The first step in how to reduce noise from annoying upstairs neighbors: find the source.
We’ve all been there: noise from upstairs floors that don’t seem to stop.
So if you’re facing noise problems, we’ve been in your situation long enough to find effective methods and calm the noise down once and for all.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 8 tried and TESTED ways on how to reduce noise from upstairs neighbors.
8 Ways on How to Reduce Noise From Upstairs Neighbors
1. Determine the Type of Noise
First things first, figure out what type of noise problem you’re dealing with.
After all, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what it is. Right?
Understanding the noise problem will save you PLENTY of time, effort, and money.
There are 3 main types of noise you should look out for.
As the name suggests, this type of noise is transmitted through the air.
Sound waves can travel everywhere. As it’s carried by air, it will eventually transfer or crash into something solid, such as a floor.
This collision creates vibrations, which transform into noise. This means airborne noise can leak through the gaps in doors, windows, walls, and so on.
Some examples include a TV show, the phone ringing, dogs barking, and people’s conversations.
You could probably hear a small amount of airborne noise from upstairs floors too.
Impact noise is also known as structure-borne noise.
When two objects collide through physical contact, it results in noise transmission. This type of noise travels through a building structure, such as the floor, wall, or ceiling.
Some examples of impact noise include footsteps, moving furniture, objects falling on the floor, and so on.
Impact noise is the most common noise from upstairs floors.
Flanking noise is a type of indirect noise.
It’s when a sound is transmitted in-between space, room, or floor. It can even travel over or around a soundproofing element.
It’s harder to identify the source for this type since the sound may not be coming from where it was generated.
Plus, this is related to the design and construction of the building, so it’s harder to fix on your own. For instance, poorly designed ductwork and electrical outlets could cause indirect noise.
That’s why if you’re moving into a new home, it’s important to check for potential flanking noise problems.
You don’t want any confrontation over upstairs noise from upstairs floors that isn’t your neighbor’s fault, right?
2. Locate the Source of the Noise
Once you understand the type of noise you’re dealing with, you have to locate the source of the noise next.
- Can you only hear it from the kitchen?
- Is it louder in your bedroom?
Move from one room to another to compare the differences in noise level. In some cases, you can only hear the sound in one area.
Granted, if you’re dealing with a flanking noise, it will be harder to pinpoint the exact source. Still, take note of all the adjacent surfaces (e.g., floors) that may worsen the problem.
While doing this, it’s a smart idea to take note of the time.
Is the source of the noise problem louder during daytime or nighttime? Is there a particular time when it starts?
Record the sound on your phone so you can keep track of the problem. This will be handy later on for Step 3.
3. Talk to Your Neighbors
Depending on your situation, you might be so fed up that you’re ready to fight your upstairs neighbor.
Or you might be sick and tired, but you dread confrontation.
And worse – where we’ve been in – what if your neighbor gets annoyed and worsens the noise problem?
Either way, it’s a smart idea to approach your noisy upstairs neighbor and talk to them — politely, of course!
It’s very likely they aren’t even aware that they’re being noisy upstairs neighbors. Here’s what you can do:
- So before you try to reduce noise from upstairs floors, explain to them in detail the problem you’ve been experiencing. You could show the video you took in Step 2 so your neighbors understand better.
- From there, this could also give you some additional insight, whether what the source is or why it’s so loud. Maybe the upstairs neighbors have young children who love running around. Or they have a teenage son who’s into playing loud music.
- If your neighbors are agreeable, try to figure out a solution together. They could tone it down or add some soundproofing materials. For instance, adding a rug or carpet will reduce the noise from upstairs floors.
But if you’re stuck with unpleasant noisy upstairs neighbors, don’t worry. There are ways to reduce the noise on your own.
Before you move onto the next steps, keep in mind some of these can be noisy.
Make sure to inform your landlord and neighbors about the potential noises beforehand. After all, you don’t want to be like your noisy upstairs neighbors that are making your life miserable.
4. Put Additional Layers on Your Ceiling
To reduce noise from upstairs floors, the fastest and easiest way to start is by increasing the mass or density of your ceiling.
How so? By adding extra layers to your ceiling.
