Soundproofing for Noisy Neighbors: What Solutions Work Best?

“Honey! Is that the neighbor’s [insert annoying noise source here] again?” If you’ve ever said anything even remotely close to that, you’ve got a noisy neighbor problem. And if that’s the case, we’re here to suggest some soundproofing solutions for those noisy neighbors, so you can pick what works best for your situation.

Soundproofing your home against noisy neighbors can have side benefits – increased insulation for energy savings, nice additions to your decor, or fewer problems with noises coming from within your walls. Soundproofing may be only part of the noisy neighbor solution as we’ll soon discuss.

The main point we want to communicate though is that there are multiple soundproofing solutions you can implement to tackle the problem of having neighbors that can be too noisy from time to time…or maybe all the time?

10 Soundproofing Solutions to Consider

Let’s start with a list of 10 soundproofing solutions that you should consider to guard against noisy neighbors.

  1. Acoustic Panels – Often rectangular and sometimes decorative, these are frames of sound-absorbing material you attach (usually) to your walls.
  2. Weatherstripping – This is long, thin pieces of rubber or plastic and rubber (or similar materials) that seal the cracks in your doors and windows.
  3. Door Sweeps – Similar to weatherstripping, these are panels you attach to the bottom of your doors to seal those gaps.
  4. Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) – This soundproofing material is attached to studs (or joists) behind your walls (or ceiling) where it will absorb incoming and outgoing sounds.
  5. Soundproof Curtains – Often also blackout curtains, these normally hang over your windows and are usually made of multiple layers of thick fabric.
  6. Acoustic Foam – This is soft material used more for preventing echoes, which could be part of your noise problem too.
  7. White Noise Machines – These are devices that add “hissing” (or similar) sounds to a room in hopes of canceling unwanted sounds.
  8. Wall Insulation – Not just for energy savings, insulation can also help keep sounds out too.
  9. Double-glazed Windows – The additional glazing can reduce sound transmission through windows, which are a common source of noise problems.
  10. Green Walls / Plants – Plants growing near walls can absorb and disperse sounds.

Now let’s examine each item in that list in a little more detail.

Acoustic Panels

If you opt for acoustic panels, you need to realize that they do more to prevent echoes than to keep sounds from passing through walls. The panels that are strictly functional will cost less than those that have a decorative design. While you can probably install them yourself, you may want to hire a professional to make sure you put them in the best location(s).

Weatherstripping

In addition to those long thin pieces of rubber (and plastic) that you can add to window and door frames, you should also consider caulk as part of this solution. Most people can easily install weatherstripping themselves or find a friend who will help with the application. Weatherstripping is normally quite inexpensive and is therefore a solution you should probably think about first in your overall soundproofing plans.

Door Sweeps

You can add a door sweep to the bottom of your door(s) just about as easily and cheaply as you can install weatherstripping, so make this one of your first options too. A door sweep may not prevent a lot of sound from entering the room, but every little bit helps.

Mass Loaded Vinyl

With MLV we’re getting serious about soundproofing. Unfortunately we’re also attaching a high price tag because this solution can involve major renovation. You need to get behind your walls which probably means tearing them out and putting up new. You’ll hire a professional to do this which further increases the cost. If you can handle the cost and what it will temporarily do to your room(s), it’s definitely worth the effort because it’s one of the best ways to soundproof a room in which you need to keep noises from the outside…well, outside.

Soundproof Curtains

MLV isn’t something you add to windows, so unless you want to remove the window itself, the next best thing is to cover it with layers of thick fabric, which is exactly what soundproof curtains do. Depending on the quality of the curtains you choose, how many windows you want to treat, and the size of those windows, this could be a relatively inexpensive or a relatively pricey solution. Fortunately it’s one that you can implement yourself. Just remember to measure twice, purchase once.

Acoustic Foam

Acoustic foam isn’t much different in composition or function than acoustic panels. It won’t keep noises out, but if you have an echo problem, it’s an option to think about. You can probably add it yourself for not too much money.

