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REAL ESTATE

How to Soundproof a Room and Nix Noise Complaints Before They Ruin Your Life

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woman cover ears looking upward (SIphotography)

Dealing with noise complaints is just a fact of modern-day life -- especially if you share a wall with neighbors, have a colicky baby at home, or have weekly band practice sessions in your den. Or perhaps you have a penchant for clomping around in heels on a hardwood floor.

Whatever the reason, you'll annoy everyone in your vicinity a whole lot less if you know the basics on how to soundproof a room. Here's how to stop noise in its tracks by soundproofing your walls, floors, and more.

Start with the floor

The key to stopping sound from traveling is to absorb it like a sponge -- and for this, soft surfaces are your friend, says Mark Clement of MyFixItUpLife. As much as Clement loves wood floors, he calls carpeting the "straight-up No. 1 step" to soundproofing. So lay down some rugs.

Clement also likes to pump up the sound absorption with a major underlayment -- doubling up a carpet pad or going for an extra-thick one (check with your supplier or installer for the best option).

Soundproof walls on the inside

If you're building a new addition or doing a renovation where you can get down to the studs (that framework of wood beams behind a wall), insulation is your soundproofing BFF. Yet Clement cautions that batt insulation -- that thick, pink fiberglass insulation we've all seen a million times -- does "pretty much next to nothing" to cut down on sounds.

Instead, Clement prefers a stone wool like Roxul, which "has the best sound-deadening properties." This material, a byproduct of volcanic activity, is both denser than traditional insulation and woven in a random pattern, which better resists air flow as well as sound (which is just compressed air). Bonus: Stone wool conserves heat and is a fire retardant.

Soundproof walls on the outside

Not ready to tear down your walls to the studs? We hear you. One DIY way to soundproof your walls on the outside is to hang quilted moving blankets around the perimeter of a room; their corrugated texture traps sound before it can travel through.

Another option is to go back to that stone insulation that works so well beneath walls and do the next best thing by placing it on top of walls instead. Take a rigid stone wool comfort board, wrap it in fabric to pretty it up, then hang it like a picture, says Clement. The more wall space you cover, the better the effects. Comfort boards can also be great if you've got a massive sound system in your home, since they can help reduce echoes and reverberations.

Soundproof your ceiling

Got noisy neighbors above? Get foam egg crates and use adhesive spray or staples to stick them on your ceiling. No, it's not beautiful, but it'll get the job done if noise above you is really a problem. A layer of fabric will also help -- remember, anything soft is going to keep sound from traveling as far.

Alternative approach: You can also ask whoever's above to lay down some rugs for an added layer of protection. Hopefully if they're as considerate as you are when it comes to noise, they will be happy to comply.