Stomp stomp stomp, KILL
January 16, 2008 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Some new neighbors just moved into the flat above us. How do I reduce the noise of their constant stomping? Would asking them nicely render a solution? And more importantly, is there some stomping disorder in modern psychology that I should know about? Because their flat is the same size and layout as ours, which isn't that big at all (you can walk across the hall to the door in about 10 steps) and I am genuinely baffled at how much stomping can indeed be done in such a capacity.
posted by bondgirl53001 to Home & Garden (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Could it be that since they just moved in, they are unpacking boxes and having to make repeated trips to different parts of the flat? Maybe it will quiet down shortly. If you want to see what's going on up there, bake them a pie and take it up to them in a gesture of welcome. It might help you understand why they are making the noise and give some insight into what to do about it, plus it gets you on their good side if you decided to speak to them about it.
posted by Doohickie at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2008

Could they be heel walkers?
posted by utsutsu at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding what Doohickie said. Recently, some people moved into the apartment above me and it was LOUD for the first couple weeks, but then quieted down to a more reasonable level of stomp. Also, if it was vacant prior to them moving in, the difference between absolute silence above you and actually having people walking around can be a bit jarring at first.
posted by rooftop secrets at 10:27 AM on January 16, 2008

I have a friend whose property management company approached him with complaints from tenants below him about his stomping. He was like "I have Cerebral Palsy, assface." So, yeah. Stomping Disorder.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:27 AM on January 16, 2008 [3 favorites]

Rugs or carpet will reduce the noise. They may be planning to add rugs after they get moved in. In the US, renters and condo owners are often required by the documents to cover a certain percentage of their floors with rugs.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:28 AM on January 16, 2008

Some people walk more softly than others. A lot depends on their footwear and whether they have rugs. If you can figure out how to get one neighbor to visit while the other is upstairs stomping, they may recognize how awful it is and take steps. A polite request accompanied by baked goods may help. If all else fails, complain to the landlord.
posted by theora55 at 10:32 AM on January 16, 2008

Response by poster: Hmm.

They moved in about 3-4 weeks ago..there couldn't possibly be that much to unpack/assemble because like I said, it's a two-bedroom flat and also, most of the stomping is being done in the small hallway-livingroom area. Or I could be wrong.

The flats have wall-to-wall carpets..thick ones.

Also, this is making me worried that the neighbors downstairs hate ME..:)
posted by bondgirl53001 at 10:34 AM on January 16, 2008

If they are just moving in then they will likely be walking around the apartment very often. Or maybe they like to keep their shoes on all the time.

In my years of apartment living I haven't figured out how to reduce the noise on my own, other than just bringing it up with the people involved. I like the above suggestion of bringing them a little "welcome" gift and going from there. Say hi, introduce yourself, get some niceties out of the way, then bring the noise issue up. Or if you decide not to say anything at that time, at least you have set up a friendly first impression if you decide to bring it up later.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:34 AM on January 16, 2008

I'm firmly of the opinion that the only way to truly reduce stomping noise is to live on the top floor.

Right now, our only upstairs neighbors are squirrels and even they are loud stompers.
posted by drezdn at 10:43 AM on January 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Depending on how old your building is or how the floors are constructed, it *could* just be the nature of the apartment. I've been in an old apartment (about 100 years old) where, when someone walks past me in socks at a normal pace, I hear nothing but the downstairs neighbors hear stomping noises.

(In my particular case, the neighbors became increasingly crazy and hostile, despite the fact that really not much could be done--I'd advise against that. Definitely talk directly with your neighbors, but understand that they may not be able to control the noise.)
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:44 AM on January 16, 2008

I'm a top-floor resident with an uncarpeted hallway and I've noticed that (possibly ironically) my walking is stompier and noisier when I'm not wearing shoes.
posted by rhizome at 10:59 AM on January 16, 2008

I feel your pain. We had neighbors once that, we were pretty sure, were into clog-dancing and bowling in their apartment. Ringing the doorbell only made them hide, so we left a really friendly note. We got back a long apology, and from then on it was practically silent. I swear, they must have sold their kid or something.

