Are you bothered by sounds you can hear through thin walls? Wondering how to soundproof your thin apartment walls and reduce the noise?
Unfortunately, so many of us live in apartments or houses with thin walls. As a result, we can often hear noises seeping through the walls. Barking pets, loud conversations, or late-night parties can seriously affect your time at home. Then there are noises coming from pipes in walls, other structural sounds, and more that can interrupt your rest.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. If your thin walls transfer unwanted noise, you can soundproof them with various soundproofing materials.
This guide will show you eight methods to soundproof thin walls to block sound and improve your quality of life.
Why Apartment Walls Are Often Paper-thin?
It’s incredibly frustrating that thin walls are becoming more and more common in modern apartments.
Even a quick search online reveals how many people struggle with paper-thin walls that let in sounds from all around. Here are just some of the complaints about thin walls I’ve found today.
Scary, isn’t it?
The problem often lies with building regulations. All walls in your apartment pass all requirements.
This sounds like a lot. Well, it’s only until you realize that 40dB is the noise level you experience in a quiet park!
For impact sounds, the required resistance is 62dB. Unfortunately, that’s no more than a level of a normal conversation.
Of course, the builder could have used different techniques and built more solid and thicker walls to dampen the sound transmission. But unfortunately, many of them choose not to do so to reduce costs.
So, from their point of view, they did everything they were required to by the authorities.
Unfortunately, you’re still stuck with walls that transmit all types of sounds from your neighbors.
What can you do?
Can You Soundproof Thin Walls At All?
I’m not going to keep you waiting. The answer is yes.
What’s more, many soundproofing techniques do not require any construction work. But of course, you can also decide to change the structure of your walls, and we’ll cover some of those techniques below as well.
Some soundproofing methods you’ll learn below will only help reduce the noise. Others might block it out completely.
Much of their results will depend on the type of noise and its intensity.
Overall, however, undertaking soundproofing thin walls will have a tremendous impact on your quality of life:
- It will enhance your privacy. Not only you won’t hear what your neighbors are doing through your shared walls, but they also won’t be able to listen to your conversations and home too!
- It will help you rest better. I have to say; that few things are more annoying than hearing neighbors walking upstairs loudly. Their stomping can prevent you from falling asleep or keep waking you up. Reducing those noises can help you rest better and generally enjoy a much better quality of life.
How to Soundproof Thin Walls: 8 Amazing Methods that Don’t Require Construction
As promised, here are the six methods that will help you to soundproof your thin apartment walls.
#1. Use soundproof blankets to soundproof weak points in the walls
Noise does not transfer equally through the entire length of a wall.
There might be weaker points along the wall’s length that let more sound in than others.
It could be because the wall is the thinnest in that spot. Or, there might be pipes in the wall that generate some of the noise.
As a first step, look out for those weaker spots. Then, use soundproof blankets to strengthen the soundproofing in those areas.
Soundproofing blankets are exactly that, thick blankets that are designed to block and dampen the sound. They are proven to work, too, with the best blankets reducing the noise by up to 50%!
If you’re not afraid of damaging the wall, you can easily mount them on a wall with mounting putty or nails.
Here’s an amazing video showing the staggering difference soundproof blankets make when reducing the noise from a person playing the drums:
#2. Seal any holes and cracks with green glue
Much of the airborne noise enters your apartment through cracks and holes in the wall. And unfortunately, even if you’ve just moved in, there might still be small holes or gaps in your walls.
None of these are dangerous, of course. Most of them are pretty standard. Your walls could have gaps in places where a wall joins with another element of the house. There could be holes from old nails holding picture frames in the past and much more. There could also be gaps between the floor and the wall, hidden behind skirting boards.
The problem is that these gaps are gateways for sound to enter your apartment and need to be sealed.
Green Glue is the best acoustic sealant you could use to fill those gaps. It’s also extremely easy to apply. It works just like any other caulk or sealant you, most likely, have used in the past.
To apply it, squeeze out the required amount of the green glue into the gap using a caulk gun, and you’re done.
#3. Move furniture closer to the noisy area of the wall
I admit that I was skeptical about this advice when I heard it for the first time too. But it works, and there is sound science behind it.
Airborne sounds – clinking dishes, conversations, neighbor’s alarm clock, muffled music – travel through the air. If you put obstacles on the sound’s path, you will dampen it and reduce its impact.
Furthermore, filling the room with more furniture will help reduce the sound bouncing from wall to wall and decrease its intensity.
For example, move any bookcase closer to the noisy area of the wall. Books absorb sound and can work as a roadblock for airborne sound to travel.
Artworks, large furniture like wardrobes, or canvas prints work equally well.
(Example of a room with artworks used to help soundproof a thin section of a wall.)
#4. Use acoustic foam panels and acoustic wall tiles to soundproof a thin wall
Acoustic wall tiles and foam panels are becoming a more and more popular method to soundproof thin walls.
First of all, they work incredibly well, and they are relatively cheap and easy to install.
Acoustic foam panels help reduce sound reverberation and absorb much of the noise that enters your apartment. What’s more, they can also help you prevent sounds that you make from leaving the house.
A bonus is that many acoustic foam panels look amazing and can add an extra touch to your apartment decor.
#5. Add layers of drywall to increase the wall’s mass
The biggest problem with a thin wall is that it’s thin. In reality, your wall might be nothing more than a thin layer of drywall, and that’s often insufficient to block out unwanted noises.
(Drywall with plaster on it.)
You can increase the thickness of your wall by adding one or more layers of drywall. This will add more layers of separation between you and your neighbors and create more obstacles for the noise to enter your space.
#6. Increase the wall’s mass with mass-loaded vinyl
Mass-loaded vinyl is one of the best materials to insulate thin walls against impact noises.
Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) is a heavy vinyl material impregnated with metal particles to increase its mass. MLV comes in sheets, meaning that you can easily install it on walls and floors.
You can also add MLV in between extra layers of drywall that you might decide to add, strengthening the method’s effectiveness even further.
Finally, MLV improves the Sound Transmission Class – a metric that defines how well a wall attenuates noise.
#7. Use soundproof wall paint to add a layer of soundproofing to a thin wall
Soundproofing paint is exactly that, a paint with soundproofing qualities that you apply to a wall.
It’s one of the simplest soundproofing methods for a thin wall. However, it’s not always as effective as the others I’ve covered in this guide.
Why? For one, soundproofing paint is ideal for reducing sounds up to a certain level only. It’s great for minimizing medium noise. But it won’t help you block the sounds of a loud party. The level of such noise is higher than what the paint can absorb.
Soundproofing paint is thick, which means that applying it adds mass to your wall, making it thicker and naturally more soundproof. Its thickness and other qualities make it ideal for blocking low frequencies.
#8. Block noises with white noise machines
All the methods I covered so far required you to alter the problematic wall somehow. We talked about adding mass to the wall, filling in gaps with Green Glue, installing acoustic panels, soundproof blankets, etc.
But what if you can’t do any of that? What if you’re only renting and cannot alter any of the walls in the apartment?
In that case, your best bet is to prevent you from hearing the noise with a white noise machine.
A white noise machine plays white noise that prevents you from being sensitive to changes in sound frequency. In other words, it masks all the sounds so that you don’t hear any other sounds entering the room.
White noise machines are also ideal when trying to fall asleep in a noisy environment and don’t want to use earplugs.
And that’s it…
Now you know the eight things to do to soundproof the thin walls in your apartment.