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5 Tips for Dealing with Neighbor Noise

One of the biggest complaints among apartment renters is being able to hear the sound from the people you share your walls with.
One of the biggest complaints among apartment renters is being able to hear the sound from the people you share your walls with.
Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

So you've got a noisy neighbor do you? Congratulations! You've joined the ranks of a not-so-elite group of apartment dwellers that have existed since the dawn of semi-communal living! Which means that lots of us can sympathize with you and, even better, some of us have come up with some great ways to deal with that loud snorer, a running kid, an obnoxious talker, or dare I even say, that raucous pair of tenants in the wee hours of the night...if you catch my drift.

So here are a few tips to get you through those not-so-tranquil moments in your apartment, and hopefully restore some peace to your home.

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One of the biggest complaints among apartment renters is being able to hear the sound from the people you share your walls with. Many apartments don't have the proper sound proofing systems in place, like soundproof sheet rock, to keep the noise from traveling from one apartment to the next.

But you're not out of luck if your apartment doesn't have good soundproofing; you just need to get creative. You can hang sound-absorbent panels on your walls to catch some of the sound coming from your neighbor. Products like corkboards can be wrapped in fabric and hung on the walls to absorb sound. Many online retailers sell special sound-absorbent panels you can order as well. These panels will help dampen the sound coming from your apartment, but they'll also help absorb sound coming from the walks they're placed on as well. Not only will these panels help cancel some of the sound, you can use them to decorate your walls as well. Plus, it'll make your apartment conversations a little more private as well.

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If you happen to own the condo or space you're living in, you can always add an extra layer of sheetrock on top of your existing wall to really dampen the sound. There are even sound-absorbent products, like Homasote, made specifically for that purpose.

Many apartments don't have the proper sound proofing systems in place to keep the noise from traveling from one apartment to the next.
Many apartments don't have the proper sound proofing systems in place to keep the noise from traveling from one apartment to the next.
Henrik Sorensen/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Not all noisy neighbor sounds come straight through the walls. This writer once had a neighbor across the hallway blare jazz music at all hours of the night. On some nights it was the perfect mood music, other nights it was just plain annoying. If you have too much noise coming from the hallway you can help reduce it in several ways.

The first is neoprene seals that go around doorjambs edges. Even a small opening around a door can allow a lot of sound to pass through. So add these acoustic seals around your doors if your neighbor makes a lot noise from across the hall. If you're landlord doesn't mind you adding a few modifications to the door, you can also install a door bottom that drops a neoprene shield between the outside of the apartment and the inside to add an extra layer of sound protection.

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If sound is coming from your ceiling, there's probably not a lot you can do unless you own the space and can make sound-absorbent modifications to the ceiling, like adding a drop-ceiling or coating the ceiling in Green Glue. But if the noise is coming from below adding some heavy rugs will absorb some of the sound. Even if you have carpets already, adding more density with some extra rugs will be better than just leaving the existing carpets to do all the work.

Alright, so you've tried dampening the sound coming through the walls, you've tossed extra carpets on the floor and you've sealed off any areas where sound can come through doors, but your neighbor's incessant noise can still be heard. It's time to fight fire with fire...well, sort of.

Even loud sounds can easily be drowned out with a little background noise. Turning on a bathroom fan or a box fan can be surprisingly effective in cancelling out conversations from the apartment next door. Or, take your noise-cancelling technique into the 21st Century and use a white noise app to drown out your neighbor.

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During the day, a little music playing in the background may give you the peace and quiet you need. If those don't do the trick, you can pull out and the big guns and buy a white noise machine and put in the room where you need it the most.

A lot of problems can be solved with some good old-fashioned communication.
A lot of problems can be solved with some good old-fashioned communication.
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If the music, the sound-absorbing materials and the white noise don't work, then you may need do the simplest, and hopefully most effective, technique. Go talk to your neighbor. A lot of problems, including your noisy neighbor, can be solved with some good old-fashioned communication.

This doesn't have to be a confrontational conversation. If your neighbor plays his music too loud or too late at night, tell him that it's not the music that you don't like, but how late he's playing it. Unless you really don't like his music; then you may want to keep that to yourself. The point is that you don't have to be fuming mad and yelling to get your point across. Just state what the problem is and try to offer a solution that both of you can agree on.

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If you'd rather not meet the stranger in your building that's annoying you so much, then try leaving a note for them that clearly explains the noise he's making and why you think it's an unacceptable amount.

Alright, so this is obviously the last resort -- or maybe it's your first resort depending on how you want to handle the situation. Reporting your noisy neighbor to your landlord could yield some positive results for you. Your landlord may send them a letter or talk to them in person about the noise. Many apartment buildings have a noise clause in the lease and your landlord may bring this up to your noisy neighbor.

If things really get out of hand, you may need to call the police to get your neighbors to quiet down. You may not want to do this unless things are really bad though. If the music is a little too loud late at night, try banging on the wall before you dial 911. But if you hear yelling and fighting through the wall, and it sounds like more than just a disagreement, then a quick call to the police might be the best option for you, and for them.

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Keep in mind that if you've exaggerated your noise complaint to the police, they come knocking back at your door and tell you not to call again. If all of these suggestions fail, it may be time to look for a different apartment or a new building. Good luck!

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Author's Note: 5 Tips for Dealing with Neighbor Noise

I've had my share of noisy neighbors, so I could definitely relate this one! I wish I had this assignment when I was in an apartment because it would have made things a lot more peaceful! From neighbors who fought loudly, ones who banged on the walls, and others who made just a little too much noise when things were getting hot and heavy. I don't miss the apartment days much, except when something breaks at my house, the roof leaks, I need to cut the grass or...wait, maybe apartments do have their benefits.

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Sources

  • Apartment Ratings. "Dealing with Noisy Neighbors." Oct. 4, 2006. (June 28, 2012) http://ohmyapt.apartmentratings.com/noisy-neighbors.html
  • Dachis, Adam. "How to Complain About Your Noisy Neighbors Without Being That Guy." LifeHacker.com. Dec. 15, 2011. (June 28, 2012) http://lifehacker.com/5868482/how-to-complain-about-your-noisy-neighbors-without-being-that-guy
  • Gelfand, Alexander. "How to Soundproof an Apartment to Muffle Your Wife's Drumming." Wired.com. June 21, 2007. (June 28, 2012) http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2007/06/soundproofing
  • Manfredini, Lou. "Neighbors Too Loud? Indoor Noise Solutions." Today.com. Sept. 20, 2007. (June 27, 2012) http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/20874484/ns/today-today_home_and_garden/t/neighbors-too-loud-indoor-noise-solutions/

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