Obviously not every clog-dancing neighbor is so understanding, but friendly communication is a good start.
posted by bassjump at 11:02 AM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

This question also dealt with apartment floor noise. You might try there, though they had wood floors to deal with.
posted by lorimt at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2008

I'd recommend asking them in person, rather than leaving a note, and see if you can agree on reasonable non-stomping hours.

A few years ago, a downstairs neighbor wrote me a two-page bitchy note about how it interrupted her sleep when I wore shoes in the apartment around 8 am, right before I left for work. Not only was there a maximum of five minutes between the time I put on my shoes and the time I left, but I kind of resented that she was still sound asleep at 8 am (and she didn't work the night shift, either) when I had to go to my crappy job.

So for the next few months I made sure to "accidentally" drop my dumbbells at random points in the late night/early morning.

The moral of the story is: don't live downstairs from me, because I'm a jerk. The other moral is to be diplomatic and reasonable.

It helps if you keep in mind that if they're on the top floor, they might not realize that walking through the living room in heels sounds like a DDR tournament from below. It also helps if you make yourself a friend and not an enemy. Let them know you're there if they need anything, or invite them over for a neighborly dinner. Bonus points if you realize halfway through, "oh dear, I'm out of salt, would one of you mind bringing some down?" Then one person runs up to grab the salt and the other hears the STOMP STOMP STOMP.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2008 [3 favorites]

Do they have pets (if that's allowed)? Even one energetic cat can sound like a herd of elephants parading around. If pets aren't allowed in your building and they DO have one, you can alert the building management and try to get them (or the pet) evicted.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:01 PM on January 16, 2008

Your downstairs neighbors probably do hate you, sad to say. I have adopted a special upstairs walk now that I'm upstairs guy because I used to be downstairs guy and it was maddening to hear that constant noise from upstairs. At my last place, I could have sworn that the guys upstairs were wearing cement shoes and knocking over marble statuary regularly. I won't even go into the ultra loud thumping club music they played most nights. They were assholes for the music, but I really think they were just going about normal business as far as the walking and banging was concerned. With some concession to the way different people walk, their weight, and their footwear, I think it's mostly just due to the way these places are built. I won't live downstairs anymore due to this and due to plumbing problems from upstairs becoming my problem/flooded living room.

At the place before that where I was again the upstairs person, my downstairs neighbor who I was friends with said she could hear every step I took. She'd be like, "Well you were up early this morning, eh?" How terrible. I had no idea prior to that. I was just walking normally, and we had wall-to-wall carpeting. That's when I invented my Considerate Upstair Neighbor Gentle Walk (basically letting feet land gently on semi-outside ball of foot and letting rest of foot gradually roll down in turn - looks ghey but is subtle and very easy to get used to. Also just being sure not to jump around or run or drop things or set them down heavily). I so don't want to be Loud Stomper Upstairs and create that constant mounting stress for the people downstairs. Even with my attempts to dampen it, they're still going to hear some noise, but I just want to do what I can. It would be hard to convince someone else to adopt this, though.

All I can suggest is making friends with your neighbors. Seriously. Stomping sounds from someone you don't know or dislike make you fell powerless and angry and annoyed. Stomping sounds from someone you know and are friends with and can talk to are not nearly as bad because you're not wondering whether they're an asshole and don't have to wonder what is behind their seemingly unnecessarily heavy walking up there - you can talk to them casually about it. And you can be like, "Well Tony's up early today." Not nearly as bad as, "God damn that faceless jerk! Why is he stomping around at this hour?"

