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Abating noise from upstairs condo?
Old 02-10-2020, 01:44 PM   #1
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Abating noise from upstairs condo?

I have a snowbird condo in Florida, where I spend ~7 months a year. It is a ground-level unit in a 4-unit building, with 2 units at ground level and 2 units upstairs.

I am extremely noise-sensitive.

When I was looking for a condo, I thought this unit would be suitable for my needs, as it is surrounded by preserves (native vegetation) and furthest away from road noises, pool and tennis court noises, fountain noises, entrance gate traffic and noise, etc. What is now aggravating me is the noise from my upstairs neighbors. They are basically a quiet, retired couple in their 70s. I realize that I am in a multiple-unit dwelling and can deal with the random daytime noises of the occasional vacuum cleaner, a chair being scooted across the floor, a washing machine draining, kitchen food prep (often sounds like pounding...scallopini, anyone?), articles being dropped on the tile floors, etc. What I cannot deal with is being woken up by my neighbors. For whatever reason, since the master bedrooms are "stacked", I am often awakened by their footfalls (these are dull "thud, thud, thud" noises, not the sharp clacking of hard-soled shoes or high heels on tile). This is driving me crazy. So if they arise at 5:57am, so do I...or at 7:16am, so do I, etc. Then while lying in bed fuming at my rude awakening, I can then hear them sliding drawers open and closed, and clomping around the bedroom some more. They must've recently installed a TV, as I couldn't fall asleep the other night due to hearing male and female voices on a TV. (The TV volume didn't seem particularly loud, but my brain seems to fixate on any noise in an otherwise quiet room.) And, the other morning, I heard a new noise, just several short bursts (1-2 sec. ea.) of an electric motor running, not sure if it's from a motorized bed or recliner, perhaps?

I bought a white noise machine, but it doesn't prevent me from being awakened from a sound sleep when these footfalls occur. And I've tried, but cannot get used to, sleeping with earplugs.

I never hear any noises from the unit next door, except for one time when a contractor was installing a new shower door.

I'm now trying to figure out a solution:
>>sell this condo unit and move (expensive, plus I've now got a social network here)
>>abate the noise (cost depends on the method chosen, likely approx. $2000-$3000).

The ceiling is drywall, topped by a 12"-15" air space where the duct work, and electrical & plumbing reside, topped by the floor of the upstairs unit which seems like it may be reinforced concrete, as there are lengthwise ribs on the bottom side of the concrete.

One of the sound deadening companies I spoke with said that basically my ceiling is acting like a speaker --- any noise upstairs gets transmitted through the flooring materials and, as everything structural is solidly attached, my ceiling drywall is vibrating (similar to a speaker) as a result. Their suggested solution is to remove the ceiling drywall, install isolating clips and channels, to which 2 sheets of 5/8" drywall (glued together on site with a product called Green Glue) are installed. The isolation of the new ceiling drywall from the structure, plus the increased mass of the double-thickness of the drywall is supposed to significantly reduce the noise I would be able to hear. (But he still made it clear that it wouldn't be soundproof.)

Another company I spoke with suggests removing the ceiling drywall, putting in some R-13 or R-20 (higher # is better) batts of fiber insulation, followed by a somewhat loosely-installed (looseness allows for better noise dissipation) layer of their Acoustiblok sound barrier (which is basically a 1/4" thick very dense viscoelastic polymer sheet which weighs 1 lb/sq. ft.) followed by a single layer of 5/8" drywall. The man I spoke with not real helpful. When I pressed him further as to how much his solution would fix, he said I'd still probably get 'flanking noise' (noise in my walls through the drywall). When I explained that I never, ever hear anything from my next door neighbor, he finally reluctantly conceded that I may not get flanking noise. (I spent some time combing through their site and they did have one story about an application where a home theater was successfully located adjacent to a baby's room. )

Of course, both of these solutions are dependent on the contractor knowing what to do and then following those directions to a T. (Noise seems to be a bit like water, it will find the tiniest hole to get through.)

As we have such a wealth of knowledge and experience on this forum, I'm tossing this issue out there to see what other ideas you may have to offer.

omni
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Old 02-10-2020, 01:50 PM   #2
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Start by talking to the people creating the noise , tell them (politely) what the problem is , and ask for their help in solving it
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Old 02-10-2020, 01:58 PM   #3
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Not the solution you are looking for but how about going to bed by 10P so it's not such a big deal if you get woken up around 6A.

