When looking at a basement in any home, there are a lot of qualities that help make it a quiet and peaceful location. Your basement can also be very noisy and knowing how to soundproof a basement ceiling is the only way to find peace!
How to soundproof a basement ceiling? Adding mass is the best way to begin soundproofing a basement ceiling. You also need to decouple the ceiling from the floor joist using resilient channel to eliminate the impact noise coming from above.
There are several reasons why sound is so prominent in a basement in the first place. By working on specific issues, changes can come in a hurry.
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Best Ways To Soundproof a Basement Ceiling Cheaply
Having a basement is never something a person should take for granted. Many homeowners around the world envy the option of having some type of space below the home.
They are virtually non-existent when homes are near coastlines, since there is not much soil below before hitting the water table.
What a person does with that space can differ greatly, but it’s a great option to have overall.
Even though it’s somewhat of a hassle, soundproofing a basement ceiling can be a way to kickstart using the basement in different ways.
Some might only use it for storage because they just haven’t been happy with what they’ve done with that room in the past. Now, they can really see the potential of making the basement into a brand new area.
There’s also the two-way street of the basement ceiling. Not only does soundproofing help keep sound from disturbing people in the basement, but it cuts down on sound traveling upwards and being a distraction.
It might not seem like that big of a deal if a basement is not being used, but sounds from below that affect the dining room, living room, and more become issues.
The Four Elements of Soundproofing a Basement Ceiling
With the types of noise covered, next is looking at the four elements of soundproofing anything. This obviously translates to basement ceilings, and must be dealt with for a perfect setup.
Decoupling The Basement Ceiling From The Joist
Decoupling involves separating different levels with some type of gap between the layers. Having a little bit of separation breaks up any sound wave vibration that is causing an issue.
It’s one of the best ways to handle noise transfer that is causing a problem.
Adding Mass to the Ceiling
Every single sound wave is a vibration. By adding more mass, it makes it difficult for noise to create a vibration in the first place.
The hard thing about adding mass to a ceiling is that it usually takes more than what someone can safely add. For example, adding ⅝” of drywall will only make a slight difference in decibel levels.
It would take inches and inches of drywall to make a significant impact, and that’s just not possible on a basement ceiling.
The denser the material used, the better it will absorb sound. That’s why using options such as heavy vinyl, high-density fiberboard, and drywall can be great options on basement ceilings.
Any type of insulation behind a heavier barrier will help with sound absorption, which therefore helps with soundproofing.
The final element is damping, as it’s a way to prevent sound vibration in ceiling joists. There are different types of compounds out there that help cut down on sound vibration transfer.
One option is acoustic drywall, as it will absorb sound waves while also dampening them. It’s a much more effective way to handle this than using traditional drywall.
Different and Cheapest Way To Soundproof Between Floors
With all the bases covered, it’s time to break down real-world use and what all is out there. Every ceiling is made of different material, so examining what’s available starts right there.
Drywall ceiling is challenging because there are a few ways to insulate it from above without taking something away.
That’s where a drop ceiling is much better, because it could be removed and soundproofing material can go in without much difficulty.
A completely unfinished basement ceiling actually works best, because all the soundproofing material can go in with ease. Everything is exposed, so it’s starting from scratch instead of having to work around with already available.
1. Adding Mass To a Basement Ceiling
Wether you have an unfinished basement ceiling or not, adding more mass will make your ceiling more soundproof!
If you already have a finished basement ceiling you can definitely add a second layer of drywall to double your mass making a much more noise resistant basement ceiling!
Here’s one of my videos explaining the difference between using 1/2″ and 5/8″ drywall for soundproofing!
Putting drywall on the bottom of the subfloor will add mass and help cut down on sound transfer. Make sure to use Green Glue or something similar to help with sound blocking as well.
It can get expensive by adding an extra layer or two of drywall, but the more mass, the better.
I would definitely suggest using a 5/8″ drywall instead of your standard 1/2″ drywall.
The extra thickness with the 5/8″ will give you a much better sound barrier without breaking the bank. The price difference is between 3-5 dollars in some areas making this a great investment.
Watch the video above where I talk about different types of soundproofing drywall.
More expensive soundproof drywall options will cut down on the mass needed to see the same results.
Put this between the joists so that it works as expected. Soundproof drywall is becoming easier and easier to find with so many people worried about noise.
This type of drywall are usually made up of two layers of gypsum with a layer of acoustical compound in the between giving it a higher STC Rating!