Since they are still new, maybe the welcome-the-new-neighbors window is still open. You could invite them down to dinner or drop off a lasagna or something. Make some contact. At a minimum that can be some friendly padding/context for a later discussion about the noise, which could get you better results than a note or a testy knock on the door. But it could lead to some new friends and a possible reduction in both noise and stress. Most people want to be as considerate as they can to people that seem nice and decent.
posted by kookoobirdz at 12:04 PM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some folks may not realize that they walk with a heavy step. For example, back when I was a very svelte 20-something working in an office building, a co-worker casually mentioned to me one day that he could tell when I was returning from the restroom because he heard me "stomping." I was mortified; I didn't think I walked any differently than anyone else, but apparently even in heeled dress shoes I lumbered like an elephant. Or so I felt after his remark.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:22 PM on January 16, 2008

I think everyone who had lived in a downstairs apartment - particularly if there are wood floors - have had to deal with this. In our old apartment, the girls upstairs would always wear heels, even at home, and would decide to vacuum at like 11pm. It drove us crazy, but we put up with it because they were super nice and apologetic about it when we asked them to please be a bit more considerate. It's just almost impossible to not make any noises at all walking around, even with thick carpets.

Whatever you do decide to do, try to be as nice as possible about it. If you decide to talk to them, make sure you do it in person. I like the idea of doing a welcoming committee type thing, bringing them something nice and getting to know them a little. It will make it less stressful both for you and for them - and it will make them a lot more likely to be considerate to you.

The other (or concurrent) option would be to do something about the noise on your end. A white noise generator, maybe, to cancel out some of the stomping. Perhaps some nice tapestries/wall hangings on your wall to absorb and muffle the noise from upstairs? We hung heavy velvet curtains in our bedroom at our old place - mostly to block out the morning sun. But it also did wonders for muffling the noise from upstairs, which was a bonus. That was in an apartment with wood floors, though, so YMMV.
posted by gemmy at 12:33 PM on January 16, 2008

There's a very fine line between 'asking nicely' and 'being a dick' wrt apartment sounds. Judging from your post, I'm assuming that regardless of your intentions, there's a good chance that you might find yourself on a side of that line you may not have intended to be on.

I suggest you let it go. Really, get over it. No, I don't think asking nicely will get anything positive done but introduce yourself to your neighbors as the jerk who complains about stupid stuff. Asking if your neighbors can 'walk quieter' is just silly. A normal person would ignore it, and a vindictive person would invest in dutch clogs, and learn how to tapdance, while gaining an extra 200 pounds or so.

That's your poor luck for living downstairs.

I have been on both sides of the coin, and I learned to get over it. Be glad you're not living underneath football players who have sex with very large women every night. That was a pain.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 12:35 PM on January 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yeah some buildings are louder than others. Asking them not to stomp around as much is just going to make for an awkward living situation because it's not as if they are stomping around to annoy you... that is how they walk. You very well may annoy your downstairs neighbors too. Why don't you go ask your downstairs neighbors if you can stand in their apartment to hear as you get someone to walk around in your apartment. That should give you a better roommate.

But, I have been in a sitatuation where I have annoyed my downstairs neighbor simply by walking over my carpeted floors and it even got to the point that she asked me to refrain walking around at night. I'm a very considerate person, but I do not have the ability to teleport up the stairs and into my bedroom, so unfortunately there was nothing I could do. On the flip side, I have lived underneath people that I could hear before. Well, that's what I signed up for by picking an apt that wasn't on the top floor... so I ignored it. Really, not that hard to do

My basic point is that if someone asked me to "not stomp around" while I wasn't stomping around, I would a) feel bad that I was annoying another person b) then become annoyed myself because it isn't my fault that you can hear me and then c) avoid you at all costs. (reguardless of baked goods)
posted by CAnneDC at 12:44 PM on January 16, 2008

I've been told I'm a "stomper". It's really, really hard to control/change the way you walk. I don't register the difference between the way I walk and the way other putative non-stompers do. When I actively try NOT to "stomp", the only way I can figure to make it better is by walking really slowly and on tippy toe. It ends up feeling ridiculous.

