If you like to keep things as quiet as possible, then living in an apartment might be a bit frustrating for you. Many apartments are going to be noisier than you would like them to be. Your neighbors are very close to your location and you might even be able to hear them through the walls. If you have upstairs neighbors, you will also likely be able to hear them walking around.
Be that as it may, there are still many people in apartment complexes who try their best to be mindful of their neighbors. If you are one of those people, then you might wonder how sound travels and what you can do to mitigate noise. One of the biggest concerns is whether sound travels up or down in an apartment. Determining the answer to this question is actually more complicated than you might think.
Sound Travels in All Directions Unless It Is Directed
The first thing that you need to know is that sound travels in all directions unless it is directed. You are not going to see more sounds traveling upward than downward unless you are specifically directing them that way. You can use things such as cones and soundproofing materials to direct sounds that are coming out of speakers. You likely aren’t doing this so the sound in your apartment is most likely just traveling in all directions.
So the honest answer to this question is that sound travels evenly in all directions. There can be certain factors that will influence sound to move upward or downward. With a typical sound setup for a home theater system, you’re likely going to be sending sound up and down evenly. If you’re worried about being too noisy for your neighbors at the apartment complex, then you need to look into taking some soundproofing measures.
Will a Top Apartment Be Less Noisy Than a Bottom Apartment?
An apartment that is at the top might be less noisy than a bottom apartment for a few reasons. Even though noise travels evenly in all directions, the bottom apartment is going to be hearing a lot more noise. There are no rooms or other apartments below the bottom apartment. When you walk around in a bottom apartment, the noise from walking on the floors isn’t going to be bothering anyone for the most part.
The biggest complaint that you’ll hear from people living in a bottom apartment is that they can hear their neighbors walking around or even stomping. Some apartment complexes do a better job of soundproofing things in order to keep this from being an issue. If you’re living in a relatively inexpensive apartment building, then you might not have good soundproofing measures in place. This means that you’re going to be hearing creaking, bumps, and all sorts of other noises when your neighbors are walking around upstairs.
Combine this with the fact that you might have to deal with children living upstairs and you could be in for a noisy experience. This doesn’t have anything to do with how sound travels but it is the primary concern for people living in a bottom apartment. The sound from the floors is going to go down because that is the only direction that it can really go. The neighbors to the side may hear some of that noise as well but your upstairs neighbor’s floor is pretty close to your ceiling in most situations.
Soundproofing Is Not Likely Possible
Soundproofing probably seems as if it would be the best solution for this situation. If you feel that the apartment is too noisy, then being able to soundproof it would solve all of your problems. The issue with that is that you don’t own your apartment. Apartments are something that you lease and you can’t just make major modifications to an apartment without getting approval.
The vast majority of all landlords will not be willing to allow you to make changes to the walls, floors, or ceilings. If you really want to soundproof your apartment, you’d need to add soundproofing materials to the floor, ceiling, and walls. This would involve going inside the wall and placing the materials. It can be done but getting approval is so unlikely that you should probably forget about it.
You can add some sound-absorbing materials to certain parts of your apartment. This can help you to keep things a bit quieter. It isn’t going to be an ideal solution as truly soundproofing the apartment would be. It will be able to eliminate some noise, making things a bit more pleasant around your apartment.
It’s also possible to try talking to your neighbors to see if something can be done. For instance, you might be able to ask them to get a rug or something in order to dampen the sound of them walking around. Whether this is an option depends on the friendliness and understanding of your neighbors, though. This isn’t always going to be an easy thing to fix due to the nature of apartment living.
Talk to Your Landlord
You might as well take the time to talk to your landlord about any concerns that you have about sound. You can’t change the fact that sound is going to be a problem in apartments. You can try to work around things a bit by using the sound-dampening barriers mentioned above. The results might even wind up being pretty good but it’s still worth taking the time to have a conversation with your landlord.
It’s possible that they might be open to making some modifications to the apartments in the future if enough tenants are annoyed by the noise issues. Just know that apartments do not commonly undergo major soundproofing renovations. The practicality of it just isn’t there and the apartment complex might not see a return on that investment. If you’re going to be making the apartment complex your home, then it’s still smart to discuss things with your landlord to go over your options.
See also: How to Deal With Your Upstairs Neighbor’s Stomping Noises
So Does Sound Travel Up or Down: The Conclusion
Sound doesn’t travel upward or downward in an apartment. Sound travels in all directions equally unless you make some modifications or you seek to guide the sound in a particular direction. After reading the above information, you now know that bottom apartments have to deal with more noise simply due to how close the floor of the top apartment is to the ceiling. This may be an annoyance but it’s just an aspect of living in an apartment.
Don’t be afraid to try to improve the situation. Sometimes sound-dampening barriers can make a big difference. As long as you’re willing to make the investment, it’s a good option. You can also see if you can work out a solution with your landlord as mentioned above. Just know that you’re not likely going to be able to completely soundproof your apartment unless your landlord is particularly accommodating to the wishes of tenants.
Remember to try not to get too annoyed at the situation. You just have to do what you can to make things as peaceful as possible. You should also try to be mindful of the sound that you’re producing in order to be a good neighbor and avoid bothering others. If you can do that, then you’ll at least be doing your part to make the apartment complex as nice of a place to live as possible.