I've read about asking neighbors to be more quiet but none of the answers help my situation.

I live in an older apartment building and my neighbor(s) upstairs tread very heavily when walking on their floor, and this causes my ceiling and even floor to vibrate. Listening to music doesn't drown the thumps, and earplugs haven't helped either. It feels like small earthquakes all the time, from when I come home from work to 2am and sometimes even later.

I've never met them, and I've already asked the property manager to kindly ask them to be more mindful, but nothing has changed in over a week. The thumps started months ago, so I guess it's a new neighbor who perhaps ate a fridge, because I haven't had this problem before. Knocking into the ceiling with a broomstick hasn't helped. Perhaps I should knock at their door and say... what? I'm pretty sure they don't do this intentionally.

Are there some good solutions for this situation?

  • 3
    If you want 'hacks' for the situation, this isn't the right site to ask. Questions and answers here should focus on acquiring help with interpersonal skills, not lifehacks. If you want a hack, you could try and see whether you can make your question good enough to post on lifehacks se.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 7:28
  • Please do not answer in comments. Answers belong in answers; requests for clarification and suggestions for improvements belong in comments. Thanks.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 14:58

6 Answers 6


You want to achieve your neighbour being quieter, for the long term, and I think you already understand that for that to happen it will be better to have an, at least, cordial relationship with your neighbour.

At present you know very little about your neighbour, beyond the fact that they live in an apartment and don’t go to bed early, so the degree to which you can tailor your approach to their personality is limited, but whatever you DO do:

Don’t go and hammer on his door when you are angry.

  • Consider the encounter from his perspective, some stranger turns up at your door wanting you to change your behaviour, and possibly spend money to make their life nicer. What would make you want to be helpful to that stranger?

    Here are some things to consider:

Timing and realism

  • Go at a time which seems convenient to his schedule as far as you can figure from what you can hear. Try not to go when he’s just leaving for work for example, or at the start of the period which you find most disturbing.

  • Don’t expect him to have an instantly effective solution.

If your neighbour is going to have to rearrange his furniture, get rugs, have a fridge-ectomy, buy slippers… none of that is going to happen instantly so try to come up with a timing which minimises the amount of time you both get to spend dwelling on what the other said/did/is doing/isn’t doing. That’s a recipe for folk getting angry. Can you broach the subject at a time when you are about to go away for a weekend or a business trip or something to take that ‘it hasn’t got better yet’ pressure off a little bit?

Focus on Outcome

Don’t tell him what he needs to do; most of us don’t like getting instructions from strangers. And really, it matters not a jot to you whether his solutions is to turn his apartment into a huge ball pit that he swims through, attach helium balloons to his belt for added lift or learn to levitate. What you care about is the outcome. So don’t tell him he needs to spend money or change his lifestyle, let him know that there is a solution.

‘I don’t know what’s different but I really never heard the last people’

, Make it clear that you are blaming the fabric of the building, not him

‘I’m really concerned that if the building transmits sound so much, I might be bothering you with my TV/music/Digeridoo practice’


Most of us react well to being though well of. If people treat us as though they think we are a stand-up person, we tend to value that assessment and try to live up to it. If they assume we are a waste of space, we tend not to value their opinion (since they are clearly a poor judge of character) and therefore don’t feel any need to improve their opinion of us.
While it may be overkill to try to convey that this heavy-footed neighbour is a pillar of society right off the bat, at least avoid opening the exchange with anything that gives away that you think he is a fridge eating hephalump.

  • Exude the conviction that he is a stand-up fridge-eater who is going to be really happy to do whatever he can, in fact you are concerned that he doesn’t get carried away and go too much out of his way, spend too much to accommodate you.
  • Try to avoid making him feel as though you have an uncomfortable level of insight into his life from what you can overhear as that may make him react defensively. Keep statements general rather than specific, ‘movement sounds’ or ‘footsteps’ rather than ‘you walking between the fridge and the john all night.’

So an ideal exchange might be something like

Hi neighbour, welcome to the building, sorry I didn’t get a chance to say ‘Hi’ sooner. How are you finding the place?

.... chit chat follows

Something I wanted to say, the reason I knew I had a new upstairs neighbour was that the soundscape changed completely. I don’t know what the difference is, but somehow I hear your footsteps/moving about a lot more than I used to hear the last guys. So I wanted to check that I wasn’t bothering you with my flugelhorn practice, (I’m totally going to get a muffler for that thing) and to ask if there might be something you could do in the future to soften the sound from your side? I don’t want to put you on the spot, you couldn’t have known how this building transmits sound, so I’ll just leave you with that thought. I’m off for a couple of days now on a flugelhorn retreat with my collective, so you’ll get a break from me at least. Ciao neighbourino!