You can find it at almost any home building supply store but be ready to pay up! This type of soundproofing drywall can be as much as $40 for a single sheet! But that’s ok if you only need a few to soundproof the ceiling of your choice.
You will easily find popular brands like quiet rock where you can install them yourself. Here’s a study done regarding the efficacy or quiet rock for soundproofing walls and ceilings.
I would recommend the soundproofing drywall if you’re only soundproofing a small ceiling or just one room in the basement.
If you’re soundproofing a larger surface then I would just go with the 5/8″ drywall and call it a day! (Source)
2. Best Insulation For Soundproofing Ceiling In Basements
Using the right type of insulation for your basement ceiling is key to making your basement a more comfortable living area.
A lot of the times people wont even have insulation between the basement and the main floor so even adding a cheaper pink fibreglass insulation would be better than no insulation at all!
A lot of people like using mineral wool (Amazon) today instead of fiberglass. It’s denser, it doesn’t slump nearly as much, and it stays in place better than the alternatives.
It’s a way to add mass to help with sound absorption and cut down on vibration noise. It comes in panels and battens, so pick whatever fits best.
Despite mineral wool being a choice of many, Fiberglass Insulation (Amazon) still hangs around as an option to use for mass.
They are soft and fluffy when they come in battens, so they might not be good enough to stay in between the joists without some help.
There are some rigid fiberglass panels available that work a little bit better, but the reason why it still makes this list is that it’s inexpensive.
Some people can’t budget for much more than fiberglass, and it does work better than nothing.
A foam board works in a lot of the same ways as a standard drywall layer. It has a pretty good rating from a soundproofing perspective, and it works to decouple floor layers pretty well.
They aren’t the easiest to find and the pricing is a little expensive, but it’s an alternative to drywall that some people have fallen in love with.
If decoupling is necessary, these solutions all work to various degrees. Pricing can vary, so always shop around and find what is available in the budget.
Sound Isolation Clips
Using sound isolation clips might just be the best way to decouple the ceiling and the floor above.
These clips will attach to the joist so that they can prevent sound vibration from going from floor to floor. The metal furring attaches to the clip, as well as the other ceiling material.
Sound isolation clips aren’t inexpensive, so keep that in mind when putting together a budget. If the basement ceiling is pretty large in square footage overall, it might not be easy to spend that type of money.
4. Damping Materials
These are noise-damping compounds that will help to cut down on airborne and mechanical sound vibrations.
One of the biggest name brands out there is Green Glue, but there are other similar options out there as well. Shop around and see what’s available, and have some around to use whenever it’s necessary.
The specific type of caulk will work well between the layers. It’s a way to fuse everything together, but it can also fill up any spaces so that air movement is eliminated.
Keys to Soundproofing a Basement Ceiling the Right Way
When it’s time to soundproof a basement ceiling, there’s always a process to follow. First things first, seal any gaps up and get everything looking right from the beginning.
One way to check for any gaps or cracks is to use light. If the light is going through, that means that sound will be able to you as well.
Patching up any of these gaps is fairly easy. Remember that this is before doing any type of soundproofing, so it doesn’t need to be anything heavy-duty.
Patching up drywall is as simple as buying some primer or other types of applications. It’s quick and easy to do, and it usually does not require a professional.
A sealant or caulking gun will help to close any gaps as well. They are also pretty affordable, and make a big difference in the long run.
As a home ages, there will be more and more vulnerabilities with a ceiling. Having something to fix the issues that pop up will make life a lot easier for many.
Unfinished Basement Ceiling Soundproofing
Starting with an unfinished basement ceiling is the easiest way to get a setup fixed. People can attach just about anything they want to the ceiling, and it’s very easy to access with nothing currently in the way.
There’s nothing that needs removing from the ceiling, and a lot of the work can actually happen thanks to an owner instead of relying on a professional team to do everything.
Think about installing some type of drywall underneath the floor to begin the soundproofing journey. Between each strip of drywall, there needs to be either Green Glue or an air gap.
Using mineral wool or fiberglass insulation also comes in handy. If people really want to take it to another level, resilient sound isolation clips will work very well. The space is available to go in this direction.
Since there is no finished part of the basement ceiling, there’s additional space to work with. That means people can be pretty liberal with the amount of material and layers that they use.
Basement ceilings normally aren’t too tall, but using up to 6 inches of material or more won’t make that big of a difference.
Keep in mind that a finished ceiling probably would take up more room than that, so there’s some opportunity to play around.
For people who really want to go the extra mile, they can obviously get their ceiling finished once all the soundproofing is done.
