Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray
When you have a basement in your house that has been unused for several years, the chances are high that it is almost entirely uninsulated. With most people, this is fine as the basement will only be used as a storage location, but if you get a use for the basement, knowing what type of insulation to use is important.
The best insulation for a basement ceiling is basement fiberglass insulation that has been specifically made to insulate against the heat and cold that a basement has. Basement fiberglass also has a sturdier design as it is made to be left open, not specifically needing drywall or ceilings panels to be installed.
However, there are so many basement ceiling insulations on the market that is just choosing one as the best is not always possible. Depending on the age and size of your basement, you may want to change to a different type of insulation to ensure you have the best possible experience.
What Are The Different Types Of Insulation For Basement Ceilings?
Modern insulation comes in very different types and materials, which means that you may choose the wrong insulation or over-insulate your basement ceiling. This is especially true if your entire house is insulated and the basement ceiling only really needs sound insulation.
The types of insulation for basement ceilings are broken into three main categories, noise control, temperature control, and dust control. These are the three main reasons why most people insulate their basement ceilings, whereas normal ceilings usually only are for temperature control.
Instead, a small basement in the middle of the house won’t need as much temperature insulation as the rest will already control the temperature. The more common problem is that the basement sounds can be heard above, and anything in the basement can be heard through the floor.
The 10 Best Insulations For A Basement Ceiling
Now that we know the three different types of insulation that you get for your basement ceiling, we can focus on the list of best ceiling insulation for your basement. Each of these has different qualities that I recommend you consider when designing and buying your basement.
Many people with larger basements that are used for more than simply gatherings during events have several kinds of ceiling insulation in their basements. This allows them to have a part of the basement ready for at-home theatre setups while the rest can comfortably be used as a bedroom or storage.
1. Batts Fiberglass
Batts fiberglass, also known as Rockwool, is a discontinuous fiberglass material that stops the transfer of heat or cold by creating pockets of air in the insulation. This fiberglass is perfect for basement ceilings because the density and thickness mean that neither heat, sound, nor light can travel through it.
Further, the rolls usually come in boxes, with the batts fiberglass being sandwiched between either two sheets of paper or thin plastic. It makes it easy to handle and cut to the size you will need with a bread knife or small toothed saw, with the fiberglass only needing gloves and a face mask needed to be handled.
2. Fiberglass Blown
Blown fiberglass has a lower insulation rating than batts fiberglass because it is much more compact when blown into the ceiling cavity. Many people know this as normal fiberglass insulation and will require much of the structure to already be built for the insulation installation.
Most people prefer to use this for their basement ceiling when it is only going to be used for storage, installing the insulation only around the major areas of the basement. Leaving other areas that won’t be seen or used without insulation, allowing for pipes and cables to freely travel.
3. Mineral Wool
This is one of the more expensive ways of insulating your basement ceiling, as it uses real wool in the manufacturing process. This type of insulation is highly effective and will keep in all temperatures to the basement and most sound and does not require any special tools to be used.
Most people that start using mineral wool prefer to use it throughout the house, as the insulation is extremely flame retardant and easy to handle. Further, if used properly, it creates a much more complete barrier against heat and any other problems encountered with more synthetic insulation.
4. Spray Foam Insulation
One of the most popular solutions currently being used in insulation, not just for basement ceilings, is spray foam. This solution is quick and dirty and will create complete insulation barite to keep all temperatures in your basement completely controlled.
We always recommend considering a few things when using this insulation; it is very rarely environmentally friendly and will usually not be soundproof. Spray foam insulation is extremely dense, stopping all heat or cold from escaping but transferring most vibrations with ease to the other side of the insulation.
5. Foam Board Insulation
The most inexpensive insulation you can use for your basement ceiling is foam boards; these are not the foam you are thinking about. Usually, this is similar to spray foam or may even be Styrofoam and is quite a lot thinner than other types of insulation.
However, what it fails for in size, it makes up for in uses as many people use foam board insulation as both the insulation and ceiling of their basement. The foam board can easily be cut with most long knives or saws and nailed onto the ceiling beams without too much trouble, making for quick and easy installation.
6. Cellulose Insulation
Many people mistake cellulose insulation for the cellulose they may know from biology classes; fortunately, that is not true. Cellulose insulation is one of the most recycled insulations globally, consisting of anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of recycled paper, making it extremely environmentally friendly.
This type of insulation is good for temperature control and sound control, thanks to the air pockets that form when it is being sprayed. Available in either block or as a spray option, the only downside is that rodents prefer to live in it and compact with age as it gets humidity clinging to it.
