I can hear every step my upstairs neighbor takes

Living in an apartment can be an amazing experience, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges. Have you ever found yourself feeling frustrated and annoyed by the sound of your upstairs neighbor’s every step? You’re not alone. Many apartment dwellers have to deal with noisy neighbors, and it can be a major source of stress.

Why I can hear every step my upstairs neighbor takes? To soundproof against the impact of every step your upstairs neighbor takes, consider adding a combination of sound-absorbing materials like carpets or rugs, acoustic underlayments, and resilient channels on the ceiling. Sealing gaps and using bookshelves or soundproof curtains can further enhance the insulation.

In this blog, we’ll explore some tips and tricks to help you deal with the noise and get some peace and quiet in your home.

Understanding noise transmission in buildings

Understanding noise transmission in buildings

Living in an apartment or a multi-story building can sometimes be challenging, especially when you have noisy neighbors. While noise is a common issue in shared living spaces, understanding the science behind it can help you address the problem more effectively.

Here is the topic of noise transmission in buildings and discuss different factors that contribute to noise pollution. We’ll cover the basics of impact noise and airborne noise, the importance of floor and ceiling construction, and common materials used for soundproofing and their properties.

Impact Noise and Airborne Noise

When it comes to noise pollution, there are two types of sounds that we commonly hear – impact noise and airborne noise. Impact noise is caused by a physical impact on a surface, such as footsteps, dropping objects, or furniture movements.

Airborne noise, on the other hand, is generated by sound waves that travel through the air, such as voices, music, or TV sounds.

Both types of noise can be troublesome in a shared living space, but they require different approaches for soundproofing. Impact noise can be reduced by using materials that absorb shock and vibrations, while airborne noise requires materials that block or absorb sound waves.

To achieve optimal soundproofing, it’s essential to address both types of noise in your living space.

Floor and Ceiling Construction

The construction of floors and ceilings is another important factor to consider when it comes to noise transmission. Buildings that have thin or poorly insulated floors and ceilings tend to transmit more noise between floors. Also, structures with gaps or holes in the floors or ceilings can also contribute to sound pollution.

To minimize noise transmission between floors, it’s crucial to use high-quality building materials that are specifically designed for soundproofing.

For example, using acoustic underlayments and insulations can help reduce impact noise and airborne noise transmission. Sealing any gaps or holes in the floors or ceilings can further enhance soundproofing.

Common Materials and Their Soundproofing Properties

There are several materials available on the market that can help reduce noise pollution in your living space. Here are some commonly used materials and their soundproofing properties:

  • Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) – MLV is a dense and flexible material that can block airborne noise effectively. It’s often used in walls, ceilings, and floors to improve soundproofing.
  • Acoustic foam panels – Acoustic foam panels are designed to absorb sound waves, making them ideal for reducing echo and reverberation in a room. They are commonly used in music studios, home theaters, and other spaces that require optimal sound quality.
  • Fiberglass insulation – Fiberglass insulation is a common material used for soundproofing walls and ceilings. It’s lightweight and has excellent sound-absorbing properties, making it an effective choice for reducing airborne noise.
  • Green glue – Green glue is a special adhesive that is used to sandwich two layers of drywall or other building materials together. It converts sound energy into heat energy, reducing sound transmission effectively.

Investigating the source of the noise

Investigating the source of the noise

Living in an apartment complex or a multi-story building can be convenient, but it can also be challenging when it comes to noise levels. One of the most common complaints of people living in such buildings is hearing the footsteps of their upstairs neighbors.

This noise can be particularly annoying, especially when you’re trying to sleep, work, or relax. Here are different ways to investigate the source of the noise.

Identifying the type of noise

Before you can address the noise issue, you need to identify what type of noise it is. Footsteps can sound differently depending on various factors, such as the type of shoes your neighbor is wearing or the structure of the building.

You can try to determine the type of noise by paying close attention to the sound. For example, is the sound heavy or light? Is it a thumping noise, or is it more of a tapping sound? Understanding the nature of the noise can help you determine how to reduce it.

Determining if the noise level exceeds acceptable limits

While some noise is to be expected in a multi-story building, excessive noise can be problematic. One way to determine if the noise level exceeds acceptable limits is by checking your lease agreement or building rules.

