Downstairs Neighbor Complaining About Walking (Easy solution)


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When downstairs neighbors complain about loud walking, it is polite make some changes. Remove and put shoes on at the door, wear socks, install rugs and pads, focus on lighter footfalls, avoid walking between 10pm and 6am, and inform the neighbor about gatherings. These all help to reduce noise in the downstairs apartment.

Living in an upstairs apartment comes with its own challenges. Sometimes, it could be recurrent complaints by your downstairs neighbors to apartment security, the HOA, or even the police about you disturbing their peace with your noise. And the noise in question isn’t due to a loud TV or stereo but instead, it is because of loud footsteps.

If you are in this situation and you’re fed up with the complaints and just want to go a week without your neighbor calling you out on how loud you’re walking then keep reading. I’ve put together tips that can help you reduce the impact sound from your footsteps. 

Address the Shoe Situation

The first thing you need to do is ensure that you’re not wearing any footwear that would amplify the sound of your movement. So heels, leather-soled shoes, and any footwear with hard/noisy soles should be out of the question.

Prepac Shoe Storage Cabinet, 36 Pair Rack, Espresso

This means that your shoes should be worn and removed at the door. An added benefit of leaving your outdoor shoes by the door is that it would prevent outside dirt that might be stuck underneath your footwear from getting into your home. 

To avoid clutter, you’d have to figure how to store your shoes. You can either remove them at the door and carry them into the bedroom or you can adopt a more permanent arrangement.

Here are some creative ways to store your shoes by the door:

  • Convert an unused bookshelf to a shoe shelf.
  • Invest in a small shoe locker (amazon link).
  • Install hooks to the wall and hang your shoes or a shoe organizer (amazon link) on them.
  • Install a cabinet bench (amazon link). This not only provides room to store your shoes. It also offers a place to sit while donning or doffing your shoes. 
  • Customize individualized baskets to separate the shoes of everyone in the house.
  • Install a shoe rack (amazon link)/cabinet (amazon link).
  • Install a shoe carousel (amazon link).

You can also reduce the sound your foot would normally make by wearing thick socks or soft-soled slippers while walking around the house.

Here are comfortable non-slip socks that you can wear at home:

TruTread Fuzzy Socks for Women & Men - Non Slip/Skid Hospital Crew Socks - 4 Pairs
  • Skid Resistant & Non Slip - The gripping rubber treads of these mens and womens socks provide safety and security for any situation. The proprietary tread design provides maximum traction grip on...
  • Versatile - We designed these no slip socks for hospital use but they're versatile and can be used for more. These cute grip socks are perfect for home use, as yoga socks, as soccer grip socks,...
  • Performance Blend - We like to ensure that our customers are provided with the best kind of comfort that socks can offer. Our premium grip crew socks are made from an optimum blend of chenille...
  • Quality & Comfort – These non slip hospital socks are guaranteed to be 100% comfortable! The superb material is also breathable and won't keep your toes warm. Our loyal customers love these no-skid...
Pembrook Non Skid Socks - Hospital Socks - Fuzzy Slipper Socks - (2-Pack) Navy / Pink. Great for adults, men, women. Designed for medical hospital patients but great for everyone,One size
  • Super Soft – High Quality Chenille Material (Cotton, Polyester and Spandex Blend). These are softest luxury hospital socks you will find on the market.
  • Skid Resistant – Gripping rubber treads provide safety and security for any situation. The proprietary tread design provides maximum traction grip on nearly any surface. The tread is color matched...
  • Great Value – Chose a 2-Pack, 4-Pack or 6-Pack for best value. These great socks come in a variety of colors (black, gray, navy blue, purple, pink) and pack sizes (2, 4, and 6 packs) to ensure the...
  • Quality - Designed for hospital use but perfect for the home. These medical grade socks are used in hundreds of hospitals, healthcare facilities, doctors’ offices, retirement homes, nursing homes,...
Daventry Ultra Thick Fluffy Grip Socks, Non-Skid Slipper Hospital Sock (Multicolor, 3 Pairs)
  • ULTRA SOFT - Daventry fuzzy socks are made from a thick blend of polyester and spandex and are knit especially to provide unparalleled comfort and softness. Socks are long and made from premium...
  • provide grippy traction. Made of top-quality rubber treads, each slipper / gripper is placed to make sure you don't slip or slide while also not scuffing your indoor floors. Great in the home, medical...
  • STRETCHY - Each sock is highly elastic and designed to stretch to fit many sizes. Stretchy materials allow for hospital medical caretakers to easily put socks on and remove them.
  • UNISEX - Fashionable designs look good on both men and women.
Jormatt 3 Pairs Ultra Thick Fuzzy Grip Socks Non Skid Slipper Hospital Socks Unisex
  • Material:Our premium socks are made from an optimum blend polyester and spandex.You can wear them for hours on end without the slightest discomfort!
  • Skid Resistant : Our non skid slipper socks feature tread grippers on the bottom for safety when walking on smooth surfaces in the hospital or at home. These grip socks will help with keeping your...
  • Size: Fit Men shoe size 7-12/Women shoe size 8-11
  • Perfect companion socks for hospital and home.The grips on the bottom provide people fall prevention safety and everyone wears them for their comfort, warmth and security.