7. Sound Blankets
One of the often-overlooked solutions to insulating a basement is using sound blankets underneath where the ceiling tiles would be. These sound blankets can be foam sound insulation or foam boards that are textured to control the sound passing through the ceiling.
Sound blankets, when used properly, also prevent temperature and air from flowing through them, making them perfect for home theatres or busier basements. If your want to cut off the basement from all the sounds above it, you should consider using sound blankets to prevent anything from escaping.
8. Layered Insulation
One of the often-overlooked solutions for basement ceilings is using a layered insulation system, with many only trying to use one type of insulation. Usually, the inside of the basement ceiling will be lined with fiberglass or mineral wool to stop any heat from escaping, with the underside having soundboards.
This prevents any sound from escaping the basement while also preventing any sound from walking above the ceiling being heard. Many people get frustrated when the insulation they are trying to use doesn’t block the sound but perfectly stops any temperature changes from happening.
9. Carton Boards
A much more do-it-yourself approach to insulation your basement ceiling is by using carton boards, with many suppliers now moving to supply carton boards for insulation. As the carton has folded paper in the middle and many air pockets, it is usually capable of working as insulation.
However, there are a few downsides, with carton boards having to be completed in the ceiling to work effectively and easily damaged. Many who have some experience use carton board insulation to create extra structure inside their ceilings instead of making it the only piece of insulation.
10. Air Insulation
If the only thing you want to do is prevent the cold air from the basement from going into your house, the best way is to seal it completely. We have seen several basement ceiling solutions that are just sealed air systems, as air is the best way to prevent the temperature from being leaked to another surface.
When rebuilding your basement or building it for the first time, you need to simply create a complete seal between the ceiling tiles and where the floor begins. While the basement is cold, the space between the ceiling and the floor above will be a different temperature, with nothing to transfer the heat or cold to.
The 5 Factors That Should Be Considered When Choosing Insulation For Basement
We now have a complete list of the most basic types of ceiling insulation for basements, which means we need to learn what to consider when choosing one. Several things will determine whether or not you are spending more on your ceiling insulation than your neighbor.
I have seen several people regret choosing the cheapest available ceiling insulation when the winter months come. Their basement requires a fortune to heat as it continually sapping and leaks the heat from the rest of the house, causing headaches and cold snaps.
1. The Size Of The Insulation
You should always consider how much space is available for the insulation you will be using in your basement. Many basements are only a few feet high, making it hard to install insulation that makes the ceiling half a foot wide.
However, other basements are so deep that even adding two feet of insulation won’t make the ceiling so low that it can be touched without a step stool. You need to consider the total space between the ceiling and the floors above the basement before you get something that is much too thick.
2. The Space Available In The Basement
If you are going to be using the basement only once a month, or even less, you probably won’t need to keep it at a livable temperature. The size of your basement usually determines this and how much further you are likely to be using the basement, we recommend measuring to determine this.
The larger a basement is and the total space it has, the more likely they are to use the basement for more than just storage. Many people eventually convert the basement into another living space, which means that insulation needs to be as good or better than the rest of the house.
3. What The Insulation Is Needed For
If you are going to be using the basement as a space for you and your significant other to relax and get away from everything, you need insulation that keeps the heat. If it only keeps the washing machine noises away from the kitchen, then a sounder insulating insulation is needed.
Further, many people eventually have the oldest child that wants to use the basement and all of its space as their own. This means you need to create a safe and quiet space for them to safely escape into their world without bothering the rest of the house with music, movies, or games.
4. How Long The Insulation Will Be Needed
This is often overlooked by first-time homeowners when they start renovating their house and have to start working on the basement. They often prefer to use the cheapest solution, only to have to spend more in three to five years when the insulation no longer works.
If you know that the ceiling in the basement will be used for more than ten to twenty years, using something more expensive and permanent is usually the best option. We always recommend having insulation that will not need to be replaced as the basement is used for different things.
5. The Safety Measures Of The Insulation
Many DIY people overlook when building and modifying their basements because there are certain limitations on the insulation they can use. Every country and every state has limitations on the insulation types that can be used inside a ceiling, even with a basement.
This means that you need to consider what regulations are in effect in your local area, with many having strict regulations on the thickness and type of insulation you can use. Further, many people fail to understand that the regulations can mean that you have to remove all the insulation and install new ones or face hefty fines.
