Unless you live out in the country with fifty or so miles between you and your closest neighbor, it’s likely you’ve had a noisy neighbor problem before.
It’s hard to avoid when, as odd as it is to think about, you’re only a few feet or so away from your neighbors at any given time. Given how noise likes to travel through wood, drywall, thin glass, air, and every other common everyday material you can think of, it’s no surprise that even a mildly noisy neighbor can quickly turn into a major headache.
Take my story, for example. I had the pleasure of having two noisy neighbors at the same time! On one side, a wife and a husband and their two kids. If they weren’t loudly bickering with each other in the yard, they were yelling at their kids to behave.
On the other side, I had a neighbor who was, to put it a certain way, overly fond of housework. Hammering, drilling, chainsawing, and just about every other loud activity in the book.
I lost a lot of sleep, but you shouldn’t have to. To help you out, here are a few proven tips for blocking out the noise your neighbors are making outside.
Go Out and Talk to Your Noisy Neighbor
The quickest and most hassle-free way to fix a problem like this is to go to its source.
After all, not all noisy neighbors are inconsiderate or rude folk. All too often, noisy neighbors just don’t realize that they’re being noisy, or that it’s bothering you. We have different ideas of what we think of as “noisy” and it’s a little unfair to expect your neighbors to be mind-readers.
In short, if you think that there is a chance that talking to your neighbor can fix this problem, go for it!
While you should, of course, try to resolve the problem amicably, if your neighbors don’t appear to care and are often being noisy outside in their yards (by, say, doing housework every other day!), then calling the police is always an option.
Block the Noise From Entering Your Home
However, oftentimes, you have a situation where it’s really hard for your neighbors to quiet down. That’s the case if, for example, they have loud kids who like to play outside. It’s not really fair to ask the parents to take them back inside. I know just how hard it is to supervise a kid for hours on end every day.
Pets pose a similar problem. Likewise, if your neighbors are remodeling their yard or even just like to mow the lawn very often, it’s folly to ask them to stop.
In those cases, you will likely have to take matters into your own hands. Aside from moving out, there are a few ways you can block out the noise from your neighbors’ yard.
Soundproof the Windows
One way noise is able to get into your house is through the windows. It makes sense when you think about it; the windows are the thinnest parts of the wall. If you like to keep your windows open during the day, I suggest just buying an A.C. instead!
However, if you’ve noticed that the noise is leaking through your windows while they’re closed, then it’s time to fix that.
A way to do it for free is to rearrange your furniture a little. Couches, mattresses, wardrobes, bookshelves, etc., are all thick enough to stop, or at least dampen the noise somewhat.
Of course, how much you’re able to move your furniture around depends on the layout of your house. If it doesn’t make sense to move a piece of furniture somewhere, don’t move it there!
If moving your furniture is out of the question, then you can try bolstering the windows in your house a little. There is almost always a tiny gap or crevice between the windows and the jamb/frame. What you can do is seal that gap with acoustic caulk or weatherstripping tape.
Lastly, you can try and cover the windows in your house. Soundproof curtains and blankets are affordable and not too invasive, whereas costlier/more invasive fixes include glass/acrylic layer, metal blinds/shades and acoustic panels. If you’re good at DIY projects, a window plug isn’t a bad idea either.
If you can, then replacing the culprit windows entirely with double or triple pane ones is close to ideal.
Soundproof the Walls
Sadly, more often than not, the walls we have in our houses are thin and flimsy. If, in any case, you’ve noticed that the noise your neighbors make is leaking through your walls, you will have to try and bolster them a bit too.
While it isn’t the easiest task, soundproofing a wall doesn’t have to be very hard (or costly) either. It depends a lot on which method you choose.
The easiest and the least expensive fix is to hang soundproof curtains or moving blankets along your walls. I’ll admit, it isn’t the most eye-catching solution, but it works fairly well. Panels made from acoustic foam or fabric can also work.
A lot of walls have small cracks, gaps or crevices in them. Even if it’s hard to tell that they’re there, they can make it easier for noise to get through. To remedy this problem, you can fill those cracks, gaps and so forth with acoustic caulk.
If you’re ambitious and can afford it, these slightly more advanced methods may interest you. They include putting up another layer of drywall, installing insulative materials like mass loaded vinyl (MLV), attaching resilient channels, as well as putting up professional-grade soundproof panels.