Alternatively, you can wear soft-soled slippers like crocs (amazon link), wool slippers (amazon link), and foam slippers (amazon link).

Add Floor Padding

Even if you’re wearing thick socks, your movement can still place pressure on the floor. Installing a high-quality rug or floor padding would provide some sound insulation and it would also reduce the pressure on the floor. 

Thick rugs or pads can dampen or even deaden the sound caused by movement. For instance, if the noise level was at 80% before carpeting your floors, it can reduce to 40% after. 

AMERIQUE 691322306910 800SQFT Premium 3MM Thick Super Quiet Floor Underlayment Padding with Tape & Vapor Barrier 3-in-1 Heavy Duty, 800 Squareft Royal Blue Square Feet (4 Rolls)

Rugs with thick fibers can absorb sounds so that they are not transmitted to the apartment below. For improved performance, you can install thick sound absorption pads underneath your cut pile carpets. This gives you double layers of protection and unless you use thin pads and rugs, it would reduce the noise level to a reasonable extent. 

Carpets should be installed around your house with special attention to the areas that the neighbor claims produce the most noise. 

Here are some flooring options that you can use to prevent impact noise:

Mohawk Home Ultra Premium All Surface Grey Felt Rug Pad, 1/4" Thick (8'x10')
  • DURABLE MATERIALS: Made in America with sustainably sourced felt, this rug pad will reduce long term damage and floor discoloration from your rug’s backing.
  • DENSE CUSHION: This rug pad will add plush cushioned comfort beneath your rug. Available in both 1/4" and 3/8” for additional sumptuous cushioned feel.
  • EASY RESIZING: While available in a wide variety of popular area rug sizes, this pad can be customized. Easily cut with scissors to fit any rug’s size by cutting this pad to be 1-2 inches shorter...
  • EASY TO CLEAN: This rug pad offers easy cleaning, simply spot clean any spills or accidents with a mild detergent or clean professionally. This rug pad is not machine washable.
Super Area Rugs Organic Wool Greek Flokati Rug, White, 9' x 12'
  • This sustainable natural wool rug is meticulously cleaned for a brighter white color.
  • Soft and luxurious, this organic wool rug is ideal for any low to medium traffic areas.
  • Our white shag rug is naturally stain-resistant and easy to clean, making it very easy to maintain.
  • Modern and traditional looks blend effortlessly with this versatile flokati area rug.
RUGPADUSA, Cloud Comfort, 8'x10', 1/2" Thick, Memory Foam, Luxurious Cushioned Rug Pad, Available in 2 Thicknesses, Many Custom Sizes, Water Resistant
  • Pure Cushion: made from 100% visco-elastic memory foam to provide the highest level of comfort.
  • BEST for: hardwood floors and polyurethane finishes, stone, tile, concrete, laminate, & vinyl floors.
  • Attributes:  available in 1/4" and 1/2" thicknesses
  • Origin: made in the USA

Adjust the Way You Walk

The major cause of the problem might be the way you walk. It isn’t necessarily about how much you weigh but how much pressure you put on your heel while walking. Thus, when you’re moving around your apartment, to your downstairs neighbor, it may sound as though someone is stomping around.

Closeup of elephant feet

If conscious consideration is put into how you walk, you’d significantly reduce the amount of sound you produce while walking. You’d notice that if you used to shuffle your feet or stomp while walking, you would adjust your movement so that it causes as little noise and vibration as possible.

Since nighttime is relatively quieter than other periods of the day, it would be nice if you were extra cautious of your movements at night because the sounds you produce at later hours might be amplified. So, if you must move around be careful of your surroundings so that you do not bump into things. Taking shorter strides might help as well. 

It might be difficult to change your gait, but with intentionality and practice, you might even become a light walker. 

If are a heel striker, which means that you land on the sole of your foot before the rest of your foot, then you probably make loud thumps while you walk. Instead, try to land on the ball of your feet, that way your movement is quieter. 

