Help us 'soundproof' a room

Diskeater

New member
My roommate and I have an interesting dilema on our hands.

We currently live in a fairly large two bedroom apartment, right below the other occupants. Obviously, since we live in such close proximity to them, noise can and is a factor. We can hear them everytime they get up, walk around, shower, have sex (ew, BTW), exercise...you get the idea. They can also hear our stereo and TV, and this is where we have a problem.

You'll have to accept my word on this, but we really aren't loud people. We do try to keep the volume to a minimum but it isn't rare for one or both of us to watch a movie at 11pm on a weeknight. They've banged on their floors from as early as 9:30pm to as late as 12:30am to signal that we are being too loud.

I have taken steps such as turning down the subwoofer for the DVD player as well as my computer but I am afraid that we are still being too loud. Since winter is coming up and keeping our apartment warm and soundproofing it seems to come hand-in-hand, I've decided to try and kill two birds with one stone.

Now, I know that we really can't 'soundproof' our living room. I really want to keep the noises isolated to just that room to keep both our neighbors and us happy.

Our living room is pretty damn big and it can easily be divided into two separate sections, which I'm going to do. I'm probably going to nail two sheets up to act as a divider. If anyone can come up with a better idea, please let me know.

My friend (a musician who knows a thing or two about sound) has also suggested nailing carpet to our ceiling. It sounds like this is a good idea but I want to check on this before I do it.

The room itself is pretty bare. We really don't have much in terms of furniture (TV and couch, really) or any posters on the walls. You can definitely hear an echo.

What other steps can I take to stop noise leakage?
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Ask the landlord if they'll pay for it but a hanging acoustical tile might help a bit and there is probably material to put between it and the ceiling for additional dampening. You may have to put in a new lower light fixture by doing this also. You might mention that this ceiling would also lower heating costs a bit by making it harder for heat to rise to the other apartment if your landlord pays the heat.

Walls I suggest large cloth hangings or tapestries, there's some cool stuff out there even glow in the dark if your into that.

Big one but the landlord should spring for this since the noise is such and issue. Rugs and padding for the neighbors above you. If cost is a big matter and you really want quiet it might be worth it to pitch in for just the freedom and piece and quiet. I've been in places like that and it is worth it and the landlord might do it just to keep everyone happy and it should be a deductable expense anyways since it is a business expense. <img src=smilies/magbiggrin.gif>
<P ID="signature">Get off your ass and do it because it isn't going to happen on it's own no matter how much you wish it would.</P>
 
> My friend (a musician who knows a thing or two about sound)
> has also suggested nailing carpet to our ceiling.

I'm used to "soundproofing" (as much as is actually possible) garages for band practice and small rooms for recording purposes, and this is a pretty good idea. Carpet, blankets, that foamy padding stuff, and (my favorite) egg cartons can all be very useful. The more the better, and combinations work well (carpet, blankets, and egg cartons; foam and then blankets; etc).
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That is some bullshit that they get to make noise and let you listen to them have sex but you can't watch a fucking movie. Tell them to shut the fuck up if they say anything.
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> I'm used to "soundproofing" (as much as is actually
> possible) garages for band practice and small rooms for
> recording purposes, and this is a pretty good idea. Carpet,
> blankets, that foamy padding stuff, and (my favorite) egg
> cartons can all be very useful. The more the better, and
> combinations work well (carpet, blankets, and egg cartons;
> foam and then blankets; etc).

You aren't the first person to suggest egg cartons; I'll definitely look into that. My question is, do you literally mean the things that hold eggs or the foam padding stuff that people sometimes use with bedding?

Yes yes I know, potentially stupid question.

But foam egg cartons sounds like a great idea. It would probably be lighter than carpet so it would be easier to nail it to the ceiling.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone! Keep em coming!

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> That is some bullshit that they get to make noise and let
> you listen to them have sex but you can't watch a fucking
> movie. Tell them to shut the fuck up if they say anything.

Here is a bonus question.

They did leave a note in our mailbox asking us to politely keep the noise down since they go to bed early. I really would like to respond to them in a nice way, but I can't think of a way to do it. I mean, we really are trying to be quiet and they just need to deal with the fact that they might be able to hear us at night. We can hear them every time they walk around.

But I can't think of a way to put this without sonding really bitchy.
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> But I can't think of a way to put this without sonding
> really bitchy.

Let them know that it is unfortunate that the walls are so thin, and that you and your roommates are doing the best you can to try to keep the noise down. If it would help, invite them over while you are making noise at "normal levels" so they can see that you're not going overboard with the noise. If they're expecting you to speak in hushed tones all the time, fuck them, they can move if they don't like the construction of the building.

