Noise is an essential factor when purchasing a treadmill. And unfortunately, “whisper quiet” is often not quiet or whisper-like at all!
Treadmills are surprisingly noisy. They can reach as much as 90 decibels (the same as a lawnmower!) while in use.
We know that a treadmill’s noise can be distracting and annoying, so we’ve written this article to show you how to make your treadmill quieter.
If you want to make your at-home exercise routine quieter and more enjoyable, this article will outline the causes of treadmill noise and the ten best ways to make your treadmill quieter so that you can focus on your workout and achieve your fitness goals. Let’s dive in!
Causes of Treadmill Noise
Many factors are involved in the noise production from treadmills, and the volume depends on several elements. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common sources of unwanted treadmill noise:
One of the irritated sounds produced by treadmills comes from the belt itself. The treadmill belt plays a crucial role in determining the noise produced. If the belt is not correctly adjusted, it can generate irritating, squeaking, screeching, and whining sounds distracting during your workout.
It’s also important to keep your treadmill belt lubricated and at the correct tension (see our complete guide on how to do that here). If either of these things is off, you’ll hear more of that irritating squeaking and screeching!
The motor is a significant contributor to treadmill noise. A new well-lubricated motor with the right power for your needs will be relatively quiet. You’ll likely get a lot of noise when your motor is old, worn out, and underpowered for your unit.
Over time due to dust and lint, the motor can become clogged with debris over time, increasing the noise level.
Treadmill Defects and Malfunctions
Like any machine, treadmills require regular maintenance to function correctly. Various components may need attention, which, if neglected, can increase noise levels.
If your treadmill starts making a lot of noise unexpectedly, you may have a broken or defective part inside.
Depending on your speed, stride length, physical weight, and running form, running on a treadmill creates its own noise. A professional runner who weighs in at 98 lbs will produce significantly less noise than an uncoordinated 200 lb individual who just started running.
How you use your treadmill dramatically affects how much noise it makes!
The Best Ways to Make Your Treadmill Quieter
Now that we have an idea of why your treadmill is making noise let’s take a look at how to quiet that puppy down! And as a side note, make sure to check out our guide on XX ways to quiet a home gym for an exhaustive list of all the ways you can bring some peace and quiet to your garage gym!
Choose the Right Location
The location of the treadmill is a significant contributor to noise. Choose an area with good surroundings; a room with a solid cement floor is the best option.
You can significantly reduce treadmill noise by placing it in a garage or a basement.
If you live in an apartment, treadmill noise may disturb your neighbors. First-floor apartments tend to be better than upper floors and will disturb fewer neighbors. We have an entire article devoted to building a home gym in a small apartment that you can read here.
Try moving your treadmill away from adjacent walls. A treadmill produces more sound when placed near the wall because it is echoed and amplified.
You can also avoid treadmill noise by avoiding wooden floors and using carpets. If you don’t have a choice and the room you want your treadmill in has hard floors, then…
Use a Treadmill Mat
The primary source of treadmill noise is friction between your feet and the treadmill, also called impact noise. Not to mention your body weight landing squarely on the treadmill and transferring at least some of that force to the ground below.
Rubber treadmill mats have a shock-absorbing quality, which helps reduce treadmill noise. The mat helps reduce noise by absorbing the vibrations of the treadmill. We wrote a thorough guide to picking the perfect treadmill mat that you can read here!
Rubber mats also help reduce noise by minimizing the treadmill’s movement (called “walking”). If the treadmill was recently placed on a new floor, there is a higher chance of it sliding. In this case, the use of a mat will prevent sliding.
Another huge reason to use a treadmill mat is that it keeps dirt from the floor below the unit from getting into the motor, bearings, and belt. The cleaner you can keep the internals of your machine, the quieter it will be!
Install Anti-Vibration Pads
You can make your treadmill quieter by using anti-vibrating pads. These rubber pads are available in packs of four and are specially designed to absorb vibrations. Besides reducing noise, it also helps protect floors from damage.
