How to Soundproof a Room in an Apartment — Decorate It


By Adeeva Fritz

Jun 10, 2022

Updated on Aug 24, 2023

Renters dealing with thin walls in their apartment building and noisy neighbors will be happy to hear that soundproofing doesn’t have to break the bank. Sure, there are expensive soundproofing solutions out there, like acoustic panels, acoustic foams, wall panels, and drywall, but if you don’t own your place, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money on sound insulation. Plus, the terms of your lease will likely prevent you from making any permanent changes to the apartment.

The good news is that reducing unwanted noises in an apartment starts with sound absorption, which can be as easy as filling your place with noise-absorbing items you love. From wall hangings to curtains, rugs, blankets, and more, here’s how to decorate your way to a quieter apartment.

Soundproofing Apartment Walls

While you can purchase expensive soundproofing panels to reduce noise, there are a few cheaper solutions you can try first. To help absorb noise, consider adding wall hangings — the softer, the better. Think tapestries and quilts. One more plug for tapestries is that they can also be helpful for soundproofing ceilings (a DIY solution for noisy upstairs neighbors). But if that feels a little too boho, don’t worry. While fabric dampens sound better than hard surfaces, hanging posters, photos, and bulletin boards can also soak up sound. However, when soundproofing walls, it’s important to note that mirrors and framed paintings behind glass will have the opposite effect.

Another way to soundproof walls is with bookshelves or bookcases. In addition to creating a studious vibe, there’s another smart reason to line your apartment with the written word. Floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with books can act like a second wall creating a sound barrier between you and neighboring rooms or apartments, helping to keep noise levels down.

Soundproofing Windows

When it comes to soundproofing windows, the first thing you have to do is look for cracks and leaks. If there are any noticeable cracks or seams letting air in, it stands to reason that outside noise will follow. While a cracked window is cause for a maintenance request with your landlord or property manager, renters aren’t likely to have much luck getting old existing windows that don’t have a tight seal replaced. In this case, your best bet is weatherstripping. Head to your local hardware store or favorite online retailer to stock up on weather sealing tape designed especially for windows. (Your landlord may also be amenable to re-caulking the windows.)

Cracks, fixed. Seals, taped. Next stop, window hangings. Fabric curtains and woven blinds both absorb sound, though heavy curtains made of fabric work better. For even more noise reduction, you may want to look for what’s called soundproof curtains. Unlike ordinary curtains, soundproof curtains are insulated for noise reduction and, as an added bonus, light-blocking, which can help keep your apartment cool and energy costs down during the summer months.

If you live in a very noisy city like New York, you may even want to invest in window inserts made especially for soundproofing.

Soundproofing Floors & Soundproofing Doors

If your apartment has hardwood flooring or tiled floors, throw rugs are a must for sound absorption. The thicker and plusher, the more effective. Hello, shag rug. Want even more noise dampening? Add a rug pad.

Look under your apartment doors. If you can see light from the other side of the front door, noise is traveling under your door, too. Fortunately, using a draft stopper or door sweep is an easy way to block large gaps under doors. For added door soundproofing, try a door seal kit, also available at your local hardware store or online.

Sound-Absorbing Furnishings

Sorry, modern minimalists, but glass, metal, and other non-porous materials don’t absorb sound like upholstered furniture. If you’re looking for additional ways to muffle sound, add fabric furnishings, plush pillows, and cozy blankets to your apartment decor.

The Bottom Line

For those looking to soundproof an apartment, decorating is a great first step, making you feel more at home and reducing unwanted noise at the same time. White noise machines and fans can also help drown out unwanted sound waves. However, seriously loud neighbors (next-door drummers, upstairs tap dancers, across-the-hall yellers, etc.) are no match for sound-absorbing decor. For this type of noise problem, you may need to enlist the assistance of your property manager or landlord.

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