I have lived in a townhouse for over four years, and if you are asking whether you can hear neighbors in a townhouse, the answer is that it depends on the nature of your neighbors and the quality of construction.
There are shared walls with a townhouse, so you might be worried you will be hearing the noises coming from your neighbors.
In my townhouse, you can’t hear a thing unless the noise is too loud. This might be partly because working adults occupy houses without children, and the houses are modern and properly maintained.
If you live in a poorly constructed house with many kids around, you will have plenty of noise coming in.
Can you block neighbor noise in a townhouse?
Yes, you can block neighbor noise in a townhouse. How you do it depends on where the noise is coming from.
Blocking sound through the walls
If you share a wall, walls are the primary source of noise. Fortunately, they are easy to block and prevent the sounds from coming in.
For you to block noise through the walls, you need to understand how walls are constructed. When constructing houses for sale, contractors try to keep the costs as low as possible.
So they use the cheapest materials with shared walls containing nothing more than 2X4 studs with a layer of drywall on either side.
Some buildings have a layer of fiberglass batt insulation that helps with noise and temperature control.
The easiest and quickest way of blocking the noises is adding a single layer of regular 5/8” drywall over the existing walls. Screw the drywall in place so it attaches to the wood studs.
The second sheet of drywall increases the STC rating by up to 10 points so you have a quieter home.
If living in a rented house, this might be against the lease terms. If you are in this scenario, you should consider hanging panels wrapped in fabric.
Blocking sounds in floor and ceiling
Are the sounds coming from above or below? Whether there are heavy footsteps or loud stereos, you can prevent them so you can have a quiet house.
If the noise is coming from the floor, your first step is to install a carpet that will dull the sounds. You should note that you don’t have to install a full carpet. A selection of scatter rugs are enough to block most of the sounds.
If you already have some carpets in place, add carpet padding to them. Still, hearing the noises? Try Green glue. Green glue is a highly effective sound blocker that eliminates up to 90% of noise (source: Green Glue)
For the noise coming from upstairs, install a drop ceiling in your home.
Use a resilient channel and acoustical tile. Since the drop ceiling is located below the original drywall ceiling, the space between the two isolates the noises from footsteps and similar sounds.
The acoustical tile absorbs and dissipates the noises before they get into the house.
If you don’t like the drop ceiling’s look and you aren’t looking to invest in one, double up the drywall on your existing ceiling.
Use a resilient channel to create a space between the two layers, and you will isolate the sound waves. For further sound reduction, add a Green Glue layer or acoustical mat product between the drywall layers.
If all of these options are out of your budget, drape a nice fabric across the ceiling in a decorative manner. The fabric will absorb and dissipate the noise from above.
Blocking sounds from doors
Doors and windows will allow sound to get in if not closed or properly protected. One of the most effective ways of preventing the noise from getting in through the door is by investing in STC-rated doors.
An average hollow-core apartment door has an STC rating of 20-25. When using these doors, you can hear an ordinary conversation taking place in the hall.
Good quality STC doors come with a rating of as high as 55. While they come in handy at keeping off the noise, they are heavy and expensive. You may also require special hardware beyond the one that is currently on your door.
A more affordable option is to use sound seals. These are vinyl or neoprene strips installed around the door to seal any open spaces.
Cheap stick-on seals are effective, but for a more durable solution, go with seals that you can screw in place.
While they will be expensive, they don’t fall off like the stick-on types.
For a better seal, add a metal threshold and surface mounted door bottom seal. The cool thing is that you can install these in just a few minutes, and they will substantially reduce the noise getting into the house.
Blocking sound from windows and ductwork
Windows in townhouses are a significant source of neighbor noise. An average double-pane window has an STC of 26. To keep your house quiet, you need to improve this rating.
One of the effective ways is replacing the standard windows with STC-rated varieties.
STC windows don’t come cheap, so they aren’t an ideal solution for many people. If your budget doesn’t allow you to get STC windows, consider window seal kits. They are easy to find and affordable.
You can also easily install them without special tools. When properly installed, they can make a huge difference in sound transmission.
When applying the seals, caulk any cracks or joints you see. Use a clear or matching shade of caulk to trace around the window frame both inside and outside the house.
If there isn’t a lot of noise, hang heavy curtains running from the floor to the ceiling. You can also add a few large, leafy plants near the windows.
Sometimes the noise is getting into your house through the ductwork. This noise is annoying as it tends to get amplified in the tight metal spaces.
To combat the problem, wrap the ducts with acoustical insulation. You can also replace the sections nearest the air grilles and vents with lined duct sections.
You can also replace the metal grilles with lined versions.
Townhouses can be quiet or noisy, depending on the people living next to you and how well the house is constructed. If you can hear annoying noises from the neighbors, work at soundproofing the house.
You don’t have to soundproof the entire house—soundproof the area the noise is coming from. This way you save money and have an easier time.