We've talked about how to handle noisy neighbors, but sometimes your best efforts go ignored. After all, it's really hard to get people to change their habits, and you could end up making enemies and creating tension with your neighbors. That's a tough situation to be in because you just won't enjoy being in your own apartment, and that's no solution at all. So, how should you handle the noise that's coming into your apartment? There are things you can control, and there are some smart measure to take to help soundproof your place. Of course, shy of actually lining your entire place with soundproofing foam (very expensive and weird looking, too), we can recommend five things you can do to help keep your place that much quieter.
*Every product is selected by our editorial staff. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.
Okay, so probably the first reason you should own a bookshelf is to actually store the books you're going to read (reading is good for you, duh). Secondly, a good bookshelf lined full of books can act as sound deadening. But you've got to put that bookshelf against a wall that faces the noise source like the hallway or the adjacent apartment unit where the noisy neighbors live. A big bookshelf that's deep, wide, and tall can occupy a lot of space and that thick barrier can help keep noise at bay. Think of it as adding a thicker wall to your existing wall. Opt for something that's made out of real wood (not particle board) because it does a better job of keeping noise out. Get some thick hardcover books (hopefully, ones you'll actually read or look at) rather than a ton of thin books. Put bookshelves in your bedrooms and living area for optimal results. Here's a 5-tiered shelf that will fit just about anywhere, and it's under $200.
This is one of the best ways to sound deaden your place, especially if it comes from below. It's also a good way to be kind to those who live below you. If your place is hardwood, or if your place has thin carpet, this is a great solution. Rugs don't have to cost a lot, either, and you can get affordable plush rugs online with free delivery from the likes of Amazon, Wayfair, etc. Add a rug pad underneath the rug, and you help dampen noise even more. It's an investment that will happen to make your place look better, as well as insulate footsteps, pets walking, and dropped objects. Keep in mind that thicker rugs tend to work better than thin ones, so make sure you buy wisely. Here's a thick, neutrally colored rug that will fit in a bedroom or living room, and it's less than $100.
Another great way to keep sound out of your place, especially from the outdoors, is thick curtains. You can buy more expensive soundproofing curtains, but you can also just get thick curtains with quality fabric. You can even layer curtains by putting a liner curtain facing the outside and a thicker one that faces the interior. Just make sure you size them correctly for your window and don't position them too far away from the window. Just keep in mind that in order to actually use them for noise protection, you've got to keep them closed. These are especially helpful in your bedroom for keeping noise out during sleeping hours. You'll be surprised how much of a difference they can make, and you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. Just make sure your landlord is okay with you installing them. You may have to put back the old ones and make hole repairs before you move out. Here's a great set of actual soundproofing curtains that are also blackout curtains, and they're very affordable at under $100 a set.
More than keeping noise out of your place, a good white noise machine will help drown out errant noise by providing a consistent noise that's actually easy on the ears. If you layer the noise from the machine over the undesirable exterior noise, it can help mitigate things and give you peace. Some white noise machines will actually play frequencies that will cancel out other, unwanted frequencies. These are the same kinds of machines that help babies sleep. Of course, you can get something like this on your smartphone, but it's unlikely that your phone has good enough speakers to drown out noise. A good white noise machine has larger speakers and will provide better sound dispersion. They're also very affordable, so you can get one for each room in your apartment (okay, maybe not the bathroom). Here's a highly reviewed one for less than $100.
We've found that most apartments don't have the greatest door seals, especially for entry doors to the apartment that provide access from the corridor or hallway. If you want to keep exterior noise out, you may want to do it yourself, either by replacing existing door seals or by adding seals where there are none. Good seals can not only keep out drafts but also footsteps, conversations, vacuuming, cleaning sounds, etc. Even if you have a heavy front door, if there are gaps in the door, it could allow noise to come through. Of course, talk to your landlord before you do the work, and avoid ones that require drilling into the door. Here are great door seals that use adhesive and are easy to install.