Dealing With Loud Neighbors and Soundproofing Options

Dealing With Loud Neighbors and Soundproofing Options

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Gregory Han
Aug 20, 2008
(Image credit: kojikoji/Shutterstock)

A passive-aggressive "stop having loud sex!" sign is a not so subtle hint that either the walls are thinner than they seem or the neighbors are a whole lot louder than they think.

My own first apartment out of college had walls so poorly constructed, even with carpeting my neighbor below claimed I was stomping about each time I'd shuffle across the floor (in soft slippers, no less!). And I was always included in the heavy metal lovers/fighters' escapades next door — a young couple who'd regularly partake in the joys of make-up sex after rousing bouts of impassioned quarreling on a near daily basis (to the sweet sounds of Slayer). I've always just regarded such ambient noise as "music of the neighborhood" and use earplugs when I have to. And sometimes just speaking to your neighbors in a friendly, but clear manner will do the trick. But we have to admit, seeing amusing passive aggressive signs aren't devoid of an amusing quality.

Here are some tips from our archives regarding dealing with noisy neighbors:

  • Use a white noise producing appliance, like a fan or air purifier to soften the ambient noise.
  • Consider applying acoustic dampening paint on shared walls.
  • Our favourite bit of advice from a past thread from reader sciencegeek:
    My general take on loud neighbors is to ask them in person to be quiet, letting them know what times on weeknights and weekends are my limits. When i was back in my loud college days, we always warned our neighbors when we were going to have a party and gave them our phone number to call so we could turn down the music before anyone felt the need to call the police. We also told them what time we'd be turning down the music in advance so they'd know when it would be quiet again.
    I've had great experiences with some people - the kids in the apartment across the alley from my apartment who would party on weeknights with live music and lots of people smoking in the alleyway would always shut the door and encourage the smokers to be a bit quieter; most of the time they'd offer me a beer and Id laugh at them bitterly (ah, grad school) and go back to bed. Then again, I've also had to resort to the circuit breaker technique to stop an especially loud party.
  • For a serious change, consider soundproofing drywall. Or acoustic paneling for renters.
  • If living in a managed building, speak with your manager/landlord. Sometimes hearing officially from a third party can hush intruding noise just by bringing it to attention.
  • Block out noise coming via a hollow door with a door silencing kit.
  • Soften noise on your ceiling or floor with Econo Barrier.
  • Thick carpeting, runners on stairs and drapery all help reduce noise coming in and out of your home.

Additional advice from reader Big Matt before you move into a new place in regards to neighborhood noise:

  1. Live on the top floor.
  2. Visit the area many times during the night to see if undesirable elements manifest themselves after dark.
  3. Don't live anywhere near colleges, especially college dormitories or college-owned apartment buildings!
  4. Get to know your landlord personally. If he or she is decent you'll be able to confront him or her about issues and have more say if a less-than ideal situation arises.
  5. Don't move into a building if the current tenants scare you; trust your gut feelings.
  6. Make sure the area does not turn into a weigh station for big trucks after dark.
  7. Ask current tenants in the building (not just those living in the apartment you plan to rent) about the place.
  8. If you have to live underneath someone else, make sure their floor is carpeted. If it is not, save yourself the aggravation an find another apartment.
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