There are certain times where a person would love nothing more than to have a completely soundproof ceiling. Sometimes this is for homeowners, but more often than not, those living in an apartment are the ones looking for solutions.
Maybe the neighbors upstairs are a little too noisy. Perhaps the entire area is just loud in general. Like myself, some people only want to make sure they have a quiet place to do recordings. Whatever the case is, soundproofing a ceiling is somewhat complicated.
There are a lot of suggestions out there that don’t work, but when people are searching for solutions, there are some ways to silence the sound from above.
This article will focus on soundproofing, not only a condo ceiling or an apartment ceiling but also an office ceiling.
A Permanent Ceiling Soundproofing Solution
The hard thing about soundproofing ceilings is that it is usually the most expensive and time-consuming fix out there (right with floors).
If the sound is coming from windows and doors on the walls, it usually just requires more sealant and blocking off specific areas. A ceiling is already solid, so the solution is the ceiling needs mass, absorption, and decoupling.
The best way to truly achieve a soundproof ceiling is to start building a room within a room. The room will shrink a little, but it provides the right amount of barrier that will kill all sounds coming from all directions.
With the ceiling, in particular, pay close attention to making sure that it doesn’t shrink the room so much that it hinders people using the room itself.
Other things to monitor are any air vents or light fixtures. It can be a bit tricky to accommodate these things because they aren’t easy to move or redirect. Usually, soundproofing a ceiling means a person needs to get creative in an area or two.
You will need to attach a vent or fixture entender if you’re soundproofing an existing ceiling. This is not complicated, but it is necessary.
1. 5/8″ Layers of Drywall
The cheapest method is to use layers of drywall to create the barrier. Usually, two layers are sufficient for the ceiling. Make sure that your second layer of drywall has a thickness of 5/8″ and not 1/2″. The added thickness will not only block more noise but will also look better.
Another reason why people use drywall is that it’s not incredibly challenging to handle if you have a friend that can help you.
If you’re tackling this project alone, then you should use a drywall panel lift host (Amazon). You can rent one from your local hardware store or simply buy one from Amazon.
Hiring someone for the job is the more efficient method, but this will cost more, of course. Usually, two or three people to soundproof the ceiling or the entire room are the way to go if you have a larger budget.
Leftover drywall can be used if needed in other areas of the home. Since most people end up soundproofing the ceiling as part of a more significant project, don’t label anything as scrap.
2. Green Glue Noise Proofing Compound
Green glue noise proofing compound is a must If you’re going to be soundproofing the ceiling using a second layer of drywall.
I’m a big fan of green glue products because they are not only cheap, but they also work!
To give you a brief description of what Green Glue is exactly and what it does regarding soundproofing.
Green Glue noise proofing compound is a viscoelastic noise damping compound that, when sandwiched between two layers of drywall it greatly reduces the amount of sound transmitted through walls or ceilings.
This compound acts as an air void between two layers and also absorbing some of the noise hitting the wall or ceiling.
3. Resilient Channel
A resilient channel is another thing you can do that will make a huge difference when soundproofing a ceiling in your home.
This is not something you could do in an apartment, but you could certainly do this in a condo that you own. It would also be a great selling feature if touted as being the quietest units in the building.
The number one benefit of Resilient Channel is its ability to decouple structure-borne noise at a reasonable cost. By using a thin metal channel designed to substantially improve the sound insulation of drywall, sheetrock, plasterboard walls, and ceilings.
The best time to use this method is when you have an unfinished ceiling where you can simply attach the channel directly to the stud work to make a separation between the studs and the drywall.
If you have a finished ceiling, you can simply attach the metal channel directly on the existing ceiling and then attach the second layer of drywall. Too easy!
4. Soundproof Insulation
There’s, of course, no such thing as soundproof insulation, but Rockwool Acoustic Mineral Wool Insulation is the next best thing.
This method only works with an unfinished ceiling before you install the drywall and works excellent in conjunction with the resilient channel.
This acoustic Mineral Wool Insulation comes in either 4lbs or 8lbs per unit density. It is very cost-effective and has a very high NRC rating (Source). It is water repellent and also holds a Class A fire rating.
The insulation boards are much more rigid than your typical pink fiberglass insulation and can be used to make acoustic panels or even a generator quiet box with the leftovers.
