Urban living can provide many advantages. Quick and easy access to shopping, entertainment, schools, sports facilities, and communities with good to great neighbors and friends.
Unfortunately, it can also provide loud, noisy, inconsiderate, annoying, and downright ignorant neighbors. A city environment can be noisy enough without your neighbor adding to the discomfort by creating excessive noise.
Here are a few methods you can use to get your neighbor’s attention, and hopefully, get him/her to quiet down a bit. Or at least allow you to feel less like a victim–while getting a little revenge.
10 Ways to Take Your Revenge on Noisy Neighbors
So you have repeatedly, and calmly, asked your neighbor to quiet down the noise. And been repeatedly rebuffed–rudely. Now what? Here are some creative suggestions on how to level the playing field a bit.
There are many different living situations–single family home, condos, apartments, etc. You can have neighbors above, below, on one side, on both sides, or maybe all of those. Hopefully, you can use at least one of the following suggestions to let your neighbor know that you are not happy, and want some changes.
1) Bang on the Ceiling, Floor, or Wall
Banging on adjoining walls, floors, and ceilings to stop noise probably started about 8 minutes after the first multi-level cave was designed. It is still used regularly to remind the neighbors to quiet down a bit. The thing to keep in mind is that drywall and textured ceilings are not near as durable as rock. If you hit them hard enough and often enough, you will cause damage to the wall finish. Holding, or even attaching, a fair size piece of 1/2″ plywood, or even a 2 x 4 long enough to cross 2 studs or joists has many benefits. You will not damage the wall regardless of how hard you hit it. Hit it as hard as you want with a steel hammer instead of just a rubber mallet.
Walls and floors are easy. Ceilings are a little tougher. Which is why you can actually buy a Yunshangwange Noise Strike Back Machine to remind your neighbors that someone is trying to live below them–quietly. This thing will produce continuous knocking and vibrations on ceiling, walls, and floor. It has a 9 levels of knocking/vibration speeds and a 1 – 8 hour timer. Apparently it is quite necessary in China, where it was invented.
2) Do Noisy Chores Early in the Morning or Late at Night
Everyone accepts that house cleaning and yard cleaning are necessary. (Well, almost everyone. Most of us have seen places that need a bulldozer–corner to corner to corner.) When you choose to get your chores done is a personal decision. For instance, you may be a shift worker getting home at 2 AM. Winding down by cleaning the house seems logical–doesn’t it?
I am fairly certain that very few places have indoor noise bylaws covering vacuum cleaners–and when they can be used. And if you just happen to like loud obnoxious music while vacuuming . . . And if you are so tired from not sleeping the night before because the neighbor kept you awake, that you are continuously banging the vac head into her/his wall . . .
Some of the other chores you may consider while house cleaning could include:
- Moving furniture to be able to do a good job. Make sure that chest of drawers is banged tight to the wall–repeatedly.
- Taking down and re-hanging pictures on the adjoining wall. Make sure you change position and use long nails installed with a heavy hammer. Or screws installed with an impact driver.
- Rent, or buy, a rug shampooer. Shampoo the rugs weekly. It takes a lot of effort to remove all the dirt.
Lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and specially weed whackers are all necessary to keep your yard groomed and lovely. If your kids are not old enough to handle them, invite some friends over because having everything running at once will make the job shorter–helping you to disturb your neighbor for less time. (Of course, opening a few beers as a reward for the help could turn it into a backyard party that starts early and goes late. Just a suggestion.)
Personal Story: When I woke up the hung over neighbor at 7 AM with the weed whacker, he came over to complain loudly. It was the perfect opportunity for us to discuss his drunken fireworks display at midnight the previous day. Message sent, received, and acted upon–to everyone’s satisfaction.
If you are blessed with a garden (my wife’s is approximately the size of Iowa), you will need a rototiller, and maybe one of those handheld weed eater things, and maybe an edger. Not to mention a wood chipper for corn stalks and branches. (There is nothing louder–or more annoying–than a chipper. Everyone in our small hamlet knows when I light ours up. I do choose reasonable times and no one has ever complained.)
Before lighting up the lawnmower at 6 AM, make sure you check your local noise bylaws. It would be really depressing to have the Bylaw Enforcement Officer show up at your place. Once you know the local rules, make sure you stick to them. But there is no need to wait until 8:10 AM if you are legal at 8:01.
Note: Please see our article The Quietest Leaf Blower of 2022 so you know what not to buy. You want the loudest, most obnoxious machine available. Possibly old second hand that you can throw away when you have made your point.
