8 Ways to Soundproof Recessed Lighting


Soundproofing is one of the biggest challenges out there for people who are trying to handle their ceilings. There are so many different ways for sound to get through a ceiling, or any other surface for that matter.

That is not even factoring in other changes to a ceiling that could leave it even more vulnerable. For example, recessed lighting looks great, but provides a soundproofing nightmare.

Is there a way to handle recessed lighting when it comes to soundproofing? Some methods do work to hey certain degree, but people need to be extremely creative so that they can have a look they want with the sound they want. Otherwise, the recessed lighting is going to come at the expense of a much noisier place for people overall.

Why Are Recessed Lighting Such an Issue?

Whenever recess lighting goes into a ceiling (Proper Instalation Guide), it is basically taking the place of where the original ceiling should be. While it looks great and looks as though it is part of the ceiling itself, it is not going to be able to provide nearly as much sound control as a person would like.

Manufacturers know that this is a bit of an issue, but one that they do not really have a permanent solution to at this time. That is because they do not want to run the risk of adding a ton of mass and providing an air tight ceiling to help with soundproofing.

While it might make things a little quieter overall, it is going to also cause a pretty big fire hazard that nobody wants to deal potentially face.

It is pretty easy to create a recessed lighting cavity, but then it must be filled as much as possible to help with sound. It is important to try to find a way to give the lights enough space to operate, without having to compromise the ceiling too much.

Solutions to Excessive Noise From Above

It might make sense for some people to try to problem solve as much as possible by thinking of some treatment methods outside the box. It might not always make the most sense, but it is a way to handle a situation as well as possible.

1. Soundproofing the Flooring Above

While recessed lighting is going to make a ceiling more vulnerable, people who have control over the floor above might look into soundproofing that area as much as possible. That means adding soundproofing material on top of the floor to cut down on all the sounds that might pass through.

The quickest and easiest move in regards to this is to put carpet or a rug down to help with sound. Not only will this add a layer to help with sound, but a person can put some soundproofing underlayment as another layer as well.

This cuts down on airborne noise, as well as impact noise. It is not going to mess with the ceiling in any way, which is about the best alternative people can come up with without having to make any structural changes.

Not everyone is going to have this luxury, especially if they live in an apartment complex with neighbors above. This is one reason why a lot of apartments will stay away from recessed

lighting in general. They understand that they could receive a lot of different complaints from people if it is too easy to hear neighbors.

2. Track Lighting Might be the Best

Track Lighting

Not everyone loves the look of track lighting compared to recessed lighting, but it is ultimately probably the best way to go as far as soundproof ceilings are concerned. It still has somewhat of a similar aesthetic, but it is much safer to use without having to compromise the ceiling whatsoever.

They can also be moved around if a person does not like to look initially, which is something that can’t happen if everything is recessed into the ceiling in the first place.

Once someone decides that they are going to commit to recessed lighting, they have no other option if they end up not liking it. Not only that, but it can cause some issues with resell value if the recessed lighting does not fit in with the aesthetic that well.

3. What About Surface Mount Lighting?

Surface Mount Lighting

Another alternative to recessed lighting is to go with something that mounts right on the surface. It is going to have a very similar look to recessed lighting but without the hassle of compromising the ceiling in any way.

These lights are very easy to remove if something goes wrong, and people like the overall look. It is also much cheaper, as these lights can be installed by an individual without much knowledge at all.

The drawback is that these do not look as nice as recessed lighting, nor as permanent. It is an option worth exploring that keeps the ceiling stronger, but it might not be the best lighting solution.

Ways to Soundproof Recessed Light

Ceiling foam

Putting some ceiling foam in the cavity before putting the anchors for recessed lighting might be one method that works out there.

An electrician should do it because they will know what works and what does not as far as heating is concerned. The last thing a person wants to do is handle the ceiling found themselves and hope for the best. It might end up causing a big-time fire hazard that no one wants to have on their hands.

Ceiling foam is pretty inexpensive to purchase, and it will last a long time as well. This type of foam is used for other purposes as well, so it is worth having around in case some extra layers are needed for the ceiling in general.

Soundproofing quiet boxes

Some companies sell quiet boxes that help with recessed lighting and controlling sound in general. They are pretty expensive when breaking them down one by one, but it is one of the safest ways to help with sound overall.

These covers are used to isolate lights as much as possible, helping to restore the loss of one or two STC points with each light that goes in. The good news is that there is no other assembly

required, and they go in pretty easily. The bad news is that they start to add up in price, even if a person only uses a few recessed lights overall.

There is nothing to worry about with boxes like these because they meet all building requirements and fire codes. There is no additional space taken up with the housing compared to other options as well. It is still not going to be as great as a completely intact ceiling, but this might be the best way to go for people who insist on recess lighting.

Soundproofing other parts of the room

The room is still going to be vulnerable if there is a way for sound to come in and out, but using soundproofing material around the rest of the room makes sense in a lot of ways. People do not have to worry about sounds from other sources if they put in some work elsewhere.

One great thing about a ceiling is that some sounds do not travel very well from above. There might be some loud noises coming from above that really do not have that much of an impact overall on the room below. As long as everything else is soundproof, it should be fine.

Install recessed lighting in less vulnerable areas

If the plan is to put in recessed lighting after the fact, do some research beforehand to see exactly where sound is most likely to come from above.

Everyone has a noisier room that can be a bit problematic if recessed lighting goes in there as well. Maybe that room can’t have recessed lighting, but there is an alternative option out there for another part of the home.

The importance of safety with recessed lighting

There are a lot of soundproofing methods that are pretty easy to pull off for individuals looking to do everything themselves. However, safety is a huge concern that never should be overlooked. Recessed lights get very hot, and they are in a tight area on the ceiling. Some people might forget just how hot it gets until it puts the building at a severe fire risk.

Ignoring safety with recessed lighting puts an entire building at risk. Know what to do and what to expect before starting a recessed lighting project.

Recessed Lighting recommended?

For soundproof ceilings to work as they should, they need to be as solid as possible. Any vulnerability whatsoever is going to compromise the way it handles sound. It is a trade-off for sure, and one that not everyone is willing to make.

If soundproofing is the number one goal with any setup, it is recommended to go with a different type of lighting. There are fortunately plenty of other options out there, and people can usually find something that still looks pretty good and fits in with the look of the room.

If the sound levels are not really that bad in an area overall, there is always the option of going with recessed lighting. There are other soundproofing measures a person can take for that room as well, and that can make up for the ceiling beginning little vulnerable for the most part. A person is still making a sacrifice, but not everyone has to deal with the sound coming from above.

Ultimately, it is a decision that many people face when they are designing a new look. Maybe they really love the fact that they could possibly put in some recessed lighting, but it comes at a bit of a sacrifice.

Martin Poirier

For the last number of years, I've Been dedicating a lot of time in soundproofing and helping people be able to soundproof their home, business, and vehicles. I also have a YouTube channel by the same name Soundproof Guide.

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