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How Can I Reduce the Noise Coming from Upstairs?

Spray foam insulation may help provide a noise barrier.
Acoustic insulation can help reduce noise between floors.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
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Dealing with noisy neighbors can be quite a task, especially when the neighbors are located upstairs. Apartment dwellers have dealt with noise coming from upstairs neighbors since the invention of the apartment building. At the same time, while owners have sought ways to provide a reasonable amount of protection from the transfer of footsteps and other day to day noise coming from upstairs.

Fortunately, the methods employed to accomplish soundproofing between floors in an apartment building or a residence have never been better than today. Essentially, all these approaches to dealing with noise coming from upstairs involve a process known as soundproofing. With soundproofing, materials are inserted into the spaces between floors that will muffle a great deal of noise, which will lead to a lot more harmony around the building.

One medium used to soundproof the space and reduce the noise coming from upstairs is thick layers of insulation. Rolls of insulation made from fire-retardant materials are used to essentially stuff and fill the space between floors. The fibers in the insulation act as absorbents to the noise occurring on the floors below and above, providing more privacy for both tenants.

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A new alternative is the utilization of foam insulation that can be blown into the space between floors. This process is actually much easier than using rolls of insulation, as the foam will expand and fill in every nook and cranny in the space. Once set in place, the insulation provides a solid barrier to noise coming from upstairs, as well as preventing music and party sounds from coming through loud and clear from below.

Some older buildings were not constructed with a space between floors. When this is the case, the ceilings are usually high enough to allow the addition of a drop ceiling in the rooms on the lower floor. The dropped ceiling only needs to allow a few inches for the inclusion of insulation in order to provide a decent level of protection from noise coming from upstairs.

However, keep in mind that all these solutions work for simple day-to-day noise. In the event that there is already a buffer between floors, and the upstairs neighbors tend to have loud parties or play music at high volumes, the main solution may be a serious talk with the landlord.

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Discuss this Article

anon959628
Post 17

In nice weather try opening all the windows to reduce the pressure waves from the walking character upstairs.

anon927360
Post 16

I wish my upstairs neighbors would shut up. People like that don't have common decency, nor are they reasonable. In these situations you may have to fight fire with fire by making just as much noise as them every time they start their nonsense.

anon924873
Post 15

There must be a solution to impact noise.

anon354508
Post 14

A jobless loser who stays up all night, thumping and pounding. We have become zombies since he has moved in the flat above. The council won't help because it's privately owned flat. And our landlord won't even bother to talk to us.

KFH are the letting agent (worst people for tenants) won't help either. The landlady (above flat) is a bullying bitch when we spoke to her after two years of ordeal. The jobless losers family of five came down for a month. Imagine we are sick of him banging on floorboards all night. Five of them in one bedroom flat. It was hell. We are told every time we contact anyone to find a new place. Is it so simple to just pack up and leave?

My husband is out of the country most of the time, I can't just find a new place on my own and sign a new tenancy agreement. Its not that simple. We pay as much council tax as anyone. We actually pay more rent because we are on the ground floor. But there must be some solution for us.

anon321729
Post 13

Discuss it with the neighbour and offer to go halves with an extra covering out of 25mm superwood on an underfelt. To attenuate sound, you need mass.

anon321520
Post 12

Another alternative is to move out and get yourself a private house. If you landed yourself into apartment building, stop annoying your neighbors about kids making loud noises during the day. You don't expect them to take a broom and fly, do you? Nope, they are not inconsiderate, just walking. Left, right, left, right. Should sound familiar. Little kids drop things, those tiny hands are still developing and getting stronger. Put some music on and live a little.

If you continue having issues with normal noise and kids, you probably need to check in with a doctor, and he'll provide you with some hints.

anon315957
Post 10

@anon219605: I'm in a similar situation. I dread to come back home. Both from below and upstairs, something goes tick-tock every five minutes, and I wanted just that type of motivation to start working on an insulation project. Many discouraged me, saying that it would not work and I already fear that ceiling insulation won't do the trick since the noise (vibrations) will go through walls. If it works I'll place it as a to-do and report back. If it doesn't, I don't really believe it won't so...

anon308918
Post 9

After reading this article, and the comments, I now know there is something that can be done with the herd of elephants that live upstairs from us. They sleep all day, and then they are up all night stomping around as if they have no sense what so ever.

To make it worse, we have two year old twin boys, and with little to no sleep we are all very tired and cranky. They have a child as well, and from what I can tell they keep him/her up all night with them so the so called "parents" can sleep all day without worrying about the child. I am going to try the insulation in the ceiling, and I'll report back if it works, along with the type we use.

anon254735
Post 8

A guy above me who weighs no more than 12 stone sounds like an elephant walking around and that's without his kids.

I have now set up speakers as high as possible and make noise in mornings for revenge. I am a builder, so it's time to put up false ceilings and I will get great pleasure with all the drilling and hammering needed. I think a 7 a.m. start will be good.

anon238138
Post 7

I live in a ground floor flat. Upstairs is a woman who stomps around, a kid that screams and a skeleton of a no-hoper husband who thinks he is a raver by blaring out the same repetitive beat on his stolen stack system!

