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Soundproofing your apartment or college dorm
Easy ways to create a soundproof apartment or dorm room
Moving into a new apartment or heading off to the college dorms and ready for some well-deserved peace and quiet, to study? Wink, wink. One thing that can be pretty tricky to evaluate when you’re apartment hunting is something you’ll have to live with every day — the noises of your neighborhood. Car traffic outside your window, bass-thumping next door, a dog’s incessant barking from somewhere up above you. If you’re in a dorm, pretty much figure there’s gonna be noise no matter what. You need to figure out how to soundproof your apartment or dorm room and fast!
Luckily, there are some simple landlord-approved tips and tricks that can help you create a soundproof apartment.
7 Ways to create a soundproof apartment
If noise is waking you up in the middle of the night, you might be willing to pay almost anything to make it stop. But because you’re living in a rental, going all out with a professional-level soundproofing job isn’t feasible — or affordable. Give some of these DIY methods of improving the soundproofing of your apartment a try.
1. Soundproof your windows
Windows are one of the most common culprits when it comes to noise. However, most windows are not installed with sound-deadening in mind, especially single-paned windows in older buildings. You’re likely losing heat and gaining noise. Bah!
One fix can be using some rigid foam that you cut to fit and place in your windows. (Make sure you and your roommates or children can easily remove the foam — you never want to permanently block an exit.)
Alternatively, add a set of noise-reducing curtains. These curtains are typically heavier than standard curtains due to the additional insulation, which helps absorb the sound. Due to their extra weight, make sure your curtain rods are sturdy enough to hold them up.
2. Soundproof your doors
Gaps at the bottom of your door let unwanted sound in. Draft stoppers are the best tools for blocking sound and prevent drafty doors from making your apartment cold in the winter or hot in the summer.
These handy draft stoppers not only help you soundproof your apartment but also save you a few bucks on energy, too.
Image courtesy of Holikme on Amazon.com
3. Talk with your neighbor or roommate
If you’re constantly hearing your roommate’s Alexa blasting music or you can hear your neighbors watching their TV at max volume, one of the best things to do is to bring it up politely.
Most people are unaware that their devices are bothering you, and if you don’t say anything, they’ll never know. Assume the best intent and initiate a conversation with your roommate or neighbor about what’s happening and ask them to work on a resolution with you. They may agree to turn it down after 10:00 pm or use headphones.
If your roommate isn’t receptive, you might want to start looking for a different one when your lease is up.
If your neighbor repeatedly brushes you off, you can talk with your landlord. Many leases include specific information about noise and some cities have noise ordinances, too.
4. Hang a wall tapestry or install a bookcase
Paper-thin walls and lack of insulation is a common sound culprit in apartments.
Move softer furniture up against the wall or add a tapestry to help absorb any sound vibrations coming through to help soundproof your apartment.
5. Add an area rug
If the floors in your apartment are made of hard material, such as tile, laminate, or wood, laying rugs can be a huge help. Carpets and rugs add softness and density to the floor and block soundwaves traveling through the floor.
Make sure to buy the pad under your rug to help your rug absorb the noise. There are many great places to buy inexpensive, stylish rugs including, Amazon, Ikea, West Elm, WorldMarket and more.
6. Play white noise or a sound machine
If you can’t neutralize the noise, try masking it with “white noise.” This strategy uses consistent, steady noise to block out irregular, louder sounds. You can choose from a variety of sounds — some people prefer a steady fan sound. Others like ocean waves or rain. In fact, just turning a fan on can help mask noise rather than buying a sound machine.
Sound machines typically run $20-80 each. Look for features like the number and type of sounds, night light, auto shut-offs, and remote or voice activation. There also tend to be two choices: machines that are mechanical (fan-based) or machines that play sounds (more like a soundtrack). Here are a few of our top picks:
7. Good ol’ earplugs or earbuds
Yep. Earplugs. While this doesn’t actually do anything to stop the noise, they’re one of the best ways to prevent you from hearing it.
Earplugs come in all sorts of designs, configurations, and colors (bright orange! pink!), but they’re all meant to do the same thing — block out noise. And they’re super cheap. You can find a multi-pack of earplugs for less than $6 on Amazon.
Keep in mind that some earplugs are made for specific applications, such as swimming, to keep water out. Be sure to look for earplugs that are designed to keep out noise. There are even some earplugs designed specifically for sleeping in, like Hearprotek sleeping earplugs.
Another approach is something you’re already doing–listening to your earbuds. If you’re trying to sleep, look for a sound machine app that automatically turns off your music or the sound after a while.
How to find a soundproof apartment
One of the best ways to avoid noise is by selecting an apartment that’s on the quieter side. A few tips:
- When you’re apartment hunting, try to visit the unit on a weekend evening or after work. You want to hear how much noise there is when it’s busiest out.
- Find a place that was built more recently. Modern forms of installation and design, such as concrete floors and insulation, help to reduce noise.
- Avoid any units facing busy streets, railroads, airports, and nearby businesses with late hours like bars and supermarkets. Listen for noise levels outside and within the apartment.
- Look for units that share fewer walls and floors with neighbors. This is often a top-level, corner unit.
- Avoid units that are directly next to stairs.
- Look for apartments that don’t allow pets if dog barking drives you nuts.
- Steer clear of new construction sites. Excavator sounds and bulldozing can start early in the morning and go on for the better part of a year.
Soundproofing adds up
When you’ve signed a lease and feel like you’re stuck for a while, noise can start to really drive you crazy. Instead of getting frustrated, take as many small steps as you can. Talk to your neighbors, soundproof your windows, add softer items like rugs and wall coverings, and look into a sound machine.
You may not be able to get rid of all the noise, but every little bit adds up.
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