Apartment soundproofing is one of the most challenging aspects of our business. Deciding how to soundproof an apartment—or whether it can be done at all—requires you to think carefully and consider many issues. Before you go too deep into planning, however, you should understand that moderately soundproofing a single 150-square-foot room can cost over $800 … without labor.
Anyone who’s lived in an apartment knows that noise travels easily between units. The reason is that a common, connected frame supports the floors, ceilings, and walls, and it readily transmits sound and impact vibration from one unit to the next. In simplest terms, apartment soundproofing must keep sound away from the entire frame—either stopping it before it gets there or isolating the apartment interior from the frame—and that’s not a simple proposition. Low frequencies, in particular, present a problem that often cannot be resolved by simple acoustic solutions.
Low frequencies, like those generated by machinery, traffic, aircraft, and subwoofers, are much harder to block than mid and high frequencies, and most simple noise reduction methods will not significantly reduce them. Sound barriers are better than sound absorbers at blocking low frequencies, but carefully assess the costs and benefits before deciding on any soundproofing.
How to soundproof an apartment depends on the answers to some key questions:
• What is the issue?
• Are your expectations realistic?
• What are the possible solutions?
Define the issue: Are you generating the noise, or is it coming from outside? Apartment soundproofing is most effective when installed at the sound source, and the effectiveness of any solution will depend on the available installation options. If noisy neighbors are your problem, installing acoustic treatments in your space probably will not resolve the situation to your satisfaction.
Set realistic expectations: The expectations of any apartment soundproofing project have to be in line with the reality of apartment life. Reductions in sound transmission are certainly possible, but due to building design, construction requirements, and expense, a fully soundproof apartment may not be an attainable goal. Determine what success sounds like, and then examine your chance of success and the cost and practicality of installation.
Evaluate possible solutions – sound barriers and sound absorption options: A sound barrier, like Peacemaker, isolates a wall, ceiling, or floor from the rest of the building. True soundproofing would require barrier installation on every interior surface, but selective installation on shared walls may reduce transmitted noise. Although barrier products are effective, they require permanent installation and may not be a viable solution for a rented apartment (but it never hurts to check with the landlord).
Sound absorption products, like Audimute sound absorption sheets, are another way to reduce transmitted noise. Although not designed as sound barriers, they can lower the amount of mid- and high-frequency sound that escapes an apartment, and they require no permanent alterations to the unit. Our article on sound dampening materials provides more detailed information, including the limitations of absorption in dealing with low-frequency.
The cost and effort of soundproofing an apartment may simply be impractical for a renter; for the resident-owner of a condo or co-op apartment, the investment may well be worth it for the improved quality of life.
Finally, as much as we hate to say it, sometimes the only practical way to handle an apartment noise problem is a good set of earplugs or a moving van.
You should consider these and other items when determining how to soundproof an apartment. Call us at 866-505-MUTE (6883), or talk to us via online chat, and let the Audimute experts help you make the right decision for your apartment soundproofing project.