Okay, so I’ll never get a job writing sitcom dialogue, but I’m sure you can find your own way to bring those ideas together.

Forgot to say: if he makes changes that work thank him.


New neighbour? Perfect, you have the perfect chance to be super nice, welcome them and inform them about the super thin floors of your building.

As suggested in Selvek's answer, be nice. Put the blame on the structure of the building, not on the fridge-eaters, and make it a general problem that all the condo faces: explain that since it's old it's like living in a bongo, so everyone has to be extra careful in remembering to not wear shoes inside. Some of the neighbours also considered buying carpets! Etc.

If you are willing to become a closer acquaintance of them, sandwich this problem between a warm welcome and some chit-chat about yourself. Make questions about them, be interested and act as to set the foundations of a good neighbours relationship, offer your help for whatever problem they could have etc. If you become the "supernice neighbour" to them, it'll be easier for you to raise the issue with them again should it be needed.

  • 1
    I knocked at their door three times at 11pm while they were in the process of noise-making. Nobody answered, even though I could hear a couple talking. I left a Christmas card in the door with a message along the lines suggested in this answer, blaming the building. Let's see what happens.
    – Sam
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 7:25
  • 6
    It worked, thank you. The neighbor came over the day after and gave me his cell number to notify them when there's noise. No hard feelings at all. I felt bad for bothering them, after putting a (friendly) face to the noise.
    – Sam
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 4:25
  • 2
    @Sam If this is the answer that worked, why is this not the accepted answer?
    – Pharap
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 16:15
  • 2
    @Pharap: they have kept stomping at random times, and texting them when it happens hasn't stopped the problem from reoccurring.
    – Sam
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 0:56
  • In addition to these answers, I'd say that most of the time it is unlikely that the stomping will go away completely. As a result, in the future you must try to get a top floor apartment. As a last, I recommend getting a bluetooth speaker with bass, but not turned up high. Listen to"Rumble Works - Ambient Low Frequency Noisescape for Ten Hours" on youtube with bass about 50%. It is good at masking the stomps. Stomps are low frequency sounds so you need low frequency noise to effectively mask it.
    – Jarvis
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 1:22

I've had the same problem. Somehow, it always seems like the noisiest neighbors are always stomping around late at night.

There's no magic "hack", but there are a few things you can try:

1) Check the rules for your complex. In my case, I live in a condo, and one of the rules is units on the upper floors must be carpeted, no hard floors. You said "apartment building"... unfortunately this step really only applies if the units are actually condos (with individual owners) rather than apartments that are owned and managed by the building. But, you might get lucky and find that the upstairs neighbor is required to install carpet and has not.

2) Ok, "indirect" methods have failed. It's time to confront the upstairs neighbor. My advice is to be as polite as possible. There's a very good chance that the neighbor is a decent human being and doesn't want to keep you up all night. So, if you knock on their door and start yelling at them, they're very likely to slam it in your face and redouble their stomping... whereas if you are friendly and polite, they may take pity on you.

3) Good, your neighbor is a reasonable person and is willing to discuss options with you. The simplest might be having them avoid wearing shoes inside, or buying them a thick rug as you mentioned (anti-grav boots are tough to find though). More complex would be getting a carpenter to, say, fix a squeaky or especially "thumpy" board. But, in any case, you're kind of at their mercy, so maintaining a friendly connection is key.

4) You tried step 2, and discovered that either a. there's nothing the neighbor can do to reduce the noise, or b. they're not a decent human being and refuse to cooperate. Unfortunately, I think if you get here, you're probably out of luck. If the building is so old that any normal person will make noise walking in it, there's really nothing you, the neighbor, or anyone else can do about it (short of convincing the building management to invest in fixing the problem). If the neighbor refuses to work with you and management isn't willing or able to get them to comply, I can't think of anything else except hope they move out...

Anyway, summary here is: clear and polite communication with the neighbor. It's much, much easier to be a jerk to someone with no face that is banging on your floor with a broom than it is to be a jerk to someone with a face who is being nice.

Good luck, and let us know if you have any success!

