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Noisy Upstairs Neighbors Solution

How to Reduce Noise From Noisy Upstairs Neighbors

How to Reduce Noise From Noisy Upstairs Neighbors

Ahh… people. Can’t live with ‘em and can’t live without ‘em. Living next to others can be a blessing, but if you’ve found this article you know it also can be a curse. One of the most commonly reported issues from anyone in a multi-family dwelling, whether it’s an apartment, condo, or duplex is upstairs noise. We've gotten plenty of complaints from people that say, "I can hear every step my upstairs neighbor takes. How can I fix it?"

The culprit of this annoyance when one person lives above another person is impact noise, often footsteps. Impact noise is why you feel like you always hear noisy upstairs neighbors. Impact noise is not a simple thing to eliminate, but you can do it. You just need to be able to do construction on your ceiling/floor and have the right soundproofing materials.

Keep reading to learn how to soundproof a condo or house by reducing noise from upstairs neighbors and get that peace of mind you’ve been dreaming about since they started raising elephants on the floor above you.

Ahh… people. Can’t live with ‘em and can’t live without ‘em. Living next to others can be a blessing, but if you’ve found this article you know it also can be a curse. One of the most commonly reported issues from anyone in a multi-family dwelling, whether it’s an apartment, condo, or duplex is upstairs noise. We've gotten plenty of complaints from people that say, "I can hear every step my upstairs neighbor takes. How can I fix it?"

The culprit of this annoyance when one person lives above another person is impact noise, often footsteps. Impact noise is why you feel like you always hear noisy upstairs neighbors. Impact noise is not a simple thing to eliminate, but you can do it. You just need to be able to do construction on your ceiling/floor and have the right soundproofing materials.

Keep reading to learn how to soundproof a condo or house by reducing noise from upstairs neighbors and get that peace of mind you’ve been dreaming about since they started raising elephants on the floor above you.

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Popular Ceiling Soundproofing Products


Green Glue™ Noiseproofing Compound
UnderBlock™ Rubber Floor Underlayment
RSIC™ Resilient Sound Isolation Clips

Identifying the Noisy Neighbor Problem: Sounds in Multi-Family Dwellings

Before setting out to soundproof a ceiling because of loud neighbors, start by determining what kind of noises are bothering you. If you want to reduce noise from upstairs floors, a good place to start is understanding the difference between impact noises and airborne noises.

The most common type of impact noise is footsteps. Footsteps are actually the most common type of unwanted noise in multi-family residences. The reason is that many buildings do not have appropriate IIC ratings to stop impact noise (due to a variety of factors), and this particular type of noise is loud and inconsistent in a way that is very distracting to us humans. It breaks through the background and draws our attention.

After impact noise, the next more common noise complaint is, "My upstairs neighbor is so loud, I can hear every conversation!" People talking is airborne noise, and it can penetrate through or flank around your floor/ceiling. You either don’t have enough density to block the sound, or there’s some sort of air gap allowing the sound to easily travel from room to room.

After you identify the type of noise you need to stop, the next step if to determine if you’re even allowed to start soundproofing your ceiling to deal with upstairs apartment noise.

how to deal with noisy upstairs neighbors

What Can You Do About Noisy Upstairs Neighbors?

If you live in an apartment complex and you constantly hear noise from the upstairs apartment, you’ll need permission from the building’s owner before doing any soundproofing construction. If you live in a shared or duplex home owned by a single person, you’ll probably have better luck. Honestly, your best chance is to convince the building’s owner soundproofing is worth the investment, and then have them pay for the materials and labor.

If you live in a condo and deal with a loud upstairs neighbor, you should check your with your HOA on how these types of issues are handled. Some HOA guidelines specify requirements on how soundproof tile floors or any other floor assembly needs to be. It’s possible your floor-ceiling assembly is below the expected IIC or STC rating (typically an IIC rating must be 50 or even 55).

Whether there are soundproofing standards or not, if you own the condo you will be able to soundproof between floors to stop the noise coming through.

Soundproofing for Impact Noise From Loud Neigbors

You basically have two options if you want to reduce footsteps and other forms of impact noise that are disturbing your peace and quiet.

