Guest writer Tom Simpkins offers ways to create your own fortress of solitude…
Knowing how to soundproof your home without laying down buckets of cash can be the difference between retaining or losing your sanity. London-based, London Soundproofing kindly gives us some pointers on how to go about it.
Modern life is noisy…
Anyone who’s lived in an apartment or a terraced house will most likely attest to the fact that neighbourly noise can infiltrate a home at virtually any point. Whether it’s being able to hear the murmurs of a television from next door or the thumping footsteps of someone upstairs, noise can carry through walls and disturb a pleasant evening in or a quiet night in bed.
If you’re enduring restless nights, it can be tempting to consider some form of soundproofing; but to what extent? And for those renting their home, what can you legally do, without fear of losing your deposit?
When even the most minor changes to your home might incur the wrath of a landlord or letting agency, the thought of DIY soundproofing can seem daunting and out of reach; but there are plenty of ways you can block out all that exterior noise without risking that security deposit.
While professional steps might be out of reach, such covering the walls with soundproofing foam, creating fake floors and installing sound-absorbing roofs, there’s still hope for getting a little bit more peace & quiet with some DIY soundproofing. Exploring these options is the London-based London Soundproofing, who have years of experience with blocking out noise; whether it’s ensuring a clean sound in a recording studio or a peaceful night’s sleep.
1. Small & Easy Solutions
Not all soundproofing solutions require heavy investments or a significant amount of effort, some can be achieved relatively simply with items that may already be lying around the home; or without any items at all. For those living in a busy apartment complex, there’s one option that can be the bane of British life, but one that can be incredibly effective; complaining. This doesn’t always need to be negative either, as simply talking to other residents and establishing times where loud music or televisions are turned down or off can solve a lot of problems.
Simply talking things out with a neighbour can be equally as effective, if not more, when living in terraced houses; it cuts down the number of neighbours you have to talk to! If all else fails and the noise continues to be a problem, raising the issue with an apartment’s building manager might be your best next step; especially if you’re in student accommodations.
Failing any courteous solutions, there’s always the classics; earplugs for rowdy nights and draft excluders for the door. While not being an ideal solution the former is fairly self-explanatory, simply putting in some cheap earplugs when there are any particularly loud nights, yet the latter eludes to a fundamental element of soundproofing; filling in the gaps. By closing off the gaps around your front door you can reduce noise coming in from outside; this gap-filling solution extends all over the home too, such as placing rolled-up towels at the window. Another option, particularly for nights spent next to main roads of busy streets, is investing in a white noise machine. Going a step beyond sleeping aids like whale noises or soft music, white noise machines essentially create a non-distracting noise that attempts to even out of noise-levels entering the room. These machines make it easier for you to subconsciously tune into the emitted white noise, hopefully eliminating the impact of any external noise.
2. Potential DIY Solutions
Small & simple fixes are ideal, not just because of how quickly they can be implemented but because of their relative cheapness; however, these measures will not always work. For the times where asking a neighbour nicely to stop having an EDM-based party every weekend doesn’t result in quiet nights, there are other options. They might require a little extra effort, they might even already be within the realm of possibility within your house, but one thing’s for sure; they will be more effective.
One of the simplest options for these more advanced soundproofing measures is simply utilising the furniture you have in the home. Any filled-bookcases, television cabinets or other large pieces of furniture (that could potentially be full of other items) can act as incredibly sound dampeners; simply place them against the offending wall, such as one that separates your apartment and a noisy neighbour’s, and the natural soundproofing provided by tightly compacted objects will help to reduce external noise.
Alternative solutions, and still those that probably wouldn’t require notifying the landlord, include the likes of securing thicker curtains to place in front of windows or even hanging thick panels on the wall. The former could be a bit costly, and you’d likely have to hold onto the original curtains as to not irritate the landlord, but the former can be incredibly effective. Often listed as acoustic panels or acoustic tiles, hanging this thick material from the wall can not only look like modern art, it can also greatly reduce noise coming in through the walls.
3. ‘Time to Ask the Landlord’ Solutions
If all the above don’t help in any meaningful way, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Even if you’re limited to less-extreme options than installing soundproofing materials under the floors or installing a hanging ceiling, you can still potentially soundproof your rented home without getting a landlord involved; but it’s not entirely risk-free.
Soundproofing foam panels are essentially the poster-children of soundproofing, taking the form of black foam with triangular patterns, and can be installed onto walls either simply or professionally. To simply install them onto walls you can use easy-to-find commander strips, which are essentially strong, adhesive pieces of double-sided tape, yet to professionally install them you’ll need rubbing alcohol to clean the walls and industrial-strength adhesive. As these installation methods might imply, they can easily damage the paint of a wall, and so they’re unlikely to go unnoticed by a landlord.
Larger solutions that will undeniably require the intervention of a landlord include making alterations to doors and windows. Most apartment doors are relatively thin, so installing a thicker door can significantly help with keeping external noise out, especially if it’s a normal house looking out to a road. The same is true for windows, as either double glazing them or installing a window insert can drastically reduce noise coming in from the window; the former will need properly, professionally installing, yet the latter only requires sealant.
It’s worth noting though that these could be suggested as home improvements or requested as essential maintenance if noise problems are severe, so it’s a landlord or letting agency could foot the bill.
Thanks again to London Soundproofing for the advice. Hopefully, this article will go some way towards giving you some peace and quiet in your home.
Gear up at Dawsons Music
For those of you who are interested in putting your own home studio together, check out our generous range of Studio Equipment at Dawsons Music – you might even find the perfect studio headphones to keep you completely isolated when you’re in the mix.
Jon has a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons Music Web Team before progressing into his current role as Content Manager. Favourite things: My LTD MH-400NT, a decent brew, and Ron Swanson.