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Nobody enjoys the sounds of blaring music or television or amorous neighbours getting a little too … um, affectionate … on the other side of the far-too-thin wall. But they’re a fact of life if you’re living in an apartment or share house with friends.
So what can you do? Options are limited when you don’t own the property.
Here are several affordable solutions that can help you muffle (or hopefully mute) these urban intrusions – and they’re far easier to implement than you may think. We’ve rounded up some simple sound-proofing upgrades that will help you achieve a quieter household.
COVER THE WALLS
Hard surfaces like plaster, timber and glass have the uncanny ability to amplify noise in a space. By adding soft surfaces to a room, you can absorb a lot of noise. Sound-absorbing materials like cotton, foam and felt are ideal (they’re what musicians use to soundproof rooms), but they don’t always give an appealing look.
A much more stylish solution is to apply materials like decorative fabric, pieces of art or even greenery to surfaces. This could include adorning walls with pictures and frames, adding a living wall of hanging plants, or affixing wall tiles or tapestries for a bolder look.
Just keep in mind that some materials are better at blocking out higher and lower-pitch sounds.
Following the same rationale as above, adding rugs or carpet to your floors will help keep sounds from bouncing. Rugs are also a great way to tie the decor of a room together, and if you have a penchant for wearing shoes indoors your downstairs neighbour or adjacent flatmates will surely appreciate the muffled patter. Go for “high-pile” designs to really minimise noise.
If you’re not a rug person, ceiling baffles also work well. They’re a bit more work, but they make a big difference and come in all sorts of fun and sculptural designs.
USE DRAFT GUARDS AND DOOR SEALS
The crack below your door may not look like much, but it’s a great place for noise to enter. Adding a door guard will help mitigate unwelcome sounds. They’re also an excellent and inexpensive way to add a bit of insulation to your home, keeping cold or hot air out, depending on the season.
Bookshelves and their heavy, dense books provide excellent sound insulation and will make any living space – and its resident – look more sophisticated.
Bookshelves also come with the added benefit of extra storage space – although don’t go too crazy adding decorative objects. Too many voids and clear surfaces will counter your noise-blocking efforts.
REPLACE YOUR DOORS
They don’t make doors like they used to, that’s for sure. A solid wood door provides a much better sound barrier than the super-cheap hollow ones that allow sound to pass through. While a solid wood door is your best bet, particleboard-core and composite-core are great less-pricey alternatives that work almost as well. If you’re going to be in the place for awhile, and your existing bedroom door is flimsy, this might be a worthwhile investment.