Sharing walls is a big downside of living in a condo. If you really think about it then a condo is just an extended space with partitions built at regular intervals. This also means that you are living in close proximity with complete strangers with nothing but a common wall separating your respective homes.
Many people living in condos complain of thin walls and that becomes a problem if the wall in question is a shared wall as that automatically means you will unwittingly be able to hear every sound from your neighbor’s condo and your neighbor will be able to do the same from yours. Imagine what that means for your privacy. Scary right?
A shared wall also means that you will not be able to perform any alterations to the wall without disturbing your neighbor even if you own the condo. The alterations may include drilling a tiny hole to hang a painting or some wall renovation.
But to be fair, these are temporary problems. The real and consistent issue with a shared wall between apartments is the noise issues. And the only way out of this situation is to soundproof the shared wall.
10 Ways to Soundproof a Shared Wall
These are a few tried and tested methods to block all noise from your neighbor as well as to keep your sound inside your apartment. You can try one of more than one of these depending on the noise levels you are facing.
Drywall can be used to create an additional wall on top of the main existing wall. Most people living in condos complain of thin walls and thus a layer of drywall over the actual shared wall is a good way to reduce noise coming through it.
Drywall is built from a number of materials. It is hard and thus a layer or two of drywall over the main wall can add significant mass to it. Soundwaves have difficulty traveling through dense layers and thus the drywall becomes an effective barrier for leaking sound between common walls.
Decoupling the drywall from the wall will give better results as it is a proven method for soundproofing. To decouple, all you have to do is set up the drywall in such a manner that it does not touch the main wall and stands at a little gap from it. For this use hat channel and sound isolation clips
As the name suggests, this method to soundproof a shared wall uses padding material such as foam to stop sound. More specifically, acoustic foam which happens to be a dedicated product for soundproofing walls.
Acoustic foam is better for sound absorption purposes than it is for sound blocking and thus is perfect when you don’t want the sounds from your home escaping into your neighbor’s.
Ever noticed a sound recording studio with walls lined up with foam-like padding? Yes, that is acoustic foam. It can be found in many shapes and colors so if you are worried about ruining the aesthetic factors of your apartment or condo with foam-covered walls then do not worry.
Acoustic foam can be styled to resemble wall panels and can serve as a perfect artistic addition to your empty wall.
Line the Wall with Furniture
Adding heavy furniture to the thin common wall of your apartment or condo will add mass to it thereby creating an additional layer for the sound waves to travel through. It is an ingenious hack to soundproof a common wall using the existing furniture in your home.
For better results, use upholstered furniture because when sound waves come into contact with soft fabric, they lose their intensity and cannot reflect or change their course. They get absorbed instead. If you don’t have upholstered furniture then you can cover the backs of your furniture with MLV sheets and then line it up against the wall.
This hack will of course be effective as long the sound in question is not so loud as to be considered deafening and unbearable, in which case you should try some of these other methods.
MLV or Mass Loaded Vinyl is a dedicated material for soundproofing and has a lot of functional flexibility, which is to say that the material can be used in many ways.
The MLV sheets are penetrated with metal particles which makes them quite heavy and thus a great option for adding mass to the walls. Two or three layers of MLV are sure to block out all sound trying to enter or leave a room.
MLV can also be used to make acoustic panels which then will be mounted on the wall to make it soundproof. Generally, condo walls tend to be thinner than apartment walls, and thus soundproofing a shared wall in a condo will require more amounts of MLV than an apartment wall.
These are a pretty common method used to stop the passage of sound between walls. The noise reduction quality of soundproof blankets lies in the extra layers of fabric sewn into its structure.
It will be safe to say that these are pretty heavy-duty and much heavier than your regular blankets. Thus covering a thin wall between two apartments or condos with a soundproof blanket is a good way to block noise.
By its inherent nature, sound waves travel in straight lines and reflect off from hard surfaces only. But when these waves come in contact with soft surfaces like fabric or padding, their straight path breaks, and the sound waves mostly get absorbed.
But just any piece of fabric won’t do the trick and that is why we have soundproof blankets which are specially made to provide soundproofing solutions to walls.
You can hang one or two layers of soundproof blankets on the problem wall and cover the wall with a soundproof curtain if you will. It is sure to block out most noise from your loud neighbor.
Noise barriers or sound barriers are engineered modular sound panels designed for noise reduction and control. These barriers are typically built with absorbing material and designed to reduce sound levels by as much as possible.
The only problem with this method is that the noise barrier is not something that can be hung or attached to the wall but is rather a construction that is blended with the wall.
Well, it is not exactly a problem if you are the homeowner, because these cost quite some money and if you are merely renting the property and will eventually move then this investment might not be worth it.
That said, a talk with your landlord may allow you to build these if you want to.
These barriers are a permanent solution to noise problems and the best thing is that it does not even affect how the wall looks. You could put it behind a layer of drywall and no one will even know!
Hanging heavy soundproof curtains along a shared wall is a pretty standard practice, especially in condos where the walls tend to be thin.
This not only absorbs runaway sound but is also not going to blow a hole in your pocket. All you have to install is a curtain rod to hang it from after which you can hang your curtains of choice from it.
The only thing you need to keep in mind while hanging curtains for soundproofing, is that soundproof curtains are thicker and heavier than regular curtains so make sure to get the right one while buying them.
This method will not stop very loud sounds but is sure to deal with sounds of people talking and minor sounds traveling between the walls.
Get Wall Hangings
Another way to dampen sound waves and soundproof a common wall inside an apartment. Not to mention this is a cheap option too if you are not willing to spend a lot of money on a wall.
It more or less serves the same function as a soundproof curtain but with an aesthetic variation. And thus you need to buy wall hangings that are made of thick and dense material so that sounds can get absorbed easily by it.
Acoustic Mineral Wool Insulation
This is another great and effective method to soundproof a wall between two apartments. Although it is a bit pricier than the other options provided here, its performance is like no other and is easily one of the best ways to block all sound passing between walls.
Its installation process is a bit complicated and needs professional expertise especially while dealing with mineral wool. The wool is added in sufficient quantities between two timber battens to form a frame of sorts. This frame is then mounted on the wall using sufficient support.
Although chiefly used as an adhesive for attaching soundproofing products on surfaces, the green glue soundproofing compound is in itself a great solution to noise problems. It is a water-based non-toxic compound that can be applied to walls to make them soundproof.
The secret behind this compound is that even after it dries, it retains an elastic structure thus not giving the sound waves a hard surface to bounce back from. When the sound waves meet the elastic layer of green glue, they lose their intensity and their vibration is also reduced. As a result of this, the sound gets reduced in volume.
Green glue can also be used behind a layer of drywall, an acoustic panel, or even furniture used to add mass to the wall.
The Bottom Line
It is totally natural to be annoyed if some noisy family next door is ruining your peace and quiet. However, now you know how to remedy the situation.
If you are using one of the temporary methods then make sure to add many layers to properly do the job and if you are opting for a more permanent and long-lasting remedy, then you have nothing more to worry about.