Having just recently been to a wedding, I find myself resentful about the volume of the noise people are forced to endure during parties. Aside from inflicting potentially irreversible damage to our hearing, loud noise can also make us especially groggy the day after a get-together (even without the added drawbacks of a hangover). And naturally, noisy parties aren’t very conducive to making conversation.
Obviously, having to leave the party in order to get some peace and quiet is less than ideal. However, that’s not the only reason you’d want to make sure that the music at your party isn’t overly loud. There’s also the matter of your neighbors.
At one time or another, we’ve all been forced to stay up late, vowing to call the police if our neighbors’ party didn’t end within 15 minutes. And we’ve all extended that deadline repeatedly, for fear of being considered a grouch. I, for one, would never want to anger my own neighbors enough for them to consider calling the authorities. Fortunately, there are some ways to ensure that your party has:
- Good acoustics – improving the sound quality of music and conversation
- Effective soundproofing – to block and absorb some of the noise before it can annoy your neighbors
So today, I come to you with some simple soundproofing solutions for house and apartment parties. But, before we get to those, there are some simpler ways to avoid having to deal with angry neighbors.
Preventing Noise Complaints
Warn Your Neighbors About the Party
Once you’ve worked out the details of your upcoming party, it’s best to let your neighbors know about it. Give them a day or two to prepare, or perhaps evacuate before a party. Have a start and end time that you can present to your neighbors. That way, they’ll know that you aren’t planning on having a rager that lasts until dawn.
Also, make sure to enforce your own timeframe. If you told your neighbors that the party will end at a certain hour, let your friends know that they’ll need to leave at that point.
In addition, if you want to be really polite, and don’t mind your neighbors’ presence, you might as well invite them over for drinks. Even if they decide not to come to your get-together, they might feel better knowing that they were included. However, you’ll want to exercise your judgment for this tip (and the others on this list). After all, the old lady down the hall may not be the greatest addition to your crew (although who knows – she may surprise you).
Lower the Volume
Obviously, this is the easiest way to protect yourself from your neighbors’ wrath. Keep it down – especially as the night comes to a close. In fact, it’s best to check your local curfew and noise laws. Once you pass a certain hour, the police department may send someone out to break up the fun.
If you want to avoid having the cops called on you, you might consider preemptively calling them. Tell them that you’re having a get-together, and if your neighbors call them, that you’d be happy to keep it down. In turn, the officer on the other end of the line will tell you about your local noise laws. It’s a win-win: the cops won’t need to waste resources coming over, and you’ll be able to have fun and rest easy.
Move the Party to a Basement
If you have the option, I’d recommend you take this party underground. The reason is simple: there’s no better soundproofing than the earth. It should be able to absorb some of the sounds and, since most apartments are far above the basement, you won’t bother the neighbors. You can even make the party have a whole “underground” theme – why not have a little fun with what you have?
Improving Acoustics of Your Party
When people ask me about soundproofing methods they can use for parties, what they’re really asking for is for cheap and removable soundproofing materials. Since I’ve already written about some cheap and even free room soundproofing methods, I often just point them to that article. Still, let’s see how we can use household items to improve acoustics before moving on to soundproofing materials.
Add Soft Materials
If you’ve been reading any of my articles, you’ll have noticed that I’m pretty fond of this piece of advice. But that’s only because it’s pretty effective, for something that costs you nothing. Just grab all of the blankets, pillows, and carpets you own and just scatter them everywhere. Or, since this is for a party, you may want to put some care into arranging them.
Basically, if you wanted to go about soundproofing your home for a party in the cheapest possible way, you should get your hands on some thick and dense blankets. You can hang them on your walls and throw them over every possible surface. So:
- Put some pillows on the sofa and get bigger ones for people to sit on. Arrange those in the corners of the room on the floor to create a pleasant, casual atmosphere.
- Throw blankets over hard surfaces, big furniture, and hang them up on walls.
- Lay down carpets to soften the sound of footsteps.
And if you want something more effective and have a bigger budget, you can even go for professional soundproofing alternatives.
Soundproof Blankets and Curtains
In the article linked above, I explained the various ways and places you can put blankets to improve the acoustics of a room. But you’re not limited to regular blankets you can dig up around your house. You can also use moving blankets, or specially designed soundproof ones, which are thicker, denser, and heavier than regular blankets. These products can be used to cover pretty much anything, even walls.
However, if you wanted to make your soundproofing also help you decorate for a party, you could get soundproof curtains. They’re a great choice for covering up windows, doors, and walls – you only need a curtain rod. Just like with soundproof blankets, soundproof curtains are denser and heavier than regular ones – and you’ll find some great examples listed in the link above. So, they’ll be a great help with improving the acoustics of a room, and even blocking sound from escaping through the windows.
