A little too much eavesdropping...
March 20, 2006 9:59 PM   Subscribe

I have new neighbors...they are exceedingly loud. And, no doubt, can also hear my every word. How can I reduce the amount of sound I hear?

Our apartments have wood floors, and they live below me. I was thinking of just getting a few rugs. Would this reduce the amount of noise that travels between our apartments? I don't think complaining to the landlord is useful in this situation -- we should both be allowed to have conversations or watch television without hearing each other.
posted by ebeeb to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How are they exceedingly loud? You might be able to stop them being so loud if it violates your rights as a tenant. Otherwise, ebeeb, sounds like your place has really crap insulated floors and walls. It was like this at my old apartment too. Why not talk to the owner though? Why don't you both talk to the owner? Yes, thick rugs, carpet, or some other thick and dense material would limit the noise somewhat. It would most likely dampen and muffle the sound though. Therefore, you'll probably still hear it. Feel like moving?
posted by sjvilla79 at 10:22 PM on March 20, 2006

Well, exceedingly in that they had a ridiculous party the other day (which I complained about to the landlord). But, other than that, they really just seem to be living their lives normally.

You're definitely right about the bad insulation. Would like to know how to combat that. I'm not really interested in breaking my lease.
posted by ebeeb at 10:40 PM on March 20, 2006

I would leave the landlord out of it unless you think they are being obnoxiously loud on purpose or not being at all sensitive to the level of sound they are making. If it's just that you can hear them talk, or the distant sound of a tv, suck it up, do the rug thing, etc...

I lived in a place with very thin walls. I lived alone, rarely ever had people over, never had parties, basically I lived very quietly and kept to myself. I had a real bitch of a neighbor who would bang on my walls at any time because she claimed that my tv was really loud and that she could hear me talking all night. This was never true, my tv was always at a more than acceptable level. She even called the police on me a few times. She was harrassing me so much that at one point I even invited the officer in to listen to my tv at the level it's always at and tell me if it was really too loud. They said it wasn't too loud at all and the the neighbor was out of line, and that I should just ignore her.

Taking it to the landlord before you talk to the neighbors about it will just make them hate you, and might escalate the problem into something much bigger than it really is. If you can hear that much coming from them, and you are upstairs, than for sure they hear much more noise coming from you. The rug will probably help with. As you probably feel that you are not making excessive noise, and you aren't going to forgo watching tv or walking, the landlord isn't going to be able to do anything other than make the situation uncomfortable for both you and the neighbor.

Seriously, from someone that had to live next to a seriously horrible neighbor in just this sort of situation (me being that one wrongly accused of making noise), don't bring authorities into it unless you really want to get into a war.
posted by RoseovSharon at 10:46 PM on March 20, 2006

Of course, loud parties are a whole other thing. If it happens often, sure, tell the landlord. Not that there is much a landlord will do... but it's worth a shot.
posted by RoseovSharon at 10:49 PM on March 20, 2006

Try talking to the neighbors like human beings first before going straight above their heads to the landlord. Maybe they don't realize how thin the walls are and would feel bad if they knew they were bugging you.

You mention you don't think complaining to the landlord would help, and I agree. Roseov is right that that will just make the neighbors hate you.

Why isn't talking with the neighbors about it an option? Come to some sort of compromise, like "on weeknights could you please keep it down after 10pm?", etc.
posted by twiggy at 10:55 PM on March 20, 2006

I don't know if it is worth it for a rental, but insulation might do the trick. It is probably easier to patch the drywall ceiling of the neighbors below you.
posted by gearspring at 11:25 PM on March 20, 2006

People who live upstairs never realize how loud they are to people below them. Start by laying down rugs and other floor covering to minimize the amount of noise you cause downstairs, to lower your heating bills, and to make your home more comfortable. Also, make a practice of removing your filthy shoes at the door and changing into soft, clean, comfortable slippers. (If you have carpets, you don't want to tramp around in dirty street shoes anyway.) After that, you may realize that you have also eliminated the annoying noise from downstairs. In any case, you will have minimized the noise you make and thereby given yourself a better position from which to negotiate with the noisy neighbor.
posted by pracowity at 1:46 AM on March 21, 2006

How can I reduce the amount of sound I hear?

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:10 AM on March 21, 2006


Probably a good idea in the short term, try the different types and see if there is one you like.

In the long term I have to suggest that you move, it's miserable living in badly-soundproofed accommodation, either you're unable to live normally because your neighbours are intolerant of any noise or you're being driven crazy by noise from other apartments. You may not realize how badly it's affecting your quality of life until you get out of there.
posted by teleskiving at 4:46 AM on March 21, 2006

I have the same problem - I can't hear the people next door, but the upstairs people walking around and the downstairs girl's TV.

Here's what I did:

Rugs, to block the noise coming up and my footfalls on the creaky wood.

A loud fan in the bedroom, which also blocks out street noise. I still get woken up now and again by what appears to be military formations marching around overhead at 7 a.m. but it's rare.

A note to the girl downstairs about her TV - I barely ever hear it now and when I do, only during the day.

A subtle comment to the upstairs people about how I can hear them walking around.

When writing notes, be 100% sure you have the right culprit. Sound travels oddly in old buildings. When I first moved here and had the loud TV sounds, I went weeks thinking it was from upstairs or next door before learning it was coming up through the floorboards.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:11 AM on March 21, 2006

You'd be surprised at what an effect long, heavy curtains will have--it seems counterintuitive since the sound isn't coming in through the windows, but they will *greatly* dampen all that sound bouncing around the room.
posted by bcwinters at 6:12 AM on March 21, 2006

I second the suggestion that you move. Rugs aren't going to do much if the people downstairs are "exceedingly loud" (see below). If you don't want to break the lease, talk to the neighbors and promise them that you'll try to be quiet yourself, and will respond politely to any complaint they have about your noise, if they'll do the same.

I lived in an apartment building above the world's least-considerate neighbors. They'd blast their stereo at high volume whenever they wanted. We had wall-to-wall carpet, but it wasn't enough when the pictures on the wall started rattling from the noise. When I asked them if they would please turn it down, the reply was, "fuck you, get back upstairs and shut up." I complained to management, which was a waste of time. Some other neighbor called the cops on them, and they blamed me. After that, I started calling the cops, too - if I was going to get the credit, I might as well get the satisfaction of talking to the cops. The noisies could see the cops pull in, so they always quieted down until the cops left. It escalated; noisy started putting food outside in summer to attract skunks. When they showed up, he'd throw something at them, then quickly shut his window, so everyone else got skunked. He put crayons in with my laundry in the basement dryer once, and turned the heat to High.

The only solution for us was to move.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:41 AM on March 21, 2006

As some have suggested, the first thing you should try to do is talk to your neighbors. There are certainly some obnoxious neighbors who don't care, but it's hard to gauge what one's neighbors can hear and they might well be mortified to know that they're bothering you so much. You might also try asking them if you're doing anything to bother them, like clomping around in loud shoes. Depending on the type of noise, area rugs with thick padding might help a little. But if you're not adverse to wall-to-wall rugs, you can try laying down a soundproofing material like mass-loaded vinyl underneath. This stuff is not that expensive and can be ordered on the internet. Also, earplugs are a godsend, but you have to try a few different types to find what works best for you. I've found that Flents (purple) and Super Leights (orange) work best for me. Good luck - thin walls really stink.
posted by walla at 9:32 AM on March 21, 2006

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