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Living in an apartment building with no noise at all is almost impossible to imagine. Sometimes asking your neighbors to be quieter is simply not enough to provide you the silence you’re looking for. However, there are ways of reducing these noises to a minimum, some of them are simple steps, and others require some renovation work.
To reduce noise from downstairs neighbors effectively, use :
- Carpets and rugs
- Carpet paddings and underlayments
- Puzzle floor mats
- A white noise machine
- Sound insulate the floor
- Check doors and windows
Check out my top picks for Soundproof Carpets and Flooring Materials
Noises from downstairs neighbors represent one of the most significant issues when living in an apartment. The reason for this is that landlords usually don’t bother about insulating the floors with good soundproof materials, which leads to poor sound insulation.
By using caution and basic soundproof knowledge, it can be reasonably straightforward to deal with these noises. However, keep in mind that it’s important to incorporate multiple methods listed above, as using only one of them might not be enough.
It’s usually costly to eliminate neighbor’s sounds entirely from your apartment, and sometimes not even possible if you are renting.
And before taking any actions, it’s essential to detect the exact noises you’re dealing with.
Can you hear noise from downstairs neighbors?
Having problems with your downstairs neighbor’s noises is nothing unusual, but dealing with them is a different matter. Before you start with any measures we’ve listed above, it’s essential to detect the exact sources of the sounds that are bothering you.
When dealing with noises from downstairs neighbors, you will most likely have problems with impact and airborne sounds. In case you are not familiar with these terms, impact sounds are noises that are usually the result of footsteps, furniture draggings, and other similarities.
The impact caused by these noises makes the surface slightly vibrate, creating sound waves that transmit through the structure. These noises will give a difficult time for the person living below and significantly impact the silence for the person living above.
On the other side, airborne noises are transferred through the air. And these are the sounds that usually cause most problems when dealing with downstairs neighbors. They include the sounds of talking, TVs, dogs barking, music, etc. When your downstairs neighbor is throwing a party, these noises make it impossible to sleep or concentrate.
When the noise is created, it sends a soundwave from the downstairs floor and hits the ceiling, causing vibrations. And eventually, the noise will be transmitted into your apartment.
There is also a simple way of testing which sounds you are dealing with. When you hear a noise that’s coming from your downstairs neighbors, place your hand on the floor.
In case you feel a small amount of vibration, you are most likely dealing with impact sounds. On the other hand, if you don’t feel anything, you are dealing with airborne noises.
Also, check out my guide on Reducing Impact Noise From the Floor Above
To deal with these noises effectively, it’s essential to prevent the noises from traveling through your floor easily. This is done by following the four crucial elements of soundproofing: Decoupling, Damping, Absorption, and Mass.
If you are renting an apartment, it’s most likely that your landlord won’t allow you to do significant renovations, and in that case, you should use simple methods of reducing noise levels.
Sometimes the problems you are having with noises from downstairs neighbors might be dealt with by simply talking with them and addressing the issues. It’s very common to have a deal within the building about when is it allowed to play music, speak loudly, etc.
On the other hand, it’s most likely that your neighbors are also experiencing issues with the noises above them. In this case, it would be best if both you and the neighbor downstairs performed simple prevention methods to stop the sound from transmitting as easily.
This will provide you with great results, as the neighbor downstairs can have a significant part in preventing noises from leaving their apartment.
However, if such a deal is not possible, you will have to resort to your own ways of dealing with such annoying noises. However, there is no need to worry. We will provide you with an in-depth list of steps you can perform to either significantly or slightly deaden the noises that are entering your apartment from the floor below.
How to reduce noise from downstairs neighbors
The main focus when reducing noises from downstairs neighbors should be to soundproof the floor adequately. However, other parts of your apartment could also be vulnerable to sounds going through.
Soundproofing the floor is done by adding adequate sound insulation materials to the existing flooring. Depending on your real needs and expectations, you can choose to either DIY this project or hire professionals to do it for you.
