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Blocking sounds from downstairs neighbors

Tips on how to dampen outside noise

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Q: My problem is an in-law apartment downstairs. We can hear everything in the unit -- talking, cabinets closing, the shower. We re-carpeted our unit, but the noise from downstairs actually got worse. I blame it on the new carpet, which didn't have the dense backing our 1970 carpet had. The rooms below us have open-beam ceilings. Since the beams are 9 inches deep, my thought was to put soundboard between the beams and then staple carpet over the soundboard. Do you think this is the way to go? A: Kudos to you for thinking outside the box. It's tough to eliminate all sound between adjacent spaces but relatively easy to substantially reduce it. Your situation is common in many older homes. We have seen many an in-law unit carved out of an existing home. One of the first projects we did together was to finish a family room addition that a seller failed to complete in a duplex Bill purchased in Alameda, Calif. The exterior had been finished, but the interior was just studs and joi...