You love your apartment but the noise from the upstairs neighbors is making you crazy.
You can hear every sound they make, and they don’t care how loud they are.
How can you reduce the noise your upstairs neighbors make?
You could try a few of these solutions:
- Write them a note as they may not realize how much their noise disrupts you.
- Remind them that there are laws against noisy neighbors and that you will take things further if they don’t quieten down.
- If all else fails, take physical steps to reduce the noise, like installing a drop ceiling.
These are only a few suggestions, so stay with us as we discuss more options on how to reduce noise from upstairs neighbors.
How Do You Determine the Noise from Your Upstairs Neighbors?
There are many types of noise, so before you take further steps to confront your neighbors, have all your facts straight.
That way, they can’t argue if you tell them that you know the noise is being caused by:
It’s difficult to confront someone who annoys you with their loud footsteps.
It may be the particular shoes they wear, or more likely, it’s their floor surface.
They probably have tiles or wooden floors, which carry sound very clearly.
It may be a big family living above you, and with everyone walking around at the same time right over your living area or bedroom, it may sound like an invasion.
The kids living in the apartment above you may not have access to an outside play area, so they resort to bouncing their football on the floor.
The lady of the house might be doing her daily exercises, which include jumping on the floor, which jumps on your nerves.
If your and your upstairs neighbors leave their windows open, you may be able to hear every note of loud music they insist on playing.
They may talk loudly, and you can hear everything they say, even if you would rather not know their personal business.
If your doors and windows don’t fit snugly in their frames, soundwaves will find a way to get in through these gaps.
Even if your windows, doors, and walls are soundproof, anywhere that air gets in will also allow sound in.
11 Ways to Reduce Noise from Upstairs Neighbors
You absolutely have to get a decent night’s sleep and your upstairs neighbors’ loud footsteps won’t let that happen.
What steps can you take to reduce impact noise from above?
1. Increase the Density of Your Ceiling
Sound travels on airwaves, so if the space between your plasterboard ceiling and the joists is not insulated; the sound will come right in.
You can install soundproof panels, which normally comprise MLV (Mass Loaded Vinyl) and acoustic plasterboard.
The MLV is a heavy shapeless sheet usually permeated with metal particles.
This absorbs sound very well, and combined with another layer of insulation such as acoustic plasterboard; you will create an effective sound barrier on your ceiling.
2. Insulate the Ceiling
Insulation is any material that resists the transfer of air, and, therefore, sound and heat.
Soundproofing depends on mass, so any dense material such as polystyrene, fiberglass, wool, or cellulose fiber (usually recycled newspaper), will work well as insulation.
Although it is possible to retrofit ceiling installation, it is much easier to install during other renovations or a new build.
3. Soundproofing Sealant
Acoustic or soundproofing sealant is different from regular sealant in that it is more durable and more permanent than regular sealant.
It remains flexible, which means it does not harden and crack, which would allow noise to penetrate again.
It’s usually easy to apply as it comes in a nozzle tube, which is designed to get into small crevices.
You must ensure that all gaps are filled, or the sound will find them, and your noisy upstairs neighbors’ stomping will continue to annoy you.
4. Install a Drop Ceiling
A drop ceiling is also known as a false or suspended ceiling.
Although a drop ceiling is usually installed to hide duct piping, wiring, or structural beams, it can be very useful for soundproofing.
Brackets are installed below the existing ceiling joints, as many inches below the actual ceiling as you require.
Ceiling panels are then strung on these supports across the expanse of the room, for all intents and purposes lowering your ceiling.
This causes the sound waves to be trapped in the space between the real and drop ceiling.
5. Replace the Ceiling
The noise from your upstairs neighbors may be bad enough for you to consider installing a whole new ceiling.
Removing the existing ceiling will be a difficult and messy job to tackle alone, so enlist a few friends to help you.
Make things easier for yourself by removing all the furniture including anything hanging on the walls. You’ll need to remove any light fixtures — remember to turn off the power first.
Cover the walls and floors with drop sheets using masking tape to stick them down. This will make the clean-up much easier at the end of a long day installing your new ceiling.
Then it’s a matter of installing new drywall or gypsum sheets on the beams.
It’s probably a good idea to lay down fiberglass or other insulation material on the inside surface to minimize the noise coming through your new ceiling.
6. Anti-Vibration Pads or Mats
Installing a roll of sound-absorbing latex could solve many of your noise pollution issues.
You would not need to get onto your ceiling to lay this, as you simply glue it onto the outside surface and paint over it.
Rubber is an excellent sound inhibitor and will absorb most of the sound vibrations set off by your noisy upstairs neighbors.
Individual rubber sound absorbing mats are available on the market, which you can trim to fit into odd-shaped corners.
The tiles fit together to make a snug sound barrier.
7. Write a Note
You may not want to spend any money on soundproofing before you have communicated with your noisy upstairs neighbors first.
If you don’t know them very well, you try writing a note that you can slip under their door.
Keep your tone polite and explain that the noise they make is disturbing you, which they may not even be aware of.
State your points clearly and keep it short and simple.
They may appreciate that you have taken the trouble to ask courteously and apologize for any inconvenience they have caused.
