Part of having a soundproof room is soundproofing the ceiling. By ignoring the ceiling, you can get yourself in quite a bit of trouble overall.
It’s not something that you want to deal with by any means, as they put so much work into the rest of the room.
Whether it is a brand new ceiling or something that already exists, soundproofing can be relatively easy with a few solutions.
Some heavy-duty options do require a bit more work and money but are generally worth it in the end if noise is particularly problematic from that area.
What are the best options, and what is the cost? This is a look at soundproofing a ceiling and getting the most value overall.
I’ve always found that cracks in the ceiling can be just as problematic as any other surface in a room. In order to take care of those cracks and fill in any gaps that are really causing problems, a soundproofing sealant is the way to go.
Green Glue is the leader in the industry, but other companies offer solid options as well. This sealant can also be used to make sure that there is no gap between the ceiling and the walls.
Most of the time, that is treated in other ways, but it can be a way to cut down on that problem altogether.
The overall STC rating of a ceiling can go up significantly with a soundproofing sealant.
Not that many people pay close attention to any cracks that might be forming in the ceiling, but it just takes something small to really start to be more of a hindrance than anything.
Fiberglass insulation (Amazon) is one of the best ways to soundproof the ceiling. When there are exposed joists out there, there is a chance to install fiberglass batts to get everything situated.
A lot of people will also add a layer of drywall to protect the insulation. More on that is below.
Fiberglass does a great job of soundproofing ceilings, and it usually runs between 60 cents and 70 cents per square foot.
Fiberglass is without question a time-tested insulation option, but some people are not going to react well to fiberglass in general. When that happens, going with another safer option might be the way to go.
Mineral Wool or Rock Wool Insulation
An alternative to fiberglass that a lot of people turn to is either mineral wool or Rock wool. They both do a better job of not only helping with sound control but temperature control as well.
There are many people who believe that mineral wool is the safer option compared to Rock wool, which is never a bad thing to count on since there are so many ways to possibly be a bit overwhelmed with certain insulation.
This type of insulation works because it will trap airborne noise due to its makeup. The problem is that some people have easy to irritate skin or even lungs when using this option.
If it seems like something that could be a problem, make sure to take the time to test things out first.
Mineral wool is particularly good when building a room within a room to help with soundproofing. This works for ceilings, as well as any other part of the home as well.
Drywall options will help out significantly with reducing sound coming from ceilings. However, most people will say that putting more than just a single layer, because there is only so much that an option like that can do.
Soundproof drywall exists because it is thick, inexpensive, and pretty easy to put up without any professional assistance.
Sheets of drywall can be as low as $10, but it can go up in price if it is made specifically for soundproofing.
Most people believe that it is worth the extra money because they can get more value instead of installing layers and layers.
Ordinary 1/2″ drywall might not seem like it can do much as far as soundproofing is concerned, but it works well when coupled with insulation or any other absorbent material.
I would always suggest going with a 5/8″ drywall. The added thickness does make a difference regarded soundproofing.
There is space available to put any type of insulation a person wants so that they can get even more soundproofing accomplished.
What kind of STC should people expect out of drywall by itself? A single layer will be in the mid 30s, while double layers of drywall will jump up to about 40.
To even take things another level, using double layers of drywall and some damping compound in between will get it closer to 50 STC.
Acoustic compound (Amazon) can make the entire process so much better without making anything that difficult.
It is one thing to add a couple of layers of drywall, but decoupling the entire ceiling will really help with the STC rating.
Anyone looking to get around 65 to 70 STC will look into decoupling cost and figuring out if it is worth it.
To decouple the ceiling, there needs to be an insulated ceiling with a double layer of drywall. In between is a layer of Green Glue acoustic compound, and that will help set up the soundproofing process overall.
Once that is all installed, decoupling starts with using hat channels and resilient sound clips.
