While there are many ways to soundproof a condo during the construction phase, the majority of developers build to code and go no further. Good quality acoustic insulation is expensive, and until the market demands its installation, builders will continue to avoid adding extra costs to construction. As a result, many condo dwellers experience noise issues.
So what can you do if you are living in a condo and you are having trouble with intrusive noise? There are plenty of things you can do yourself to soundproof a condo. They range from the relatively inexpensive and straightforward to the “take the unit back to the studs and invest a chunk of change.” How far you go depends on how much the noise is bothering you, your budget, and your skill level.
How To Soundproof A Condo – Simple Fixes
There are ways to reduce the noise levels in a condo with some relatively quick, easy, and affordable fixes.
Before I start, I’d like to add a few words of caution. If you want to know how to soundproof your condo, simple fixes will only go so far in addressing a noise problem. They can help to reduce the noise levels but don’t expect them to protect you from every external sound.
How To Soundproof A Condo By Plugging The Holes
You may not realize it, but there are probably dozens of gaps and holes around the structure of your condo through which sound can travel. The first thing you should do is buy some acoustic caulking such as Green Glue and go around your condo looking for gaps. You may find gaps:
- Where the walls meet the ceiling or the floor.
- Around electrical outlets and light fixtures.
- Inside kitchen or bathroom cabinets, both where they meet the walls and where pipes enter the room.
- Around the window frames and the door casings.
- Any other spot where utilities breach the walls or one surface meets another.
How To Soundproof A Condo With Duct Wrap
In a similar vein to using acoustic caulking, you can use sound dampening duct tape to minimize the noise from the ductwork itself as well as reducing any sound traveling in from outside of your condo.
How To Soundproof A Condo With Acoustic Panels
At one time the only acoustic panels you could find were ugly, grey, industrial items you would never want to place on your walls.
Luckily times have changed, and there are small panels which you can tile to create a pattern, all the way up to large, wall-sized panels which you can have printed with anything you like. This makes the panel feel more like a piece of art than a way to keep the noise out.
How To Soundproof A Condo With Fixes For Doors
Many people are bothered by the sounds of neighbors moving up and down the hallways on their floor. This is often an issue because there are tiny gaps around the door which allow a surprising level of sound to get into your unit.
Luckily this is a relatively quick fix because you can buy door soundproofing kits which not only help to cut down on sound but also minimize drafts.
How To Soundproof A Condo With Fixes For Windows
There are also plenty of soundproofing kits for windows which are easy for a novice to install. In addition, you can purchase both blinds and drapes, which reduce both light and sound. This is especially useful if you are bothered by occasional traffic noise.
How To Soundproof A Condo With Other Small Fixes
Sound travels in waves and bounces around the surfaces in a room so anything you can do to absorb or disrupt the reflection of sound waves will help.
While on their own, these small fixes will not do a lot to soundproof a condo, but they can contribute to a reduction in sound when you do not have the option of more effective fixes:
- Soundproof padding that sits under rugs.
- Decorative felt panels, tapestries, etc. that you can hang on the walls.
- Noise reductive room dividers can help to disrupt the flow of sound.
- Use draft excluders to dampen sound travel under interior doors.
- Place your furniture in such a way that it may reduce the noise. For example, move your couch away from a shared wall or put up bookshelves against it.
- Soft furnishings, pillows, throws, etc. can serve to absorb soundwaves but you will only notice the difference if your starting point is a stark, minimalist room and you move to large numbers of soft furnishings.
Noise Machines For Soundproofing A Condo
While a noise machine will not, technically, soundproof your condo, using one can cover up an intrusive sound.
These work for some people but not for others, and they are not a solution if you are looking for a result that will get you as close to silence as you can.
How To Soundproof A Condo – The Most Effective Fixes
For those of you who want to know how to soundproof a condo the most effective way, you are going to have to get your hands dirty. Either that or have someone else get their hands dirty on your behalf.
How To Soundproof A Condo Floor
The best way to tackle soundproofing a condo floor is to do it all at once. This ensures that there are no gaps in your soundproofing through which noise can still travel. However, I appreciate that this is not always possible so complete as large an area as you can at once.
Take up all of your floorings, remove the baseboards, and set everything aside.
Now take a good look at the floor. Locate any seams on the floor and use a metal tape to cover them. Then use Green Glue to fill any cracks or holes in the floor.
Roll your soundproofing underlay or vinyl across the floor in continuous, straight rows. Ensure the underlay goes from wall to wall, completely covering the entire floor surface. Use a craft or utility knife to make clean straight cuts at the ends.
Use acoustic caulk such as Green Glue around the outside of the floor where the flooring meets the walls. Then, use a silicone adhesive to seal the seams where the strips of underlay meet
Relay your flooring on top of the underlay and reaffix the baseboards to the walls. You can even use Green Glue to stick the baseboards to the walls, and this will give you a tiny bit more protection from the sound.
How To Soundproof A Condo Wall
This is a tricky one and only really worth the effort if you own your condo and intend to stay there for the foreseeable future or if you are a tenant with an understanding landlord who is willing to allow you to demo and rebuild the unit.
Turn off the electricity supply to your unit and then double-check the electricity supply is turned off!
Remove any electrical outlets and anything else which is attached to the wall on which you are working, including the baseboard and any moldings around the ceiling.
Affix a layer of mass-loaded vinyl or another acoustic barrier material made for walls, over your drywall working from the ceiling downwards. Use Green Glue to adhere the barrier to the wall and ensure it reaches all the way from floor to ceiling. Seal the seams between the rows of soundproofing.
Place another layer of drywall over the soundproof barrier using acoustic glue to seal the edges.
Reattach electrical outlets, fixtures, and fittings, and the baseboards, being sure to seal the gaps around each with acoustic caulking.
How To Soundproof A Condo Ceiling
The trickiest thing about installing acoustic tiles on your ceiling is getting them to look “right.” For some people, misaligned tiles or tiles which are oddly laid can be very distracting. If you are one of those people and you do not feel confident in your skills, have a professional install the tiles.
For everyone who is willing to tackle the job:
Remove any ceiling texture, such as a popcorn finish, turn off the electricity and remove any light fixtures.
Find the center of the ceiling, or if the room is irregular, as close to the center as you can. For many rooms, a good starting point is where the light fixtures are in the ceiling.
Stick the tiles to the ceiling by spreading ceiling tile adhesive on the rear of the tile and then pushing it firmly against the ceiling. When you place a tile over a spot where a light fixture will come through, leave the tile off of the ceiling and carry on around it. This makes it much easier when the time comes to replace the lights.
Tile the entire ceiling being sure to place each tile tightly against the next. When you get to the end of a row and have a spot where a partial tile is needed, leave that spot until you have placed all of the whole tiles you can.
Measure the spaces you have left around the edges of your ceiling and cut tiles to fit, ensuring you go as tight to the wall as possible. For spaces where a light fixture comes through, measure the spot on the ceiling and transfer those measurements to the tile.
Use acoustic caulking to seal around the light fixtures and the edges of the ceiling then replace the fixtures and any molding you removed.
Sound can be extremely intrusive, so much so that it can ruin the enjoyment of your home. While unusual noise such as a neighbor who plays loud music at 2 a.m. has other possible remedies, if you find yourself with no other recourse, then soundproofing your condo can be an effective way to make your home more comfortable.
Of course, none of these fixes is guaranteed to soundproof a condo 100%, but all of them can contribute to a reduction in noise levels.
Considering an apartment? Check out our article Are Condos More Soundproof Than Apartments for some more great tips.
About The Author
Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.