Are apartment walls soundproof? Some apartments are and some are not.* While there are a lot more sound proofing elements that go into sound control, below are some questions to ask to determine if your apartment walls are soundproof.
• What type of walls are there in between apartments? What kind of walls separate my unit from the next? All things being equal, thick concrete walls are great for sound control. Plaster walls are also good for sound control. If not concrete or plaster, are the walls built with sound control in mind? Are there extra layers of dry wall, insulation, or special gaps (resilient channels) to help reduce sound? If all the apartment has is a simple frame wall with one sheet of dry-wall on both sides, you will likely hear the neighbor very easily.
• What type of exterior walls are there? Similarly, ask what kind of exterior walls you have (as you want to make sure you can’t easily hear noise from the outside). The thicker and denser the material, the better.
• Are the windows good for sound control? Windows are a gap in the exterior walls and thus a way that sound can penetrate the wall. Ask if your windows are single pane (one piece of glass), double pane (two pieces of glass), or triple pane (three pieces of glass). While triple pane is the best, keep in mind triple pane windows in apartments are very expensive and extremely rare. Double pane windows can be a great compromise and very important for sound control, especially if your apartment has large windows. There are a lot more complexities to windows and sound control, but those details are beyond the scope of this post.
Now, you’re well equipped to find out if the apartment you’re looking at, has soundproof walls. Good luck.
* Walls can never be 100% soundproof, but instead, we use a scientific approach to measure how soundproof a wall is by its STC rating (Sound Transmission Class). The way the wall is assembled and materials used correspond to a particular STC rating. You can look up the STC rating to estimate how well the walls’ sound control will be. Also, keep in mind STC ratings do not factor low frequency sounds, such as guitar, bass, drums, industrial equipment, home theater speakers, etc.