How to soundproof your apartment

For peace and quiet on your own terms

a living room with earthy tone furniture including a terracotta orange armchair, ochre sofa and a black coffee table with accessories
(Image credit: Habitat)

When it comes to making your apartment a home, how you design and decorate is only part of the equation. For those who live amongst neighbors and noise, soundproofing can be a gamechanger. Also a great option for those who need a quiet space to study or record music, soundproofing an apartment can prevent the noises happening outside your space, like roommates, neighbors snoring, or traffic outside, from disrupting. 

By taking efforts to soundproof your space, you can live with peace and quiet (and never have to hear your neighbor practice the tuba again). From a new area rug to acoustic tiles, there are a ton of DIY routes to try, that won't break the bank (or your glasses). 

Listen In Before Signing The Lease

The best way to soundproof an apartment happens before you move in, in the shopping-for-an-apartment stage. Searching for a place that has no adjacent neighbors, to the left or right, or top or bottom, of the apartment is a great way to be sure you can drown out any unwanted noise. It’s also a good idea to visit a potential rental at the busiest time of day to get a sense of the noise level you’ll experience on a day-to-day basis

With Noisy Neighbors, Find The Sound Infiltration

One of the downsides of living in an apartment is the close proximity of your surrounding neighbors where unwanted noises can repeatedly be an issue. Tara Hagan, project manager at the architectural firm Assembledge+, says the first order of business when it comes to having noisy neighbors should be to find the open spaces.

“Sound infiltration from adjacent units can be reduced by making sure there are no cracks between spaces, even around wall outlets and switches,” she says. “Consult with your landlord to see if any gaps around outlets and switches in demising walls can be repaired using acoustic caulk.”

Install Acoustic Panels

One of the best products to help in a do-it-yourself soundproofing project are acoustic panels, designed to absorb sound. “Acoustic panels are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and are very helpful in cutting down noise. They can be installed in an attractive way similar to a mural or work of art on a wall,” says Hagan. 

There are a variety of styles and colors available. When shopping for the right panels for your space, choose ones that you don’t mind living amongst, like this chic natural oak style from The Wood Veneer Hub, or these acoustic panels in muted colors from ATS Acoustics

Try Acoustic Tiles

If you don’t want to cover your wall with a soundproof panel, you can always try to absorb more sound using acoustic tiles. Although using tiles sparingly won’t totally soundproof a space, they can reduce the noise coming from outside (and noise leaving the room) just by being installed on the walls. Plus, there are tons of stylish designs including these geometric darker green tiles and these mosaic colorful tiles, both available from Felt Right.

Decorate Your Floors With Rugs

For cutting down on noises coming from surrounding apartments, consider adding thick carpeting or rugs. “Thick carpets with a carpet pad underneath will not only help muffle the sound of a creaky floor, they will reduce the level of impact sound noise heard by apartments below,” says Hagan. This comes with an added benefit: “Your downstairs neighbors will thank you,” she adds. This is a super simple and budget option too, as there are a bunch of cute rugs available, even on Amazon that offer up all the cozy and acoustic-friendly vibes you need to soundproof an apartment ASAP.

Preventing Apartment Echos

Some apartments can have issues with echos, where the sound level is never quite what it should be. “Echoes are caused by sound waves reflecting off hard surfaces,” Hagan explains. The good news is, many interior echoes can be prevented by adding a bit of apartment decor. “A great way to reduce the sound of echoes is by increasing soft, sound-absorbing surfaces in your home. This can be achieved by adding an area rug to cover hard floor surfaces such as tile, installing fabric window coverings, or having more plants in your home.”

Make It Your Own

Soundproofing an apartment is one of the biggest ways to create more calm in your space and Hagan’s final DIY advice comes with a bit of style. “Get creative!” she says. “Acoustic panels are available in custom sizes and shapes. Create a work of art that also reduces ambient noise.”

Kate Santos

Hello! I’m Kate Santos, a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. In the design world, I got my start working as an Editorial Intern for Dwell magazine in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve written about design and architecture in many national magazines and online publications, including Playboy, Hunker, and The Culture Trip.

I grew up in a very old house in North Carolina and am still influenced by the rustic, charming, antique and aged elements of a home. Sustainability and longevity is extremely important to me and I believe learning to reuse materials or purchasing items you’ll love forever goes a long way. I also lean towards the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi when designing my own home, embracing the perfectly imperfect items I can find.