Dealing with Neighbor Noise

Neighbor noise driving you crazy?

Imagine a loud stereo next door playing music you can't stand. You can knock on the door only so many times before you decide that a more permanent solution has to be found. You can't make your neighbor move, but you can block out the annoying noise they make.

The science of neighbor noise

The stereo noise is airborne sound. The term refers to any noise that travels through the air like music or voices.

Airborne sound in your neighbor's house enters their drywall and vibrates the wall studs in the wall between you. That vibration races through the wall framing and enters your room. The framing is very conductive, so vibration passes through easily. Your drywall is rigidly attached to this vibrating framing, so the vibration easily enters your wall, ceiling, and floor.

This is known as flanking noise. Only about 30 percent of sound will come through the floor and ceiling, but you’re hearing it in stereo.

Impact sound is the bane of all downstairs neighbors. Typically experienced as footfall noise, it's pretty self-explanatory. When a foot strikes the floor, the sound vibrates through the structure and sends sound through your ceiling.

The video sums it up nicely. Also, it's hilarious and worth a few minutes of your time!

Soundproofing against neighbor noise

While it would be great if your neighbor would soundproof their own space, don't count on it. Most likely, you'll need to take matters into your own hands, especially if you're a homeowner. If you're renting or in a condo, you can share these suggestions with the building owner.

Option 1 – Add drywall and Green Glue

  • Add two layers of standard 5/8” drywall and Green Glue.
  • Make the wall as heavy as possible with standard $8 drywall.
  • Install a medium coverage of Green Glue between the layers.

This will reduce a great deal of the vibration, but certainly not all, since the vibration is racing through the wall framing behind the new drywall layer.

Option 2 – Add Sound Isolation Clips to the wall framing members

  • Remove your existing wall drywall on the wall or walls you want to soundproof.
  • Install standard R13 fiberglass (nothing thicker or expensive).
  • Then install inexpensive decoupling clips and channel. This will reduce the physical contact points when you add your new drywall and quite effectively decouple your new drywall from that original wall framing.
  • Double drywall with Green Glue (Option 1). This solution is the most effective and utilizes all 4 Elements of Soundproofing.

You may still need soundproofing for your floors and ceilings. We have solutions for all three.