Home Decor

7 Soundproofing Hacks to Drown Out Your Noisy Neighbors

And no, none of these involve moving out.

March 31, 2022
Photo by Rocky Luten

There’s a saying among the acoustics junkies, home improvement enthusiasts, and city dwellers of Reddit: Sound is like water—it can find its way into a space through even the smallest opening. In other words, making a room, let alone an entire apartment, completely soundproof can feel like a Sisyphean effort. As hopeless as they may sound, these same Reddit users do their best to, at the very least, reduce the amount of noise that seeps its way into their homes. And, lucky for us, they’re more than willing to share their hacks with the rest of the internet-browsing public.

Whether you’re dealing with a loud neighbor, constant construction, or bumper-to-bumper traffic right outside your window, you can counteract some of the cacophony using some of the tips below:

1. Furnish, Furnish, Furnish.

Here’s the thing: the less you have in your home, the more sound is going to bounce around and drive you absolutely bonkers. This one is the simplest of the bunch: furnish your apartment. This means laying down rugs (the fluffier, the better) wherever there’s a bare wood or tiled floor, filling the room up with soft furnishings like chairs, couches, and blankets, and hanging up curtains.

Think about it: when you moved into your empty apartment, your voice would throw across the room and reverberate in an unsettling way, but once all your possessions were in place, the sound was much better absorbed. This, combined with preservation of flooring, is also why many buildings and landlords will require a certain percentage of the room be covered with rugs. So, get to laying more rugs down!.

2. Make Your Gallery Wall Do Double Duty

Sound reduction doesn’t necessarily have to be a whole new DIY project—you can actually use your pre-existing decor to enhance your home’s resistance. In one Redditor’s case, this meant tacking felt, foam, and other soft, sound-absorbing materials onto the backs of framed pictures. Although the Reddtor’s trick of using panty liners to cushion their hanging art is pretty darn funny (and not to mention inventive, we’d recommend sheets of fiberglass instead.

3. Try Out Acoustic Panels

Listen, we know you don’t live in a recording studio (or maybe you do?), and probably don’t want to hang foam all over your walls to reduce the amount of noise coming in from your rude neighbors, so we present to you: acoustic panels. You can actually order sound-absorbing panels that look just like large canvas art, so as not to totally compromise the integrity of your decorated home. They’re customizable too, so you can send any kind of art you’d like to be printed.

4. Plug Up Leaky Doors

Doors can allow a sneaky amount of noise into your living space, especially if there are sizable gaps between them and their frames. Plus, if your interior doors have hollow cores, even more sound is liable to get through. Replacing any hollow core doors with solid ones will make a dramatic difference, as one Redditor noted, but if that isn’t an option, they also recommended sealing the gaps around your doors with soundproofing adhesive. While this trick will work as well for your front door as for your bathroom door, another Reddit user suggested a hack that’s particularly suited for interior doors: draft blockers. Although their intended use is insulation, draft blockers fit snugly between the bottom of your door and the floor, and thus stop sound from moving from room to room as easily.

5. Expand Your Home Library

If you prefer a grand bookshelf to a gallery wall, you’re in luck. Several Redditors have posted that leaning a large shelf, ideally one laden with heavy books, against a wall will help absorb some of the noise that’s coming through from the other side. Extra credit if you add some of that fiberglass we mentioned earlier between the shelf and the wall—you can even find hangable fiberglass blankets for floor-to-ceiling shelves.

6. Browse Wall Hangings and Upgrade Your Curtains

Who said tapestries were just for college kids? According to one Reddit user, thin walls can get a minor sound absorbency boost from fabric wall hangings—and there are plenty of grownup options to be found. Aside from tapestries, another Redditor claims that your windows can get a similar treatment from heavy, blackout curtains, in case street noise is the source of your woes.

7. And, As A Last Resort: Cover Up The Noise

As silly as it may seem to walk around wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones in your home, many Reddit users insist that it’s the surest way to get some peace and quiet—especially when you’re trying to sleep. White noise machines, streamable background sounds, and even humble box fans are said to work just as well, if you’d rather not physically plug your ears before hitting the hay.

Have a tip for dealing with noisy neighbors? Tell us in the comments below!

This article was updated March 2022 to add even more sound-proofing ideas.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Sara Coughlin is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. Although she writes about food, health, wellness, lifestyle trends, skin-care, and astrology, she’d much rather talk to you about professional wrestling, rock climbing, and her personal favorite true crime theories. You can find her in her studio apartment doing yoga while a pan of veggies gently burns in the oven.

12 Comments

carmen April 10, 2022
Using Bose headphones, bring up the above excellent suggested links under streamable background noise on Spotify. I tried all the links and they are very very good. My neighbor sets up camp on the front porch and gets on his cell phone for hours. The base part of his voice is super disruptive and these background noises are are a great solution.
 
Milma E. April 6, 2022
I'm going to try the soundproofing hanging art suggestion. Although I live in a suburb, there is construction next door and one of my neighbors throws a party every weekend, and ... the music is unsavory. Plus we are thinking about replacing the blinds in the living room with curtains. Now we have a reason to do so.
 
carmen April 10, 2022
Get up very very early the morning following a party and set up a way for them to hear this white noise that oopsie got left on right next to their wall or window. https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/gregorianChoirGenerator.php
 
Smaug April 1, 2022
Or, if you have an unlimited budget as much of this presupposes, you could have your walls replaced by 8" of windowless concrete. Still wouldn't stop the blasted leaf blowers though.
 
Lindsay R. July 21, 2021
Anyone have recs for when the noise is the floor below? My neighbors have a floor shaking surround system and it freaks my (scared of thunder) dog out every night. I’m annoyed but she’s pretty on edge. I feel bad for her!
 
society February 27, 2021
good tips, i hope...
my neighbors run the fan in bathroom literally all day and night! I cant sleep and while i can use earplugs, i cant hear my alarm in the morning.... I've told them about it and they pretty much said, "i dont care, I'm in my own house". I'm this close to being petty and leaving my radio on full blast all day while i am at work so they can see how annoying it is!
 
GigiR February 27, 2021
Just a thought. If your mobile has this ability, put your alarm on vibrate, and you could put it under your pillow. Trying to help. 🤞
 
HelenW February 23, 2021
I have lived in midtown west Manhattan for 20 years and when the Hudson yards were being built, the construction noise was insane: the hydraulic drilling at 7am would cause ripples on my cup of coffee like Jurassic park. Not to mention ‘regular’ jackhammering at 3 am. Construction still going on. How does one deal with that?
 
redrose February 23, 2021
I have neighbours who have there tv very loud and very annoying is there any device of any kind that can be purchased
 
GigiR February 23, 2021
There is another solution. (I was in the building business a while ago.) If you can afford the annoyance of mess and a little construction, adding another layer of 5/8” drywall to the party wall will help, but nothing’s perfect. Once again, good luck.


 
GigiR March 1, 2020
Sound conduction hack:
A client of mine had a problem with the noise of pounding veal on a butcher block next door. The dead easy solution was 4 hockey pucks. One puck was placed under each of the butcher block legs to stop the sound travelling through the building materials between the restaurant and my client’s premises. It worked well. You might want to put a puck under each point where your bed legs touch the floor, or under your sofa legs. Can’t guarantee it in the reverse, but it might work. Good luck.
 
Girlfromipanema February 21, 2020
Content, content, must generate content.