I lived in a lower unit condo and I sold due to upstairs noise. I lost money on the deal but it was worth it to me. Now I have my own house with a finished room in the basment I can go to if there is too much noise. I will never share walls, ceiling or floors with someone again unless maybe if I am top unit in a well constructed building.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:00 PM   #4
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As a landlord I've heard a few noise complaints...

The isolation suggested by the first contractor is plausible, but I'm thinking you won't be pleased. When my gal fixates on a noise or a spot or anything that becomes her absolute focus and there is NOTHING that will keep her from hearing and being distressed by it. Your writing suggests you are aware that the retired couple upstairs is doing nothing but living a normal life (unfortunately) above your head. On the good side, you have a ground floor entrance, social connections, and distance from other external noise sources. Life could be much much worse. Moving to a separate single unit building has it's own problems. You've my sympathy, and maybe solution 1 will work, but working on yourself may be the only final answer.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:03 PM   #5
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Earplugs won't get rid of all noise but they will help. I have used ear plugs every night for many years. Try different kinds until you find something that works. If needed you could even get a mold of your ears and have custom ear plugs made. They cost a couple hundred dollars but it may be worth it.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:06 PM   #6
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I agree with Aaron. I am very noise sensitive and I wear ear plugs . It took me awhile to get used to them but now I can not sleep without them . I wear the pink squishy ones . They do have swimmers ones that are a soft gel that mold to your ears .
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:10 PM   #7
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Sleep in the second bedroom that is not beneath the neighbors' bedroom?
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:13 PM   #8
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I had a white noise machine which had worked well for me. But I like to run air purifiers when during the night so really didn't need the noise machine so sold that on ebay.

My current set up, an air purifier blowing on each side of the bed, a ceiling fan and a portable humidifier. Works well for me as not only do all the fans produce white noise but the purifiers do a great job filtering out all the can dander as I meet the sandman.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:18 PM   #9
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The problem unfortunately started at the buy. Lower units have more appeal because they lack stairs. They are also at the mercy of the tenants above.

We used to have an upper unit and the person below said they could hear us step out of bed. There was not much we could do to lessen our noise print.

We always try and stay on the top floor of a hotel and I would never buy the lower unit in a condo.

I would try white noise devices even running ceiling fans might help.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:22 PM   #10
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Some brief InnerTubes® research on my part says: go with Acoustiblok.
I would call Acoustiblok and and determine whether you should go with the 3mm or 6mm version. It appears that this product is vinyl and lead. I can tell you from personal experience that lead is an awesome noise attenuator.

Instead of fiber insulation, I would look at https://www.thefoamfactory.com/acous...cratefoam.html
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestwifeever View Post
Sleep in the second bedroom that is not beneath the neighbors' bedroom?
+1
This is my first choice too.
Second choice would be to offer to carpet the neighbors bedroom floor.

Other thoughts are, don't soundproof rooms for music use foam glued to the walls. I would investigate foam glued to the ceiling, and then a suspended ceiling installed below it.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:26 PM   #12
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My first apartment after college had an upstairs apartment with a single mom. I was woken up regularly by screaming sex sounds. Yeah...she was a screamer. Boyfriend had heavy boots too and often arrived around midnight and thudded across the apartment with the boots on. She had a son that rode a skateboard around the apartment during the day at times. Anyways, I swore...never again will I have an upstairs neighbor. I tried talking to her. Yelling when the noise was keeping me awake. She tried but it never lasted very long. I left as soon as the 12 month lease was up. If I were you, I'd consider moving. You'll probably save yourself a lot of misery.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post
Some brief InnerTubes® research on my part says: go with Acoustiblok.
I would call Acoustiblok and and determine whether you should go with the 3mm or 6mm version. It appears that this product is vinyl and lead. I can tell you from personal experience that lead is an awesome noise attenuator.

Instead of fiber insulation, I would look at https://www.thefoamfactory.com/acous...cratefoam.html
Thanks, Dave.

They suggested the 3mm thickness.

I will call Acoustiblok and discuss foam versus fiber insulation for my needs.

As I have various guests coming for visits until early April, nothing much will happen before then. (Plus it's peak season here, so contractors are swamped with business and tough to schedule.)

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Old 02-10-2020, 07:08 PM   #14
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I assume that because of the HVAC ductwork, plumbing and electrical overhead that you can't sprayfoam up there, but if you can then that would be ideal.

