One of the few universal problems with any apartment is the noise. Noise can seep in from anywhere, be it the street, from above, and even below. It can be a large family, a constantly fighting couple, or even music being played too loudly. Fortunately, this problem can be at least partially relieved with some careful planning.
Below are some ideas on how to make the floor itself quieter. As for the rest of the apartment, the best suggestions are to move your furniture against the wall to act as a sound baffle, stringing thick curtains across the window, or simply obtain some noise-canceling headphones. There are a number of ways to deal with the sound, but those are beyond the scope of this article.
What You Will Need:
The Obligatory Caveats
Some of the methods that will be discussed below require making changes to the apartment itself and thus may potentially void a deposit or possibly provide a reason for the landlord or apartment manager to evict you. With that in mind make sure that the person to whom you pay rent to is aware of and approves what you plan to do.
With a little luck it may be possible to talk that person into actually not only okaying your plans but also sign off on giving you a break on your rent; after all, it could be argued that you are improving the apartment. Regardless of the outcome, do not press the situation and go with whatever they say. If you have hit the point where the noise is too much, it may be better to just move rather than press the issue.
Also be advised that some of these methods may create temporary noise problems themselves. As such it may be necessary to okay that noise with the apartment manager and work within their guidelines; after all, you want to eliminate at least some of the noise without risking your ability to live at your current residence. With those caveats, this article should be able to help with your sound problems.
Contractors As The First Option
The first option should be to at least debate bringing in contractors. While this should be more expensive than the DIY option it is worth considering. At the very least the contractor’s work is usually guaranteed and will probably be of better quality than what you can do; this is their job, after all, and they can be reported to the any number of organizations.
The other advantage to doing it this way is that you know that the job will be done right and as quickly as possible rather doing it piecemeal like you would need to do yourselves over a long period of time. The other advantage is that you would have some recourse should the work not be performed as desired. Thus, while it may be expensive, you are guaranteed at least some positive results.
Clear The Floor
If you choose to go at it yourself, the first thing you should do is clear the floor down to the wood. The best way to start is if you begin work with a bare wooden floor; it is just going to be easier to follow through on most of the suggestions that follow if the floor is bare wood. This is not to say that you can not work with carpeted floors, just that it will be easier to make it quiet if you start with a bare floor.
That said, you do not need to wax the floor or otherwise treat it. It is advised that you make sure that the floor is in good repair while you can see it, however; the first step in making your floor quieter is to work with a good floor. A floor in disrepair will usually be a lot louder, will allow the sound to go through the cracks, and the is going to have all sorts of areas where it will cause irregularities in anything above.
As such, while the floor is exposed it is important to make sure that it is in good repair. Make sure that the boards fit together, that the structure is sound, and that there is no rot or other issues. In essence, make sure that the floor itself is not adding to the noise problem and that it will support what is to come. Again, while you can work with a carpeted floor, it does not mean that you should not try for a bare floor from the start.
A Quick Alternative
Sometimes you just want something simple and effective. If you do not have the time and resources, a relatively cheap and quick alternative are interlocking exercise mats. By placing these over a floor you get some basic insulation against sound as well as some great protection against slipping.While it may seem a little boring, there are some ways to paint the rubber mats. Make sure that the mats are perfectly clean before you start; even if they are straight out of the box, clean them to eliminate packing dust.
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While it is advised that you should start with a shellac primer, you can use acrylic paint on top of the mats. You can also use tire paint for the best effect, but make sure that the paint is good for it.
Over time the paint may chip, especially if placed in a heavy-traffic area. This just means that you need to keep an eye on it and repaint as needed. However, the mats themselves last for years, requiring little maintenance; this means that they can provide plenty of sound insulation for years as well as protecting the floor beneath. They can also be repainted as needed allowing the owner to change designs as needed; this quick recoloration backed by their endurance gives them a slight edge over the carpet.
From the Bottom Up
The easiest place to start is the bottom and go from there. This means that you should start with a laminate flooring. This is relatively thin and vapor-locked, allowing to become a great insulator against sound. It also works best when applied directly against the floor, meaning that it works best with a wood or linoleum floor rather than covering a carpet.The laminate flooring just needs to be spread out to cover the floor.
It can then be secured with finishing nails; you may need to at least let your apartment manager know considering that it may count as affecting permanent change. It is best if you lay it down without overlap and cut it as needed. Once this initial layer has been put down it can easily serve as the bottom layer of your sound insulation.
The Second Layer
It can be useful to have another layer, especially one that helps to secure the carpet. A reversible grip pad will not only add to the insulation effect but will also help to secure the carpet above, making sure that it does not slip out of place, which also helps to do something about potential slips and trips as well eliminating peaks and valleys in the carpet.Installation will likely require tools to shear through the padding as well as some friends to help wrestle the padding into place.
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Again, avoid over-lapping and go straight to the walls; however, due to the nature of the padding using nails to secure it in place may not be necessary. Just make sure that it goes to the walls and you should be fine. Also, make sure that the padding goes all the way to the wall; this helps to avoid hidden valleys in the carpet that can cause potential trips and problems with making sure that furniture is level.
Making Sure Everything Is In Place
You may want to make sure that everything is secure; this means that noise-proof glue may not be a bad investment. The glue makes sure that everything will stick into place, securing it against any trips caused by material slipping out of place. It also helps to insulate against sound by its very nature, adding to the insulation effort.
The major advantage is that the glue does not make the same noise as nails; that is, the nails can actually echo any noise that they are exposed allowing them to act as holes in your defense against noise. The glue is, therefore, your better choice if you are trying to eliminate as much noise as possible and is more than up to the task of holding any other layer down. It also does not require as much skill as the nails do, making it good for those doing DIY for the first time.
Keep in mind that you do not need to limit yourself to just one layer; you can combine all of these tips in order to maximize the silence. Also, a layer of carpet on top can actually help to reduce sound as well, provided it is on top. Just remember to check with your apartment manager before starting; the worst that can happen is they say no and threaten to evict you if you do it, while the best that can happen is that they take it out of the rent.
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However, you can always take other steps to eliminate sound. Thick curtains are a definite step in the right direction, but any additional tips are up to personal taste. With a little of care and thinking it through you can easily make your apartment sound-proof to all but the loudest sounds. For those looking for a little bit of quiet in their personal sanctum, a little silence is worth the cost and labor.