Is it normal to hear footsteps upstairs in a house?

If you live downstairs, one of the things you might have to get used to is the sound of footsteps from your upstairs neighbor. While you might be fortunate to have a light walker over you, there are times when hearing footsteps from upstairs might not even be the neighbor’s fault. So, is it normal to hear footsteps upstairs in a house?

Hearing footsteps from upstairs is quite common if you have neighbors. While it’s annoying, it’s crucial to handle the situation appropriately. You can reduce footsteps noise by talking to neighbors, complaining to the management, filing noise complaints, soundproofing your house, or using earplugs.

Regardless, it’s not every footstep noise due to your human neighbor. If you don’t have neighbors and you’re still hearing noises. It could be animals in your attic or roof who’re responsible. Here, we discuss whether it’s normal to hear footstep noise and how to reduce it.

Why You Hear Footsteps Upstairs

Hearing footsteps from upstairs is quite common. A recent study reveals that about 30 million Americans face noise pollution and part of this pollution comes from the loud footsteps of neighbors living above you. While such noise might not be rare, it’s not pleasant. Footstep’s noise can make it difficult to focus or even sleep properly. At times, it’s because the neighbor is a heavy walker. But this isn’t necessarily the case. There are times when the fault lies in the structure of the building rather than whoever stays upstairs. Thus, it’s important to identify the causes of the problem before you start dealing with it.

However, you can still notice that you hear sounds of footsteps upstairs when there’s no one there; you don’t have to worry. This doesn’t necessarily mean your house is haunted or due to a paranormal occurrence. It could just be due to harmless animals. If you have an attic and hear footsteps coming from there, it could just be a cat, mouse, or raccoon looking for food or trying to escape becoming food. You can call a home improvement professional who’ll check the attic and roof to make sure it’s sealed properly. That’ll save you from imagining things about what’s happening on your roof. It’ll also reduce your energy bill because you’ll spend less to keep your home cool or warm, depending on the season. You can also improve things slightly on your part by ensuring there’s no easy way to access the roof for animals. Cut down tree branches leaning on your house, and don’t leave ladders against the house.

How Do You Reduce Footsteps Noises

If you’re constantly hearing footsteps noise from upstairs, there are several things you can do to cut down the noise once you’ve identified the source. They include:

1.  Have A Friendly Talk With Your Neighbors

If the loud footsteps are clearly due to the stomping of your neighbor, you might need to talk to them. This can be tricky since they might not even know that they’re making such noise when they walk. So, it helps to approach them as calmly as possible and explain your situation to them. With the right approach, most neighbors will pay more attention to how they walk and will do everything to avoid being a nuisance to you. You can also recommend that they add a carpet or rug to their floor, which can help decrease the sound of footsteps and any echo sounds.

2.  Complain To Management

If you’ve asked the neighbors nicely and that doesn’t seem to work, it might be time to report the matter to the building management. This should happen if you’ve spoken to the neighbors and they refuse to adjust. If the cause of the noise is also for the management to fix, your best cause of action is to report to them. Determining when the sound of footsteps can be considered loud is a bit challenging, and you want to make sure that you don’t appear as the irritable neighbor. So, it helps if you have evidence such as a recording of the sound and make sure that any reasonable and objective person will also consider it too loud. If you can ascertain that, you can go ahead to report to the management, who’s legally obligated to do something about it.

3.  Report To the Police and File A Noise Complaint

It’s unlikely that you’ll be doing this solely because of footsteps. But if the noise coming from upstairs becomes unbearable and no one seems to be doing anything about it, you could as well file a noise complaint. This should be a last resort option when you’ve spoken to the neighbors and talked to the landlord. If, after exhausting every option you have, the noise continues, then you can resort to taking legal action. Of course, it’s important to have sufficient evidence before doing that.

4.  Soundproof Your Apartment

If you hear footsteps from upstairs, it could be because of the poor soundproofing of the house that ends up amplifying the faintest sounds. The neighbors might be trying their best, but the structure might not be helpful. In that case, the best thing to do is to soundproof your apartment. You can do this by insulating the ceiling or just adding to the mass of the ceiling. It could just be that the ceiling needs replacement too. Soundproofing sealant can also help you reduce the impact of any movement upstairs.

Another way to soundproof your apartment is to install a drop ceiling. Of course, not all soundproofing can be done by you, especially if you don’t own the property. This is where it helps to let the landlord or the neighbor in question know. In some cases, it might be that the floor above you need to be soundproofed using acoustical tiles that specifically reduce any noise resulting from walking upstairs.

5.  Use Ear Plugs or Noise Cancelling Headphones

If the noise keeps bothering you, you can get foam earplugs that muffle or completely block out the sound. These earplugs are great and comfortable for when you want to sleep or work without getting distracted by the noise of your neighbor’s footsteps. In addition, you can play white noise in the background to increase the whole room noise level and block out any outdoor noise.

In Conclusion

It’s normal to hear footsteps from upstairs when you have a neighbor up there. But this can be annoying all the same. There are civil and friendly ways to get them to reduce their noise, and you can also take steps to soundproof your house and limit the noise you pick up. But you might have to take more extreme steps if being nice doesn’t work.