Acoustic Foam and Fabric Panels
Acoustic foam products are a great choice if you want to add some mass to your walls. Basically, they prevent sound from hitting your walls or ceilings and absorb it instead. The best part is that foam products can add to the overall look of your place since they come in many colors and textures. Also, they’re ridiculously easy to set up, and can even be removable.
But since I’ve already written about acoustic foam products, and even listed my favorite ones, we can just move onto the next tip.
Bass traps are a special sort of acoustic foam product that’s meant to absorb the lower bass frequencies. In fact, they’re one of the best sound absorbing materials for improving acoustics. You don’t even need to glue them to your walls – just place them in the corners of the room.
They’ll even be good conversation starters, since they kind of look like art pieces. However, if you don’t have time to order bass traps, you can achieve a similar effect by just filling the room up with soft materials.
Soundproofing a House for a Party
As I previously mentioned, when you’re throwing a party, you want to make sure that the acoustics inside of your place are good. That way, your music will sound better, and your guests will be able to talk.
However, you also need to block as much of the sound from leaving your home as possible. In this case, some of the acoustic solutions I’ve already mentioned would also provide some soundproofing. Soundproof blankets, curtains, and acoustic foam products can all help block noise from reaching your neighbors. But here are a few other quick and easy ways to soundproof your house or apartment.
Rearrange the Furniture
Rearranging the furniture is another good way to add some mass to your walls. In fact, it’s actually the first, and arguably the cheapest, thing you’ll want to try when soundproofing your walls.
When you’re having a party, you’ll want to make sure the furniture is out of the way, anyway. So just push your closets and bookshelves against the walls. If you’re having the party in an apartment, you’ll want to put them against the walls you share with your neighbors. You can move sofas and chairs to the other side of the room, leaving the middle area free for people to mingle.
Lay Down Floor Padding
If you live above someone, you’ll want to make sure your floors are properly soundproofed as well. Aside from covering as much of the surface with thick soft carpets, you may also want to consider laying rubber mats or even MLV under them.
Recently, I had a chance to try out memory foam carpets. Walking on them is not only incredibly comfortable but also very quiet, because they absorb footsteps. However, you wouldn’t want people spilling drinks on just any memory foam carpet.
As I see it, there are two ways to get the most of memory foam. The first one is that you buy a waterproof memory foam carpet (like this one). The other one is that you can buy a thin memory foam pad to place under your existing carpet. If your guests are anything like me, they’ll marvel at the sensation of the carpet sinking under their feet.
Soundproof Doors and Windows
If you’re trying to stop sound from escaping your party, you’ll want to pay special attention to the doors and windows. After all, that’s where most of the air gaps which let sound pass are. So, of course, you’ll want to plug them.
Especially if you live in an apartment building, you’ll want to soundproof your door well. Firstly, make sure that there are no obvious gaps in the door frame by plugging them with acoustic caulk. If the door itself is letting sound through, you can use soundproof blankets or curtains. In fact, if you can, you should install a curtain holder above your door and hang soundproof materials there.
You’ll still be able to slide them away to let people in. And even after the party, having a curtain over your door will add a nice decorative touch. Also, you can just do your best to plug the door gaps with towels (by bunching them under the door), draft stoppers, and door sweeps. You’ll be able to find those easily at your local home improvement store.
As for the windows, other than covering them with soundproof curtains, you could consider installing window plugs. If you’ve never seen one before, they’re basically just boards with handles on one side, and foam and other soundproof materials on the other. In fact, they’re fairly easy and inexpensive to make.
Since your party will likely take place in the evening, you won’t mind that the window plug will also completely block outside light. As long as you’ve got AC, you should be good to go. And since window plugs aren’t the prettiest solutions, you can also use curtains over them.
Final Thoughts on Soundproofing for a Party
That brings us to the end of our party prep! Here’s the best order you can implement all of my tips in:
- Rearrange the furniture first – push bookshelves and closets to shared walls, clear out the middle of the room
- If the walls are still bare, you can hang soundproof blankets, acoustic foam, and fabric panels
- Add soft materials – blankets and pillows (you can arrange sitting pillows in the corners of the room)
- Add bass traps if the corners of the room are empty
- Make sure the floor is padded – thick carpets, rubber mats, MLV, memory foam
- Check the doors and windows – close any gaps, cover with soundproof curtains or window plugs
And of course, you should warn your neighbors beforehand, and make sure to watch that volume dial! Once you’ve taken care of everything, the only thing left to do is relax and have fun. You can think about the cleanup tomorrow.