You can consider various soundproofing materials to reduce noise, such as:
- Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
- Soundproofing Panels
Pick the weapon of your choice on how to reduce noise. All of these are have a sound transmission class (STC) rating!
Keep in mind the rule of thumb: the thicker the material, the better. You could either use a thick material or several layers of thinner materials to reduce noise from upstairs floors.
To install them, all you need is some adhesive to attach them to your ceiling.
There’s no need to hire a professional to do this, but you might want to ask your family or friend to help you out.
Unsure of which one to buy? Let’s go through each below.
Installing drywall is a popular choice because you won’t have to sacrifice the design of your room or home.
Drywall is a thick and rigid sheet or panel that helps in reducing noise. It’s made of plywood, wood pulp, asbestos-cement board, and gypsum.
It’s easy to use (though it requires some tools!) and it’s very cheap. The cost ranges from $12 to $20 per panel, which means it’s about $0.40 to $0.65 per square foot.
Check out this article on how to attach a layer of drywall to your ceiling.
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is another affordable way to soundproof your ceilings.
It’s slightly more expensive than a layer of drywall, but the difference is $1 to $2 at most. Unlike drywalls, MLV is flexible, so it’s easy to cut the size and attach them.
MLV is a thin but dense material, and it looks rubber-like. It’s made out of vinyl and high-mass particles.
For better results, you could opt for a drywall and MLV combination. Hang the layer of drywall as the first layer, then “coat” it with a second layer of MLV.
There are two types of foam panels: acoustic and soundproof. When purchasing foam panels, most sellers don’t distinguish between the two.
However, acoustic is for keeping the sound and reverberations within the room. For instance, think of a recording studio.
Soundproof foam panels are all about preventing a sound or noise from entering a room.
So to reduce noise, be sure to check which one you’re buying. Since acoustics don’t really help reduce the noise from the outside.
These foam panels come in various designs and shapes, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Bonus Tip: Soundproof Paint
If you don’t want to install any materials yet, use soundproof paint. This helps with echoes and ringing noise from your noisy upstairs neighbors.
Granted, it won’t be as effective as soundproofing materials, but it’s a good way to start.
Or, if you want to reinforce your ceiling, you could add soundproof paint as a finishing layer on top of soundproofing material, such as drywall.
5. Use Soundproofing Sealant/Green Glue
You might’ve heard this advice one too many times, but hey, it works!
Using a soundproofing sealant is effective for covering any gaps or cracks on your ceiling surface. You should consider inspecting this, especially if you live in an old building.
The MOST popular soundproof sealant is Green Glue.
As an alternative to Green Glue, consider caulk. Caulk is used for covering joints and seams against leakages.
You could use a soundproofing sealant on its own (for covering up any cracks) or use it as a reinforcement for Step 4.
On its own, note that Green Glue will only be effective for airborne noise. But it won’t be as good at blocking impact noise.
Applying Green Glue between drywall and other ceiling soundproofing panels will boost its effectiveness. In this case, Green Glue becomes helpful in fighting against flanking and impact noise.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that drywall mud isn’t as effective! It can easily transfer the vibration from the floor above you.
6. Install Resilient Channels
Resilient channels are thin bars made with metal or non-corrosive steel. They’re designed to reduce impact noise, such as footsteps or moving furniture.
How do resilient channels work? Resilient channels are connected or attached to a soundproofing material (e.g., drywall).
From there, the channel creates some gap between the drywall and the surface of your home (e.g., ceiling). Without direct contact, sounds are no longer able to travel in-between frames.
Essentially, resilient channels dampen sound waves by creating air pockets. These air pockets help dissipate and reduce sound wave transmission.
This method is trickier as it involves removing your floor-ceiling assembly. Plus, it’s not the easiest to install, so you might want to call a professional for this.
If you want to DIY it, here’s a video that shows you how to install resilient channels:
While resilient channels are the most popular method, you could also consider other materials to insulate your ceiling, such as:
- Double Leg Channels: Most resilient channels are single-legged, but some come in a double-legged form. Double leg channels are more stable.
- Hat Channels: Hat channels are made of aluminum or steel, but they don’t have pre-drilled holes in them.
