The 6 Best Ways To Soundproof A Ceiling (A-Z Guide)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

You haven’t finished soundproofing your room until you’ve soundproofed the ceiling. Sound can easily penetrate down into your apartment, condominium, or home without appropriate soundproofing if anything is on the floor above you.

Reducing sound has five components (absorption, damping, decoupling, distance, and adding mass). Start with some low-cost options and evaluate what difference they make; if they’re insufficient, progress to more complex and expensive options if necessary.

This article will discuss the six best ways to soundproof your ceiling. We will discuss how sound works and how to reduce it, we will discuss how the STC (Sound transmission class) works, and we will discuss soundproofing material you can use.

The 6 Best Ways To Soundproof A Ceiling

The procedures in this list are in the sequence they would get installed in if you were working with exposed joists. So, if you wish to soundproof a finished ceiling, the second half of this guide will come in handy. If you don’t think your current layout is salvageable, you can always remove the existing drywall and start from scratch.

1. Single Layer Drywall

Sound is ineffectively blocked or reduced by a single layer of drywall. Noise can easily vibrate through the panel because it is light and thin. As a result, noise travels from the drywall to the studs and the ceiling’s air cavity. 

Soundproof drywall is a viable and practical alternative. Soundproof drywall is thicker and has a higher soundproofing rating (we will discuss soundproof rating later) than regular drywall. The disadvantage is that these walls are pretty pricey. We also recommend installing a layer of insulation inside the “ceiling air cavity” to soundproof your ceiling further. 

Depending on your demands and budget, there are various types to consider. On the other hand, basic fiberglass batt insulation is arguably the easiest to get and install.

2. Double layer Drywall With Damping Compounds

You can install a second layer of drywall right underneath the first to improve noise reduction. The only issue is that you’d have to connect the two somehow. However, here is where the damping compound comes into play. 

You could attach one sheet of drywall into your resilient channels and then cover it with a damping compound second sheet. In that case, you’ll either need to wait till your glue sets with drywall lifts or screw in the second layer as well. You could also make damping compound and drywall sandwiches and then install them that way.

3. Decoupling With Resilient Channels And Hat Channels

You can use single or double-leg resilient channels to decouple your ceiling before putting on the drywall. The critical distinction is that single-leg resilient channels are screwed directly into the joists, whereas double-leg hat channels get clipped in. If you want to reduce vibrations as much as possible, most people recommend using hat channels. 

They are, after all, connected to sound clips that get screwed into the joists. That’s one additional level of isolation in the ceiling structure that resilient channels alone can provide. When you finish the ceiling, though, you won’t notice much of a change.

4. Install Acoustic Floor Underlayment In The Room Upstairs

You might make basic alterations to the floor above instead of removing your ceiling and installing various materials. Talk to your neighbor about removing the existing floor. If they agree, install an acoustic underlayment or acoustic mat to soundproof your ceiling further.

There are various floor underlayment types, just as there are multiple carpet underlays. It can be made from various materials, like foam, cork, rubber, and felt. Finally, the type you choose will get determined by the sort of flooring you have and the room’s function. For example, you might have to stick to water-resistant alternatives in bathrooms and laundry rooms.

5. Use Acoustic Ceiling Tiles

acoustic ceiling tile

While soundproofing your ceiling, there are two ways to employ acoustic tiles. They’ll add mass and absorbent properties to the surface in either case, preventing noise from entering and exiting through that entry point. 

They are available in various sizes, styles, and colors, so you may use them to match the appearance of your room. On the other hand, drop ceilings should prevent impact and airborne noise even if they get constructed with different ceiling tiles. So, unless you’re dependent on acoustic tiles for absorption, they’re not technically necessary.

6. Add A Layer Of Acoustic Paint

Acoustic paint is not a stand-alone product that will dramatically increase your room’s acoustic qualities. Its thick and flexible texture, on the other hand, may close off some of the ceiling’s microscopic fractures. Acoustic paint offers both sound-blocking and sound-absorbing properties, enhancing the soundproofing of your new ceiling even further. 

Acoustic paint can reduce the noise of particular frequencies by up to 30% when applied appropriately. In addition, acoustic paint is an excellent heat insulator. If you want the paint to function, though, don’t try to save money on it. Soundproofing is almost impossible to do with less than three layers of paint. Also, keep in mind that acoustics paint takes much longer to dry than regular paint. 

It may take up to 16 hours to dry completely, and you should wait at least 32 hours before applying the second coat. You can, however, heat the environment to speed up the drying process.

How To Reduce The Different Types Of Sound

Impact and airborne sound are the two types of noise handled by soundproofing a ceiling. Other noises, such as flanking sounds, are primarily caused by the surroundings and can be reduced by soundproofing the walls and windows.

What Is Impact Sound?

When an object gets dropped onto the floor in multi-story buildings, it sends vibrations through the floor. That causes the impact sound to pass through your ceiling. Impact sound can be decreased or eliminated in structures in various methods. One method uses thick, soft carpets and thick pad cushions to attenuate medium to high-frequency sounds considerably.

Rubber, fiberglass, or foam underlay is particularly good at reducing impact sound because these materials can absorb the energy released on impact, reducing the distance the sound travels.

By separating different sides of a ceiling or floor of a building and allowing each side to vibrate in isolation upon impact, hanging resilient mounts, spring ceiling hangers, and sound clips can limit sound transmission. The application of soundproofing layers is another approach to lessening impact sound.

