Can You Hear Me Now? Soundproofing Your Condo

 Walls are the only separation between you and your neighbors when you live in a  densely-populated area, and privacy sometimes goes out the window. People hear  their next-door neighbors talking, footsteps from above or even music blaring  through the walls. Sound transmission between units is one of the biggest  complaints among condo dwellers. Noise can also come from ceilings, doors and  windows, so living in a condo can take some getting used to.  

 “One of the major problems is people upstairs, which is footsteps. That is a  major issue because these condos nowadays, there’s really nothing there to block any sounds,” says Joseph Drago, owner of New England Soundproofing located in Waltham,  Massachusetts. “Even a few years ago, what they used to do is just put in some extra insulation.  The problem with that is insulation only muffles airborne sound, but footsteps,  subwoofers, it doesn’t get rid of the vibrations.”  

 Many newer buildings use concrete structures to incorporate more floors and  units. Concrete may be more durable, but sound-wise, it can pose a challenge. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you have a condominium with a  concrete slab then there won’t be any issues of sound transfer, and that’s completely untrue, it’s just a different type of sound,” says Steve Haas, president of SH Acoustics in Milford, Connecticut. “In a frame construction when you’re dealing with something not as stiff, the sound you’re going to hear is really a thud, the low frequency sound, especially heavy  walkers can really be heard below. Whereas in a concrete, there is much less of  that thud, and it’s more clickety-clack from heels and vibrations that’s just going to resonate through concrete.”  

 While some noise in shared living spaces is normal, if you can clearly hear your  neighbors’ conversations or TV through your walls or ceiling, you have a noise problem. If you’re willing to make the financial investment, there are innovative noise  reduction solutions that can turn an older condo unit into a sanctuary of peace  and quiet.  

 “Condos are a major issue. Eighty percent of my phone calls are for condos. A lot  of times now they have that open effect, open dining room, living room,  kitchen. And what happens is the sound will travel; it just goes crazy echoing  in that room and it puts more pressure on the floor, the ceiling and the walls,  and people next door or downstairs can hear it,” says Drago.  

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9 Comments

  • We just purchased a vertical detached duplex...so we have 1 unit above us. Every time they walk around on the hardwood floors upstairs we hear them. We are on the lake, so its a gathering place for our neighbors families as well. We purchased in July and have been listening to all their guests walk and run above us. We need a solution.
  • I agree, it is very frustrating. My neighbor comes in every night around 2-3am just when I'm falling into a deep sleep. I'm at my wits end. How do the tires work? Thanks for the article.
  • help,,,can you recomend a ceiling tile solution or other solution to dampen the sound from my neighbors above in our condo,,its a concrete ceiling,,Brian
  • Our Condo has double concrete block fire walls. We hear no noise side to side. We hear foot steps from above, plus Vacuum cleaner noise, lg. dog playing and jumping, chairs moving on tile floor in kitchen, toilets flushing and tub draining, closet doors closing. Upstairs Condo is carpeted except for Kitchen and baths. We have a 3 ft. air space between our drywall ceilings and the concrete floor above us. Could you recommend a ceiling system that would block out the sounds from above. Thanks, Rich
  • Hi I have a older condo it has concrete ceilings and a 14” space to the Sheetrock. I have removed all of the old insulation and drywall and want to start over with a good sound proof system. I can hear wak8ng and furniture moving upstairs. What would you suggest? I’m open for options. Thank You, Mary
  • Need to soundproof a 10x 10 sq ft bedroom ceiling in 1922 built condo.Also need one bedroom wall sound proofed in the same bedroom. What contractors do this type of work in Cambridge MA? Thank you
  • Thank you so much for your info. It truely is good to hear other stories. I don't know what to do . How much for such a job? I don't feel so alone in my madness!
  • I've lived in my condo for twenty years. My DOWNSTAIRS neighbor and I never had a noise problem ever. I mean, other than the occasional playing Led Zep up loud and his occasional hoots and hollers over sports, I otherwise rarely heard him, but him being downstairs, I'm sure he heard me more often, but I am always conscious that I am living above someone and try to be respectful at all times. I have always got along great with my downstairs neighbors. Well, he sold and an older lady bought the place and remodeled with cheap laminate flooring. Now I hear every single noise she makes. I hear her pee, I hear her open and close kitchen and vanity drawers, I hear her conversation, even in low voice. I hear her dogs nails on the laminate. I can only imagine that she hears my noises, too. But there's more. She's a door slammer, Her dog howls incessantly. She does not pick up her dogs poop for a month at a time until I finally got the HOA/management company to send her a formal letter advising her that our county health department requires it be picked up immediately and so does the HOA, and the HOA will fine her. She still doesn't pick it up. She's a TERRIBLE neighbor! Is it possible to force her to pay for soundproofing MY unit? I've lived here peacefully for more than twenty years until she put that cheap ass flooring in and god knows what else. My unit is nice and upgraded and in a premium location. I would make a lot of money on the sale, but the market is super hot here and even crappy units are going for big bucks. It would be a losing situation for me to sell. I was ready to place my condo on the market and my agent said my unit would likely sell in a matter of days and I should be prepared to move immediately. There was absolutely nothing I was interested in buying for the money. This situation has ruined my love of my home and my general sense of peace where I live. I have spoken to the older lady/new (ish) neighbor. Her response is she guesses she'll move, as if that will change my situation (I'll disclose the noise issue to potential buyers, because it is true) She sometimes takes her howling dog with her these days, but not always. The noises haven't changed even though I have purchased rugs on top of rugs and moved furniture trying to place it strategically.
  • None of these solutions help me.I guess the real question s why are people so inconciderate of others. I have neighbors below me and there are 4 of us in our condo unit. My downstairs neighbor has never had to complain about us.