What Are the Best Soundproofing Techniques for an Apartment Adjacent to a Railway?

May 14, 2024

Living next to a railway can be a real headache, especially if the noise from trains passing by seeps into your apartment. The sound of a train rumbling by can be enough to disrupt your peace, affecting your comfort, sleep, and even your overall well-being. If you're in such a situation, what solutions are available to you? Soundproofing your apartment can greatly reduce the level of noise you experience, transforming your living space into a tranquil oasis.

In this article, we will explore various soundproofing techniques that you can use to achieve noise reduction in your apartment. We will also guide you on how to install these various soundproofing materials, and what kind of difference they will make in reducing the level of noise in your apartment.

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Understanding the Basics of Soundproofing

Before we delve into the various soundproofing techniques, it's important to understand what soundproofing is. Essentially, soundproofing is the process of reducing the sound pressure from the source to the receiver, with the aim of reducing or blocking out unwanted noise. It involves the use of various materials and techniques to control the levels of sound entering or leaving a given space.

Soundproofing relies on four basic principles: mass, damping, decoupling, and absorption. Mass refers to adding more density to the structure to block noise. Damping involves dissipating sound waves. Decoupling is creating a break in the structure to prevent sound transmission, and Absorption involves absorbing sound energy within a material.

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Soundproofing the Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are often the weakest points when it comes to sound transmission. They are typically less dense than walls, making them more susceptible to allowing noise into your apartment.

To soundproof your windows, consider installing acoustic windows. These are specially designed windows that have a higher Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating, implying they can prevent more noise from passing through them compared to regular windows. Acoustic windows commonly feature multiple panes of glass separated by air gaps, which help to disrupt the sound waves.

For the doors, you might want to consider replacing your existing door with a solid-core door, which is more effective at blocking sound due to its mass. If replacing the door is not an option, you can also install weatherstripping around the door to seal any gaps where sound can leak through.

Soundproofing the Walls

Walls are another major pathway for noise. Soundproofing your walls can have a significant impact on the overall noise level in your apartment.

One of the most effective methods to soundproof your walls is to add an additional layer of drywall with a noise-damping compound in between. This method involves installing a layer of drywall on the existing wall, and using a damping compound to create a barrier that absorbs and dissipishes the sound waves.

Another option is to use soundproofing panels or acoustic panels. These are made of materials like foam or fibreglass that have excellent sound absorbing properties. They are easy to install and can be attached directly to the wall.

Soundproofing the Room

Beyond the windows, doors, and walls, you can also soundproof the room itself. This can involve a variety of techniques aimed at reducing noise, including the use of noise-absorbing furniture and décor.

Carpets and rugs, for example, can help to absorb sound, especially if they are thick and plush. Heavy curtains and drapes can also help to reduce noise, not just from the windows, but also when hung on walls.

Furniture placement can also be strategic in soundproofing your room. Placing large pieces of furniture like bookcases and wardrobes against noisy walls can help to absorb some of the sound.

Choosing the Right Soundproofing Materials

The choice of soundproofing material will largely depend on your specific needs and circumstances. For instance, if you're handy, you might prefer solutions that require installation, such as adding drywall or acoustic panels. Conversely, if you're renting and cannot make permanent changes, you'll likely gravitate towards removable solutions like weatherstripping for doors and windows, or using noise-absorbing décor and furniture.

Remember that soundproofing is often a multi-step process, and the more areas you can tackle — from the windows, doors, and walls, to the room itself — the quieter your apartment will become. Even a single step, like soundproofing the windows, can make a significant difference. But combining multiple techniques will provide the best results, turning your railway-adjacent apartment into a peaceful and quiet retreat.

Dealing with Noise from the Floor and Ceiling

Soundproofing isn't just about the walls and doors, but extends to the floor and ceiling as well. Noise can travel through these structures, especially if you live in an apartment building where noise from the units above or below can seep into your living space.

If you're plagued by noise coming from above, soundproofing the ceiling can help. One effective method is to install a drop ceiling. This involves hanging a secondary ceiling beneath the original one. This creates a layer of air that can help in sound isolation. It also provides a structure to which you can add additional soundproofing materials like acoustic tiles or panels.

If noise is coming from below, carpets and rugs can be very helpful. Alternatively, consider installing an acoustic underlay beneath your flooring. This material is designed to trap sound waves and reduce their transmission. You can use it beneath carpet, timber, or even tile flooring.

For both the floor and ceiling, there's also the option of using mass loaded vinyl (MLV). This is a thin but heavy material that's excellent at blocking sound. You can install MLV beneath carpets or above drop ceilings for effective soundproofing.

Installing Soundproof Window Inserts

Window inserts are an additional measure to reduce train noise. These are clear panes of glass or acrylic that you can fit inside your existing window frame to add an extra layer of sound insulation. These inserts work by creating an air gap between themselves and the existing window, which helps to absorb and scatter sound waves.

Soundproof window inserts offer a less invasive alternative to replacing your existing windows with acoustic glazing. They're also a great choice if you're renting and can't make permanent modifications to your apartment. You can easily remove them when you move out. Plus, they offer the added benefit of improved thermal insulation, helping to keep your apartment warmer in winter and cooler in summer.


Living next to a railway doesn't have to mean suffering from constant noise pollution. With the right soundproofing techniques, you can significantly reduce the level of train noise entering your apartment. From soundproof windows and doors to using sound absorption materials, there are many solutions available that can help create a quieter, more peaceful living environment.

Remember, soundproofing is not a one-size-fits-all matter. The best approach will depend on various factors, including your specific noise problem, your budget, and whether you're allowed to make permanent changes to your apartment.

Regardless, even incremental improvements can make a big difference. Whether it's installing soundproof window inserts, improving the door frame's sealing, or just adding some thick carpets and heavy curtains, every step you take towards soundproofing your apartment brings you closer to a quieter, more serene living space. So, don't let the prospect of train noise deter you from enjoying your home — with these soundproofing techniques, you can reduce noise and live comfortably, no matter how close you are to the railway.