The Resilient channels (Amazon) are separate from the floor joists and drywall. The way they are able to do that is by using soundproofing clips (discussed more below).
After that, measure the joists and figure out the number of resilient channels needed to hang from the ceiling.
Decoupling helps to isolate impact noise and make soundproofing a lot more efficient. It has all four elements of soundproofing, which is why it is so effective.
It takes time and is definitely something that is mostly left up to professionals, but it might be worth it in the end to get a better-sounding room.
The cost of resilient channel at a length of each channel measures 8.6′ (102″), for a bundle of 32 is roughly $170.
Acoustic tiles are going to be perfect for sound absorbing, which will help with soundproofing in general.
Although they are not directly the same, they do add some mass to the ceiling that will help significantly.
There are many different types of acoustic tiles (Amazon) available for ceilings, and placing them in the right spots will provide overall effectiveness.
Since so many people are focused on soundproofing more than ever, there are a lot of aesthetically pleasing options for acoustic tiles.
Many people can shop for the look they want and get the soundproofing qualities they are hoping for as well.
This is great news for people who have had to settle in the past or put some type of soundproof material behind the tiles to make it look a little bit better.
Keep in mind that by themselves, acoustic tiles are likely not going to provide enough soundproofing in general to satisfy the needs of most.
Tiles are made of either fabric, foam, or perforated wood. They can really help to even out an entire room, and when balanced with a treated floor, it will significantly reduce any echoes that can be particularly problematic.
Usually, these types of acoustic ceiling tiles come in packs of 12 or 16 at a cost of around $125.
Isolation clips (Amazon) are a pretty simple solution for ceilings that seem to pose a particular challenge.
What happens is these clips are screwed into the bottom of the floor joists, and a metal channel will then snap into that clip.
This is where a new drywall ceiling is installed by screwing directly into the channels instead of the floor joists.
Since there are some more advanced steps to the process in general, more than a few people will leave this up to professionals only.
Sound isolation clips for a ceiling can be adaptable for just about any type of job out there, which is perfect for handling both a home or a business.
The key here is that the ceiling should be disconnected from the floor joists in order to have that little bit of gap that will help with soundproofing.
It will cut down significantly on vibration, which is particularly problematic in ceilings. All it takes is a little bit of moving around on the level above for there to be some distracting sounds.
Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass Loaded Vinyl (Amazon) is versatile enough that it can work on just about any surface for soundproofing.
That means that anyone who needs their ceiling covered a little bit better can go with this option and feel like they are spending money very wisely.
One of the beauties of using MLV is that it is so thin that it can go behind just about anything that is also used for treatment.
For example, some people will put massive vinyl behind tiles that they have on the ceiling. Others will place it in particularly problematic areas and cut it directly to size.
Since it is available for purchase in rolls, people can get the exact fit they need that works for them.
From an STC standpoint, mass loaded vinyl is extremely efficient. It is recommended for anyone who is taking a do-it-yourself method approach to soundproofing that they have it available for all types of surfaces.
Not only does it work for ceilings, but it works for just about any other surface as well.
A roll of mass loaded vinyl will cost; (All prices are “give or take” $25-$50)
- 0.5 lb $90 (100 SF)
- 1 lb $175 (100 SF)
- 2 lb $375 (100 SF)
Soundproofing the Floor Above
Sometimes the best way to handle a ceiling is to handle things above. Most of the sound is coming from the floor anyway, so why not treat it the best way possible?
It is much easier to soundproof a floor than the ceiling, for the simple fact that gravity can be used as an advantage.
For example, putting padding down on the ground and then some carpet or a rug will do a great job of helping kill a lot of sounds. It requires no adhesive or screwing things in to get the job done either.
The problem is whether or not a person has access to the floor above. If it is at a home, it is not an issue at all.
If it is an apartment complex and somebody else lives upstairs, this option is obviously not available.
Not only is it easier to soundproof a floor, but it is cheaper as well. Those who have the opportunity should explore it and see what they can achieve. It might just be enough by itself to silent the ceiling noises.