Avoid Walking Around Between 10 pm and 6 am

If you have thin floors, then movements and sounds from your house would reverberate to the apartment downstairs. As I have already mentioned, this can be particularly prominent at night when everything else is silent and still. Some people have complained that sometimes, the sound coming from their upstairs neighbor’s house startles them up from sleep and keeps them awake through the night. 

mooas Moonlight Nightlight Dual LED Clock, Digital Alarm Clock, 12/24H Mode, Alarm & Snooze, Date Display, 2 LED Colors, 7 Color nightlight, Adjustable LED Brightness, LED Clock with Remote Control

So, if your floors are extremely thin, it’s best to avoid moving around the apartment late at night. Even if your floors aren’t thin but your neighbors have complained that you make noise when you walk then it’s prudent to avoid late-night movements. And if you must, endeavor to be as quiet as possible. 

To prevent going all the way to the kitchen to get water, you could put a bottle of water on your bedside table. That way, you can easily reach out whenever you have the urge to drink water. Thus, you save yourself the stress of walking all the way to the kitchen and also spare your neighbor from the noise that might ensue. 

Of course, there is nothing you can do to avoid walking if you need the toilet at night, but don’t forget to have your soft-soled shoes close by whenever you do not wear your socks to bed. This is because most people make more foot noise when they wake up to use the restroom because they are not always fully conscious of their actions. 

You need to be aware that if being quiet during these times is a part of your tenancy agreement, then your downstairs neighbor can report you to the building board if they believe you are being unduly loud at these times.

Inform Your Neighbor of Any Proposed Gatherings

You don’t need to inform your neighbor when you are having 2 or 3 friends over. You’d just have to inform your guests of the state of things in your house so that they also walk as quietly as possible.  

Man in a business suit in a gesture of asking for something

However, if you are having a gathering or party with multiple people, it would be nice to let your neighbor know beforehand. 

You might be reluctant to do this because “why would I have to inform my neighbor before holding a party in a house that I paid for?” Well, it’s not compulsory but it’s still the right thing to do. If the movement of your family members alone bothers them, just imagine the nature of inconvenience heavy foot traffic would cause. 

You should also inform them of the scale of the event. Is it a small gathering of 8 or 10 people or a larger gathering of 20 people? Also, try not to go beyond the limit of your HOA or neighborhood rules if available. Doing that would give them ammunition against you.

You should also inform them of the start time as well as the end time of the gathering. And also assure them that your guests would be taking off their shoes at the door.

Even if you are going to extend your gathering, try not to stretch it late into the night. 

Keep Paper Trail for if Things Go South

If you exchange correspondence with your neighbor, you’d have to keep a record of their complaints and your responses. Even if there are no letters, just verbal complaints, you should keep a dated record of your interactions.

This would give you an edge if your neighbor decides to escalate the issue. Your records should show that you’ve been responsive to their complaints. They should also indicate that you are apologetic for any inconvenience you’re causing them.

For instance, if they send a letter complaining about heavy footsteps in a particular area of your house, you can send a response apologizing and also assuring them that you have or will add more padding to the area. 

Overworked businessman with bandaged hurt head in front of scattered papers or documents

So, in order to have this advantage, you would need to genuinely take steps to reduce the noise you make and document them in your response to their complaints. Receipts and photos would do the trick.

The most important thing is to prove that you are committed to solving the problem.

If regardless of your efforts, your neighbor keeps complaining, then their part of the correspondence would indicate that they’re being unreasonable. Especially if you’ve done everything you can do and there isn’t much more that you can do, short of replacing the floors. 

Some neighbors can be overbearing, so, as long as you’re not doing anything wrong, don’t allow them to intimidate or walk all over you because it’s really not your fault that the house was built the way it was or that it is old.

I provide more information on dealing with complaining neighbors in Downstairs Neighbor Complaining About Squeaky Floors (How to handle neighbor and floors).

Suggest that They Insulate Their Ceiling 

If you’ve tried everything listed above and they still complain that you’re walking loudly then you should suggest that they insulate their ceiling. 

Reach Barrier DD24125 Air Double Reflective Polyethylene Insulation Roll, 2-Feet by 125-Feet

Your neighbor might not be open to covering the cost so if you have an HOA, you can get them involved and request that they cover a percentage of the cost. 

Adding blow-in ceiling insulation would add density to the ceiling, thus it would dampen the impact noise coming from upstairs. 

This coupled with the steps above, could bring an end to the noise complaints from your downstairs neighbor.

Sources

https://carpet-rug.org/carpet-for-homes/benefits-of-carpet/

https://soundproofcentral.com/rugs-soundproofing/

https://www.amazon.com/sound-absorbing-rug/s?k=sound+absorbing+rug

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/problems-where-you-live/if-your-neighbour-is-complaining-about-you/

https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-managing-2/how-should-i-deal-with-noisy-neighbours/

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