In case you are planning to address this issue seriously, it’s always better to hire professionals to soundproof your apartment. However, doing so will require a decent budget.
If you don’t own the apartment, it’s always best to consult with the landlord to know precisely what kind of adjustments you can make, without infringing anything.
Many apartment buildings have strict rules when it comes to remodeling certain parts of the apartments. If that’s the case, you are resorted to taking simple steps to prevent noises from downstairs neighbors from interrupting your daily life.
Now that you are aware of the possible issues you may be dealing with, it’s important to look at specific steps, you can take to reduce the noises coming from your downstairs neighbors.
Carpets and rugs
This step may seem a bit bland, but it can make a significant difference when trying to reduce the noise levels from the floor below. The usage of carpets and rugs can be even more effective if your floor is made from hard materials, such as tiles, wood, laminate, etc.
Carpeting will effectively reduce the amount of impact and airborne noises you are getting in your apartment. Also, it will decrease the sound reverberation and will absorb airborne noises.
By covering your floor with carpeting, you will add the required absorption and damping ability to your floor. This will be massively beneficial since your regular floor alone doesn’t have the ability to do so.
It is considered that carpeting can decrease footstep noises by twenty-five to thirty decibels, which is ideal when dealing with noises from the floor below.
An even better option would be to lay the whole flooring with carpet. However, in case you are renting, consult with your landlord first. In case that is not an option, you can always place traditional rugs throughout the apartment. Keep in mind that it will be much harder for sounds to penetrate your floor if you use thicker rugs.
In case you are dealing with impact noises often, consider gifting a pretty rug to your downstairs neighbors. By doing so, you will significantly decrease the amount of impact noises you are getting from the floor below. This is, of course, the case if they even use the rug you gifted.
Combined with the carpeting work you already did in your apartment, it should reduce the noise levels quite well.
As we can see, adding carpeting is a great way to significantly reduce your downstairs neighbor’s noise levels. However, sometimes, carpeting alone is not enough. It would be best to do additional sound insulation steps to get the optimal result you expect.
This method of reducing noises from downstairs neighbors is popular for a reason. It’s relatively easy to do and requires minimal spending. Unless you are looking to cover your entire apartment with carpeting, covering some significant parts of your apartment with rugs requires almost no effort.
Carpet padding and underlayment
In case you want to go one step further and provide even more insulation to your existing carpets, consider adding carpet paddings underneath your carpets and rugs.
Having only carpeting in your home will somewhat decrease the sound vibrations; however, adding padding will significantly increase the performance.
These paddings are made from different materials such as PU (polyurethane) foam, sponge rubber crumb, felt, etc. They come at different sizes and thicknesses and provide adequate comfort.
If you are dealing with significant noise issues, consider acquiring thicker carpet padding. They will do a great job of reducing echoes and also provide even more absorption and damping ability to your flooring.
In case you already have carpeting throughout your apartment, you can always add extra padding above and on top of the padding, place another rug. This will do excellent in preventing the sounds from the neighbors below from entering your apartment. However, this method is not pleasing to the eye, and people usually do it as a last resort.
When covering your entire apartment with carpeting, use specific underlayment soundproof pads before installing it. This is an excellent tip if you are looking for decent sound insulation.
These underlayments are usually from rubber, cork, foam, etc. By adding them, you will even further increase the density of your carpeting and somewhat decouple the floor.
Keep in mind that this method will be slightly more expensive, but it will do a great job of soundproofing. This can be done using mass loaded vinyl as well. This material is known for its excellent mass dampening abilities.
These paddings are relatively cheap, so don’t mind going for the best one you can find, as it will provide you better effects. However, covering your entire floor with carpeting may not be an option. Also, using rugs here and there may not reduce the noises from the neighbors below enough. In this case, you should consider other methods.
Puzzle floor mats
Puzzle mats are one of the easiest ways you can soundproof your flooring. They come in different textures and sizes, just like padded tiles. However, they are designed in a way that allows the pieces to interlock. Hence the name “puzzle mats” comes from.