- Sound Clips: Sound clips, or sound isolation clips, are made from a rubber/metal combination. It provides protection or a barrier against vibrations. They’re usually attached to hat channels.
7. Install a Drop Ceiling
Instead of having to attach several soundproofing materials, you could opt to install a drop ceiling. This will make your ceiling appear much more uniform.
A drop ceiling is a secondary ceiling attached below your main ceiling. You won’t have to remove or renovate your existing ceiling for this method.
How Does a Drop Ceiling Help With Reducing Noise From Your Upstairs Neighbors?
It works in 2 ways.
The drop ceiling either absorbs the sound waves transmitted through the main ceiling. Or it blocks the sound from traveling to another room.
Using a drop ceiling is effective for different noises, but it’s particularly good for blocking out impact noise.
Plus, it can also improve your room’s appearance as it can cover up structural damages, such as cracks and gaps.
Examples of drop ceilings include acoustic tiles and acoustic clouds.
The downside? The price tag can be pretty steep, especially compared to other options. It also takes more time and effort to set it up.
8. Replace Your Ceiling
If you have the money and own your home or unit, consider replacing your ceiling with a new one.
This will give you more flexibility in choosing what kind of soundproofing elements you’d like to add to the floor-ceiling assembly.
Plus, this way, you have full control over what design you want to achieve.
Among others, we recommend using a resilient channel the most. Attach the resilient channel to other materials, such as drywall or sound clips.
This isn’t the easiest way on how to reduce noise hiring a professional will be the best. They’ll be able to build a customized ceiling for you, minus the headache.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that even if the noises are coming from your noisy upstairs neighbors, the sound can easily travel to other surfaces (e.g., floor or window).
Given this, consider soundproofing other parts of your room while you’re at it. Check websites such as HomeAdvisor to get estimated costs.
What to Do if Your Upstairs Neighbors Are Still Noisy?
Rearrange or Add Furniture
Changing the layout of your room might just reduce the noise.
For example, you could move your bookshelf against the wall to create an additional layer of space.
Or let’s say your neighbor plays the TV loudly on one side of the living room. In this case, you could rearrange your sofa so it’s away from their TV.
Thick fabric will also help with soundproofing. You can add more sofas or throw pillows to reduce noise.
In case your room is bare, it will amplify the sound and make it echo around the room. So consider this as an opportunity to decorate your room and fill it in with furniture and other things.
Soundproof Other Areas of Your Home
Keep in mind that noise can travel in all directions, especially if they’re airborne.
This means it could be coming from downstairs, the upstairs floor, or even next door.
So even if it’s coming from the upstairs floor, it won’t always mean you’ll hear it through the ceiling.
Instead, turn to the gaps or space in your room or home. The sounds can travel through any gaps, such as walls, floors, windows, and doors.
For windows, there’s always an option to close them. But you could also inspect if they’re fully caulked and sealed.
Or even better, invest in some soundproof curtains or blinds. They’ll add an extra layer of protection against the noise. It also helps with temperature control.
For doors, weatherstripping is an easy and effective way to block out sound. Plus, it also helps keep the air inside so that you can save on heating or air-conditioning costs.
Another option is getting a heavy-duty door sweep. It’s even easier getting a rug, either covering one area (e.g., gaps) or the whole floor area.
Contact Other Networks
If you live in an apartment or townhouse, there should be an apartment building or townhome association.
Check what regulations they have regarding noise. You can reach out to their management and see what can be done regarding the noise.
In an apartment, there may also be on-site managers, doorman, or leasing offices. The representative could be the one to reach out to your noisy upstairs neighbors.
If all else fails, you might want to file a noise complaint with your municipality.
Each city will have different regulations for noise pollution. So make sure to check one that applies to you before you take action.
Your home should be a living space for relaxation, so managing that noise problem is essential.
It’s important first to find out the source and type of noise you’re dealing with before moving on to noise reduction methods.
Granted, it won’t completely eliminate the noise, but it will make it much more manageable.
If you want to completely seal the noise from your ceiling, here’s an 8-Step Guide on Soundproofing Your Ceiling.
July 12, 2021 – removed 2 article links, removed 7 product links, added 2 new article links
June 25, 2021 – added article links, fixed and updated article formatting and content