For more details, this article should help.
Soundproof the Doors
Just like the walls, a lot of doors are flimsy too, even if they don’t look like it.
Why? Because it’s likely that your front/back door has a hollow core. A hollow core has air in it, and air is a great medium for noise.
Admittedly, this tip won’t be as effective for you if your front/back door isn’t facing your noisy neighbor’s yard. But we will assume that it is. If that’s the case, you’re in luck, because there are a number of affordable solutions for soundproofing a door. It’s arguably also easier to soundproof a door than it is a window or a wall.
To start off, you can try and plug the gaps between the door and the door frame (jamb). Usually, it’s a very pronounced gap, and it can allow noise, as well as cigarette smoke, paint fumes and other irritants, to enter your house.
Acoustic caulk is a great sealant and works better than regular caulk as it doesn’t shrink or crack. Weatherstripping tape is another option, as are door gaskets, which require a bit more time and effort, but are very effective. The cheapest fix would be putting a door sweep down.
Covering the door is the other method. Moving blankets and soundproof curtains are low-cost and can be taken off easily. Granted, they aren’t very pleasing to the eye, but they can help. Soundproof panels and mats, as well as soundproof paint, are other options you should look into.
Lastly, replacing your door with a solid core door should fix it for good.
Create an Outdoor Sound Barrier for Noisy Neighbors
For me, my backyard was always a place I could retreat to and relax on a hot summer day. I even had a patio, and a hammock set up there.
But when the noisiness started, it quickly became a place I avoided. As it turned out, motorized drills and incessant yelling don’t make for a very relaxing afternoon.
Being that most of our backyards are open, is there anything we can do to block out the noise that comes from outside? As a matter of fact, there is! You can create a barrier that will stop the sound before it enters your yard.
Build a Fence or Bolster an Existing One
A fence is a fairly straightforward idea, at least on paper. But fences come in lots of different shapes and sizes. What sort of fence you have (or decide to put up) matters a lot when it comes to noise.
As a rule, stone and brick walls are the best when it comes to stopping noise. However, they’re costly and take a lot of time and effort to put up. Hedge fences can be fairly good at dampening noise if the shrubbery is thick enough. A drawback is that hedge fences need a lot of care. They’re also somewhat of a fire hazard.
Wooden fences can work, but they aren’t as effective as brick or stone walls. Like hedge fences, they can be highly flammable. Lastly, while picket fences look peaceful and picturesque, they’re all around the worst for blocking out noise.
Plant Some Trees
It’s been proven that the presence of trees is good for us. Trees can calm us down and make us happier. But, as it turns out, trees can do more than just that.
Generally, any sort of obstacle can dampen noise, at least a little bit. A tree is a great obstacle in that regard since it is large and its branches and leaves cover a large area.
It would be ideal to plant a lane of evergreen trees, with bushes and shrubs on the inside to cover the gaps. Trees and shrubs can also help keep your yard (and house) cooler in the summer.
However, it’s clear that planting a row of trees isn’t feasible for everyone, in which case, a hedge fence would be an easier alternative.
Mask the Noise Your Neighbors Are Making Outside
Noises overlap; when you have a noise outlet that’s louder (or closer) to you, it can drown out one that’s further away.
For that, you can try a few ideas out, like making a small stream or a fountain in your backyard or playing a white noise machine. Not only is the sound of water rushing soothing for most of us, but it will also drown out the noise your neighbors make. White noise can have a similar effect.
The key is, whatever outlet you choose, for it to be as close to you as possible since it will also be louder. If it’s loud enough, it should help disperse a lot of that noise your obnoxious neighbors make.
Final Thoughts and More Tips
To finish off, here are a few other tips for blocking out the noise from your neighbor’s yard:
- If you choose to ask your neighbors to be quieter, be polite and courteous and not hostile or rude.
- Accept it if they can’t, for some reason, be any quieter (due to kids or pets) and try a few solutions out on your end.
- Don’t involve the police right away. Instead, talk to your landlord or another person who can mediate the dispute between your neighbor and you.
- Maybe you could get back at inconsiderately loud neighbors with different pranks.
- Use earmuffs or earplugs at night.
While noisy neighbors aren’t fun, they aren’t the end of the world either. Hopefully, with these tips, you will be able to sleep better at night and have to hear less noise during the day!