Is it possible to reduce neighbor noise in a townhome or condo?

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Home Improvement

Minimizing Noise Transmission Through Walls

When it comes to neighbor noise, walls are the most significant point of contact between your home and your neighbors’ homes.

Thankfully, walls are also the easiest aspect of your home to address when it comes to sound transmission. Understanding how walls are constructed can help you determine why noise is penetrating through and how to prevent it.

Contractors constructing apartments or townhomes often prioritize keeping construction expenses low. To achieve this, they may build walls inexpensively, with shared walls containing only a few 2×4 studs and a layer of drywall on each side. In some constructions, they may also add a layer of fiberglass batt insulation to regulate noise and temperature.

Fortunately, there are numerous methods to improve the STC ratings of your walls and reduce noise transmission. The cheapest and quickest solution is to add a single layer of standard 5/8″ drywall over your existing walls. Install it by screwing it in place so that it attaches to the wooden studs. This will boost your wall’s STC rating by roughly 10 points [source: Guardian].

If you’re dealing with severe noise issues, consider using QuietRock. This drywall product employs unique technology that prevents sound waves from penetrating your walls. It has the same fire-resistant qualities as regular drywall, and by adding just one layer to your existing walls, you can increase your STC ratings to an average of 58. Add two layers, and your walls will have an STC rating of around 80. At this level, your neighbors could start a rock band in their home, and you wouldn’t even notice [source: Quiet Solution].

If you don’t want to add drywall, you can minimize sound transmission by hanging fabric-wrapped panels. Homasote is one of the most popular products for reducing noise in apartments. It’s a lightweight composite product made of recycled newspapers and cellulose fibers. By wrapping Homasote panels in an attractive fabric, you can decrease the noise coming through your walls by about 20% while enhancing your home’s d├ęcor [source: Homasote].

However, walls aren’t the only way that noise can enter your home. Keep reading to learn how to reduce noise from neighbors above you as well as how to soundproof your windows and doors.

Noise and Building Codes

Many people are unaware of how few noise requirements there are in the International Building Code (IBC). Although the IBC is updated every three years, it takes time for states to align their codes with the IBC’s changes. As of 2009, numerous states still use the 2003 code, which requires shared walls to have an STC rating of at least 33, which isn’t very effective at blocking noise. The 2006 version of the code increased this figure to STC 50, but it only applies to new constructions, not existing apartments or townhomes. If current patterns continue, it may take several more years for the 2006 code to become the standard.


1. What are some common sources of noise from neighbors in townhomes or condos?

Some common sources of noise include footsteps, talking, music, television, pets, and household appliances.

2. Is it possible to block out all neighbor noise?

No, it is not possible to completely block out all neighbor noise. However, there are ways to reduce the amount of noise that enters your living space.

3. What are some effective ways to reduce neighbor noise?

Some effective ways include using sound-absorbing materials such as carpets, curtains, and rugs, sealing gaps and cracks around doors and windows, installing soundproofing panels on walls and ceilings, and using white noise machines or fans to mask the noise.

4. Can you legally complain about noisy neighbors?

Yes, most condo and townhome associations have rules and regulations regarding noise levels and disturbances. You can file a complaint with the association or contact local authorities if the noise is excessive or disruptive.

5. What are some DIY soundproofing methods?

Some DIY methods include using weather stripping tape to seal gaps around doors and windows, hanging thick curtains or blankets over walls, using bookshelves or furniture as a barrier, and placing sound-absorbing materials such as egg cartons or foam panels on walls.

6. Can you install soundproofing materials yourself?

Yes, you can install soundproofing materials yourself with proper research and guidance. However, it is recommended to consult with a professional for more complex installations.

7. What are some long-term solutions for reducing neighbor noise?

Some long-term solutions include upgrading windows and doors with double-paned glass, installing sound dampening drywall, and adding a second layer of drywall with a sound-deadening compound between the layers.

8. What are some affordable soundproofing options?

Some affordable options include using weather stripping tape, hanging thick curtains or blankets, using furniture as a barrier, and using foam panels or egg cartons on walls.

9. Can you talk to your neighbors about their noisy behavior?

Yes, it is recommended to first talk to your neighbors about their noisy behavior before taking other actions. They may not be aware that they are causing a disturbance and may be willing to work with you to find a solution.

10. Is it possible to file a noise complaint anonymously?

Yes, you can file a noise complaint anonymously with the condo or townhome association or with local authorities. However, it is recommended to first try to resolve the issue directly with your neighbors before taking this step.

11. What are some legal options for dealing with noisy neighbors?

Some legal options include filing a complaint with the condo or townhome association, contacting local authorities, or seeking legal action such as a restraining order or a lawsuit.

12. How can you protect your privacy while soundproofing?

You can protect your privacy by using soundproofing materials that also provide privacy such as frosted glass or soundproof curtains. Additionally, you can ensure that any soundproofing installations do not violate the privacy rights of your neighbors.

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