The first option is to treat your ceiling by removing the drywall and then installing sound isolation clips on the ceiling joists. The purpose of the clips is to decouple the drywall from the ceiling joists, and hijack the path that structural impact noise is taking.

After you’ve installed the clips, snap in 25 gauge hat channel, and then screw in 5/8”” drywall to the channel. Seal up the perimeter with acoustical sealant. We recommend avoiding any type of lighting that requires you to cut holes in the ceiling. Our preferred sound isolation clips are RSIC clips. A sound isolation clip installation is the only option that stops impact noise if you have to treat your ceiling.

Your other option is to add rubber floor underlayment to the floor above you. A rubber underlayment is post-consumer recycled rubber, and it is excellent for isolating the floor from the building’s structure and stopping impact noise. This is the best option for soundproofing a floor for impact noise, but you can’t always treat the floor above you. If you want to soundproof a wooden floor on the level above you but you don't have access, you will need to address the ceiling. Now if it's an attic in your unit for example and you want to soundproof the attic floor, UnderBlock is a great option.

how to reduce noise from upstairs floors

Soundproofing for Airborne Noise From Noisy Neigbors

There are far more ways that you can tackle airborne noise if you’re hearing the TV or your noisy upstairs neighbors talking to each other. Most of the strategies revolve around the basic strategies of sealing up the room to make it airtight or adding mass to your barrier.

The quickest and most efficient way to to soundproof an existing ceiling for airborne noise is to use Green Glue. It's non-toxic and excellent for use between building materials such as drywall. Using it between your current ceiling and a new layer of 5/8” drywall will substantially increase the STC rating of the overall assembly, and doesn’t require any demo work. We recommend using two tubes of Green Glue for every 4x8 sheet of drywall.

Other options to soundproof a ceiling for airborne noise include a rubber underlayment on the floor above (UnderBlock again) or removing the existing ceiling and installing soundproofing materials. Options you can install directly to the joists include mass loaded vinyl on ceiling and a sound isolation clip system (RSIC clips). If you do not have insulation filling the cavity, you should add it because going from no insulation in a floor-ceiling assembly to one with insulation increases the STC rating by 5-7 points.

As with any other soundproofing project, you'll want to use an acoustical sealant; you always wants to seal any gaps when dealing with noise upstairs. Apply the sealant around the perimeter of your ceiling, and anywhere you see gaps or seams, such as around light fixtures.

All of the options that we mentioned are excellent to reduce airborne noise from loud upstairs neighbors, but only the RSIC clips and UnderBlock rubber underlayment for impact noise. Remember that the path for these two types of noise is different and you’ll be in good shape!

What Not to Do for Soundproofing Ceiling Noise

Despite what the internet may tell you, avoid these common mistakes people make when it comes to trying to soundproof a space to stop hearing a noisy upstairs neighbor.

Acoustical Panels

Just stop it. It makes our sound experts die a little inside each time we hear about someone who received this advice. Any material labeled as an acoustical product is going to be completely useless to solving your problem. Acoustical panels and other acoustic materials are designed to improve the sound quality in a room by absorbing echo and reverb, but will not actually block noise.

If you read the information above, you know this is because acoustical products would need to be density and installed with airtight coverage to stop sound from traveling between rooms.

Canned Lights

While they may be a nice touch to your home decor, avoid canned lights in any ceiling where you are concerned about noise control issues. When you install them into your ceiling, you're basically creating huge holes in the ceiling that allows sound to pass right through.

Unfinished Ceilings

If you’re having sound issues through an unfinished ceiling, we have a simple solution for you. Finish the ceiling! A full floor-ceiling assembly is needed to effectively block noise, with extra soundproofing from Second Skin to soundproof both the impact noise and airborne noise.

Conclusion: How to Reduce Noise From Neighbors Upstairs

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this article! We understand that it's frustrating trying to figure out how to deal with loud upstairs neighbors. It's not the easiest problem to address, especially since sometimes your hands can be tied and no easy solutions are present. If you have more questions, reach out to us at Second Skin, we’ve got soundproofing experts who can make a recommendation on how to best soundproof your home!

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