Living in an apartment complex often comes with the challenge of dealing with noise from neighboring units. One effective solution to reduce noise transmission is soundproofing the walls between apartments.
Soundproofing not only enhances privacy but also improves the overall quality of life. The first and most important step I have always recommended for anyone wishing to soundproof their home against neighbors’ noise is having a chat with the neighbors.
If your neighbors play bass music that keeps on sending vibrations through to your apartment, then why not talk to them about the problem?
In most cases, the neighbors may not be aware that they are being a problem. And a simple chat with them could save you tons of hours and effort trying to soundproof your apartment wall.
Be polite and ensure that you don’t annoy the neighbors in the process. If you’re not confident enough to talk to them, then why not involve the management or use this guide to learn how to talk to the neighbors.
If this fails, then it’s time to get your hands dirty.
1. Assess the Existing Wall
Before starting the soundproofing process, it is essential to assess the current state of the wall. Identify any existing gaps, cracks, or holes that may be contributing to sound leakage.
Look for areas where sound might travel through, such as electrical outlets, windows, or vents. It’s crucial to address these issues before proceeding to the soundproofing steps
2. Seal All Gaps and Cracks
There are two types of sounds- (airborne and impact noise) when it comes to soundproofing.
The biggest culprits that will allow airborne noise to leak between apartment walls are the gaps and cracks on the wall.
Even small cracks that cut across the walls can be of major concern to leaking noise.
Shared wall elements such as sockets will also act as a medium through which noise travels.
Therefore, it’s always essential to deal with the cracks and gaps before undertaking any other step in soundproofing a wall.
You will need something like Green Glue Soundproofing Sealant or Acoustic Caulk.
If green glue isn’t available in your country, you can try using these 5 Green Glue Alternatives.
Green glue is also perfect for soundproofing against impact noises.
It does convert the vibrations caused by impact sounds into negligible amounts of heat energy.
3. Hang Acoustic Foam Panels
If you’ve read my previous articles, you’ve probably noted that I’m an avid recommender of acoustic foam panels. Acoustic foam panels are designed to absorb sound waves and reduce reverberation, thus minimizing echoes and controlling unwanted noise.
Well, acoustic foam panels have wedges and are popular in recording studios, cinema halls, concert halls.
They’ve become a popular thing in the DIY soundproofing community past few years thanks to their effectiveness in noise reduction.
They are super affordable and highly effective in soundproofing. However, you need to note that they require careful installation or won’t be effective in dealing with the noise problem.
Here are the steps to soundproof a wall using acoustic foam panels:
- Assess your needs: Determine the level of soundproofing you require. Are you trying to block external noise from entering the room, or do you want to improve the sound quality within the room itself?
- Measure the wall: Measure the dimensions of the wall you want to soundproof. This will help you determine the quantity of acoustic foam panels you need to purchase.
- Choose the right panels: Acoustic foam panels come in various shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. Select panels that are appropriate for your specific needs. Thicker panels generally provide better sound absorption, but they may protrude more from the wall.
- Plan the panel layout: Decide where you want to place the acoustic foam panels on the wall. It’s generally recommended to cover as much of the wall as possible, but you can also focus on specific areas depending on the source of noise or desired sound control.
- Prepare the wall: Clean the wall surface thoroughly and make sure it’s dry. Remove any dust, dirt, or loose paint that could hinder the adhesive’s effectiveness.
- Install the panels: Apply an adhesive recommended for acoustic foam panels to the back of each panel. Then, press the panels firmly against the wall, starting from one corner and working your way across. Ensure that each panel is securely attached to the wall.
- Seal the edges: To maximize the soundproofing effect, seal the edges of the panels using acoustic sealant or caulk. This will prevent sound from leaking through the sides of the panels.
- Test the results: After installation, test the soundproofing effectiveness by producing sound inside and outside the room. Adjust the placement or add additional panels if necessary.
4. Hang Mass Loaded Vinyl
MLV is a dense, flexible sheet made from a combination of vinyl and other heavy materials such as barium sulfate or calcium carbonate. It is designed to block sound transmission and reduce noise transfer between different spaces.
Here’s a general overview of the process to soundproof a wall between apartments using MLV:
- Prepare the wall: Begin by removing any existing wall coverings, such as wallpaper or paint, from the wall you want to soundproof. Ensure the wall surface is clean and smooth.
- Measure and cut the MLV: Measure the height and width of the wall and cut the MLV sheets accordingly. It’s recommended to overlap the sheets by a few inches to ensure better sound insulation.