Many buildings have specific noise restrictions, and if your neighbor is breaking them, you may have grounds for a complaint. Another way to determine if the noise level is excessive is by using a decibel meter. This tool measures the sound level in decibels and can help you determine if the noise is too loud.

Consulting with your neighbor

If you’ve determined that the noise is excessive, your next step should be to talk to your neighbor. Sometimes people may not be aware that they are being noisy or may not realize the impact it’s having on their neighbors.

A polite conversation can go a long way in resolving the issue. When approaching your neighbor, be respectful and non-confrontational. Let them know how their noise is affecting you and see if there’s a way to work out a solution that benefits both of you.

If you’re uncomfortable talking to your neighbor in person, you can try writing them a letter or sending an email.

Legal and lease considerations

Living in an apartment complex or a shared building can sometimes be challenging, especially when noise becomes an issue. If you can hear every step your upstairs neighbor takes, you might be wondering what your options are.

Fortunately, there are legal and lease considerations you can take into account to address the problem. These are some of the things you need to know to tackle this issue effectively.

Reviewing Local Noise Ordinances

One of the first things you should do if you’re experiencing excessive noise from your upstairs neighbor is to review your local noise ordinances. Noise regulations vary depending on where you live, and understanding what is and isn’t allowed in your area is essential. Most cities and towns have specific guidelines for noise levels during different times of the day.

For example, many areas have quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am, during which time noise should be kept to a minimum. If your neighbor’s noise is violating these regulations, you can file a complaint with the appropriate authorities.

Understanding Your Lease Terms

Before taking any action, it’s important to review your lease terms. The lease agreement outlines your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, as well as your landlord’s obligations to you.

Most leases include a clause that prohibits tenants from engaging in activities that interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of other tenants. This clause may cover excessive noise, and if your neighbor’s noise is violating the terms of the lease, you may be able to take action.

When to Involve Your Landlord or Property Manager

If you’ve tried talking to your neighbor and the noise is still a problem, it may be time to involve your landlord or property manager. In many cases, they will be able to mediate the situation and find a solution that works for everyone.

When you contact your landlord or property manager, be sure to provide specific details about the noise and how it’s affecting you. They may need to investigate the situation further and may also need to talk to your neighbor. If necessary, your landlord may also be able to take legal action to address the issue.

Soundproofing solutions

Soundproofing solutions

Living in an apartment or shared building has its perks, but dealing with noisy neighbors can be a real pain, especially if you can hear every step they take.

Fortunately, there are various soundproofing solutions available that can help reduce the noise and create a more peaceful environment in your home. Following are some effective soundproofing solutions that can help you minimize the impact of your upstairs neighbor’s footsteps.

Improving the flooring and ceiling structure

One of the most effective ways to reduce the impact of footsteps from your upstairs neighbor is by improving the structure of your flooring and ceiling. If you have access to your ceiling, you can add insulation materials to reduce the sound transmission between the two floors.

Also, installing a drop ceiling or acoustic ceiling tiles can help absorb some of the noise. As for the flooring, adding an extra layer of subflooring or using sound-dampening materials like cork or rubber can help reduce the noise.

Installing acoustic underlayments and padding

Acoustic underlayments and padding can be installed under your flooring to help absorb sound and minimize the impact of footsteps from your upstairs neighbor. These materials are designed to reduce the transfer of sound between the two floors by absorbing the sound waves.

They are available in various types, including cork, rubber, and foam, and can be installed under carpet, hardwood, or tile flooring.

Adding rugs and carpeting

Another way to reduce the noise of footsteps is by adding rugs or carpets to your floors. Carpets and rugs have sound-absorbing properties that can help reduce noise levels and create a more comfortable living space.

They can be particularly effective in high-traffic areas, such as hallways and living rooms, where footsteps are likely to be more frequent. Also, adding curtains or drapes to your windows can also help absorb some of the sound.

Utilizing sound-absorbing materials

There are various sound-absorbing materials that you can use to help reduce the noise levels in your home. For example, acoustic panels can be installed on walls or ceilings to absorb sound and reduce echo. Soundproof curtains and blankets can be hung on walls or doors to help absorb sound waves.

These materials are particularly effective in small spaces, such as bedrooms or home offices, where privacy and concentration are essential.