These mats are usually found in gyms, classrooms, playgrounds, etc. Their variety of use is because they are durable, comfortable to walk on, and easy to clean. However, because of their unique, thick design, they can also do a great job of sound-insulating your floor.
Their design will add damping and absorption elements to your floor. This is great because they will not only prevent sound from coming up, they will also absorb sounds created within your apartment.
Puzzle floor mats can be made from various materials, from cork to foam. Sometimes manufacturers even use combinations of different materials.
These mats are a great choice if you don’t have the option of remodeling your existing flooring and insulating it properly. They are lightweight and easy to work with. This makes them convenient and easy to store in case you need to disassemble them.
Thankfully such paddings come in various designs, so you will be able to choose the ones that fit you best. They are also not very expensive, and you will be able to place them by yourself.
Of course, such mats won’t provide you with the full reduction of noise within your apartment. However, if you combine them with carpet paddings and rugs, they can certainly do a much better job.
For this reason, it’s important to manage your expectations and budget. In case you are looking to reduce the noises from downstairs neighbors slightly, puzzle floor mats are the way to go for a low price.
White noise machine
Using a white noise machine is a suitable choice if you are looking for a quick and easy way of deadening background noises. This machine works pretty straightforward. It creates a soothing sound with a steady consistency. These sounds allow you to focus and make you forget about other noises. Many also use them while sleeping, making them forget about their loud neighbors downstairs.
Keep in mind that these machines won’t fix your sound issues. They will only mask them and allow you to relax for a certain amount of time when you feel like your neighbors will be noisy.
White noise machines are not considered to be good permanent problem solvers. The performance of these machines will be much better if you have already done some soundproofing work prior.
If you have the possibility to renovate your flooring completely, the next step is the best way to eliminate your downstairs neighbor’s noises.
Add sound insulation to your floor
Adding proper sound insulation to your floor is undoubtedly a task that, unless you are familiar with such work, requires help from a professional.
Of course, this automatically means that the price of this method is much higher than the simpler ones we listed above.
Depending on the professional you hire, the insulation techniques might be slightly different as well. Depending on the amount of money you are willing to invest in your soundproof flooring, you might be using some materials of quality or other cheaper options.
Either way, you should always keep in mind that the four soundproofing elements have to be incorporated.
If you are thinking of DIY this project, the best solution is to, after lifting the floor, add two pieces of plywood and attach them with Green Glue. This insulation sandwich will provide your floor with additional mass and damping capabilities. It would be best if you added carpeting with an acoustic underlayment after returning the flooring.
Also, don’t forget to seal any gaps between the carpets and the wall, as they can impact the sound insulation work you have already done. Even though the method we have described above looks easy, it’s always best to ask a friend for help or ask for professional advice.
If you are hiring a professional, don’t be surprised if you notice that they are using fiberglass, resilient clips, and other materials to insulate your floor. As already said, it all depends on the customer’s budget.
Check doors and windows
In case you have performed some of the steps listed above and are still experiencing noise from your downstairs neighbors, you might have to check your doors and windows.
Doors and windows might not be the apparent problem causers; however, they do have a significant impact when dealing with downstairs neighbor sounds.
If your downstairs neighbor’s windows are frequently open while they are speaking, playing music, etc. This will only make it easier for airborne sounds to leave their apartment and enter yours.
For this reason, it’s necessary to check your windows and look for any additional gaps between the window and the window frame. In case you notice any, consider using weatherstripping to cover them.
Doors usually represent the weakest sound-insulated part of your wall. If your neighbors below also have hollow doors, the sound can transmit into your apartment easily. There are many ways of dealing with this. The best one is to replace your hollow door with a door made from heavier materials.
In case you are working on a budget, you could also add weatherstripping, and a door sweep, to prevent noises from entering.
Keep in mind that you can never completely remove the sounds you are having issues with. But by combining some of the steps we have listed above, you can significantly deaden your downstairs neighbor’s noises.