This will cap off the look of a basement, and have people feeling like they have a brand new room to enjoy. The best part is that it was soundproofed completely from start to finish, and the design keeps that in mind. \
There’s also an opportunity to add all the different types of soundproofing material covered below for finished basement ceilings. This can seal off a basement better than just about anything.
One important thing to understand is that soundproofing an unfinished basement ceiling can get expensive, simply because people want to keep on making it better and better.
Each layer costs more money, and there’s that space in between that matters as well.
Some of the recommended options will actually end up costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending on how big a basement is.
When going for the ultimate amount of soundproofing, think of it as costing about $3-$4 per square foot. It will even cost more if professionals have to handle the majority of the job.
How to Soundproof a Basement Drop Ceiling
While this is a little bit more challenging, there are some solutions available that allow people to do it themselves.
The key here is removing the drop ceiling and adding some type of material on top of it. There is a limit to how much material actually goes on, but lightweight options do exist.
Adding layers of drywall just isn’t going to work in this scenario. The drop ceiling isn’t strong enough to do that. Instead, filling that area with mass of some sort will help absorb sound and make life easier in general.
Look at options like mineral wool, mass loaded vinyl, and other materials that go up there without much installation.
Try something lightweight first and see what type of impact it makes. Don’t try to push it too much with a drop ceiling, or it could end up causing a lot of damage.
If it’s accessible, there are ways to do the same thing to this type of ceiling that’s done to a completely and finish ceiling.
It all depends on what’s actually visible when taking out the panels of a drop ceiling basement. Some people are more comfortable doing this than others, but it is worth exploring.
Finally, there’s always the alternative of replacing a drop ceiling if it seems like the right move. They are exactly the best from a soundproofing perspective, but they do come down easy.
Some people might feel like it’s worth going the unfinished look and adding material instead of keeping what is there. Some drop ceilings have cheap builds, and it rears its ugly head with noise.
Soundproofing a Finished Basement Ceiling
If a basement ceiling is already finished and looks like a project that’s wrapped up, it usually spells trouble for anyone working on a soundproofing project.
The hope is that there’s some type of soundproofing already done by whoever installed the ceiling in the first place, but that might not be the case.
There is always the option of tearing down the drywall ceiling if it’s just not getting the job done from a soundproofing perspective.
It costs money and generally needs rebuilt, but that’s not an issue. An inexpensive option that makes a lot more sense for many is to add something to the ceiling itself that’s exposed.
Panels make a great option from a soundproofing viewpoint because they can come in a design that looks like it’s part of the room’s layout.
They can be attached temporarily, or permanently attached so that they don’t accidentally fall. It’s important to remember that when working with a ceiling, there’s always gravity fighting against anything attached to a ceiling.
It must be done correctly so that there are no mishaps. This is especially true if there’s a lot of walking above, because that could shake the ceiling enough to knock something down.
Hiding mass loaded vinyl or other thin material behind panels will do an even better job of controlling sound.
It’s not always an ideal situation, but if there’s any consolation prize, finished basements usually need a sport overall. Newer construction puts a lot of emphasis on taking care of sound when it first goes up.
If the goal is to have the room looking like a true part of the home, a finished ceiling is probably the ultimate goal.
The unfinished look can fit some aesthetics, but a finished ceiling will help to wrap up any soundproofing that’s done.
No matter how much work is done on the ceiling, they won’t have the final layer of drywall that is covering everything.
Finishing Touches For All Types of Basement Ceilings
It’s very important to treat fixtures and mechanical systems on the ceiling when handling any of the above.
A ceiling can be as soundproof as possible, but it’s not going to make much of a difference if the vents, lights, and other parts of the ceiling are untreated.
Sound will travel through anything, and these vulnerable areas will definitely make a difference.
Many different types of covers are available for the most common types of problems people face. The best thing to do is when treating a ceiling, make sure to spend a little bit of time on each of those fixtures.
This is especially true if the goal is to eventually close up the ceiling and have it look completely finished. Too many people gloss over this aspect, and then wonder why there are frustrating problems later on.
Other Soundproofing Options Worth Exploring for Basement Ceilings
While the more intricate ways to soundproof a basement ceiling might seem enticing, there are plenty of other options available that work all around a home.
These options might be easier to apply to some ceilings and others, but it’s worth checking out if the results are still not quite there.
Hanging Acoustic Panels
These durable acoustic panels (Amazon) have the necessary mass to cut down on noise and absorb the sound traveling in or out of a basement.