White Noise Machines

There are many white noise machines available, most at a reasonable cost. Some people use them to help get to sleep. In your case, you’d also be using one to cancel or override unwanted noises. Their effectiveness will vary depending on the type and volume of sounds you’re trying to get rid of.

Wall Insulation

Adding wall insulation is nearly as good as adding MLV, and it may not require quite as much renovation, depending on the type of insulation you choose. In any case, you will need a professional to install it properly. The cost will vary with the amount you need and the number of locations (presumably every exterior wall, at least) to which you want to add it.

Double-glazed Windows

This solution obviously means you’ll be replacing your existing windows. This is a job for a professional, too, and will be quite pricey, even if you only have a few windows. The costs can be worth it though as double-glazed windows reportedly do keep out significantly more noise than regular windows.

Green Wall / Plants

If you don’t have a “green thumb”, you might not want to consider this solution. Keeping plants alive – whether on a wall (inside or out) or on the ground near a wall – isn’t necessarily easy. It doesn’t matter too much which species of plants you choose, and some are hardier than others, but they all do require some type of care sooner or later. If you choose something like annual flowers, you’ll have a yearly replacement task (and cost) involved as well.

How to Choose the Best Soundproofing Solution for Your Needs

Most likely you don’t need all 10 of the above solutions to soundproof against your noisy neighbors. So which ones should you choose?

The primary factor in making this decision is this: What is the level of noise you want to eliminate? A close secondary concern is this: How close to you is that noise’s source?

Is there a rock band practicing regularly in the garage next door? Are the kids bouncing off the walls and floor (your ceiling) in the apartment above?

Do you own your home or do you rent? If you rent, can you get the approval of your landlord to make soundproofing changes?

We’ll assume for now that you can make any alterations you want. First, let’s consider noises coming from the house next door.

No matter how loud the noise is, it’s probably best to start small and move up the scale, so to speak, of soundproofing solutions. Weatherstripping is at the low end of our scale and MLV is at or near the top.

If, while adding one solution on top of another, you discover that the noise is no longer a problem, you can stop. If you have to go all the way to renovation and adding MLV, you might not have to add as much (reducing the cost) as you would if you had started with MLV as your first solution.

Now let’s consider the neighbor in the apartment adjacent to yours. You may only have to treat one surface, depending on whether said neighbor is above, below, or horizontally next to you. Windows, in this case, are not likely a problem. You’ll probably start with insulation or a white noise machine or plants.

All solutions are obviously dependent on how much funding you have available for the project(s). This is yet another reason to think small from the start.

Tips for Talking to Your Neighbors about Noise Complaints

Setting these soundproofing solutions aside for a minute, let’s think about talking to your neighbor about the noise as a possible solution.

Did you ever consider that your neighbors might not even realize that they’re causing you a noise problem? Some people won’t understand this until you kindly point it out to them.

If you visit your neighbors to discuss the problem, do be kind and gracious, especially if you’ve never spoken a word to them in the past. Approaching them in anger or in a huff isn’t likely to gain anything towards a solution.

If you are pretty sure you know the source of the noise, think of some possible ways that you could suggest to the neighbors as to how it could be reduced or even eliminated. For example, if it’s the rock band in the garage, could they turn the volume down? Could they find another place to practice? Maybe even the basement would be better than the garage.

If you’re not exactly sure what’s causing the noise, ask. Maybe the noise is actually a problem for your neighbors too! Can they add one or more of the 10 solutions above to their home to keep the sounds from getting out in the first place? Or maybe it will take a combination of soundproofing efforts by both you and your neighbors.

Final Thoughts

We’ve suggested 10 of the most common soundproofing solutions not only for noisy neighbors, but for any similar project. It’s up to you to now evaluate your specific situation – possibly working with your neighbors – and come up with a plan to keep those unwanted noises from reaching your ears.

When you’ve finished the project(s), consider coming back here to tell us about it. Maybe your solution will help others implement their own. People helping people – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Author

  • Vernon Morgan

    Hi there! I'm Vernon, the ‘Serene Specialist." I started this site to document my efforts in making my home a tranquil environment. Through tireless research and countless soundproofing projects, I found that peace I craved. I hope I can help you achieve the same

    Morgan Vernon

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