Living With Noise In Toronto Condos

questions about condo noise

I have recently received several questions about noise in Toronto condos from condominium owners, or potential condo buyers.  Here are some of the questions that I am quoting verbatim:


Questions about noise in Toronto condos

We have complaints from the neighbours re. our children making noise at night or running along the hallway. One of our kids is autistic. We either must soundproof or move out. Can you help us?

I live in a condo in Toronto and the walls that are shared between my unit and my neighbors seem to be paper-thin. Especially the wall that joins their kitchen with my den. I can hear all the cupboards and drawers opening and closing. It almost seems to be amplified in my unit and I can hear it all the way into my bedroom. Can you let me know some options for walls that are already built and a rough estimate of cost?

My condo is attached via ~6 feet of concrete to a nearby garage door and I hear it constantly.
I realize it’ll never be soundproofed away but hoping to find noise reduction solutions. I can hear it seemingly from the exposed concrete roof of the unit.

I'm potentially building a karaoke lounge in one of the bedrooms of a residential apartment and I'd like to protect the neighbours on all sides and need some advice and a quote to ensure the noise won't bother anyone. Something of good quality but perhaps easily transferable if I were to move? I'm extremely uneducated in this field and would really appreciate the guidance.

I live in a lower unit of a stacked condo building. My bedroom is right below the living area of the upper unit and has been experiencing noise of squeaking floor coming from a specific area when the upper unit residents walk on it. My bedroom is 12' x 13'5" and I want to know what the options are for soundproofing the ceiling and the potential range of costs involved.

Condo noise is unavoidable

Living in a condo often includes noise problems, it is unavoidable, as illustrated in this Globe & Mail article. One client was telling me that he does not want to hear any condo noise in his expensive apartment.  This is an unreasonable expectation and cannot be achieved. Perfect soundproofing does not exist. However, the condo noise can be minimized or reduced.

Advice for Toronto condo buyers

Before placing an offer to purchase an apartment consider the following issues related to noise in Toronto condos:

  • How much street traffic or airplane noise are you prepared to live with? If traffic noise may bother you, chose an apartment that is not facing a busy streets.
  • Is your apartment in a concrete or a wood frame building?  A wood frame building almost always has more noise issues.
  • Is your apartment next to an elevator or a garbage chute? It is always at least slightly audible.
  • Be aware of location of a gym in the building.  If your apartment is below, above, beside, or even across a hall from the gym, you may hear it in your apartment.
  • Is your apartment near a garage door or near a building entry?  Garage doors are usually quite audible in nearby apartments.
  • Is your apartment below a roof mounted equipment?  Often this creates some noise.

Another frequent source of complaints of noise in Toronto condos are apartment doors.  It is virtually impossible to improve sound attenuation of existing doors, especially when condo rules prohibit installation of door seals.  If an occasional noise from hallways is going to bother you, do not buy an apartment near common facilities, such as a gym or a party room where people are likely to gather.

Acoustical specifications for condo construction

Inquire about acoustical specifications for the construction for the building where you are considering a purchase.  If you cannot obtain acoustical specifications available, or if they state the minimum STC required by building code, STC 50 between residencies, many people will not be satisfied with this level of acoustical privacy. Reasonably good sound attenuation is STC 55 and the desirable sound attenuation is STC 60.  Few condominium buildings meet this level.

Soundproofing options

If you want to improve acoustic privacy or reduce noise in a Toronto condo in your existing apartment, there is no quick or cheap fix. 

In case the noise is caused by building’s mechanical equipment, you should insist that the property management fixes the problem.

If noise from neighbours is bothering you, you need to rebuild your walls, ceiling and even floors.  This is best done if you are planning a major renovation to improve or upgrade your apartment.  You should hire an acoustical engineer before renovations to specify what soundproofing you need. Relying on your renovation contractor’s promises to do soundproofing, in most cases, results in a big disappointment.

Improvement in soundproofing for a party wall requires the construction of a secondary wall, or resiliently attached drywall on the existing party wall.  Ceiling can only be soundproofed by adding a resiliently attached drywall.  If you need to prevent your own noise from bothering residents below you, you need to install good quality floating floor.

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About the Author Ivan Koval

The author is the publisher of the Soundproofing.Expert website. He is a soundproofing and building acoustics consultant working in Toronto and GTA, Ontario, Canada. Telephone (416) 471-2130

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