I’m going to finish a portion of the basement for my 12-year-old daughter and her pals to have a place to “hang out.” This section happens to be under the great room on the main floor. Are there products to help in noise reduction, and, if so, what options exist and how are they installed?– Steve
Start by insulating the space between the basement ceiling joists with a sound-dampening insulation like Owens Corning QuietZone fiberglass insulation. Next, you might want to consider using a soundproofing drywall such as QuietRock for the ceiling.
You can watch and read more about QuietRock, on our website at (622) Builders’ Show Special.
Good luck with your project,
Continue reading the sections below for more insight into the materials and processes used for basement soundproofing.
Other Materials For Soundproofing a Basement Ceiling
There are several ways to design a basement ceiling that greatly inhibit the passage of sound waves. The sound should be absorbed or dissipated between the two spaces to prevent it from traveling from one space to another.
Multiple layers of drywall, mineral wool, fiberglass batts, sound-dampening caulk and other materials can be used alone or in combination to absorb these sound waves and prevent them from traveling. Because sounds travel easiest through thin, smooth material, we want to avoid directly connecting two thin materials that could allow sound to pass between them.
Multiple Layers of Drywall
The least expensive method of soundproofing a basement ceiling usually involves at least two layers of drywall separated by an air space. Again remembering that the goal is to avoid attaching two solid materials together, sound-deadening caulk/adhesive is applied between the two layers to form a spongy bead.
The soft, pliable nature of the caulk absorbs much of the tiny sound vibrations that try to pass from one layer of drywall to the other. The caulk bead also creates a space to trap air between the layers, which helps to retard the transmission of the sound waves.
Sound Deadening Insulation
As mentioned earlier, thick, uneven surfaces do the best job of dampening or eliminating the transmission of sound waves, and few materials fit this description better than insulation. Sound travels similarly to heat and can be controlled or redirected in the same way.
Installing thick insulation between the floor joists or trusses in the basement ceiling creates air pockets and uneven surfaces that disrupt the sound waves and prevent them from transferring easily from one material to another.
One of the most effective ways to reduce sound transmission through a floor is floor coverings. Previously mentioned solutions involve modifying the space between the basement ceiling and the floor above.
However, to reduce sound waves traveling to a basement from above through a basement ceiling, carpeting, rugs, and underfloor padding can be installed. These materials function much like insulation to break up, dissipate, and absorb sound waves that would otherwise travel very efficiently through hard, solid floors.
Can I Soundproof My Basement Ceiling Myself?
You can probably soundproof your basement ceiling if you are a DIYer with a few skills and tools. Soundproofing a basement ceiling doesn’t require many tools. To simplify the project, you can incorporate ladders, scaffolding, and walk boards. In most situations, you can install drywall with just a few tools:
- Measuring Tape
- Drywall Square
- Utility Knife
- Cordless Drill or Impact driver
Steps to Insulate Your Basement Ceiling
Supplemental tools will also come in handy and make the job easier but are generally optional. For example, if the basement ceiling is large, a drywall lift is strongly recommended to reduce fatigue. Drywall lifts hold the drywall in place while it’s attached, which is very handy for lone DIYers.
Other drywall tools like rasps, rotary cutters, and keyhole saws can save the installer time and effort but are not usually critical to the project’s success.
Although we won’t discuss drywall finishing here, we describe each step of this soundproofing method in the order they’re performed:
Installing the first layer of drywall is exactly the same as in any drywall project. In a perfect world, at least 8”-10” of mineral wool (also known as Rockwool) or fiberglass soundproofing insulation will be installed between the joists or trusses.
However, when budget constraints require it, installing another layer of drywall is often more effective than adding insulation. If the budget allows, ⅝” drywall is more effective than the standard 15/32” version. Finishing is not required for this first layer of drywall, lowering the project’s total cost.
Applying soundproofing caulk between the two layers of drywall can dramatically impede the ability of sound waves to travel between the layers. As described earlier, this adds a layer of air between the layers, prevents two solid materials from conducting sound, and absorbs the remainder due to its spongy nature.
In most applications, you should apply soundproofing caulk as a thick, ½” bead because the more space between the layers, the better. However, it should be noted that extra-long fasteners should be used to ensure that the fastener passes through both layers of drywall with enough thread left to make a secure connection to the joists or trusses.
The last step in inexpensively soundproofing a basement ceiling is installing a second layer of drywall. The second layer doubles the density of the ceiling, but the orientation of the second layer is important. Sound can pass through connected, solid materials, so the second layer should be installed perpendicular to the first or offset by at least 24”.
In conjunction with the soundproofing caulk, this offset prevents the two layers from touching and prevents the two layers from sharing fasteners that could transmit sound.
The drywall can be finished at this stage, or another ceiling material can be installed. If economically feasible, acoustic ceilings (also known as drop ceilings), can be installed to provide an extra layer of sound deadening.
Acoustic ceilings are often made from compacted cellulose, which is an effective insulator. Used in conjunction with double drywall and sound-deadening caulk, these acoustic tiles can provide a relatively inexpensive soundproofing solution.