These pads do not replace a mat. Start with a treadmill mat. If that doesn’t make enough of an improvement, add the anti-vibration pads on top of the mat.
Have Your Treadmill Professionally Installed
Doing this yourself will save you money. Maybe.
The assembly time on a treadmill for someone inexperienced will be right around four hours. Yes, four hours! It’s a much bigger job than you would think.
There are a ton of hard-to-run wires and hidden screws to deal with. Missing any of those will cause problems down the road, including unwanted noise!
Having put together more than a few treadmills, we highly recommend having this professionally done. It will ensure your treadmill runs smoothly and as quietly as possible.
Do Routine Maintenance
Tightening all parts, such as screws, nuts, and bolts, can significantly reduce the amount of noise the treadmill produces. It’s a good idea to thoroughly inspect your treadmill monthly and tighten any loose screws or bolts.
The vibration of constant use will loosen things over time. Not just nuts and bolts, but anywhere two pieces of plastic come together can cause noise.
Also, make sure to check any attached accessories like tablet holders, cup holders, or towel hooks. Oftentimes those accessories rattle against the frame of your tread and make unwanted noise.
Your running style contributes to half of the treadmill noise. The friction and impact between your feet and the treadmill are significant noise sources. If you weigh more or walk faster, it can increase the noise level. Lowering your walking velocity can reduce the treadmill noise.
Vibrations caused by running are the primary cause of treadmill noise. More vibrations result in increased noise when running or walking at high speed.
But running speed may not make as big a difference as…
Take a Running Lesson
Proper running form means that each foot lands on its mid-foot or the ball. This is vastly different from what most people do when they run, landing on their heels.
The heel strike style of running is the loudest possible way to run on a treadmill and a speedy path to injury.
It might sound odd, but unless you have had some coaching on how to run with proper form, you are most likely doing it wrong. If you aren’t up for a running lesson or two, at least check out this book on Amazon.
It will give you the basics of proper running form and simultaneously make you a quieter runner!
Use Proper Footwear
Running shoes are designed in such a way that makes running smooth. Running shoe selection should be based on your foot type. When you buy running shoes, make sure they have some shock-absorbing material.
Running shoes with sound-absorbing material like shock-absorbing gel helps to reduce noise. These shoes mitigate treadmill noise by absorbing vibrations. These also keep joints safe.
While it seems like barefoot shoes (like these from Xero, our favorite training shoes) are all the rage these days. And they are fantastic for training. They just aren’t ideal for running. They are also the loudest shoe you can run in, as they have zero cushion.
Getting a dedicated pair of running shoes will make your runs quieter and keep your feet in tip-top shape.
Lubricate Your Treadmill Belt
Machines require regular maintenance for their proper functioning.
Lubrication of the treadmill also helps in its smooth running without producing noise.
The lubrication of a belt also increases the life of a treadmill. When the treadmill is squeaky, it needs a good lubricant.
Many treadmills on the market have indicators of when lubrication is required. Treadmill lubricants are specific, and the use of the wrong lubricant can cause damage to the treadmill.
We recommend this silicone lubricant you can buy here on Amazon. It’s not expensive, and one bottle will last you a very long time!
Check And Lubricate The Bearings
You should check your treadmill’s bearings if you have been properly lubricating your treadmill belt but still hear squeaking sounds.
Sometimes bearings are a significant source of noise. When bearings produce grinding noise, it requires lubrication.
This is another reason to get a treadmill mat. Bearings get dirty and wear much quicker as dust and debris enter them. Using a mat prevents this to a large extent.
Purchase a Quieter Treadmill
Sometimes, you just have a loud treadmill. All the maintenance, lubrication, and running shoes in the world won’t make it more quiet!