Rather than go around with a baseball bat, I thought I'd play crafty. I got some rockwall insulation 50mm thick, and glued it to the ceiling with plasterboard covering. It was a cheap, simple solution and the flat is warmer. Job done.

anon219605
Post 6

I wanted to give my two cents of advice on this noise conversation. I live in a condo and the neighbors above me would always make loud impact noises (sometimes I really think they did it intentionally, even at 3 a.m.) such as heavy walking and dropping things on their floor. I was skeptical about installing insulation a few months ago because different people gave their opinion as to whether or not insulation would work and I didn't want to feel like I had wasted my money with insulation and it didn't work.

Well my fellow noise concerned friends, insulation does work and I highly recommend that you do it! I can hardly hear the neighbors above me walking on the carpeting area above me. As for the ceramic tiles in the two other rooms, I can hear the walking but it doesn't sound like a ton of bricks dropping on the floor. They would also slam the bathroom and kitchen cabinets but now I hardly hear it!

I am the same person who would turn the dishwasher on at 11 p.m. to drown out any potential stumping noise or dropping of things they would produce and put ear plugs in my ears to help drown out their noises at night so I could sleep. In the morning when I took my shower I would keep the ear plugs in until I got ready to walk out the door for work. In the summer my place was always cold from the a/c because I learned that the a/c would drown out their loud noises, and I constantly washed and dried clothes even if I didn't need to wash/dry clothes, but that helped to drown out the noise. I honestly dreaded coming home when I saw one of their cars because I knew I had to deal with the noise. It was aggravating and I was always in a bad mood.

But now, I'm happy and I really don't care what they do upstairs because I can't hear them! The funny part about it is that they don't know I had someone come and work on this project for me so they think they are making these noises and I can hear them. however, I think they realized a day or so after I did the insulation that something was different because I could tell they would kind of "stomp" or walk hard on the floor in the same place of the room.

Again, my wife and I were going crazy with noise we heard from upstairs. We couldn't sleep, we couldn't invite our friends over and we made a constant effort to make sure we were never at home because we didn't want to hear the noise.

This is the best investment I could have spent my money on and if you're experience what I experienced with my ignorant neighbors, just try the insulation because it does work.

Advice: put more insulation in than what you think you need to really help drown out the noise. Also, try to cover up (and I mean really cover up your furniture as much as possible because the blown in insulation gets everywhere and makes everything dusty. Good luck, because I know first hand that it sucks to be in a prisoner in your home.

By the way, for the last several weeks I have been able to sleep without the ear plugs and it feels wonderful. We actually have been staying home more enjoying our home. My mission is to tell anyone and everyone I know that insulation does work. There are a couple of different brands you can select because notice that I have not mentioned any one in particular because I'm not going to promote an insulation brand. I'm promoting the fact that insulation does work because there are so many people out there who are suffering like I have suffered with noisy, inconsiderate neighbors and they are about go go insane.

Find the insulation that works for you, but install insulation and see what a difference it will make in your quality of life! Again, good luck. --Signed: "Now I can finally sleep."

anon138248
Post 5

So what options are there for us unfortunate downstairs dwellers? The apartment above me has hardwood floors, and they "don't feel like" taking their boots off, so I hear every stomp at all hours of the day and night. I am also forced into the middle of their very frequent arguments, all hours of the night, and the wee hours of the morning.

I hear their toilet noises, his music playing and singing, etc. Yet, they expect me to be quiet and respectful to them and complain that my dogs bark from time to time (I wonder why). The problem is the wonderful neighbors that live above me are my landlord and his girlfriend. What can I do so I can enjoy my place in peace?

anon131991
Post 4

any other solutions to this prob? I live below some elephants and the owner wont cover the floor. So after no help with the strata(even though they are obliged) I am going to take them to mediation then if nothing is resolved then Adjudication. What carpet solutions are there?

anon90750
Post 3

I had a very similar soundproofing problem in my condo and got a great solution online.

anon85576
Post 2

I've got twin toddlers and we live upstairs. The neighbors below demand it be as quiet as the house they lost to foreclosure. They scream obscenities when the girls just walk around upstairs and they blast their stereo at night, making it impossible for the girls to get to sleep. We have 700sq ft to cover - what do you recommend?

And even if we lived downstairs, it'd still be the same thing. My neighbor lives in a downstairs apartment with one quiet toddler and her upstairs neighbor screams at her too. -Tired Mama

anon8626
Post 1

If a band wanted to play music in my basement (electric guitar w/ a loud marshall "stack" amp, drum set, electric bass w/ amp, etc.), is it possible to make my basement completely soundproof so that the noise cannot be detected (or at least minimally) upstairs?

does the fact that i have a dropped ceiling w/ ceiling tiles have an effect on this project?

Moderator's reply: check out our article (and discussion posts), How Can I Make A Room Soundproof? for tips on soundproofing a room.

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