What Is Airborne Sound?

Airborne noise flows via the space between the walls, while impact noise travels directly through the drywall joined by joists from the wall to your ceiling. The technique of acoustic absorption is one of the ways that reduce airborne sound. When sound hits a surface within a building, the sound reflected into the air is reduced. 

Another technique to lessen airborne sound is to employ sound insulation. Sound insulation is comparable to acoustic absorption in that sound is kept from traveling to a linked space of a building by the construction elements rather than being absorbed.

Always Check For Ventilation Pipes/Ducts

hole in ceiling

You don’t want to carefully select acceptable soundproofing solutions for your ceiling only to discover that you’ve overlooked one of the room’s most important features: ventilation. Most buildings have both ventilation outlets on the walls and on the ceiling. 

Remember that if you have an open hole in the ceiling, you’ll have to deal with noise from the floor above you. Ventilation networks typically get linked to adjacent rooms on the same floor. As a result, a hole in your ceiling would enhance the sounds coming from above and next to you.

The sound from the air duct is quieter than the initial noise. It would, however, be more audible than the muffled version you might have heard via a wall. With that in mind, while you’re dealing with the entire surface, you’ll want to fine and soundproof any ventilation ducts you find on your ceiling. It might be challenging to reduce the noise from an air duct and still allow air to move through it. 

You probably don’t want to seal it completely and therefore use acoustic foam or create a sound maze inside the vent. Permanently closing the vent and treating it like a wall or ceiling will be the easiest to reduce its noise if you can live without having the air duct. After removing the grate, you can either fill the vent by stuffing it with insulation or close it entirely with drywall.

Materials To Soundproof Your Ceilings

Noise reduction is a feature of a variety of construction materials. However, you should select the appropriate one based on the transmission modes and noise frequencies. The area where soundproofing is required is also essential for material selection.

With these materials, you may soundproof your joist-supported ceilings.

  • Acoustic Insulation: You can increase the ceiling’s density by using acoustic insulation slabs. Acoustic insulation will improve your ceiling’s sound insulation and lessen sound reverberation within the ceiling cavity.
  • Acoustic Hanger/bar: In your acoustic ceiling, you must establish separation. Sound-breaker Bars are the simplest way to accomplish this. Reduce sound vibration through the ceiling by installing an acoustic hanger attached to the ceiling joists’ faces. The acoustic hangers’ design decreases linked surface area, which reduces vibrations through the ceiling.
  • Acoustic Panels/Boards: Finish your ceiling with soundproof panels. A soundproofing ceiling panel usually consists of a mass-loaded barrier sheet and an acoustic plasterboard sheet. That will considerably improve the plasterboard’s sound insulation. The plasterboard’s density increases and the vibration gets reduced, resulting in less sound vibrating through the plasterboard.
  • Acoustic Foam: Also known as Studio Foam, this material has a characteristic wedge or pyramid shape that is particularly effective in sound absorption. They can be mounted on walls as panels, suspended from the ceiling as baffles, or placed in the corners as bass traps.
  • Acoustic Materials: Used in theater curtains, blackout curtains, and studio blankets, acoustic fabrics are thicker and heavier than ordinary fabrics.
  • Acoustic Coatings: Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is a dense rubber-like material that gets used in a variety of applications, including automotive soundproofing, machinery, appliances, and as an underlayment. The material’s mass functions as a sound barrier.
  • Cellulose fibers: Are formed from cellulose ethers or esters, obtained from plant bark, wood, or leaves, as well as other plant-based materials. The fibers may also contain hemicellulose and lignin in addition to cellulose, with various amounts of these components affecting the mechanical properties of the fibers.
  • Open-cell foam: is a rubber-like product manufactured by mixing an inflating agent, such as sodium bicarbonate, into the rubber compound. That chemical emits a gas, which expands the rubber during vulcanization. Because of the free air circulation and chemical makeup, some open-cell foam behaves more like a spring, quickly reverting to its previous form after compression. 
  • Mineral wool: Though the individual fibers carry heat well, their ability to partition air makes them great insulators and sound absorbers when formed into rolls and sheets. Though not impervious to the effects of fire, the fire resistance of mineral wool makes it a common building material when passive fire protection is required. 

Sound Transmission Class (STC)

In the United States, a measurement called STC (Sound Transmission Class) compares sound insulation in buildings. It describes how well or poorly sound waves (about in the range of typical human voices, 125–4000 Hz) pass through ceilings and walls. 

A poor partition wall that allows you to hear almost everything would receive a score of 20–25, whereas a luxury hotel wall that blocks out practically everything would receive a score of 60. Most household walls fall anywhere between 30 and 45 on the scale. You can improve a partition wall’s STC is easy when using a denser material, creating an air gap, or adding sound absorption material.

Conclusion

When you are soundproofing a ceiling, you want to eliminate two types of sound. The one is airborne noise, and the second is impact noise. Adding insolation inside your ceiling like fiberglass, cellulose, open-cell foam, and mineral wool will drastically reduce the airborne noise coming through the ceiling. Decoupling with resilient channels and hat channels will reduce impact noise.

For most people, home is a place to relax, but for others, it is also their place of work, so soundproofing is very important whether it is to relax or create a better work environment. There is a wide variety of materials you can use when soundproofing a ceiling. There are many options, whether to reduce the noise slightly or make a room completely soundproof.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.