3) Play Your Music Loud
If you live in a condo or apartment make sure you can direct the sound at the offending neighbor. You do not want to be the problem with other neighbors. Place your speakers facing–even touching–the offending wall, floor, ceiling. Then drape soundproof blankets on the tops, sides, even bottoms to focus the sound. Pick music that is attention-getting and turn it up loud. (My choice might be The Who doing ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ because Roger Daltry’s primal scream will likely open a few eyes.)
For extra points, use lots of bass. Bass sound waves are almost impossible to completely eliminate. They travel through walls (even concrete and brick) almost as easily as through air. They also can cause some serious vibrations that will be felt through the walls, floors, and transfer to furniture like beds and chairs. Everyone likes lots of bass–right?
For more information on soundproof blankets please see our article Soundproof Blankets for Windows. For more information on bass sounds please see our article How to Keep Bass From Going Through Walls. Use the blanket information. Do the exact opposite of the bass information.
4) Take Up Exercising
All exercise needs to be accompanied by loud music. Or one of those truly annoying exercise gurus screaming ‘feel the burn’, ‘that’s what I mean’, along with other worthless inane exhortations. (Note: If you get the impression that group grope exercise classes are not my thing–you are correct.) Exercising provides many noise making options besides loud music or ‘work harder’ exhortations. Here are some of them:
- Walking machines set next to the offending wall.
- Barbells dropped repeatedly on the floor.
- Any kind of lat or band system that attaches to a wall or door. You can pull these out to full extension and just let them go when you are done or cannot hold them any more. (Hard wooden handles are best.) Might be best to attach a piece of plywood to the wall first. You do not want to be repairing drywall too often.
- And don’t forget that you need lots of fresh air so leave the windows and/or patio door open. Or better yet move to the back yard with music and bright lights (winter). You want to be fresh for work so 6 AM would be a good time.
5) Take Up Playing an Instrument
Drums come to mind because they are loud and the noise is in the bass range of sound waves allowing it to travel through walls much easier. (Please see our article How to Soundproof a Room for Drums for all of the soundproofing information you do not want to use in this instance.)
Any other instrument like a saxophone or trumpet will also produce annoying noise–specially if you play them badly. But to inflict serious pain, get an electric guitar and a good amplifier that you can aim at the wall. Or take out on the deck. Make sure you have strong lighting on the deck. Some kind of strobe might produce a nice ambience; one that works in conjunction with the guitar and amp should impress the neighbor.
6) A Boy and His Dog – Unchained
What could be more fun and cathartic than sitting on your deck or chesterfield watching your children and pet(s) having a good time. Loudly. A couple of kids and a loud dog in the back yard running, yelling, and barking–preferably early in the morning or later in the evening seems like good clean fun for all. Except maybe the hung over neighbor. Or the neighbor finally being quiet while sitting on his/her deck.
Inside, throwing a ball against the neighbor’s wall for your mutt to chase will no doubt make the dog happy and thumps and scrabbling feet on laminate floor will make your noisy neighbor unhappy. And can you help it if the dog wants to play when you get off shift at 2 AM? Or needs to go out to take care of nature’s call and bark at all of the night noises.
Note: We all know that male dogs like to mark their territory. They will pee where you pee. So, to add to the ambience for the neighbor, take your dog outside and pee in spots along the fence. Your dog will go every place you went. Might want to do this at night. May also need to drink a few beers first to have enough volume.
7) Party Hearty – And Loudly
Throw parties at your house. Ideally the night before your neighbor is going to work. Invite your loudest and most obnoxious friends–even those you are not that fond of. Watch a soccer game or the Olympics that are going at midnight your time. Have one every week for a month. Hopefully the point will be understood.
I suspect that I do not need to include pointers on loud parties. But a TV or music should be involved. Loudly.
8) Start a Construction Project
Like soundproofing your walls. If you take pleasure from completing DIY projects, this may be your opportunity to take on something fairly substantial. Soundproofing your bedroom, living room, even your complete home has the double advantage of annoying your neighbor and making for a quieter living space. Starting early–specially on weekends–is a great way to get a lot done in a day. (I am up at 5 every morning so a 6 AM start is easily doable. As long as there is coffee.)
There are many ways to soundproof a room, but the most effective, and neighbor unfriendly, is to Build a Soundproof Room-Within-a-Room. (Please see our article for detailed ideas.) It involves tearing out drywall, hammering nails and screws into the studs, constructing new walls, hanging new drywall using really annoying impact drills, along with all of the sawing, nailing, and loud cussing. If you are meticulous and/or slow, you can probably drag the project out for days or many weekends.