It helps to cut down on any echoes, reverberations, and general feedback that is annoying. One of the best things about using panels is that they can attach to the walls fairly easily with some tape.
Some people will set these up temporarily, while others will put them in places that need this type of treatment all the time. It acts as a shield in a lot of ways, which is perfect for a basement.
Wood and Fabric Panels
Whether it is an acoustic wood or fabric panel, these are other ways to absorb noise and cut down an echo.
The setup is that the wood panels are covered with an acoustic fabric that does a lot of the noise absorption.
While they usually go on walls, they can be attached to ceilings if necessary. It’s best to put them on the opposite side of wherever sound originates from, as that’s when they work best.
Mass Loaded Vinyl
One of the most versatile options available for soundproofing anywhere is mass loaded vinyl. It can work as a flexible option around even the toughest places. It’s pretty thin, but effective in controlling noise and doing its job for a long time.
Maybe the best way this works is on a drop ceiling setup. By putting mass loaded vinyl on the tiles, it improves overall density and cuts down on the noise that is moving between floors.
It can also hide on the back of acoustic panels to make them even more efficient as well. Basically, anywhere someone can put some mass loaded vinyl, it will be beneficial from a soundproofing perspective.
Acoustic Sound Foam
There are many foam options out there built for acoustics. They can go up just about anywhere on the ceiling, and they come in different designs, appearing as they go well with the overall look.
A lot of people have turned to acoustic sound foam in media rooms and study areas. Not only does it help with the sound inside the room, but it cuts down on any transferring sound from other areas.
Simple Ways to Make Soundproofing Basement Ceilings Even Better
While this might not be super technical from a soundproofing perspective, there are ways to make some soundproofing changes without having to put much effort into it.
These additional steps are mostly to make more intricate soundproofing steps that much more efficient.
Putting a Carpet or Rug Above
Having anything on a hard floor above helps control sound a little bit better. A carpet or rug will absorb sound and reduce any type of impact noise and vibration that would cause trouble.
There are also ways to hide additional mass underneath a carpet or a rug, making it that much more efficient.
Not only is it going to help with soundproofing the basement below, but it will make that room better as well.
Every basement has at least one door, and it’s likely causing quite a bit of soundproofing problems.
Even though this article is about basement ceilings, treating a door is crucial. It’s usually the weakest link in the basement, since full windows are non-existent.
Add mass to the door, close up the gaps, and make changes to improve sound quality overall. An improved door makes a bigger difference than many realize.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning
The HVAC systems in any home can cause a lot of noise trouble. Sometimes they are running through the ceiling, but wherever they are, they need to be dealt with.
There are plenty of articles out there that focus entirely on HVAC soundproofing. However, the key here is wrapping the ducts that are used with some type of acoustic material.
It’s not a perfect solution, but fortunately, companies are doing a better job of soundproofing HVAC systems in homes while they go up initially.
Electric and Plumbing Treatment
To go along with HVAC systems is another frustrating aspect of a home, the electric and plumbing.
While crucial for day-to-day life, they can cause a lot of sound issues that people don’t necessarily want to deal with. Try to make sure that any new plumbing noises are fixed and insulated as soon as possible.
Since these are pretty intricate parts of any home, it’s best to reach out to a professional if sound treatment is a little complex. It’s better to spend a little bit more instead of making a huge error.
Rerouting Traffic Above
This is worth exploring as an option to control sound in a basement if it’s very important.
More often than not, one of the things that people hear below is a lot of walking around that could be avoided by rerouting traffic in some way.
If it’s a basement that doesn’t take up the entire space of the home, try looking into ways to rearrange the layout above so that there’s not as much noise.
There’s always a bit of give-and-take with any type of layout, but some people find that this is a great move for them overall.
This is especially true if someone is trying to turn their basement into a place to work on music or an office. They need as much silence as possible, and every little change helps.
Why Soundproofing a Basement Ceiling Matters
Having that amount of space that’s completely unusable because it’s too noisy is ultimately viewed as a waste.
It might seem like a daunting task, but soundproofing the ceiling isn’t as difficult as a lot of the other soundproofing projects out there.
The best news is that it’s much easier to soundproof the other surfaces in the basement, since they aren’t attached to any other parts of the home.
With everything listed above, there are bound to be a few options that work best for a setup at home. Don’t be afraid to try different options and see what works.
Everyone has a slightly different home, so it’s not a guarantee that everything will work exactly as planned.
Try starting with something fairly inexpensive so it’s not seen as a waste, and build up from there. In no time, the basement will be a much more peaceful place to spend time.