Quiet down, us
July 9, 2019 9:49 AM   Subscribe

What are some engineering solutions to keeping my wife and I's sex from bothering our neighbours?

We've been in a new apartment for a couple of months. In that time, we've received one anonymous note about our sex keeping someone awake, and possibly a knock on the wall implying the same (we're not clear whether it was a deliberate knock on the wall, but are assuming it was).

We want to be considerate neighbours but are obviously not going to stop having sex in our home. The note admittedly came after a vigorous bout late at night, so we took it as a lesson learned. The knock on the wall came during a much quieter session much earlier in the evening (9:30 pm on a weekend). Leaving aside whether that's a fair complaint on our our neighbour's part, I was mostly surprised they could hear us at all since we were being pretty quiet.

I think it's more the vibrations travelling through our wood-framed building than us actually being loud. What can we do to limit this? We have an IKEA Malm bed, and I've put some foam padding between the wall and the headboard which seems to help a bit.

Any and all suggestions welcome, other than moving and going celibate. (And to emphasize, I'm *not* looking for social solutions. I'm a long-time apartment liver and can handle relations with neighbours).
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Move the bed to an interior wall (one not shared by another unit) and put a thick rug under the bed.
posted by sallybrown at 9:51 AM on July 9, 2019 [18 favorites]

I don't think of the Malm as the most rigid bedrame, so the first thing is probably to move it away from the wall, especially if you're clacking the headboard against it. You could also get some Sorbothane feet or pads (I'd cut up some 1/4" or 1/2" sheets) for the floor connection, but in general this is a "cheap landlord" problem that may or may not be alleviated by standard "loud stereo" sound insulation advice, or hounding your landlord for better insulation (which would solve most of the problem).
posted by rhizome at 10:04 AM on July 9, 2019

I assume it's not vocalizations.

If it's the bed banging against the walls then the bed has to be moved somewhere it won't bang against walls. An interior wall is OK but you should get foam padding to put between the bed legs and the baseboard / wall.

If it's the whole bed shaking up and down because of vigorous up and down motion that's transferring to the frame of the building and shaking the floor then as sallybrown says you have to isolate the whole bed from the floor with something resilient. A thick rug may not do it as you have to find something that decouples the bed's motion from the floor, and that will probably look more like carefully sized pieces of high density foam under the ends of the bed.

Another option is to cushion the top of the bed so more of the motion isn't transmitted to the mattress. We have an eggcrate foam spacer and then a featherbed on top of that. And our mattress is high/low density foam, and absorbs a lot of movement.

We have a Malm, too, and if it's well fastened together it should be fairly robust, but it doesn't have a lot of mass so it can move on you especially if the little plastic feet start sliding on the floor. Put something under there so the bed doesn't move.

In short, there's no all-in one solution for absorbing all of the movement of an extremely vigorous shag before it gets to the floor/walls, but you can mitigate a lot of its transmission to other units with padding and careful placement.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:05 AM on July 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

the Malm has a locking bolt system holding it together so check it for tightness and make sure the rail and slats don’t have room to move and make sure the mattress is snug in the frame. maybe add foam around the slats if they knock. the idea is to allow as little movement in the whole bed as possible
posted by slow graffiti at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2019

It looks like the Malm doesn't have distinct feet, but rather board edges that rest on the ground? I was coming in to recommend putting each of your bed frame's feet on one of these plastic pads; we did that to improve our similarly rickety frame's structural integrity and keep the legs from splaying out under pressure, which helped a lot, but it ended up serving your purpose, too.
posted by stellaluna at 10:31 AM on July 9, 2019

The Malm has small HDPE or nylon feet under the head and foot rails that allow it to slide on hard floors.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:38 AM on July 9, 2019

As a completely alternative solution, this sounds like just a fantastic excuse to buy some sex furniture. Especially the comfy foam kind. Then you won't even have to change the sheets! And there are fewer moving/squeaking parts. Oooh and there's a chest harness you can attach thigh stirrups to... excuse me a moment.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 10:42 AM on July 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

Take up some other rhythmic hobbies, like jumping rope, then they won’t be sure what’s sex and what isn’t, and they will care less.

It’s not usually the actual noise, it’s the notion of people humping right beside your head that’s bothersome.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:51 AM on July 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Reinforce the bed frame; get a sturdier bed altogether; add soft furnishings (rugs, curtains, tapestries); play bass-driven music at a moderate level during daytime romancing.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:51 AM on July 9, 2019

Music to mask the noise?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:09 PM on July 9, 2019

Hang a quilt or rug on the wall facing the other apartment (I assume this is through wall, not through floor). Or maybe get a mat and sleeping bag and pretend you are camping (on the opposite side of the apartment for your neighbor). A loud fan? Run the dishwasher (and washer/dryer if you have them), hell, run everything - tv, radio, vacuum...
posted by 445supermag at 12:29 PM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're not sure of the source of the noise (if it's not vocalizations). So, mid-day or during a quiet period during the day, I might go into the room, not having sex, and get on the bed and move myself around vigorously to see what's noisy. Is it the bed itself? The bed on the floor? The mattress? The bed hitting the wall?

It might be that tightening the bed screws will help (that was my first thought). But then the other advice here is good. There's also music or white noise that you could aim at the wall you're sharing with the complaining neighbor, but that wouldn't help if the bed is banging against the wall, so figure that part out first.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:37 PM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might consider attaching some upholstered headboard panels like these (cheaper generic versions also easily available) to the wall behind the bed.

Also, if you have the wooden Luroy slats, I always attach those to the body of the frame. A link to a reddit page above suggests doing that with zipties but I just screw (oh god I'm 8 years old) the slats to the frame. That way the slats don't move around and it creates lateral structural stability the frame is otherwise lacking. Its easy to take them out if you need to move later. Drill pilot holes into the slats and frame so the wood doesn't split.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 9:11 AM on July 10, 2019

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