The best time to soundproof any room of your home is when the house is under construction. It’s much easier to soundproof the inside of a wall or ceiling then trying to soundproof it after the fact. That’s what this article will be about; I will show you a few different ways to soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling.
If you’re thinking of converting your basement into an apartment, then it’s crucial that you soundproof the ceiling. This is not only from a potential noisy tenant but also from your footsteps. You do not want to be tiptoeing in your own home in an attempt to not disturb the people living under you.
One thing to consider since your basement ceiling is open is to remove the ductwork for your heating system and install in-floor radiant heating. The reason for this is because the sound will easily travel through the metal ductwork and will make it much harder to soundproof the basement ceiling fully.
It is entirely understandable if this is too much work for you so don’t worry. There are still things you can do to block most of the noise coming from the floor above.
Material Needed To Soundproof an Unfinished Basement Ceiling
All recommended Soundproofing Material I recommend can be found HERE!
You will need several recommended soundproofing material to get the desired results. Here is a list of material that I often use while soundproofing a basement ceiling, or any other ceilings for that matter. This entire article can be applied for any ceilings in your home, just as long as you’re in the construction phase.
- Green Glue Noise Proofing Compound; Green Glues noise proofing compound is a excellent soundproofing product that creates a tiny air void between two layers of drywall. By having an air void, you’re helping the soundproofing effectiveness of the wall or ceiling that you’re attempting to soundproof.
- Green Glue Noise Proofing Sealant; This is yet another great product from green glue that works a bit differently than the compound. The sealant is like weatherproofing caulking but will remain pliable through time and will not crack. Caulking will usually crack due to aging and will let noise through. You should use green glue’s sealant around light fixture boxes to seal as many gaps and cracks to avoid noise coming through from the level above.
- 5/8″ Drywall; One important thing you should invest when soundproofing an unfinished basement ceiling is 5/8″ drywall. The added thickness and weight versus the standard 1/2″ drywall will do wonders in terms of soundproofing. They also have other added features that you can learn by clicking this link.
- Rockwool Insulation; Rockwool Insulation is much better soundproofing insulation than the standard pink fiberglass. It is indeed more expensive, but I would strongly encourage you to at least install this sound dampening insulation on the walls and ceilings that are most prone to have noise come through.
- Resilient Channel; Resilient channel is also significant when attempting to soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling. This material will create an air void between the basement and the floor above. I go into more details on this soundproofing material in this article.
These four soundproofing products, among a few others, of course, will be all you need to combat noise from attacking your ears while in the basement.
1. Two Layers of Drywall
One way to save you tones of money is to have two layers of 5/8″ drywall coupled with a layer of Green Glue Acoustic Compound in between. The reason Green Glue works great in this type of soundproofing job is that it basically creates a tiny air void between the two layers of drywall.
You will need to apply the Green Glue in a random zig-zag pattern, so you get some everywhere. You will also need an extender for your electrical boxes (fixtures) because of the added thickness of the second layer of drywall.
The reason it is important to use 5/8″ is because they are much denser than the standard 1/2″ drywall that is used in most homes. Depending on how the floor above is constructed will depend on the amount of soundproofing you will receive from this first method. So a suitable soundproofing method would be no insulation and two layers of drywall using Green Glue.
There is a tool called a drywall lift that you can use to install drywall without the help of another person easily. If you’re renovating alone, then this would be something to look into.
You can find a professional drywall lift for rent at your local hardware stores. Not all hardware stores will carry this item, however, so make sure to call them and find out. You can also buy a less expensive and also lighter drywall lift for residential use from Amazon for less than 200 dollars.
When using a drywall lift, make sure the white paper side of the drywall is facing the lift so when you install it will be facing down. Believe me; you don’t want to go through all the trouble of lifting a thick sheet of drywall only to find out that you have it facing the wrong side.
2. Drywall Plus Insulation
To add some extra soundproofing to your basement ceiling, you will need to add the two layers of drywall with the Green Glue in between and also add some insulation.
There are two ways of going about this process. First is the standard pink fiberglass insulation.
Back in the day, you needed gloves and a mask to install fiberglass insulation, but most of the product on the market today aren’t as harmful to your skin. If you’re unfamiliar with in-wall insulation, then feel free to wear gloves and a mask. Don’t forget to wear your safety glasses also!
The second option you could use regarding insulation would be sound deadening insulation by the name of Rockwool (Amazon Link). Rockwool is acoustic mineral insulation that is great as acoustic insulation or as a soundproofing material.
Each unit of mineral wool insulation are 8lbs of density, making it very cost-effective with a very high NRC rating. It is also a water-repelling, hydrophobic with a class A fire rating. You can also use these rigid boards for making acoustic panels and bass traps if you have some leftovers.
3. Acoustic Tiles
A third way to help drown some of the noise coming from the upstairs level of an unfinished basement is by installing acoustic tiles. Installing tiles will give you easy access into your ceiling if you need to get in there for future home repairs.
Acoustic ceiling tiles are great if you already have a suspended ceiling in your basement. You will get much better soundproofing with a dense acoustic versus the cheap fiberglass insulated ceiling tiles from the past. You might pay more money for these types of ceiling tiles, but you will get a much better noise reduction coming from the upstairs. They also look much better than the cheap tiles.
Follow the link for the current pricing on our recommended acoustic ceiling tiles available from Amazon.
4. Resilient Channel
Another great method to help soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling is with the help of a resilient channel.
A resilient channel is a thin metal channel that is specifically designed to improve the sound insulation of drywall, sheetrock, plasterboard walls, and ceilings by quite a large margin compared to the use of insulation only. The channel will effectively isolate drywall from the framing studwork. This will leave an air gap that will result in the weakening of sound waves substantially.
Installation of the resilient channel to an unfinished basement ceiling or even a wall is an easy and effortless process. The thin metal channel only measures 1/2″ in thickness and will provide you with much better soundproofing effectiveness when comparing it to similar products that are available in the market.
One thing to note here when installing the resilient channel is that the acoustic qualities of this product can improve when applying a thin layer of Absorbent Tape to the flange of the drywall mount.
How Does Noises Get too and from a Basement?
Different sounds cause trouble with any basement. The sound problems fit nicely into three different categories, and every particular setup is slightly different. Having to focus on one particular category over the other is common for the average homeowner.
Sound waves travel through the air and can cause trouble in any area of the home. The basement might not have as many places for noise to travel through, but it can get through anything from doorways to stairwells.
The origin of airborne noise comes from people talking, television, vehicles from outside, animals making noises, or anything similar. (Source)
Impact Transmitted Sound
This type of sound is when the noise goes through the basement ceiling in this case. If an airborne sound wave hits that sound structure, what ends up happening is the problem becomes a vibration and goes through all the barriers.
Also known as impact isolation class transmission, mechanically transmitted sound examples include somebody dropping something on the floor above, an air conditioner vent making noise that’s attached to the ceiling, or plumbing that’s on the other side of the ceiling. (Source)
This is the issue when sound travels directly from floor level to floor level. Sometimes, sound travels laterally through the joist. It can vibrate even concrete, and then reverberate around other areas.
Flanking noise can seem troublesome to get rid of, but there are some ways to change how much is heard. Some processes are more expensive than others, but solutions are out there. (Source)
There you have it! These four ways to soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling should get you well on your way in making your basement much quieter than it is currently.
Let us know in the comment section if you have any questions on this topic and also don’t forget to visit our new YouTube Channel for more DIY soundproofing projects!