Why Is Insulation Needed For Basements? (3 Benefits)
There are several reasons why someone may want to install insulation in their basement, with each person having their unique reasons. One of the few that people don’t realize is that regulation changes mean that the building is brought up to code when renovations are done.
However, we will focus on some of the more basic reasons that people are insulating their basement ceilings. Each of these means that someone is starting to properly use their basement and no longer want to simply have a large space used for storing odds and ends.
1. Heat Insulation From The House
The first and most important reason people are insulating the basement ceiling is to prevent the heat from the house from escaping into the basement. If the house is being heated and the basement is not sealed off properly, it acts as a giant space that absorbs all the heat that is being made.
We have seen several people constantly freezing homes only to have completely uninsulated basements. Which causes more headaches than most people would realize as even underfloor heating cannot keep the house nice, warm, and comfy.
2. Temperature Leaking Through The Ceiling
Another problem with the temperature that many people don’t realize is that once they have redone the basement, it may get hotter than the rest of the house. Normally, this would be a great thing, especially in winter, but it can be dangerous when it is in the heat of summer.
When your basement has been properly insulated, you can build a ventilation system that will properly keep it cool and keep the heat or cold air in the basement. This prevents situations where you are trying to cool down one room and heat another while not accomplishing either.
3. Noise Reduction For Both Ways
This is one of the more common reasons that people will initially want to start installing proper insulation in their basement. With the people in the basement hearing every movement being made in the house upstairs, it can become a quick and irritating problem.
Further, if the basement is where all the movies and series are being watched, it becomes a problem when someone on the second floor can hear everything. Proper insulation means that every sound made in the basement is kept in the basement as much as possible.
How To Easily Install Insulation?
The installation for most basement ceiling insulation systems is the same and will require that you simply follow the same steps. We have condensed them into the most basic steps that you need to follow to install the insulation for your basement ceiling.
If you have all the tools and basic things already built, installing the insulation and sealing it all up may only take one or two days. The final paintwork and refinement of the ceiling take you longer as you need to focus on the smaller hard, missed details.
1. Build The Skeleton First
The most obvious thing that you will have to do before anything else is to build the basic skeleton of the basement ceiling before doing anything else. The skeleton should preferably consider the total thickness and width of the insulation you will be using.
We recommend knowing and having a sample of the insulation you will use before you start building the ceiling skeleton. This will allow you to take measurements and make adjustments as needed while building the ceiling instead of hoping that everything will work.
2. Measure The Available Space In The Ceiling
Now that you have the skeleton of your ceiling built, it should be a bunch of beams and wires hanging in the open. Measure how much space needs to be filled with insulation and buy all the insulation you will need; we recommend not buying the insulation until you have the final measurements.
There have been more stories of DIYers buying either not enough insulation or too much insulation for their ceiling than there have been simple DIY builds. Insulation is one of the few products that cannot simply be thrown away and can also be hard to find if you have a specific type already in use.
3. Cut The Insulation
Insulation, even spray foam insulation, is meant to be cut relatively easily, with the only insulation that is still hard to cut being spray-on fiberglass. Using a bread knife, you can cut through most insulation, even woold, with wood and metal saws helping to get finer and more precise cuts.
If you are unsure, special knives can be bought to do this, but you may find that many of these do not work nearly as well as a sharp bread knife. The blade is long and thin enough to cut all the way through and be precise enough that you can make the cuts exactly to your measurements.
4. Mount The Full Insulation
Once your insulation has been cut, you can start mounting it, with most being nailed onto the ceiling with others using Velcro. Spray foam insulation will be blasted into the right crevices, while foam board insulation needs to be screwed into place using wood screws and washers to distribute the load.
We always recommend that you consider this when installing your insulation and that you have enough securing screws or nails to get everything into place. If you are still unsure, you can consult a professional working with the insulation before.
5. Put Ceiling In As You Go
As you are securing the insulation, we recommend that you finish the last part of the ceiling, the actual ceiling. This will help the insulation stay in place and give you’re a good overview of what the ceiling will look like once you are completely done.
Insulation is always the last thing to be put inside the ceiling, and many people that use wool or batts fiberglass prefer to simply slide it in as they fit the ceiling. This means that the insulation is not secured but lying flat against the ceiling boards away from the cables.
The best insulation for your basement ceiling will heavily depend on what you plan to do in your basement. Two good all-rounder ceiling insulation solutions are natural wool or batts fiberglass as both can easily be fitted into or onto the ceiling without adding too much weight.
Remember that your ceiling does more than insulate; it also keeps the cables away from sight!