If you live in an apartment, you’ve probably faced various issues that arise when living in a collective living space. One of the most bothersome parts of living in an apartment is the potential for noisy neighbors and hearing the footsteps of their neighbors every time they walk.
It’s normal to hear footsteps in an apartment because of the sound waves that footprints create. The waves travel through the floorboards and echo in the pipes in apartment buildings.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why you can hear footsteps in your apartment. I’ll also offer suggestions for what to do to reduce the amount of noise you hear in your apartment. If you’re struggling with hearing the footsteps of your neighbors and want solutions, this is the article for you.
Why Do You Hear Footsteps In an Apartment?
You hear footsteps in an apartment because when people walk, the sound waves and their footsteps create travel through the floorboards and can be heard in other apartments. When the sound vibration ricochets off a surface, it bounces back to your ears, which is why you hear footsteps above you.
Sounds are vibrations that can bounce off any surface, including walls, ceilings, and floors.
When your neighbors in the apartment above yours walk around, their footsteps create sound waves that travel through the floorboards. Once the sound leaks through the floorboards, it’s magnified by the pipes in the space between the floor and ceiling.
As a result, the sound enters your apartment, and you can hear the footsteps.
The problem is even worse if your neighbors are loud walkers. Some people are more prone to walking loudly than others, especially those with Cavus feet or with high arches in their feet. People with these conditions tend to stomp, which means you’ll be able to hear every footstep.
Hardwood floors are especially prone to transmitting sound to lower floors, so if the apartment above yours has hardwood flooring, you’re more likely to hear their footsteps.
Hearing the footsteps of your neighbors is called impact noise, which is any kind of noise that occurs because something physically impacts the floor.
How To Reduce Loud Footstep Noise
If hearing your neighbors walking around has gone beyond a minor annoyance and is impacting your ability to sleep, work, or live in your apartment, there are some things you can do to minimize how much noise comes into your apartment. Here are some suggestions.
Talk to Your Neighbors
Unless you’ve pointed out to them before, your neighbors probably have no idea that their footsteps sound so loud to you.
The first thing you should do to address the issue is to speak kindly and politely to your neighbors and ask them to try walking softer. There’s only so much they can do, but if they’re more mindful of their walking, it may lessen how loud their steps are in your apartment.
If you’re nervous about how your neighbors will respond, you can choose to write them a letter, so you don’t have to face them in person. Writing a letter allows you to completely lay out your thoughts appropriately.
You can also keep a copy so you can show management if they complain.
Use White Noise Machines
Using a white noise machine can cover the sound of footsteps with something more calming or pleasurable.
I recommend the Magicteam White Noise Machine on Amazon.com because the machine comes with 20 non-looping sleep sounds and has 32 levels of volume, so you can find the perfect level for you.
White noise machines do more than cover the sound of noisy footsteps. Here are some other benefits of having white noise playing in the background of your daily activity:
- Improves concentration
- Helps with sleeping
- Aids with meditation
- Has a soothing effect on the brain
- Helps people with ADHD concentrate
Give Your Neighbors a Rug
Hardwood flooring increases the ability of sound to leak through to the apartment below it, so having a carpet or rug covering the hardwood helps reduce the sound. The rug will absorb extra sound waves, so you’ll hear less of them walking around in your home.
This is an expensive option, but it is effective, and it may even make you better friends with your neighbors.
Add Soundproof Materials to Your Ceiling
If the ceiling in your apartment is extremely thin, you’ll probably always be able to hear your neighbors walking around, even if they are walking quietly. Luckily, you can add some soundproofing materials to your ceiling to make it thicker.
Adding several layers of drywall can reduce as much as 80% of noise coming from upstairs.
You can also add a layer of soundproof paint to your ceiling. I recommend this Acousti Coat Sound Deadening Paint from Amazon.com because this product is non-toxic and can be applied by brush, roller, or spray.
It contains ceramic microspheres and sound-absorbing fillers that help reduce sound transmission.
You can also opt for soundproof foam panels to absorb some of the noise. They don’t have to take away from the aesthetic of your room, either.
I like these Dailycooper Self-Adhesive Acoustic Panels from Amazon.com because they effectively absorb unwanted sound waves, but they are pretty enough that they can be seen as art or accents in a room instead of being an eyesore.
The following video outlines some of these methods for reducing the amount of sound you hear from neighboring apartments:
When dealing with this issue, you should do everything you can to avoid being passive-aggressive and starting a noise war, leading to more annoyances and inconveniences. Hopefully, with one or a combination of these ideas, you’ll be able to minimize how many footsteps you hear in your apartment.
Unfortunately, it is extremely common to hear footsteps in an apartment because the sound waves can easily travel through floorboards and pipes in the apartment building.
However, if you are struggling with hearing the footsteps of your neighbors, there are some things you can do to reduce the noise and the annoyance of this issue.