- Attach the MLV to the wall: Use construction adhesive or heavy-duty double-sided tape to secure the MLV sheets to the wall. Make sure to press the sheets firmly against the wall to ensure good adhesion. Additionally, you can use screws or nails along the edges of the MLV for added stability.
- Seal the seams: To enhance the soundproofing effectiveness, seal the seams between the MLV sheets using acoustical caulk. Apply a generous amount of caulk along the edges and press the sheets together firmly to create a tight seal.
- Reinstall wall coverings: Once the MLV is installed and the seams are sealed, you can reinstall wall coverings such as drywall, wallpaper, or paint over the MLV to restore the aesthetic appearance of the wall.
5. Add a Layer of Drywall
This method works like a charm, and I’ve always recommended it for all impact noise soundproofing projects.
This method works 100% and can be implemented even when soundproofing against footfall noises from your KING KONG neighbor living upstairs.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to soundproof a wall using drywall:
- Assess the existing wall: Start by examining the current wall construction to determine its thickness and composition. Thicker walls with more layers offer better soundproofing. If your existing wall is a single layer of drywall, you’ll need to add additional layers.
- Prepare the room: Remove any furniture, decorations, or fixtures from the wall you’re planning to soundproof. This will give you a clear working space.
- Add resilient channels: Resilient channels are metal strips that decouple the drywall from the wall studs, reducing sound transmission. Install the channels horizontally, attaching them to the studs. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation.
- Install insulation: Insulation is an essential component of soundproofing. Use acoustic insulation, such as mineral wool or fiberglass, and fill the space between the studs. The insulation will help absorb sound waves and prevent them from traveling through the wall.
- Add additional layers of drywall: Install an additional layer of drywall over the existing wall. Use screws to attach it to the resilient channels, ensuring that the screws do not directly touch the studs. Apply a layer of acoustical caulk along the seams and edges to create an airtight seal, preventing sound leakage.
- Seal gaps and cracks: Inspect the wall for any gaps or cracks and seal them using acoustical caulk or sealant. Pay close attention to areas around electrical outlets, windows, and doors, as these can be common points of sound leakage.
- Finish the drywall: Once the additional layer of drywall is installed and sealed, finish it with your preferred texture or paint. Ensure that the final surface is smooth and uniform.
- Consider additional measures: For even better soundproofing, you can add mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) between the layers of drywall or use specialized sound-dampening compounds. These materials can further reduce sound transmission.
6. Rearrange Furniture
This is one of the simplest and yet effective methods that won’t cost you a dime, just like soundproofing a door with household items.
Here’s what you should do:
First, identify the common shared wall- obviously, that’s the wall you should emphasize.
Then move heavy furniture such as portable closets, bookshelves, or against the wall.
You should also stack up a large library of books or clothes- the concept is to ensure that you add more mass against the wall, such as to weaken sound vibrations as they travel across the wall.
In case the wall is in your bedroom, then move your bed as far away from the wall as possible. Btw check out my guide on the quietest bed frames on the market today.
7. Mutex Soundproofing Material
Mutex soundproofing material comes almost last on my list as I’m not entirely convinced of its effectiveness.
It’s a product that hasn’t been “tested” in the real world, and hence its effectiveness is something that I’m not 100% sure about.
According to the manufacturer, this product actually soundproof against airborne and impact noises in similar concepts as mass-loaded vinyl and acoustic foam panels.
Have you ever tried it? Please let me know in the comment section.
8. Hit or Miss Soundproofing Products
I’ve dug up the internet and found some astonishing products that people have recommended.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find any scientific data to back up these claims- and that’s the reason I’ve dubbed these products as hit or miss soundproofing products.
- Soundproofing Paint
- Egg Crates
Soundproofing a wall between apartments can significantly improve the acoustic privacy and overall comfort of your living space.
By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a quieter environment by reducing noise transmission. Remember to assess the existing wall, seal any gaps, add acoustic insulation, increase the mass, and address air gaps and resonance.
By combining these techniques, you can enjoy a peaceful and soundproofed living space within your apartment.
Hi, my name is Todd R. Bressler and I am the founder of this soundproofing blog. I’m a DIY enthusiast from Cincinnati, the city that just beat New York for the City That Never Sleeps Award in 2020. (Original) I have been in the DIY soundproofing industry for close to 5 years, running a YouTube channel and a Podcast show every Saturday. I started Crafty Soundproofing to help you learn the basics of “self defending yourself against noise”
Have an idea worth sharing? Please contact me and I’ll be happy to respond ASAP.