Many new advanced treadmills are available on the market, which can solve the noise problem. These new cardio machines have a strong motor and shock-absorbing materials, making them comparatively quieter than older ones.
The decks have much more advanced cushioning, and if your current treadmill is more than five years old, there are probably some newer technologies on the market that you could benefit from.
Having trouble making sense of today’s crowded treadmill market? Check out our treadmill buying guide here for advice!
Don’t Buy A Cheap Treadmill
While we are talking about replacing your treadmill, we’d advise you not to go cheap. Sure, a $200 treadmill on Amazon with 1,000 five-star reviews might be tempting, but beware!
First, a sizeable amount of the reviews on Amazon these days are paid for and not legit in any way. About 10% of the time I buy something on Amazon, I get an email or physical letter asking me to post a 5-star review in exchange for gift cards or cash.
Second, you just can’t build a good treadmill for $200. Aside from build quality issues, poor service and warranty, and subpar performance, you’ll also end up with a very noisy treadmill!
Run On An Incline
When you run on an incline, you naturally switch from landing on your heel to landing on your mid-foot or the ball of your foot. This type of running is a good amount quieter than landing on your heel.
The “thud, thud, thud” of someone running on a treadmill (I used to live under that person in a small apartment!) is them being “heavy-footed.” That’s a nice way of saying they don’t run with good form.
If you don’t want to take lessons to change your running form, try running on an incline. It will definitely be quieter. It will also burn more calories in the process!
Plan Your Schedule With Your Family or Neighbors
You can prevent upsetting your neighbors or family by scheduling your activities for specified hours. Avoid using the treadmill too early in the morning or too late at night.
If you are in an apartment, it’s a good idea to at least speak to the folks who live below you. Find out if there are better times than others to use your treadmill.
Please don’t be that person who thinks the world revolves around them. Be courteous and check with others. It won’t kill you to train at a different time!
Call A Service Tech
If all else fails, call a service tech.
You can find contact information for factory-authorized service on your treadmill manufacturer’s website.
This, of course, won’t make you a quieter runner, but it will fix any mechanical issues you might have that are causing the noise.
Join a Gym
Yes, you heard that right. A website designed to help you build an amazing home gym just suggested that joining a commercial gym might be a good idea.
Look, some things just don’t work out well in a home. Loud cardio machines are sometimes one of those things. If you’ve tried everything else, it may be time to take your treadmill activities outside your home!
Choose a Quieter Cardio Option
If a treadmill makes too much noise, especially if the activity of running is creating the problem, it might be time to check out low to no-impact cardio options.
The two that make the most sense are an elliptical or stair stepper. Both of those machines can genuinely be “virtually silent.”
No doubt treadmills are an essential part of our lives today, and we cannot deny the importance of this equipment for physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.
Loud and unpleasant noise is a serious issue that may limit the use of your treadmill.
Reducing noise can be challenging, but taking suitable precautions can significantly decrease the noise level.
Using these suggestions, you can make your treadmill quieter and achieve your fitness goals without compromising the peace of your family members and neighbors.
Would adding something thicker than a treadmill mat help?
You can always install .25″-.5″ rubber gym flooring under your treadmill. That will allow for a lot more vibration dampening than a standard treadmill mat.
Are commercial treadmills quieter than residential models?
That depends on the model. On the whole, commercial units will be quieter as they are overbuilt and overpowered. They also tend to get more regular maintenance than a home unit.
Nicer quality home units, though, will be just as quiet as commercial models. The quietest units should list their sound levels in db in their description.
Is it better to fix my treadmill or replace it?
If there is a major repair, it’s often more cost-effective to replace your unit. If the control board goes down, your average repair cost is around $1000. For belts and motors, it can be even more.
Check what the average repair cost is and ask yourself this question…
“Would I buy a used treadmill for that much?”
If the answer is yes, then pay for the repair. If the answer is no, then don’t. Basically, when repairing something, you are buying a used version of that thing for the price of the repair.