Condo (sometimes apartment) walls are not usually thick enough to maintain the privacy of two different sets of people sharing one big space! They aren’t designed to block sound transmission through them.
To soundproof a common apartment/condo wall, you can either go for a permanent solution or a temporary one. For perfect soundproofing of your condo/apartment, add drywall or install soundproofing panels on the walls. You can also use green glue, audio blankets, and other decoupling techniques to mitigate noise.
There are a ton of available options when it comes to soundproofing a common condo or apartment wall. All you need to bear in mind is that temporary solutions won’t cancel noise the same way permanent methods do. So, if you’re planning to stay for a long time, treat your space permanently!
Temporary solutions, in very simple terms, mean using only non-invasive soundproofing techniques, products, and materials to reduce noise in a room. The idea is not to change and/or damage the walls, ceilings, or structure of the apartment or a condo.
Editor’s recommendation: The TINGCHAO Peel and Stick Wall Paper is ideal for people who don’t want to undertake a huge DIY soundproofing project and would just like to buy a wallpaper that they can peel and paste. Check it out on Amazon.
Soundproof wallpaper is one of the cheapest soundproofing solutions and an easy way to make your place interesting. You can apply them directly to the wall after peeling and their noise reduction capabilities will do the rest!
Some wallpapers also come with added texture on the surface that also helps in reducing reverberations and echoes to some point. The ups and downs give more space for the sound waves to bounce and dissipate energy.
Editor’s Recommendation: When it comes to soundproofing, you can’t really go wrong with an Audimute product and their soundproof blanket is no different. Find it here on Amazon.
Soundproof or sound deadening blankets are one of the most popular temporary materials for soundproofing a condo/apartment wall. These blankets are made of thick and heavy fibers to trap air (carrying sound waves) inside.
You’ll often find these blankets in music or recording studios more than homes or restaurants. This is because the bulky curtains aren’t always very pleasing to look at.
The best part? You can put them in any part of your room. Be it walls, doors, windows, or the ceiling, all you have to do is add a rod where they can hang.
The heavier or denser the drape is, the better it will be at blocking sound going out or coming inside your space. Soundproof blankets are usually made of fiberglass or polyester material, both of which are known for absorbing sound waves and adding an extra layer of insulation.
Acoustic Foam Panels
Editor’s Recommendation: For acoustic panels, I’ll recommend another Audimute product. It’s their flagship foam panel that’s considered to be the most premium soundproof panel out there. Learn more about it here on Amazon.
Acoustic wedges or foam panels are another cheap way of treating your room for better sonic experiences. These are primarily made of foam, with a highly porous upper layer, to absorb sound waves that hit them.
You can easily put these panels on the walls by peeling and sticking, just like wallpaper. But unlike wallpapers, acoustic foam wedges are not as pretty to look at. But, you can still get different colors and shapes that go with the décor of your space.
Acoustic panels are effective only for high or mid frequencies of sound, they won’t absorb much of bass or other low-frequency sounds. They target mostly airborne noise, especially when used on the walls, and problems like flutter echo or standing waves in a room.
Furniture Type And Placement
Another temporary way of soundproofing your condo or apartment is to place the furniture strategically around the space. An empty room will make and amplify noise more than a filled-up one because all sound waves reflect and bounce off of surfaces instead of getting absorbed.
Thus, lay the heavier furniture of your apartment in areas of the source of the sound. Softer surfaces of furniture such as sofas, cushions, beds, couches, or clothes absorb most of the unwanted sound waves. This reduces the number of bouncing sound waves that otherwise deter sound quality.
Place cupboards, bookshelves, or wall hangings up against the walls to cover up the largest hard surface of the room. Noise reverberates more through hard surfaces than softer ones, try adding softer cushions, throws, or more rugs on the floors to cover them up.
Mass Loaded Mats
Mass-loaded Vinyl or MLV is considered one of the best materials to absorb low, mid, and high-frequency sound waves. You can easily install mass-loaded vinyl mats by yourself and reduce airborne noise from the common area.
You can attach them to the wall with either staples or glue. Glue is more recommended as it acts both as an adhesive as well as a damping compound. Moreover, if your condo or apartment has carpets, you can also add a layer of mass-loaded under-pads to absorb more sound.
Making the floor softer and thicker is more beneficial for people living on the upper floor of an apartment building where you have noise coming in from right, left, up, and below.
Permanent soundproofing solutions are much more effective and efficient than temporary ones. Some of the most efficacious permanent solutions are:
Drywall is a construction material that is used mainly to create ceilings, walls, and other architectural specialties. Soundproof drywalls are made of gypsum, wood, polymers, or fibers. You can add them to walls either during construction or install them as an additional layer over a constructed wall.
Drywalls are meant to increase the Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings of a room. A drywall panel is a layer of mineral gypsum that is sandwiched between layers of paper. Gypsum, viscoelastic and ceramic fillings make drywall panels resilient and highly resistant to the passage of sound.
Adding drywall is one of the easiest ways of soundproofing your apartment or condo for a long time. They are also cheap and easy to install.
Replacing Window Glass With Laminated Acoustic Glass
Windows are one of the weakest points of a room. They let in a lot of noise from the street, the lobby, other apartments and similarly, let the noise out. Soundproof windows block high-frequency sound waves with their impressive thickness and STC rating of 50. Normal glass windows usually have an STC value of 25 or 27.
However, this is not a cheap solution! But you will surely notice a significant change in the sounds of your apartment or condo. An alternative is to plug the windows instead of replacing them altogether. But since we are talking about permanent solutions, a laminated soundproof window definitely is a worthy long-term investment.
Decoupling refers to breaking all the points of contact between two walls. It is one of the most effective ways of soundproofing a condo wall. This method targets impact noise, which is the noise that travels through objects by moving or vibrating them.