8. Speak to Your Neighbors
You may have bumped into your upstairs neighbors in the elevator or lobby of your apartment block.
You know them well enough to greet and have a quick chat, so you decide it might pay to speak to them face to face about the noise they make.
This could go very well or very badly, depending on how and what you say, so make sure that you don’t give them fuel to become defensive or angry.
They may not have understood that walking on their tiled or hardwood floor was interrupting their studying or waking their little ones.
9. Speak to Management
If you are not on good terms with your upstairs neighbors, your only recourse may be to speak to the manager of your apartment block.
Keep a record of the dates and times that your neighbors disturb you, so you have facts and figures to back up your complaint.
It’s no use speaking to the manager with a vague complaint that you are being kept awake.
The landlord is obliged to take your grievance seriously.
All tenants should have signed a lease agreement which includes terms and conditions about noise before or after a certain time.
If your neighbor is in breach of this clause, he can be taken to task for it.
10. Are There Laws Against Noisy Neighbors?
Most communities have by-laws that prohibit excessive noise.
You should be able to find these online or at your local library. Failing this, your city manager would be able to point you in the right direction.
Quiet hours will probably be specified, e.g., no excessive noise between certain hours over a weekend or late at night during the week.
Laws against noisy upstairs neighbors generally include a decibel level that may not be exceeded.
If you lay a complaint directly with the police, they will install and monitor the equipment that measures decibel levels.
Before you take these extreme measures, you may want to call in a mediator who, as a dispassionate third party, can explain your complaint to your neighbor and transmit his response to you without emotions boiling over.
11. Can You Record Proof of a Noisy Upstairs Neighbor?
You’ve tried all the passive routes to get your upstairs neighbor to tone down the noise levels without success.
It’s time to up the ante by knowing how to record your upstairs neighbor stomping across their floor at unsociable hours.
If it gets to the point of going to court, you will have to prove that the noise was caused by your noisy neighbors and that the noise was excessive.
Smart technology means that you could download an app onto your mobile phone which will record decibels as well as the actual cause of the noise.
You should make recordings in your apartment when it is quiet, as a comparison to when your neighbors are making life unbearable with their noise.
In serious cases where your physical and mental health is being affected, or you are losing income as you cannot concentrate on your work, you may want to invest in more professional recording equipment.
To protect yourself, you may want to set up a video recording if your neighbor is likely to confront you physically for complaining about the noise he is making.
Is It Normal To Hear Footsteps Upstairs?
Unless you live on the top floor of your apartment block, you may be subjected to hearing footsteps from your upstairs neighbors.
The type of flooring that your neighbors have will make a difference: if they have carpets and rugs, you probably won’t hear them at all.
However, if they have tiles, concrete, or hardwood floors, you are much more likely to hear every footstep they take.
It also won’t really matter if your neighbor is a little old lady or a burly weightlifter — the way they walk or drag their feet will make the difference in whether or not you can hear them.
How Can You Intentionally Annoy Your Noisy Upstairs Neighbor?
You’ve had it with your noisy upstairs neighbors.
You’ve tried to ignore the problem, you’ve tried talking to them, you’ve left a polite note in their mailbox, you’ve spoken to the landlord who ignored the issue, and now you simply want revenge.
But be careful that you don’t break the law yourself, or you will get more back than you bargained for.
Remember that smart technology works both ways, so if you are caught on film interfering with their property, you may be in for a nasty surprise yourself.
If you have taken precautions not to be caught or at least identified, what measures can you take that will intentionally annoy your noisy upstairs neighbor?
A few ideas that is guaranteed to irritate your neighbor include:
- Spraying their door with a grease-based product will make it difficult for them to open their door as well as make their hands dirty.
- A mean way to annoy your neighbor is to set up a ceiling vibrator. It’s designed to sit flush on the ceiling and will create vibrations on the floor. Imagine that every time they put their coffee mug on the table, it falls off and smashes because the surface is vibrating.
- Do you remember playing a game as a kid where you would knock on the neighbors’ door and run away before they could answer? You could try the same thing with your neighbor, but it probably wouldn’t take long for him to guess that it was you.
- If you want to get some exercise and annoy your neighbor at the same time, try hitting a tennis ball against the ceiling for an hour at a time. The regular sound of the bouncing ball on his floor is sure to annoy him.
These are not serious suggestions: if you really have a problem with your noisy upstairs neighbor, take the mature route and speak to them as an adult.
It has been medically proven that excessive noise can be a health hazard.
Having to listen continually to discordant noise can aggravate stress that could manifest in physical symptoms like headaches.
Everyone is entitled to peace and quiet in their own home, and an annoying thoughtless neighbor can make your life unbearable.
You could decide to move out, but you may go into a similar or worse situation, even if it’s financially possible for you to take such a drastic step.
The best solution is to speak to the culprits and hope they are reasonable people.
Most people will recognize that you have a genuine complaint and will try to take measures to be quieter.
If you are unlucky enough to have a neighbor who is not so accommodating, you may have to take the legal route to get them to stop.
Robert is an electronic engineer with more than five years of experience with a solid affinity for helping people reduce noise. He writes about these silent home appliances and easy soundproofing measures to help everyone avoid the negative effect of extended exposure to high noise levels.