I'd concentrate on footware rather than the way someone walks.

So, I'm with CAnneDC
posted by Stewriffic at 1:26 PM on January 16, 2008

I had terrible problems with loud neighbors and no amount of explaining would get them to stop making noise (he was a drummer who had drumming circles until dawn). It started out nice, progressed to calling the cops and screaming fights. When the landlord finally intervened they came over to apologize, and I had the opportunity to calmly explain why the noise was a problem and they really didn't have any clue that it was so loud to me. Lesson learned: start out nice, explain how the noise sounds to you, don't assume that they know how you feel, and assume that they arent' trying to disturb you.
posted by kenzi23 at 3:07 PM on January 16, 2008

"I have Cerebral Palsy, assface." So, yeah. Stomping Disorder.

Yeah, my husband had to learn how to walk again after a bad car accident, and due to nerve damage his gait is stompy. Luckily we live in a basement. I'm kind of worried about when we move and have downstairs neighbours for the first time in years, though. I know in that event he'll try to modify his step, but if it still bothers the neighbours I hope they'll let us know in a friendly way, not a "fuckin' assholes!" kind of way.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:21 PM on January 16, 2008

We currently are the upstairs neighbors, and have received no fewer than four official complaints from the downstairs tenant. We have also been the recipients of notes taped to doors and hallway upbraids. My favorite was when the lady below us called when we were out at a movie after having been at work all day. We told her after the movie that we hadn't been home since 7am (it was 9pm), and she told us to knock off the noise anyway.

We're nice people. We don't "walk heavy" or stomp. We got a big thick rug for the living room, and laid new, much sturdier floors in the kitchen and bathroom (which cost us 5 full days of back-breaking labor and well over a thousand dollars). We still live in constant fear of the downstairs neighbors -- especially when we have friends over.

I don't know what I'm trying to tell you except that most likely they're decent, courteous people, and don't mean to make noise. Your building is probably poorly constructed. Be nice to them.
posted by kables at 5:13 PM on January 16, 2008

We had upstairs neighbors from hell itself who could not be reasoned with at all. They were the oddest couple - she was an MD, who used to beat her dog, and he was either her son or her lover or both. She was about 30 something and he was about 17.
When we could stand the incessant noise like dropping barbells, jumping, just to annoy us, no longer one day we called the cops and she was very sarcastic with them ("I'm a doctor!) and introduced her lover as her "son." We would hear them carrying on loudly at all hours at which time she would toss her German Shepherd out into the hallway where he would stay for the rest of the night.
One time she stole a lamp we had left in a group storage room. Imagine our shock coming down the street seeing a lamp identical to the one we had just left in storage - in the window of her apartment. When we checked, sure enough, ours was gone and when we asked her about it she laughed and said she thought everything there was "community property."
We moved out as soon as we could, taking a loss on our condo just to escape (btw, she was a renter.)
Oddly enough, about 15 years later we saw her , and her son/lover, who were still together, and a beautiful little girl who, I assume, was their daughter.
The doctor, herself, had put on about 100 lbs and was covered with tattoos.
I wanted to go over and say something to her for all the misery she caused us but 'just didn't want to dig it up all over again. We just paid our bill and left.
There was much more to this but I'm being succinct.
What a nightmare. She was like a devil.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 5:46 PM on January 16, 2008

could your neighbors me on meth?

kind of a stretch, but I think my former uber-stomping late night vacuuming neighbors were.
posted by spacefire at 5:50 PM on January 16, 2008

"I have Cerebral Palsy, assface." So, yeah. Stomping Disorder.

My mom, who has CP, was just visiting us and we got a complaint about the noise. I told the neighbor, "My mother is handicapped, she can't help it," and she was completely unfazed, like, "Well I heard it around 2AM last night," since my mom obviously could eliminate her limp on her way to pee. It was really frustrating.