Two types of noises that soundproofing the ceiling can help with?
They are two different varieties of noises that are particularly problematic from a ceiling standpoint. This is airborne noise and structural noise.
With airborne noise, this is any type of sound moving through the air. Sound can sometimes travel through hard surfaces if they do not absorb it well enough.
The purpose of soundproofing a ceiling is to cut down on this as much as possible by adding mass.
Structural noise is a little bit different in that they can travel through the floorboards or the ceilings to create a problem.
This is when an object makes a direct impact on the structure overall. When a collision happens, it creates sound waves through that surface.
This is particularly annoying for people who have to deal with footsteps from above, or anything that has dropped.
High-quality soundproofing options are going to help and both aspects of soundproofing. If a person is comfortable with the setup overall, they are more than good to go.
What is the cheapest way to soundproof a ceiling?
If possible, treating the floors above is perhaps the cheapest overall way to soundproof a ceiling. This is because so many people already have the materials necessary.
Adding heavy rugs, a carpet, furniture, and more will all help to soundproof a ceiling. It might just take a bit of creativity as far as rearranging is concerned to make the most of it.
The cheapest way to have impactful soundproofing is to use mass loaded vinyl. Not only is it pretty affordable and available for purchase in bulk, but it is very easy to attach as well.
There is no construction either whatsoever, meaning that even those who are not particularly handy will still be able to utilize the material.
Is it cheaper to soundproof a new or old ceiling?
All things considered, it is much easier to start with new construction when working with any type of soundproofing material.
That is because a person does not have to fix any problems that might already exist, instead of focusing on fixes that will move things forward.
Getting it right from the very beginning will help out significantly with soundproofing. Most people recommend using a combination of drywall and hat channels to attach drywall separately for ultimate soundproofing.
With soundproofing material in between, there might be a need for additional joists added for support. Two layers of drywall are pretty much standard practice these days with any type of ceiling.
That is not to say that fixing an existing ceiling is an impossible task. There are a lot of people who can either take over this by themselves or look for a professional to help out.
The important part is doing the most with what is available and trying to cut down costs as well.
Four Elements You Should Know when Soundproofing a ceiling?
Whether it is working on the ceiling, or any other part of a room for that matter, there are four elements of soundproofing that need to always be considered.
Decoupling, absorption, mass, and damping all play an important role and getting the proper setup.
Decoupling is attempting to separate one part of the structure from another. From a ceiling standpoint, that means separating the above floor from the ceiling itself.
This will cut down on sound vibration, and reduce noise overall. Even if there is just dead air in between, it is better than not having any separation.
Sound needs to be absorbed in order to reduce noise as much as possible. Insulation does a good job with this, but there are other materials out there to help as well.
Remember that with insulation, the goal is not to fill the area with as much as possible. Instead, it is meant to reduce airborne noise, so keeping the density low actually works better.
No soundproofing solution will work if there is not mass involved. This means making the ceiling heavier and denser, so that airborne noises are very difficult to penetrate through.
Mass is not going to help with impact noise, but that is what other solutions are there for. It is a little trickier to add a ton of mass to ceilings because they need to be properly secured, but most people find ways to do it.
Using a damping compound will help out with the damping process in general. It is a way to convert sound to heat energy once and for all.
It is a fairly simple process, but one that is a huge part of the puzzle for soundproofing an area.
Why a Quieter Ceiling Can Make Such a Difference
A room can be completely soundproof from every other angle, but a noisy ceiling is still going to be a distraction.
Instead of living with noise, there are solutions out there that are affordable and easy to implement.
Those looking to stay on budget and maybe even do the work themselves can get all the supplies they need without breaking the bank.
Remember that soundproofing not only helps now but in the future. Whenever it comes time to sell a place, a soundproof area is going to be much more sought after than an area that needs a lot of work.