For slightly less noisy soundproofing suggestions please see our articles 15 Ways of Soundproofing Existing Interior Walls Without Removing Drywall, How Much Does it Cost to Soundproof a Room?, How to Soundproof a Home Office.
9) Take Your Neighbor to Small Claims Court
You can take your neighbor to small claims court to recover monetary damages. Such as the cost of soundproofing. Keep all of the receipts for material. If you happen to need to buy a compressor, nailer, drill, saw, etc. include those bills also. Small claims judges can reduce the amount you are asking for, but they will never increase it. Generally, you cannot claim for your own labor. But if you have to hire a contractor, for whatever reason, you should be able to claim everything.
Before starting a small claim action, check with your local court. Most of the information you need should be online. Or you can spend a few dollars to consult a lawyer. You should have decibel readings and times from a decent decibel meter to prove that you had to soundproof your home because of the excessive noise.
Note: If I were soundproofing my home because of a noisy neighbor, I would hire the company I own to do the work.
I am not a lawyer. Do not use this information without seeking legal advice.
10) Miscellaneous Adolescent Noise Revenge
I bring these up because you will likely see them, or hear about them, somewhere else. And a lot of them will bring you some joy. From my point of view, they are not noise-centric. If your neighbors are particularly obtuse, they may not make the connection between the noise they create and the bag of burning dog poop on the front step.
- Snakes in the Grass. Place rubber snakes in the flower beds to scare the bejeebers out of your neighbor.
- Petroleum Jelly on the Door Handle. This is messy, difficult to clean up, and makes getting into the house problematic.
- Egg the House. Don’t get caught because cleaning egg off a house is less fun than having hemorrhoid’s.
- Tape the Door Shut. Use lots of Gorilla Tape to make it almost impossible to open the door. This stuff is also difficult to remove.
Quiet Your Noisy Neighbors – The Best Choices
Before going into full revenge mode, you might want to consider a few other options. If for no other reason, to put yourself on the moral high ground. Everyone involved should know that you did your best to solve the noise issue in a calm and reasonable manner. You also want to have a clear conscience when wreaking vengeance on the neighbor–just in case you begin to feel guilty.
Talk to Your Noisy Neighbor
Before anything else, you have to make an effort to get your noisy neighbor to understand the issues created for you by her/his racket. Obviously, I do not know either of you, so I will not try to design some step by step meeting program, but here are a few things you might want to consider.
- Timing. Pick a time when you are calm and when you think the neighbor is relaxed. After dinner. In the yard. Weekend. Kicking hell out of his/her door at 3 AM is not a good starting point.
- Sober. Both of you. My son had a Tee shirt that read ‘Instant A**hole. Just add alcohol’. Almost invariably true–specially in a confrontational situation.
- Let Them Hear. Invite her/him into your home after turning on the music, TV, lawnmower, leaf blower, or whatever is making the noise so she/he can experience the full impact of what you are putting up with.
- Calm and Reasonable. Regardless of the neighbor’s attitude directed towards you, remain as calm as possible. Kicking someone in the knee will not make the situation any easier to resolve–although you might feel a lot better.
- Threats. Do not make any type of threat. It will not make things better, and in some places uttering threats can get you in trouble. It will also warn them that you have only begun.
Contact the Landlord or Condo Board
I consider this a ‘going through the motions’ move. Most of the time you might get a letter out of them sent to the neighbor. Tends to be a little like the UN telling a couple of armies to quit killing each other.
But there is a chance that something good might happen. From the neighbor quieting down, to getting evicted, to maybe even investing in some soundproofing efforts. Before going to them, get a decent decibel meter (preferably one that stores readings, and maybe even dates and times) to prove that your complaints are not unfounded. Also download a Noise Chart as a reference. Also a CDC Bulletin showing anything over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.
Note: All of this information could be very useful when talking to the neighbor.
Call the Police
Before calling the police about noise, you need to do a little homework. Know what the noise bylaws are. Use your decibel meter to keep track of noise levels and the times. (90 decibels may be legal at 9:30 PM. Maybe not so much at 2:30 AM.) Readings from your decibel meter will not be admissible in court, but the police should have one that is.
Having as much information as possible when the police arrive can help making their visit a ‘One and Done’ effort. It just might be enough to promote an arrest, or scare the bejesus out of the neighbor. Which might lower the noise level considerably. Do not get the police involved unless you are absolutely certain you are in the right.