5. Acoustic Paint
Using acoustic paint to help soundproof the ceiling will undoubtedly help drown out airborne noise but will do very little to get rid of structure born noise.
Make sure to apply at least three coats If you’re looking to knock down a few more decibels coming from the rooms upstairs. Only applying one coat will do nothing when it comes to soundproofing.
Tips Before You Begin Soundproofing
Here are some tips you should consider before you begin soundproofing.
These soundproofing tips might only apply to a small portion of you, but you might be one of those people that would benefit from them. So keep reading!
Look out for the Windows and Doors
Windows and doors usually don’t go right up against the ceiling, but that’s going to change if the drywall lowers the ceiling overall.
If they become too close, it might need to cut out a little to make room for windows and doors. This is especially when using a resilient channel over an existing ceiling because you will end up losing a couple of inches.
That doesn’t seem like much, but you’d be surprised as to what’s out there in older homes, especially, so be mindful.
This is somewhat of a complicated matter, but nothing Insanely difficult. Take proper measurements before cutting, and everything should work out fine.
Make Smart Estimates
Drywall is relatively inexpensive, but a decent amount will be needed for a ceiling. One way to save time, money, and energy is to make smart estimates before buying the material.
It can get pretty tedious to go back and forth to the store to get everything. Usually, there are bulk discounts as well, so it ends up saving money to buy everything upfront.
Have a Removal Strategy
If you don’t own the condo or apartment, chances are, it will need to be removed when moving out. Not a lot of landlords are going to be crazy about a soundproofed ceiling that may or may not hold up structurally over the long haul.
The consensus is to consult with a landlord beforehand. They might be a little hesitant at the idea at first, but there are ways to soundproof the ceiling without making any changes to the home. That’s right; you can soundproof the ceiling and tear it down without the next person ever realizing what was done.
If there is no language in the lease about building something like this, be upfront with management and let them know all the specifics. They are usually more likely to allow it if everything is specifically explained.
Also, point out that soundproofing a ceiling makes the condo or apartment quieter for you and neighbors. Heck, the landlord might even pay a portion if you make a deal with them to sing a longer lease. The worst they can say is no, so give it a try!
Before jumping into a full soundproofing project, there are some temporary solutions for people who need help as soon as possible. Most people aren’t going to be trying to use their temporary solutions long term, because it’s just not worth it.
These are also the cheapest options if the sound is truly troublesome. It’s not so much about soundproofing the area, but blocking the noise for an individual (or drowning it out with a more peaceful sound).
The easiest solution is earbuds, which can help in so many ways. Yes, the cheap ones that are available in large packs at a local store will do just fine. They won’t completely block out all sound, but it’s usually sufficient for a good night’s sleep.
Some people also use them when they are trying to focus while awake. This can be beneficial for those people who live in urban areas and might be struggling with the sound coming from outside.
White Noise Machines
More and more people are turning to machines to help drown out noise at all hours of the day. Most people use these when trying to go to sleep, but they can also help with focus during the day.
It’s not going to make things silent, but it is a noise that does not disrupt in any way. Some people like these machines more than wearing earbuds, while others aren’t really fans.
The good news is if people want to sample a white noise machine, there are free or inexpensive apps on smartphones to download and use. It allows a person to realize whether or not it is truly beneficial.
Altering a Condo Apartment Ceiling
Before getting started with more of a permanent solution, the first thing a person needs to figure out is what they are allowed to do. Depending on each person’s situation, there is a chance that not everyone has the opportunity to do anything permanent to their ceiling.
There should be specific language in any lease for a condo or apartment if renting. If not, make sure to contact the landlord or managing company first before going forward. Some companies will strictly prohibit any alterations to the ceiling, while others will have specific rules to follow.
Never run the risk of being evicted simply by starting a major project and not checking everything out beforehand. It’s a lot of hassle and trouble for most people when that happens.
Enjoy the Silence
Soundproofing a ceiling will show instant results. Even if done without the help of a professional, it’s really easy to achieve truly remarkable results. No one wants to be a person who is continuously debating whether they should soundproof a ceiling or an entire room, or keep going with the current set up.
As stated above, it benefits a lot of people, even if they don’t realize it. If ceiling soundproofing fixes loud music playing inside, neighbors will be thankful in the end. It helps people avoid noise complaints, and also keeps sounds from coming in as well.