is to install a door draft, which is great if your door is not too flimsy. These are very easy to install, typically coming with self-adhesive tape. What they do is to block out noise from entering from the gaps between the ground and the door.
If you notice cracks or gaps on the door or door frame, you can consider using soundproofing tape to seal them up. They usually come in a roll, and you can easily cut them off to conform to any shape or size.
Ceilings are more of a challenge to soundproof, because attaching things to the ceiling is not an easy task. There are numerous lightweight foam and acoustic panels that you can attach to the ceiling that will help cut down on the sounds of TVs and conversations wafting down from above. There is not much you can do about loud footsteps, as these are impact sounds, which travel through the wood framing.
Here are some things to look out for when choosing acoustic foams:
- Specially designed, opened cell, flame retardant foam in a convoluted “egg crate” pattern
- Helps absorb a mix of sounds
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Good Sound Absorption Characteristics; cuts down on ambient sound, absorbs sounds etc.
- Cost effective and very lightweight
- Easy to install with adhesive tapes
If your apartment faces a busy road, you know how annoying it gets especially when it turns dark. The constant humming of road noise makes it hard to relax after a long day. Using soundproof curtains can effectively block out noise, and doubles up to block out sunlight during the day. Here are some important points to look out for when choosing a soundproof curtain:
- Detachable felt fabric liner
- Multiple layers for maximum absorption of noise
- Triple weave blackout fabric & 3 layers design
- Balance apartment temperature by insulating against summer heat and winter chill
- Easy to install and maintain
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is it expensive to soundproof an apartment?
- Not at all. You choose your level of investment. Many of the items linked above are relatively inexpensive and you do not need to do all of them. Choose the ones that sound best for you and start there
How much time will it take? Do I need to hire someone?
- You can do all of the above in one single weekend
- Several of these items (white noise machine, rugs) are ready right out of the box, and require no time at all
- Others require just a little work. Hanging panels, blankets, or curtains, are all relatively simple home projects and should require an hour or less
Soundproofing Tips for Renters: Conclusion
So, there you have it, a number of soundproofing tips for renters to absorb, minimize, and block sounds to protect your apartment.
As is common with projects like these, a number of questions often come up. Do you have some yourself?
Ultimately, the methods to have a quieter environment lies in your own hands, and as you can see, there are simple ways to achieve it.
Reclaim your peace now!