Coping with noise in your apartment

Coping with noise in your apartment

Living in an apartment complex has its perks, but it can also come with some drawbacks, such as noisy neighbors. Dealing with noise pollution can be frustrating, especially if you live in a building where the walls are thin or the insulation is poor.

Fortunately, there are ways to cope with noise in your apartment and create a more peaceful living environment.

Creating a quieter environment in your living space

One of the most effective ways to reduce noise in your apartment is to create a quieter environment. You can do this by adding sound-absorbing materials to your living space, such as area rugs, curtains, or upholstered furniture. These materials can help to muffle sound and reduce echo.

Rearranging your furniture can also help to reduce noise. For example, placing a bookshelf or a sofa against a noisy wall can help to absorb sound and prevent it from traveling into your living space.

Using white noise machines and soundproof curtains

White noise machines and soundproof curtains can also be effective in reducing noise in your apartment. White noise machines emit a steady stream of noise that can help to mask other sounds, making them less noticeable. Soundproof curtains, on the other hand, are designed to block out sound waves and prevent them from entering your living space.

When choosing a white noise machine or soundproof curtains, it’s important to choose high-quality products that are specifically designed for noise reduction. Look for products that have been tested and certified by independent organizations, such as the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) or the Sound Transmission Class (STC).

Adjusting your daily routine to minimize noise disturbance

Lastly, adjusting your daily routine can also help to minimize noise disturbance in your apartment. For example, if you have noisy upstairs neighbors, you may want to avoid activities that require quiet, such as reading or studying, during their peak hours of activity.

You can also try wearing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to block out noise while you work or sleep. These devices can be especially helpful if you live in a noisy apartment complex or if you’re sensitive to noise.

Communicating with your neighbor

Communicating with your neighbor

Living in an apartment building can be convenient and exciting, but it can also be challenging, especially when you hear every step your upstairs neighbor takes. The noise can be disturbing, and it can disrupt your peace of mind.

In such situations, it is essential to communicate with your neighbor effectively. Below is how to approach your neighbor about the noise issue, find a mutually beneficial solution, and maintain a positive relationship with your neighbor.

Approaching your neighbor about the noise issue

The first step in addressing a noise issue is to approach your neighbor and explain the problem politely. You may start by saying, “Hi, I’m your downstairs neighbor, and I wanted to talk to you about the noise I’ve been hearing.” Be specific about the noise that is bothering you, and avoid making assumptions or accusations. It is best to keep the conversation friendly and respectful.

Finding a mutually beneficial solution

Once you have explained the problem to your neighbor, work together to find a solution that works for both of you. You can suggest a few solutions, such as using rugs, moving furniture away from the walls, or walking softly. If you both agree, you may also set specific quiet hours to ensure that neither of you is disturbed during crucial times of the day.

If the noise issue persists, you may consider contacting your landlord or the building management to mediate the situation. They may have additional suggestions or solutions to offer.

Maintaining a positive relationship with your neighbor

It is crucial to maintain a positive relationship with your neighbor, even after discussing the noise issue. Keep in mind that you will continue living in the same building, and you may need to rely on each other in the future. Be courteous and respectful in all interactions, and avoid making the situation personal or emotional.

It is also important to follow through on any agreements or solutions that you both have agreed upon. If you notice that the noise problem is recurring, reach out to your neighbor and discuss the issue again. Remember to stay calm, be patient, and maintain a positive attitude throughout the process.


Start by incorporating sound-absorbing elements such as carpets or rugs, acoustic underlayments, and resilient channels on the ceiling. Additionally, seal any gaps and consider using bookshelves or soundproof curtains to enhance the sound insulation further.

Living in an apartment can be a convenient and affordable option for many people, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. One of the most common problems that apartment dwellers face is noise disturbance from neighbors, particularly those who live above them. As we have discussed throughout this blog, the impact of this problem can be significant, and it can cause frustration and even anxiety for those who are affected.

Share with your friends
Brendan Ratliff
Brendan Ratliff

As a soundproofing and acoustical professional, I have helped new homeowners, builders and remodelers with their projects. I also help contractors/designers learn how to properly install soundproofing in their clients homes.
I enjoy helping people understand the process of soundproofing and acoustical construction. SoundproofProfessional.com is a one-stop solution for all of your soundproofing related questions.