Instead, I would consider taking the drywall off of the ceiling, then filling between the trusses with 2" thick foamboard... then attach 2" foamboard to the bottom of the trusses and 1/2" drywall to finish the ceiling. You'll use 2 1/2" of headroom. Or you could dow two layers of 1" foamboard laid in opposite directions (one perpendicular to the other).

If you want to go with less demolition mess, you might install 2 layers of 2" foamboard to the existing ceiling... the first layer in one direction and the other layer perpendicular to the first layer.... followed by another layer of 1/2" drywall. The downside is that you'll lose 4 1/2" of headroom, but I would think 4" of foamboard would muffle any sound.

How big is the space (sf) that you want to address?

If you go with the last option it shouldn't cost much to fasten the foamboard to the ceiling and see how it works.... even doing one layer at a time. If it deadens the sound sufficiently then you could then add the drywall to make a nice finish for the ceiling.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:35 PM   #15
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What material is on the upstairs floor-- tile, carpet, etc? Many newer units require some type of "sound barrier" if the upstairs neighbor installs new hard floor coverings.

We have a 35 year old rental on the first floor and tenants have commented (complained) about noise from upstairs at times. Our condo does not have anything in its bylaws requiring some type of sound insulation.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:40 PM   #16
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Our association revised it declarations last year and added provisions that second floor units that install hard flooring also install sound deadening material. We installed luxury vinyl plank last week that had a built-in sound deadening material.... and was approved by our board as required.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I assume that because of the HVAC ductwork, plumbing and electrical overhead that you can't sprayfoam up there, but if you can then that would be ideal.

Instead, I would consider taking the drywall off of the ceiling, then filling between the trusses with 2" thick foamboard... then attach 2" foamboard to the bottom of the trusses and 1/2" drywall to finish the ceiling. You'll use 2 1/2" of headroom. Or you could dow two layers of 1" foamboard laid in opposite directions (one perpendicular to the other).

If you want to go with less demolition mess, you might install 2 layers of 2" foamboard to the existing ceiling... the first layer in one direction and the other layer perpendicular to the first layer.... followed by another layer of 1/2" drywall. The downside is that you'll lose 4 1/2" of headroom, but I would think 4" of foamboard would muffle any sound.

How big is the space (sf) that you want to address?

If you go with the last option it shouldn't cost much to fasten the foamboard to the ceiling and see how it works.... even doing one layer at a time. If it deadens the sound sufficiently then you could then add the drywall to make a nice finish for the ceiling.
pb4uski,

Thanks. The room is approx 13' x 14'.

I'm not sure what you mean by "foam board". Is it this? https://www.homedepot.com/p/Owens-Co...-45W/100320352

If so, it doesn't seem to help with sound, based on Q&A:

  • Is it sound proof
  • Asked by
  • Sharpo29
  • September 10, 2019
  • Answers (5)
  • OwensCorning
  • September 13, 2019
  • Hello Sharpo29, Foamular is not rated for acoustical properties. Thank you for your inquiry!
  • kirkmonster
  • September 13, 2019
  • No, Noise and Thermal are two different techs. This is for Thermal ONLY. This is ideal for putting on concrete walls to add insulation as well as be able to add drywall. For Sound Insulation, you'll want to look at things like Green Glue.
  • sg
  • September 11, 2019
  • Not really. It may allow less sound to pass between the walls, but it does not reflect or absorb sound like actual sound-proof material.
  • Bill
  • Ft. Worth, Texas
  • September 10, 2019
  • No, you have to build sound proofing into your construction.
  • Communityanswer
  • September 10, 2019
  • No, it is not sound proof.

If this is not what you meant by foam board, could you provide a link, please?

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Old 02-10-2020, 07:58 PM   #18
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Did you try one of these for a sound machine? We have one - no neighbors though. It blocks downstairs kitchen noises in the bedroom. https://smile.amazon.com/Marpac-Clas...gitaltren0b-20
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:01 PM   #19
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Contractor # 1 with the isolating clips and the green glue is the preferred way to build home theaters. Check out https://www.avsforum.com/forum/19-de...-construction/
The first sticky is "Soundproofing"
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:10 PM   #20
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Did you try one of these for a sound machine? We have one - no neighbors though. It blocks downstairs kitchen noises in the bedroom. https://smile.amazon.com/Marpac-Clas...gitaltren0b-20

Yes, that's the one I have. I am still awakened by their thudding footsteps overhead.

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