Having noisy upstairs floors can be a nightmare.
No one wants to have their life constantly disturbed by the thudding of family members or housemates, and while apartment living can be amazing, noisy upstairs neighbors are a drain on your quality of life.
You could ask your heavy-footed friends to keep it down, but that could be a difficult conversation. What can you do to get some peace?
We’re here to help. There are several ways in which you can reduce the various forms of noise from upstairs floors, no matter where you live.
The first thing to do is to figure out where the noise is coming from and how it is being made. Once you’ve done that, you can choose an appropriate fix.
What Sort Of Noise Is It?
Can you hear conversation, music, or television noise through your floor? Anything that is transmitted through the air falls under the category of airborne noise.
Naturally, people living above you make quite a lot of airborne noise (unless they live alone and own some good headphones).
Because airborne noise tends to be higher in frequency, it is often reflected or absorbed by floor coverings. Great solutions for airborne noise include insulation and on-wall soundproofing, which we will talk about more in the next section.
This is the type of noise that is most likely to cause you issues with your upstairs neighbors.
Impact noise is anything that is generated by something hitting a surface. Footsteps, moving furniture, and dropping cutlery are all examples of the sorts of impact noise you might find coming through your ceiling.
Solutions for dampening impact noise include adding mass to your ceiling, creating an air gap with a drop ceiling, or soundproofing the floor itself.
How Can You Reduce The Noise?
If your ceiling and the floor above are built with an air gap between them, you can add blown-in insulation to reduce the transmission of sound.
This method is very effective at dampening airborne noise and also has a muffling effect on impact noise. It is, however, something you really want to call in the professionals for, as doing it yourself is difficult and risky.
If you have access to the floor above, you can install other acoustic insulation such as foam or Rockwool beneath the floorboards.
Add Drywall To Your Ceiling
Adding an extra layer to your ceiling creates more mass, which absorbs more vibration and reduces the noise you hear through the ceiling. You can add a layer of drywall directly onto your existing ceiling.
You can even use a specialist acoustic glue such as Green Glue to attach the new ceiling layer, which cuts out even more vibration. This is a relatively effective method against all forms of noise transmitted through floors.
Install Acoustic Foam Or Tiles
If you’ve ever seen pictures of a recording studio, you will have caught a glimpse of some oddly shaped foam on the walls and ceilings. This is acoustic foam, and it is excellent at reducing noise because that is what it’s designed to do!
However, it isn’t particularly attractive. If you are trying to soundproof an office, studio space, or other work areas, acoustic foam may be an option, but it’s not the ceiling finish most people would choose for their lounge or bedroom.
There are acoustic ceiling tiles available that are more attractive than specialist acoustic foam, but they are less effective and still not that aesthetically pleasing, making them something of a compromise.
Replace Your Ceiling
A drastic option, but if you have noise from upstairs that you absolutely can’t get rid of, perhaps the construction of your ceiling is simply not up to scratch.
If you have the ability to replace your ceiling entirely, you can make sure that the new installation has the best-quality soundproofing built in.
Options like resilient channels, which create spaces full of air that sound doesn’t travel through well, fixings that don’t transmit vibration, and flexible damping are all possible if you are doing a thorough rebuild.
Replacing a ceiling to a high acoustic standard is expensive and time-consuming, but it ensures that you have the best possible soundproofing.
An alternative to a whole ceiling rebuild is to install a drop ceiling.
A drop ceiling is like the ceilings you see in many offices or schools, where the visible ceiling surface is made of acoustic tiles that hang below the structural ceiling in a suspended grid.
This creates an air gap between the floor above and the ceiling of your room.
Drop ceilings naturally reduce the height of your room, are generally less attractive than the ceiling they’re replacing, and cost a fair amount of money, so this option may not be suitable for many domestic applications.
Soundproof The Floor Above You
Clearly, this isn’t an option if you don’t own the floor upstairs! However, if you do, one of the best and easiest ways to reduce upstairs noise is to stop it from transmitting in the first place.
Carpet the floors of your upstairs rooms, or install thick acoustic underlay beneath tiling or wood flooring.
Thick rugs in upstairs rooms and felt pads on the feet of furniture also help cut down on noise without having to make any alterations to the ceiling below.
Talk To Your Neighbors
If you’re lucky enough to know your neighbors and have a decent relationship with them, you can always see if there’s anything they can do to help. This could be an uncomfortable conversation, but it might be the best way forward.
Living with upstairs noise is difficult and disruptive. There are a wide range of possible solutions to the problem, ranging from DIY fixes to large-scale renovation.
Hopefully, after considering what sort of noise you are dealing with, your budget, and your situation as far as homeownership and access go, you can find a solution that gives a peaceful and attractive home.