When you separate two walls with decoupling material, it becomes harder for sound waves to pass through them. The walls will still vibrate when sound waves hit them, but on their own, independently!
Decoupling is permanent because it involves either building a “room within a room”, installation of stud walls, or resilient clips. The main purpose of decoupling is to reduce or eliminate vibrations that conduct sound waves through the wall. Decoupling won’t affect the airborne transmission of noise but is the best solution for impact noise.
Other Methods Of Soundproofing Common Condo/Apartment Walls
If you haven’t figured out between temporary or permanent soundproofing of your common apartment or condo wall, take a look at these ways.
This is a common way of controlling noise that is transmitted through vibrations. This method involves increasing the mass and density of the wall with sound-absorbing materials.
You can place sound insulation foam or noise dampening sheets/mats on walls to absorb sound waves. You can also install acoustic foam or insulation foam in the wall cavity by using Green Glue.
Green Glue is a sound dampening product and is designed to convert the mechanical energy of sound waves into heat. This damping compound is formulated with a unique polymeric formula that works especially well at absorbing airborne noise.
You can use Green Glue between two drywall panels and the combined effect of drywall and Green Glue will be sufficient to block all noise from your neighbor.
Seal Gaps And Cracks
Condo and apartment walls have holes that often go unnoticed. These are usually cable holes that can be the cause of increased noise in your condo/apartment. You can seal these holes either with cement, mortar, or Green Glue.
Sealant tapes are a great solution for blocking small gaps in the door or window openings. They are cheap and easily moldable to fit most window sizes. Moreover, you can also use acoustic sealants to close possible cracks in walls or gaps around doors.
These are made out of mass-loaded vinyl and come rolled up, ready for installation. These barriers may look thin and sleek in appearance but are very effective at their job!
Sound barriers add weight and mass to your condo/apartment walls. They work best when applied directly on the drywall. Note that this is one of the expensive ways of soundproofing and you might need help with the whole installation process as well.
Weather stripping originally prevents air leaks and drafts. As you might have guessed, this is a perfect solution for airborne noise.
Weather stripping material is usually a thermoplastic mix of rubber and plastic or it’s a blend of filler and polymer. These materials are very effective in noise and water resistance because of their mass and dense composition.
You can place adhesive strips on the doors you share with your condo or apartment neighbor or the window that opens in a common hallway/lobby.
Space under and on the sides of a door can easily let in or out the noise. Use an acoustic door seal to close them off. Acoustic door seal kits include threshold seals, jamb seals, and seals to close the space at the bottom of the door.
This is an expensive, but permanent solution as you’ll have to mount a seal around the door. You can attach this seal directly to the door and adjust it to fill any gaps.
This option is great for those whose apartment or condo door opens into a corridor or a common noisy area. Another option is to use an acoustic sealant tape whose rubber seal can fill gaps of around 3mm.
This is a specialist product that can absorb high, mid, and low frequencies of sound. They are incredibly flexible and due to this elasticity, you can hang them over walls, windows, and even doors.
Typically, an audio blanket will be made out of fiberglass that is a proven material for exemplary soundproofing. Note that this is rather an expensive solution and is only worth your investment if you’re planning to stay for a long while in the common condo/apartment.
Along with that, audio blankets are not very pleasing to look at. People usually have to hang something on them, to make them look a bit nicer.
FAQs About Soundproofing A Common Apartment/Condo
Soundproofing is more of a necessity than a choice when you’re living in a common condo or apartment. This is where you share (at least) one wall with other people who can be moderate to super noisy. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about soundproofing a common condo or apartment wall.
How to soundproof thin walls between apartments?
You can soundproof a common wall or walls between two apartments by using sound-absorbing material. You can use products such as Green Glue, acoustic tiles or panels, or mass-loaded vinyl. Most people living in common condos or apartments use such items to make sure they’re safe from a noisy neighbor.
You can also paint the apartment with soundproofing paint! This is an easy and equally cheap solution that effectively reduces the transmission of airborne noise.
Can you soundproof a shared wall?
Yes! You can soundproof a shared wall.A simple rule of sound blocking is to make walls as thick and dense as possible. This means you need to add more mass to your shared wall in the form of foam, drywall, or any other acoustic treatment.
The thicker your wall is, the harder it will make for sound waves to travel through them to the other side!
Does soundproof paint really work?
Soundproofing paints are good if you’re looking for a temporary soundproofing solution. They are certainly not as effective as an acoustic panel hung from the ceiling or the wall.
Soundproofing paints aid in absorbing sound more than blocking it. They address only mid-range frequencies, which is the frequency of normal human speech. A noise dampening paint won’t block high or low frequencies of sound.
Can you soundproof with floor underlays?
Originally, floor underlays were not designed to soundproof a condo or an apartment. But, they add an extra layer of mass to the floor which makes them softer and more absorptive of sound waves.
An underlay will soundproof just fine if it is thick and made from dense material. Mass-loaded vinyl is the ideal choice here, again.
Are condos more soundproof than apartments?
It depends! Both apartments and condos can be noisy. A plethora of elements contribute towards how noisy or quiet a condo or an apartment is. Neither of the two is more or less soundproof than the other.
It all comes down to how the place is built, how it is maintained, and the materials used in it. Thus, you cannot pick one as more or less soundproof than the other.
When soundproofing a condo or an apartment, it is essential that you know permanent fitting does the job way better than temporary ones. Though they may be pricey, the investment proves to be worth it when your ears are safe from your neighbor’s questionable music taste at 3 am!
However, if you are not planning for permanent fixtures, you can follow a simple rule of thumb. That is, the more the mass/layers, the better!