Georgia Simmonds | Contributing Writer | Friday, 19 June 2015

How To Soundproof Your Room In A Shared Flat

How To Soundproof Your Room In A Shared Flat

The Debrief: Good flatmate etiquette dictates that you should appreciate everyone’s right to a homelife not soundtracked by surprise sex sounds

Here’s a thing that’s ridiculously difficult to ignore: the sound of someone else having sex. It’s always bothersome: disconcerting when you’re trying to sleep, disruptive when you’re peacefully devouring a multipack of Hula Hoops and re-watching Men In Black.

On the flip side – as the doer of sex – there’s certainly sweet release in groaning, shrieking, slapping, panting and making the light fittings bobbing with abandon. You are, of course, perfectly entitled to have bed-shaking sex or moan loudly when you masturbate in your own home. But you and your flatmates shouldn’t have to hear each other reaching orgasm - unless of course, you’re shagging each other.

Good flatmate etiquette dictates that you should appreciate everyone’s right to a homelife not soundtracked by surprise sex sounds. ‘It’s important to be respectful of everyone who is living in the same space. Have a discussion with your flatmates about what is and is not acceptable’, says Relate family counsellor, Denise Knowles.

The conversation will probably go a little something like this: Flatmate 1 – ’I’d prefer not to hear you having sex. Ever’. Flatmate 2 – ‘I’d also prefer never to hear you having sex’.

Creating a space in which you feel able to scream if you want to go faster is necessary. Knowles explains: ‘It's quite a primal requirement to have this space and this privacy. When having sex, being able to relax and enjoy it is the most important thing.’ So out of courtesy towards cohabiters (who could clean the bathroom with your toothbrush), and a legitimate wish never to hear your mates climaxing, you should definitely implement some sound-proofing tricks.

I have researched how best to soundproof a ‘domestic space’ so you don't have to Google it and know you probably share internet search history with serial killers.

First, lets dismiss the option of only indulging in ‘silent shags’ until you get a place of your own (that could literally be decades from now). It’s certainly a speedy, DIY-free solution to being overheard but one that tends to involve stoicism and stillness, and good sex is more often associated with exuberance and friction, so it’s far from ideal. 

NB: if you must choose the path of inaudible shags make sure your partner is aware. Otherwise they might be perturbed by your inertness or mistake your efforts to stifle their outloudness for attempted suffocation. Very bad.

When it comes to soundproofing there are two types of sex sound ‘pollution’ to consider: airborne - voices, the moans and groans; and impact sounds – i.e. all that disobedient furniture whose thumps ricochet through the building structure.

The former can be dimmed with muffling techniques (more below). The latter is trickier to tackle: the most accessible method (presuming you don't have the inclination, funds or indeed your landlord’s permission to construct soundproof panels or tear down the building’s existing structure) is to mount furniture to reduce wobble potential: ’Keep any moving furniture away from the walls to stop any impacts transferring into the adjacent rooms’, recommends a London based acoustic engineer and a member of the Institute of Acoustics: ’Putting rubber matting under the feet of the furniture to isolate it from the floor will reduce vibration transferring into the floor construction and radiating as sound.’

If the main issue is that your bed squeaks in protest and your headboard thwacks the wall in response to every thrust, getting down on the floor yourself is also a good option. Some beds just aren’t conducive to discreet bonking. Decamp. Make a sex nest with soft things on the floor.

Soft materials are also crucial when it comes to moan-muffling: ‘Reducing the sound level at source can be achieved with the use of plenty of good sound absorbing materials, including soft furniture and thick carpets’, explains the acoustic engineer. Ramming a towel under the gap at the base of a door is also an easy, effective win as it helps to ‘close off obvious air paths’, another big contributor to sound transmission.

So stuff any gaps in floorboards too. Gratifyingly, the muffling potential of your entire wardrobe can give purpose to the network of clothes puddles that may or may not already carpet your floor… If you’re a tidy person who keeps towels in the bathroom and doesn't shed your outfits like a skin, close gaps in floorboards with foam or insulation and get a natty draft excluder shaped like a sausage dog - the kind nanas have – to lessen underdoor seepage of noise.

On to egg boxes. They look very similar to the soundproofing stuff used in recording studios. Plus, papering your walls with them would simultaneously transform your space in to a makeshift shrine to chicken fertility (different). However, the acoustic engineer, says don't do it, it’s a myth, they’re too lightweight. Plus, you would need to eat dozens of eggs, which could make you a more virile, protein-fuelled lover or just mess with your digestive system to the extend that your priority should be soundproofing the bathroom.

Choose sponges if you are taken with the idea of covering the walls with something: ‘Porous materials such as melamine foam (commercially available as magic cleaning sponges) are good sound absorbers. If you go as far as covering whole walls with foam, a minimum 5cm thick is ideal,’ recommends the acoustic engineer.

Another accessible and appealing sound barrier is a jam-packed bookcase. Erect whole walls of books. This way you can have noisy, undisruptive sex and then engage in cerebral post-coital conversations about the very literature that has moderated your roaring, R-rated wrestle.

Ultimately though – without undertaking some pretty significant remodelling – it is actually very difficult to effectively soundproof a room. So if in doubt, be uncouth: play really loud music, thus creating a second anti-social disruption to drown out the first.

Liked this? You may also be interested in:

'I'd Rather Masturbate Than Have Sex With My Boyfriend'

The Best Sex Toys For Couples

Ask An Adult: How Do I Get back In The Sex Game After A LTR?

Follow Georgia on Twitter: @georgiasimmonds

Tags: Sex, Housemates Head To Head