Also, there are tons upon tons of places online to buy acoustic treatment

http://www.acousticalsolutions.com/applications/broadcast.asp

It's going to be pricey though, and you'll pretty much need to treat the entire ceiling if you're going to go that route.

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> My question is, do you literally
> mean the things that hold eggs or the foam padding stuff
> that people sometimes use with bedding?

I do indeed mean that as bluntly as it can be taken.

This foamy stuff:
5301.jpg

is helpful in conjunction with just about anything else you put up.

And these types of egg cartons:
IS266-001.jpg

Or, you could always just be cheap and see if any local grocery stores or anything will give them away for free. But that method is far less delicious.
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> What other steps can I take to stop noise leakage?

You should not do anything. Any steps you take will lead you to pay MORE money in the end when the landlord comes and asks you what the hell did you do to the apartment?

Your security deposit will be gone and you may end up in small claims court to pay for any "damages" that your noise limiting activities may have done to the walls.

Your neighbours are being assholes. Keep the volume lower and if they dont stop banging on the floor tell them to go (insert your favourite phrase here).
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Duct taping and thumb tacking foam and egg cartons to the ceiling is far from permanent and damaging.
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> Let them know that it is unfortunate that the walls are so
> thin, and that you and your roommates are doing the best you
> can to try to keep the noise down. If it would help, invite
> them over while you are making noise at "normal levels" so
> they can see that you're not going overboard with the noise.
> If they're expecting you to speak in hushed tones all the
> time, fuck them, they can move if they don't like the
> construction of the building.

Yeah, I'm definitely going to say something similiar to that if/when they complain again. I don't want to be an ass to them and we really are trying to keep things on the quiet side, but we have the right to watch movies at 11pm just as they have the right to NOT watch movies at 11pm.
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All of my friends know about the issues we are having with them, so I could have an "eat lots of eggs to help us shut up our annoying neighbors" party.

Could be a good time!
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> You should not do anything. Any steps you take will lead
> you to pay MORE money in the end when the landlord comes and
> asks you what the hell did you do to the apartment?

This is definitely a good point to consider. The apartment wouldn't be mistaken for one that was recently renovated as there are already more than a few nail/tackholes in the walls, but that is actually a good thing since the landlord is less likely to bitch at us for putting a few more in the walls.

The goal here is to spend as little money as possible on this project. Everything for the soundproofing side of this has been 'borrowed' from my parents or sympathetic friends and I've only spent $10 on a roll of vinyl sheeting to help insulate the apartment.

Of course, I haven't bought the eggs for my egg party yet and that could significantly drive up costs.
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As I said before, even if you have to pitch in, hell ask them to pitch in also, get carpeting with really thick padding put down on thier floor. It'll muffle all impact sounds virtually like people walking and with totally dampen out all normal sound like talking. Heck pitch in for a large roll out rug and a roll of foam padding it's in thier interests also. Might be able to do it for under $200 total *$100 each* if looks aren't a major factor.
<P ID="signature">Get off your ass and do it because it isn't going to happen on it's own no matter how much you wish it would.</P>
 
> Of course, I haven't bought the eggs for my egg party yet
> and that could significantly drive up costs.

I would think that there are restaurants around that would give you their empty egg cartons if you asked for them, or if you know anyone who works at a restaurant they could probably get some.
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Thumb tacks leave holes that need to be plastered over. Duct tape can peel off paint and leaves a glue residue on the ceiling. One or two tacks holes will not be noticeable but the whole ceiling being covered in them would be very evident.

If he went down that route, before he left he would have to do the following:

-wash the ceiling and walls down very thouroughly (if tape is used).
-plaster the holes in the walls and ceiling
-sand the plaster down
-paint the ceiling and walls

Thats alot of avoidable work.

> Duct taping and thumb tacking foam and egg cartons to the
> ceiling is far from permanent and damaging.
>

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Update

Hi all. Figured I would update my original post.

First, thank you everyone for your wonderful suggestions, including the one for us to move. Trust me, I don't see us renewing this lease in March. Anyway.

I did hang two blankets to separate our living room. I'm not sure if it helped with the sound issue, but it definitely helped with heating. If you walk onto the side without the heater, you can tell that it is much colder.

I also found a sheet of the foam egg crate stuff at my parents house, which I stapled to the ceiling. It covers a very small part of the ceiling and I'm positive that I'd have to cover the entire ceiling for it to have any impact, but it has to help somewhat. And it looks kind of nifty.

I mentioned that the living room is pretty bare. I'm thinking about just putting a lot of crap in there to take up space.

I'll see about snagging a digital camera from the girlfriend and taking some pics of the place so you guys can marvel at my handiwork. Exciting!
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