Let’s face it. Not all of us like our neighbors. Even if you do, it doesn’t mean that you want them to find out everything that happens in your life. If you are living in a spacious penthouse with no neighbors, this article isn’t for you. Some neighbors in almost everyone’s life are more interested in their neighbors’ life than them, and if you don’t know one, chances are you are one.
In some cases, it’s not anyone’s fault. It may be just that the walls are thin and not soundproofed such that normal conversations can be overheard accidentally. Be that as it may, protecting our privacy is of utmost importance and needs to be taken seriously. We’ve all wondered at some point in time, “Do my neighbors hear me talking?” or “Are my apartment neighbors listening to me and my private conversations?” It’s time to do something about it. In this article, we will be discussing more ways to stop nosy neighbors from eavesdropping on you.
If I can hear my neighbors outside, can they hear me inside?
There are high chances that if you and your neighbors share a wall or they are downstairs/upstairs from your abode, they can hear the loud noises, the shouting, and maybe even your furniture being moved. If you can hear your neighbors easily from outside, such sounds mentioned above can’t be missed from inside. This is due to the properties of sound.
Okay, quick science lesson. Every sound has a frequency. Sounds of different frequencies have different levels of penetration through walls. As humans, our ears can pick up the frequency from 20 Hertz to 20 kHz. However, low-frequency noise is considered to be in the range of 250 Hz, and noises of about 2000 Hz are regarded as high frequency. The noise you hear in your apartment depends on what type of soundproofing you have for your house.
The easiest way to know if your neighbors can hear you is to listen to whether you can listen to your neighbors talking. If you can hear even the simple sounds of your neighbor, you are in dire need of some remodeling and soundproofing.
So, how do you plan on approaching the problem? You could always move some stuff near your shared wall and stuff it up with cardboards and furniture for a cost-effective, unreliable solution that affects the ergonomics and homeliness of your home. Or you can invest intelligently to soundproof your room and can be assured to block almost all sound.
Since we have addressed the problem, let’s see some of the best ways to soundproof your thin walls from your neighbor’s conversation.
How do you stop your neighbors from hearing you?
People often overlook those acoustics as an essential factor to consider while selecting a home, especially an apartment. A vital factor to consider is the sound transmission class (STC). The STC determines the level of sound protection your apartment has, and in big cities like New York and Boston, the inner walls should have a rating of at least 50 STC and 60 STC for outer walls. The shared walls should also be 60 STC.
However, there are measures that you can take for yourselves wherever you are to ensure soundproofing to your homes.
Rugs are a fashionable and efficient way to lessen the sounds going out of your apartment by a lot. It also provides an added advantage of looking stylish and brings a level of sophistication to your home. You can strategically place these rugs where the noise production is bound to be maximum, such as in the living room and the kitchen.
The rugs act as a kind of muffler or padding and absorb the sound waves, making a massive difference in the level of sound waves going out to your neighbor’s apartment. Rugs can also be used as a sound barrier and as a decorative item, keeping your downstairs neighbors from hearing your conversation. Using them to decorate your home is also a good investment.
Modify the ergonomics of your house
It is understandable and even genius to save space using wall-mounted appliances, especially if you live in an apartment. However, it would help if you kept in mind that while placing appliances that make sounds, make sure that it isn’t placed on shared walls so that your neighbor isn’t notified every time you switch on the television.
A workaround to this situation is to get multi-purpose furniture that can serve as an alternative to wall mounts and place them away from thin walls. Having some distance from the walls can go a long way to block unnecessary vibrations reaching your next-door neighbors.
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Use Soundproof Curtains
This is soundproofing 101 and one of the inexpensive additions to your home to block out the noise going out of your apartment. You can always use blackout curtains for the dual purpose of keeping out sunlight and keeping in the sound.
Soundproof curtains have another advantage of decreasing the level of echo you have in your home. There may be some rooms with a high level of echo, and it just bums you out. You can always use such curtains on your windows to absorb the sound waves and reduce echo and outgoing sounds.
Also known as acoustic panels, sound-absorbing panels are one of the most efficient ways to reduce outgoing noise and provide exceptional levels of sound absorption. This is a perfect method to consider if you have many noisy neighbors and are noisy yourselves.
These panels are available in different sizes and shapes and can be used on different surfaces too. However, they are made of sound insulators and can be bulky in design. These provide a lot of functionalities as it reduces the echo of your room drastically and can propagate clear sounds across the room. You can find very good acoustic panels online and near your residence according to your room size and property.
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Door Seals and Draft Guards
It might be a minor crack on your walls and space between the door and the floor that causes the noise to leave your house. You can overcome these by selecting door sweeps to cover up these spots on your walls and floors.
Draft Guards are long cylindrical pillows with foam fillings that can be placed on both sides of your door and reduce outgoing sounds. The material for the draft guards can be different, and you can choose a good draft guard based on your budget and requirements.
You can also opt for door seals under your door to block out spaces through which noise can get out. The gap below your door can act as a channel for noise to get out and disturb your neighbors. Door seals are less costly and can be replaced once damaged.
Work on your walls
This can be considered a last resort and can be used when nothing on the above list works if your surrounding walls are fragile and can’t be trusted to contain your privacy. So, here are some ways to improve on your walls.
Damped dry walls are the way to go if you are looking for an economical and effective way to add soundproofing to your walls. They have different layers that can provide extra thickness, strength, and noise cancellation to your walls. What’s more important is that you can screw it to your wall without prior experience or craftsmanship.
One can also consider installing appropriate insulation to the inner walls of your home to fill the gaps between walls and spaces. Fiberglass is a viable option to consider for absorbing noise and blocking outgoing sounds to a great extent.
Mass Loaded Vinyls
Considered as the holy grail of soundproofing materials. Light, flexible, washable, and versatile, the mass-loaded vinyl is an all-in-one package and can be used everywhere in your home, from walls to noise-making appliances. We can install the sheet-like material as such without much professional expertise.
MLVs can be used between construction materials like concrete and drywalls if you are concerned about MLVs not matching your home’s ambiance. MLVs are washable, paintable, and are even available in transparent form. MLVs are, without a doubt, a one-stop-shop for your soundproofing needs and are cost-efficient and economical.
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Humans are social beings, and having close neighbors can have its perks. But, we do have our individualities and require privacy, especially at this age. This article has discussed the importance of soundproofing their home from the apartment neighbors and reducing echo and outgoing noises.
The methods and products mentioned here are some of the best solutions to soundproofing available in the market. But, it is possible that these may not be enough if you live in boisterous environments. In such cases, it is better to consult a professional to soundproof your apartment and may cost you more money.
As a final note, you cannot block 100% of the outgoing sound, and you shouldn’t try to either. The aim is to soundproof your home from neighbors’ conversations and noise so that you have your privacy, not complete isolation. Choose insulation materials and soundproofing methods accordingly, and always keep in mind your requirement and your budget while doing so.
Try to find the balance between soundproofing and keeping the ambiance of your home. Excessive soundproofing can cause the beauty of your home to drop. Cost efficiency must be kept in mind at all times, and feel free to reach out to professionals in the field if you need advice.