Anyhow, this is just to echo earlier statements that it's important to be understanding and tactful when you're asking things like this.
posted by chelseagirl at 5:56 PM on January 16, 2008

I'm a 100 lb girl and I am a total heel-walker. My boyfriend said he can hear me anywhere in our house (we live in a 100-y/o house w/ pier-and-beam foundation and all hard floors) because of my loud walking.
posted by fructose at 8:48 PM on January 16, 2008

I have a similarly stompy upstairs neighbor. What I've been doing lately is playing really low-frequency white noise on my computer (with a subwoofer), and it works surprisingly well. I got a piece of shareware called White Noise Player, which loops sound files so you can play them forever, and then made two minutes of really low-pitched white noise. It sounds like you're in an airplane, but at bedtime it's better than silence punctuated by bowling sounds. The noise is right at the frequency of the footsteps. It's like electronic Ambien.

I made the sound file with Audacity, using "Generate... White Noise", "Change Pitch...", and "Export as WAV..." You have to pay White Noise Player five bucks or it beeps every so often.
posted by xbalto at 1:03 AM on January 17, 2008

I say blame the building and try to get over it. In this kind of situation, the anger and feeling of being disrespected can be worse than the actual problem. Keeping music at a sensible volume is a reasonable thing to require of neighbours. Asking them to tiptoe around their own home is not.

I was the upstairs neighbor in this situation and I'm sure it sounded like we were deliberately banging around but I'm equally sure that most of the noise was actually from the floorboards flexing. It sucks to not be able to get a glass of water in the middle of the night without knowing that the crabby guy downstairs is fuming at you.
posted by teleskiving at 7:39 AM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

i have to say, i moved into a new apartment and after 2 weeks, the lady downstairs both came to my door to ask me to be less stompy and complained to the landlord that i was dropping things on purpose. i was moving in, for lords sake! we since have buried the hatchet and she allowed that things quieted down after the first few weeks, i do believe it was largely because of moving furniture, figuring out where things go, getting some new rugs for my first uncarpeted apartment, etc. i also made a conscious effort NOT to be a heel walker, if i ever was one.
i would like to say though, she complained to me and to the landlord about me in the same day, and i was very offended she didn't give me the chance to quiet down on my own before receiving a phone call from my new landlord saying that i was pissing off the downstairs tenants. i had a very low opinion of her from that action, since i really did intend to be more quiet after her request, and it wouldn't have taken a call from the landlord.
posted by Soulbee at 7:49 AM on January 17, 2008

I have seen this multiple times.

I was at my friend's apartment the other day and there was a note on the door asking her not to shower because the noise from the shower wakes her neighbor up early in the morning. I used to have a downstairs neighbor who called the cops on me twice, once for the noise from my 13" TV set about 1/3 of the way up, and once for playing music and vacuuming with the radio on at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. The cops had a word with my neighbor after they finished talking with me.

Anecdotes aside, noise is a fact of life in apartment living. With all due respect, suck it up. Your choices are to be miserable, or make your neighbors feel like asses for doing things most of us take for granted. If it is really making you life miserable I would consider moving to another location. That said I have found that white noise is a helpful tool for these situations. I run my HEPA filter in the winter and a bunch of fans in the summer and the constant drone seems to drowned out all but the loudest noises.
posted by kscottz at 10:54 AM on January 17, 2008

When I lived in LA a few years back, I had some upstairs neighbors who had a little dog. This little dog was fond of playing with a plastic toy bone. He would fling it around the hardwood floors of their bedroom, which was right above my own bedroom. All this at 6 AM in the morning, every morning.

I asked them to please stop letting him play with that bone at 6 AM, but it was kind of a hit or miss thing. F

inally, I went to a pet store and bought a silly little plush bone that wasn't made out of plastic. I left it on thier doorstep with a little note. The next morning, I could hear some scurrying around and could tell their little dog was having a hay day with the toy I had bought for him.

Win win.
posted by noir at 1:32 PM on January 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

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