Types of Noisy Neighbors
Before embarking on a program of noise vengeance, you might want to make an assessment of the type of loud neighbor you are dealing with. Might not be in your best interests to go after the 78 year old widow who dropped her walker a couple of times.
You will also have to do a little detective work before using any of the revenge tactics.
1) Neighbors Who Are Decent Human Beings
Realistically, I believe that most people fall into this category, or the next one. Most of us just want to get through the journey without causing too many waves, or hurting too many of our fellow travelers. Everyone drops something occasionally. Everyone accidentally finds the volume button instead of the channel button. Everyone’s kids or grandkids can get a little loud. As long as it is not constant and/or continuous, it is probably good for your soul to just ignore the noise when it happens.
And quite often the sounds you hear are not the fault of neighbors but of construction. Apartment and condominium walls are often next thing to paper thin, allowing you to hear virtually any noises made on the other side–including TV, radio, kids, pets, conversations, maybe even sex. If the walls are the problem, you may have to adopt a ‘live, and let live’ attitude with the neighbor.
If both you and your neighbor are fairly reasonable people, it might be possible to do a little negotiating with regards to the timing of TV programs, house cleaning, visitors, or parties. Quite often just giving, or receiving, advance notice of a noise-making gathering will allow for planning. (We live next to the community hall, and as long as we know when something is happening–like grad– we can move to another room in the house or make sure we are out visiting.)
If you are determined not to move out for whatever reason, you may want to do some soundproofing. Even hanging Soundproof Blankets will be helpful.
2) Neighbors Who Need a Reminder
Some neighbors do not realize how much noise they are making, how much it is affecting you, or how thin the walls are. Quite often these are teenagers, or older people who might be hard of hearing. So the TV is turned up a little loud. Usually these types of people are also reasonable. Having a discussion with them first, then using one, or more, of the our suggestions will usually keep the noise down to tolerable levels. You might even get an apology.
There is also a good chance that you will earn their respect by being open, honest, and definite about what your needs are. Showing an understanding of their situation, and having a willingness to compromise should go a long way towards ensuring a relatively peaceful life style–for both parties.
3) Neighbors Who Feel Entitled
Generally these types of people do not give a rat’s rectum about you, your needs, or rights. Or anyone else’s for that matter. Because they are self-centered, anything that negatively affects their lifestyle and enjoyment can turn out positive for you. They are probably the best target for revenge tactics, because there is a good chance they will pay attention if you start spoiling their fun.
Entitled people are not very open to logical discussions. They want nothing to get in the way of their enjoyment on their own property. Disrupting that seems like a good plan.
Before putting your plan into action, make sure (if possible) that they only feel entitled and have not passed into the Bully or Crazy classes.
4) Neighbors Who Are Bullies
Bullies are aggressively annoying–enjoying the thought of dominating other people. Even if it is just noise domination. Most of them want you to complain, giving them an excuse to make more noise. Give some long thought before getting into a noise war with a bully. (It will be like wrestling with a pig. You are going to get dirty. And still might lose.) It could escalate, turning into a war of attrition. Making the bully happy because you are unhappy.
5) Neighbors Who Are Dangerous
I have seen the word psychotic used to describe them. It is probably best to let the authorities deal with this type of person. Some things are just not worth it. If you are interested, there are many cases of someone being killed over noise disputes. Here is one of them where the killer was also the noise maker. There are also many where the offended party did the killing.
Seems to me that dying or spending years in jail because of noise complaints are really lousy options.
Although many of these revenge suggestions are interesting and/or fun, keep in mind that the object is to reduce noise. There can be a fairly fine line between getting the point across to your neighbor, and causing a serious escalation.
Make sure you target the noise offender–specially if you are going to use some type of sound as a deterrent–such as music or a construction project–to make your point. You do not want to become the noisiest person in the building or on the block while trying to get someone else to quiet down.
Soundproofing Your Home
If you cannot soundproof your neighbor, you have a few other choices. You can soundproof your home, or certain locations of your home. You can check out some of our articles for home soundproofing ideas. How to Soundproof a Ceiling: Best, Cheap, and Effective DIY. Best Soundproof Underlayment. 15 Ways of Soundproofing Existing Interior Walls Without Removing Drywall. How to Build a Soundproof Room-Within-a-Room.
You can wear Mack’s Soft Foam Earplugs and/or use white noise machines.
You can consider moving, and leaving the headache for someone else.