  • Brown noise + gray noise with bass speakers is a great way to mask the stomping. It's been very helpful. And it doesn't have to be very loud to the point your neighbor can hear it. The physics of the acoustics allow it to work effectively at even low volume. I've become a near sound expert over the past 2 weeks because I am also dealing with a new tenant. I rather try to solve the issue using principles of sound waves before going any further.
    – Jarvis
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 1:24
  • It's unlikely that you can get a carpenter to modify any apartment complex. That's likely something not allowed in your lease. But you can install sound insulation foam panels that can easily be taken down once your lease expires. Most complexes allow something like that. You may need assistance to help you put them on the ceiling depending on your comfort.
    – Jarvis
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 1:27

Your first approach should be a friendly one. Remember that whatever happens you have to live next to them, so wherever possible you want to keep peaceable. While you have spent however many months getting angrier and angrier at the noise they make and likely built them up in your mind as your arch enemy, chances are they don't even realise the noise they are making. I recommend attempting a friendly call on them and in a tactful way let them know that the walls/ceilings/floors are very thin (this softens the blow as you're kind of blaming the building, not them so much) and explain that the noise of them walking on their floor is very loud in your apartment.

HOWEVER.... there have been similar questions asked before, and I am not the only person who has included advice on checking your legal position before anything. This is sometimes criticised as not being an 'interpersonal solution' but it is important to know your position before you approach your neighbour. This doesn't mean that your first attempt at an interpersonal resolution is to throw the law or apartment rules in their face, but forewarned is forearmed and as the rules differ from place to place you should know where to take the conversation if your initial approach is unsuccessful.

So having checked your position, I would suggest you say something like:

Hi, I'm [name], I'm your neighbour from downstairs. I don't know if you are aware but I'm getting a lot of noise in my apartment through the ceiling. I don't think the building is insulated so great. I was wondering if there was anything you could do to reduce the noise?

If they respond well, you will hopefully see an improvement if they make a concerted effort to be quieter.

If they don't respond well then just follow whatever route your landlords/local authority advise.


Go up and introduce yourself. Ask if you've stopped by at a good time. (If not, ask when would be a better time to come and say hello.) Welcome them to the neighborhood. Ask them if they've been living in (name of town) long, and how they like it. If possible, work in some helpful information about the area where you live, such as the farmer's market on Wednesday afternoons across from the library.

Begin your negotiations by apologizing for having banged on the ceiling with a broomstick.

Then negotiate a quiet period. Example:

I leave for work at 7 am Monday through Friday, so at 10:30 in the evening I start winding down. At 11 I go to bed. Could we have a quiet time starting at 10:30? The key period for me is right when I'm dropping off. Obviously, if you are night owls, then you're going to want to be walking around the apartment for another few hours after that. But if you could take a little break for an hour, from 10:30 to 11:30, and put your feet up for a while, that would make a big difference for me.

If that doesn't work, approach your landlord.

  • 1
    I think there is a difference between expressing that you would appreciate more quiet at a certain time and asking someone not to walk abou their home during that period. The neighbour has the right of enjoyment of their property as well and seeking to limit their movement, rather than the effects of it, would be weird.
    – user9837
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 12:38
  • @Spagirl - You have a point! Hmm. After getting to know the neighbors a bit, OP will be in a better position to gauge whether these neighbors are capable of walking without stomping. (I have a child who naturally stomps.) Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 17:27

I have been going through this problem for six months since my new neighbours moved in. I had a single guy living above me who worked out of the country for months at a time. So having a couple with a wife at home full time is an adjustment. I did try knocking on their door to introduce myself - but it seems we keep opposite schedules.

I'm a night owl - she's an early riser. I don't even start work until 9 am while she was up at 5 am most mornings.

I left a friendly note introducing myself with my contact information and blaming the thin walls and ceilings for the noise. I also let them know some more info about the condo board, etc. Just to keep it friendly.

The problem is that they would make noise in the morning and when they got home - constant walking and thumping. Our building is very old and not well insulated at all.

Things got really good for a couple of months. But the past few mornings it was very loud even with ear plugs. So I emailed her to let her know. Apparently they have done everything they can to reduce the noise. She had been working out in the morning. We exchanged schedules so she could work out later in the day. But even with a rug on the floor - the "walking" is unbearable most days.

  • 2
    Welcome to IPS! I'm not sure I understand what you are suggesting the OP to do. Could you make it clearer?
    – Ael
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 16:21

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